Institute for Southern Studies Research Director

Position Available - Research Director

The Institute for Southern Studies, an award-winning nonprofit research, media and education center based in Durham, North Carolina, seeks a full-time Research Director to lead, in conjunction with the Executive Director, the Institute’s research program and strategic outreach on critical trends and issues transforming the South today. The ideal candidate will bring research and writing skills, strong external communication skills and a commitment to advancing democracy and social justice in the region.

About the Institute for Southern Studies

Founded in 1970 by veterans of the civil rights movement, the Institute for Southern Studies is a research, media and education nonprofit dedicated to exposing injustice, strengthening democracy and building a community for change in the South. The Institute publishes the online magazine, Facing South, and has earned numerous awards for its media and reporting projects on issues ranging from money in Southern politics to the Gulf Coast recovery in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to campaigns for workers’ rights. Learn more at

Research Director Responsibilities

Working closely with the Executive Director, the Research Director will help lead the Institute’s strategic research program to support and advance movements for change in the South.

The Research Director will design and implement various research projects that illuminate critical trends and issues impacting the South and lift up promising strategies for change in the region. Issues may include Southern politics, immigration, demographic change, voting rights, workers’ rights and racial and gender disparities, with a focus on the movements, groups, strategies and advocates engaging around these issues. The Research Director is also responsible for leading strategic outreach to bring the Institute’s key findings and research to the field.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Identifying major trends in the South and designing research projects to investigate and highlight those issues.
  • Producing original reports on various issues through literature reviews, data analyses, expert and field interviews and other sources.
  • Proactively engaging with the field, including policy advocates, grassroots organizers, funders, policy makers and others, to disseminate Institute research and identify research needs.
  • Gathering, analyzing and visualizing relevant data for reports and supporting broader research and data capacity at the Institute.
  • Translating research into engaging articles for Facing South, the Institute’s online magazine.
  • Sharing key findings and insights through presentations, media interviews, and/or on-demand requests from ally contacts and organizations.
  • Supervising research interns and/or associates to support research projects.
  • Staying abreast of issues, trends, movements and events in the South and partnering with Institute staff to identify important topics for further research and investigation.
  • Assisting with Institute projects and other organizational tasks as needed.


The ideal candidate brings experience and insight on working in the South, strong research and writing skills and a commitment to promoting democracy and justice. Specific qualifications include:

  • Experience leading/conducting actionable research on issues of justice, democracy and equity
  • Connection/commitment to the South and an understanding of central issues in the region
  • Strong writing skills; prior publishing experience highly preferred
  • Ability to identify, analyze and visualize data; experience with data visualization programs a plus
  • Strong project management skills and ability to juggle multiple tasks and priorities
  • Ability to work with a team of colleagues both in-person and remotely
  • Strong internal- and external-facing communication skills
  • A bachelor’s degree, preferably in a relevant field like journalism, political science, history, etc.
  • At least 3-4 years of experience in the field strongly preferred
  • Commitment to the Institute’s mission of promoting a more just and democratic South

Position Details

Hours: Full-time, at least 40 hours/week

Location: Based in Durham, North Carolina; some travel required

Compensation: Salary commensurate with experience; benefits include employer-provided health plan and generous vacation policy

Start date: Early June

To Apply

Please email a resume and cover letter to with “Research Director” in the subject line. If you have any clips or writing samples, please include those (no more than two) in your application. Strong preference for journalistic writing or writing intended for a broad, public audience.

The application deadline is midnight EST, Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

NOTE: Please note this is an update to the Institute's previously-distributed announcement for a Research Associate. At this time, the Institute is only hiring for the Research Director position. Thank you!

The Institute for Southern Studies values the diverse perspectives and experiences that candidates bring. People of color, women, LGBTQ individuals and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.