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Director of Data & Analytics

Education Systems Center (EdSystems) is seeking a full-time Director of Data & Analytics to lead and grow a portfolio of high-impact public sector integrated data projects, and to define and implement methods for EdSystems to strategically use data across its project areas. The Director will help set and implement the strategy for data use across EdSystems’ initiatives. Over a decade of effort has laid the groundwork for EdSystems’ leadership for an array of innovative, nationally leading integrated data environments, including the Illinois Longitudinal Data System, the Chicago Early Childhood Integrated Data System, and the Rockford Research & Data Collaborative. The Director will play a central role to ensure these environments are supporting high quality analytics and research in furtherance of EdSystems’ mission and priorities. In addition, the Director will ensure data informs all aspects of EdSystems’ racial equity commitment and our engagement with communities to advance racial equity and improve education and workforce outcomes.

The Director will report to EdSystems’ Executive Director and will serve as a member of the Center’s senior leadership team. For certain project roles, the Director will have a dotted line reporting role to Senior Fellow Ben Boer, who is leading the Illinois Longitudinal Data System and other key data projects. The Director will collaborate closely with other members of NIU’s Research and Data Collaborative (in particular, the Illinois Interactive Report Cards team). The Director will manage a new Data Engagement Manager position that EdSystems is establishing, and may manage other positions in future years (including college or graduate school interns). The Director’s portfolio and responsibilities, described below, will enable the Director to serve as a key statewide (and national) leader in public sector integrated data services and analytics, and to shape the strategic vision for how data can be used to advance racial equity and drive improved education and workforce outcomes. The Director is expected to expand existing projects and secure and lead new projects that strategically maintain EdSystems’ leadership position in this field.

Project Areas and Key Responsibilities

  1. Advance EdSystems’ Strategic Use of Data
    1. Establish clear measures for assessing the impact of our work, across the State, throughout the Success Network, and in partner communities
    2. Initiate and establish a data analytics platform and system with impact reports and that are accessible to other team members and stakeholders
    3. Support development and integration of data visualizations and stories into our overall communications
  2. Provide Program Management and Implementation Supports for Priority Integrated Data Environments
    1. Provide program management support for the ILDS at the direction of Senior Fellow Ben Boer, including support for overall executive committee and managing committee meetings, shepherding interagency data use agreements, and other interagency projects and policies
    2. Provide program management support for the Chicago Early Childhood Integrated Data System, including managing regular technical team meetings, overseeing project deadlines, supporting interactions with data contributors, and providing supportive analytics to project partners
  3. Direct and Lead the Re-launch of the Success Network Dashboard
    1. Fully implement and regularly enhance and update the Tableau implementation of the Illinois Education and Career Success Network Dashboard
    2. Identify opportunities for enhancements and lead their implementation in collaboration with community partners
    3. Direct the work of the Data Engagement Manager to utilize the Dashboard for community engagement and improvement planning functions
  4. Provide Community-specific Analytics and Data Strategy Consulting
    1. Consult with community partners in Rockford, Elgin, East St. Louis and Chicago, among others, to establish data collaborative environments across multiple partners (early childhood, K-12, postsecondary, etc.) and a strategy for the effective use of data across these partnerships
    2. Advise on the establishment of success metrics and data reporting end engagement mechanisms for local P-20 partnerships
  5. General Responsibilities
    1. Frequently represent EdSystems with critical partners, funders, and stakeholders
    2. Develop strong relationships with staff responsible for data management and provisioning at partner state agencies, postsecondary institutions, school districts, early childhood providers, etc.
    3. Remain current on industry best practices and emerging techniques in the field
    4. Effectively manage and execute on the above projects and others that may emerge, leading to continuation and expansion of these projects by the sponsors
    5. Develop project scopes and budgets for inclusion in proposals to public and private funders; support efforts to secure the projects
    6. Collaborate with EdSystems team members to identify opportunities for enhanced utilization of and engagement with data across project spaces

Qualifications

Desired Competencies

  • Passion for EdSystems’ mission and expanding opportunities for young people and adult learners through equitable and quality college and career preparation
  • Dedicated to establishing strong interpersonal relationships, both within EdSystems, with other NIU units, and with state and local partners
  • Data analytical skills with demonstrated ability to integrate data from multiple sources and turn that data into both data products and insights. Specific technical skills include:
    • Identifying and analyzing secondary datasets sourced from the U.S. Census or other public entities
    • Linking large datasets one-to-one / many-to-one / many-to-many using matching keys 
    • Using Microsoft Excel for data manipulation and analysis, including use of pivot tables and LOOKUP or related functions
    • Competency utilizing at least one data analytics platform (R Studio, Stata)
  • Strong and demonstrated ability to synthesize and present complex information in ways that are easy to interpret and lead to easy identification of key conclusions. Specific technical skills include:
    • Experience developing data visualizations (including basic dashboards) in Tableau required
    • Experience in additional platforms (e.g. PowerBI) preferred
    • Creating maps and performing basic geographic analyses using GIS applications
  • Strong project management skills with the demonstrated ability to coordinate people and processes to ensure that projects are delivered on time and produce the desired results; Project Management Professional (PMP) certification preferred
  • Ability to multitask and manage multiple projects, remain execution-focused, and troubleshoot challenges as they arise
  • Demonstrated ability to drive complex projects requiring significant stakeholder engagement and cross-functional collaboration
  • Deep understanding of public education systems and public workforce systems preferred
  • Familiarity with State government and policy context; familiarity with Illinois State government preferred
  • Highly developed verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to present effectively to large and small groups

Education & Experience

  • Bachelor’s-level degree with six or more years of related professional experience; or
  • Masters-level degree or higher involving significant coursework in data, analytics, statistics, and information management with three or more years of related professional experience

Terms of Appointment

  • Full-time appointment with annually renewable contract for each state fiscal year (July 1 – June 30)
  • Salary is based on experience and job performance
  • Evaluation of performance is ongoing and is based primarily upon an annually negotiated set of performance goals
  • EdSystems is currently working in a hybrid remote and in-person environment, with two days in-office per week, adjusting as public health conditions shift. COVID vaccinations and booster required.
  • The position will be expected to occasionally travel throughout Illinois and occasionally out-of-state as needed to meet responsibilities of the position.

How to Apply

Please submit a resume and cover letter to Jonathan Furr, Executive Director of Education Systems Center, to: EducationSystems@niu.edu. Select candidates will then be asked to submit contact information for three references and two work samples: (1) one demonstrating data analytical skills; and (1) one representing data visualization skills. Select candidates will then be invited to interview.