Anxieties of Democracy Program Director


The SSRC seeks a Program Director the Anxieties of Democracy program. The Program Director will oversee focused working groups, a grants program, and a range of outreach and public engagement activities dedicated to addressing how to make democracies govern more effectively.


The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is an independent, international, nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of interdisciplinary research in the social sciences through a wide variety of workshops and conferences, fellowships and grants, summer training institutes, scholarly exchanges, research, and publications.

The SSRC invites applications for the position of Program Director for the Anxieties of Democracy program. The program is motivated by a deep concern about whether the core institutions of representative democracies—elections, mass media, political parties, interest groups, social movements, and, especially, legislatures—that connect citizens and civil society to the political system can capably address large problems in the public interest. The program includes both a particular focus on US democracy and a global perspective on established democracies across world regions. With the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and others, the Anxieties of Democracy program aims to mobilize existing research; promote new research; publish and disseminate findings; forge pathways for bringing this knowledge to policy, media, and public audiences; and provide opportunities for new generations of social scientists to address how to make democracies govern more effectively. It pursues these goals through a set of topically focused working groups, a grants program, and a range of outreach and public engagement activities. This position is for three years and is potentially renewable.


The best-qualified candidates will have a PhD in one of the social sciences or a closely related field and demonstrated achievements as a researcher. Recent PhDs may apply, but competitive candidates should demonstrate experience in program or project administration, collaborative work, the organization of events, connection and outreach to practitioners, and supervision of staff. Ability to communicate effectively is crucial, and experience engaging both researchers and nonacademic constituencies, including funders and policymakers, is critical. Familiarity with grants administration and budgeting is desirable. Candidates must demonstrate their ability to work collaboratively and to manage multiple priorities and projects effectively.


The Program Director will

  • manage the continued development and implementation of the Anxieties of Democracy program, including the development of funding proposals to support program activities;
  • with the program’s Advisory Committee and the SSRC president, establish substantive program directions, facilitate strategic planning, and conduct oversight of program activities; engage with program funders and produce reports on program progress;
  • oversee planning for upcoming events, including conferences, workshops, and other meetings, as well as manage program budgets;
  • oversee the process and quality of publications emerging from the program as well as its online and social media presence;
  • facilitate connections between scholars and relevant policy and media communities in order to maximize the possibilities of shaping broader public debate on how to improve the problem-solving capacities of representative democratic institutions;
  • oversee a small-scale grants program on Negotiating Agreement in Congress;
  • liaise and coordinate with SSRC colleagues and various organizational partners on aspects of program implementation; and
  • handle additional responsibilities and projects as directed, depending on interest and capacity.

Terms, Salary and Benefits

Annual salary will be commensurate with experience. Comprehensive benefits include health, dental, vision, disability, life, and gym reimbursement; outstanding pension plan and tax savings programs; generous vacation and sick leave; and more. Provisions are made for professional staff to continue their development as social scientists while at the Council.

Application Information

For further information or to apply, please send a cover letter that includes your thoughts on how the Anxieties of Democracy program might next proceed, a curriculum vitae, one writing sample, and the names of at least three professional colleagues who can serve as references to Please put “Anxieties of Democracy PD” in the subject line.

Applications will be accepted until the position has been filled but should be received by May 12, 2017, for priority consideration.

The Social Science Research Council is an Equal Opportunity Employer.