Senior Policy Research Associate

East Bay Area or Sacramento, CA | Aug 4, 2021

Position Overview:

First 5 Association believes that all of California’s youngest children deserve to be healthy, safe, and ready to thrive in school and life. The First 5 Center of Children’s Policy is the policy development and think-tank arm of the Association. The First 5 Center is seeking a Senior Policy Research Associate to contribute to the development of our policy research portfolio.

Reporting to the Managing Director, the Senior Policy Research Associate will lead major bodies of work related to health and community-based systems and services intended to improve the health and well-being of infants and toddlers. The Senior Policy Research Associate is a smart, self-motivated professional with a passion for social justice and a track record of using research and data to understand complex issues. This is a great position for a professional looking to deepen their policy acumen and contribute to a dynamic, committed and passionate team.

Successful Candidates:

  • Are mission-driven with a demonstrated passion for California families and issues of equity
  • Have a knack for communicating complex data and research findings in an understandable and compelling manner to a variety of audiences, both in writing and verbally
  • Are a talented time manager, able to adjust to changing priorities, manage multiple projects simultaneously and meet deadlines
  • Enjoy strategic and critical thinking and problem solving
  • Are policy wonks, with an interest in systems and root causes
  • Have strong inter-personal skills and the ability to build relationships with a wide range of colleagues and partners
  • Are comfortable working with complex information and are nimble adapters to new technology
  • Want to be a part of a team that is collaborative, mission-oriented, hard-working, evolving and caring
  • Have a sense of humor and curiosity

Key Responsibilities:

  • Lead the implementation and support the design of the Center’s research and policy analysis work focused on improving outcomes for infants and toddlers and strengthening California’s systems of care for families
  • Conduct a range of research projects including: literature reviews, design and execution of surveys, interviews and focus groups, research with public databases, and quantitative and qualitative data analysis
  • Produce written materials (reports, research/policy briefs, memos, blogs, policy papers) on issues impacting young children and families with low-income in California
  • Create well-crafted data visualizations, charts, tables, spreadsheets, and other communication tools for internal and external use
  • Present research findings to various audiences including the First 5 network, partner organizations, media outlets, funders, state officials, and other stakeholders
  • Support partnerships with state and county departments, peer association organizations, academia, foundations, and other early childhood advocacy organizations
  • Contribute to the development of new funding proposals aligned with the Center’s goals and vision
  • Cultivate relationships with Center funders and grantees. Document progress and contribute to regular reporting
  • Develop and shape strategic and research-informed policy recommendations
  • Support the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and value a diversity of perspectives
  • Act with integrity, professionalism, and exercise excellent judgment
  • Oversee the work of interns, as necessary.


  • Experience working in California state policy and knowledge of state and county systems such as health, social services and/or public health. Knowledge of early childhood programs preferred.
  • Experience developing research-based and/or practice-informed policy proposals
  • Master’s degree or other advanced degree from an accredited college or university in a social science discipline such as public policy, public health, education or other related field. A combination of education and experience may be substituted
  • Experience working directly with children and families a plus.

Location and Travel

  • Position located in the East Bay Area or Sacramento.
  • Occasional travel within California.

The chosen candidate will join a ten-person team devoted to:

  • Making a difference in the lives of young children and their families in California, particularly those who face the greatest systemic barriers to opportunity;
  • Being strategic and nimble in navigating an ever-changing environment as we work toward long-term goals;
  • Growing our collective capacity to deepen our impact, take on new opportunities and challenges in the “what” and “how” of our work;
  • Being simultaneously aspirational and pragmatic;
  • Intentional, thoughtful, meaningful collaboration;
  • Supporting individual and team learning and ongoing development;
  • Seeking to learn about and from each other’s backgrounds and experience and incorporate the fullness of each person’s talents and insights into our work together;
  • Recognizing the importance of supportive relationships and the need to prioritize them inside and outside the workplace;
  • Making time for personal connections in the office, acknowledging challenges, and allowing people to share at their own level of comfort.

In an organization that:

  • Recently finalized a new three-year strategic plan that will advance our mission for young children and their families, and fully center our four core principles of a whole child whole family framework, equity, systems coordination, and prevention;
  • Is taking actionable steps toward becoming more equitable, diverse and inclusive, and recognizes these steps must continue to evolve in response to societal change;
  • Recognizes and values the connection of strong, high functioning internal operational systems and externally oriented work to advance our mission;
  • Builds on the power of all 58 county First 5 county commissions, working collectively toward shared goals to improve outcomes and opportunity for children and families, while recognizing and honoring the strengths and expertise of local First 5’s work in their diverse communities.

It is the policy of First 5 Association to afford equal opportunity in all aspects of employment to all persons without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, physical or mental disabilities, color, marital status, sexual orientation or medical condition, or any other basis protected by law. This policy shall apply to all employees and applicants for employment, and extends to all phases of employment, including hiring, training, promotion, discharge or layoff, rehiring, compensation and benefits.

Application Process:

Interested? Then apply. We encourage candidates with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to join our team. Please submit a single PDF document with a cover letter describing your interest and experience, along with an up-to-date resume to The email subject line should read: Application for Senior Policy Research Associate.

In service of building a more equitable hiring process, we ask applicants to consider removing any identifiers from their cover letter and resume related to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or other identity factors. Research indicates this is one practice that can reduce the impact of unconscious bias in the preliminary selection process. We look forward to learning about and from candidates’ full lived experience in later stages of the interview process. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis through September 3, 2021.