Employment Opportunity

Program Officer: American Democracy, Political and Voting Reform

Cambridge, MA OR Washington, D.C. preferred

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences seeks a Program Officer to serve as project lead and subject matter expert for the Academy’s efforts to advance the recommendations of Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century. Working with project chairs, the program director, and Academy staff, this role will be responsible for helping to craft and implement a national strategy to empower voters, achieve equality of voice and representation, and build responsive political institutions. These efforts will reflect the Academy’s unique nonpartisan and multidisciplinary status, reputation for thought leadership, and commitment to research-driven policy recommendations.

The final report of the Academy’s Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, Our Common Purpose (OCP) contains recommendations that cut across political institutions, civil society, and civic culture with the goal of strengthening American constitutional democracy.  The Academy is committed to advancing the report’s theory of change and to making significant progress on all 31 of the report’s recommendations by 2026, the 250th anniversary of the nation’s founding.

The Academy is committed to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion and looks to all its staff members to foster and promote these values.

This position will report to the Director of American Institutions, Society and the Public Good.

Proximity to the Cambridge, MA or Washington, DC offices preferred but exceptions will be considered. This is a two-year, full-time position with the possibility for contract renewal through 2026.

Major Areas of Responsibility:

  • With the program director and other project leadership, design and implement a multi-year, national strategy to advance the recommendations in Our Common Purpose in keeping with the Academy’s status as an independent, nonpartisan policy center.
  • Regularly monitor, assess, and report on the progress of the subset of OCP recommendations related to political institutions, voting, and representation (found in strategies 1-3 of the OCP report).
  • Build relationships and serve as thought partner with local and national stakeholders and thought leaders to advance a subset of democracy reform recommendations; maintain regular communication with existing champion organizations and grow the network necessary to advance the recommendations.
  • Organize, manage, and facilitate meetings, working groups, and public events to support a subset of democracy reform recommendations; create supporting materials as needed.
  • Contribute to the writing and development of materials for the purposes of internal use, outreach, and public education initiatives.
  • Integrate racial equity into all strategic initiatives.
  • Assist with executive briefings, presidential remarks, and speeches.
  • Represent the project at various convenings and briefings as requested.
  • May supervise permanent or temporary Academy staff in tasks related to the project and encourage staff development.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • An MPA, MPP, J.D., Ph.D, or other relevant degree in the social sciences, humanities, or public policy;
  • At least 5 years (1 year with a J.D. or Ph.D.) full-time substantive professional work experience in grassroots advocacy, American politics, policy making, or a related field;
  • Expertise in the study or practice of political reform, policy making, and the functioning of American government at all levels (state and local advocacy or policy making a plus) and demonstrable experience drafting policy briefs;
  • Demonstrated strategic outreach and communications experience, with an ability to grow and leverage stakeholder networks; to identify campaign and public education opportunities; and the flexibility to be adaptive to changing political opportunities;
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills, including an ability to synthesize, summarize, and present research findings and recommendations for a variety of audiences;
  • Demonstrated ability to effectively engage with a wide variety of internal and external groups including funders; grassroots and advocacy organizations; academic, policy, and research institutions; and other potential partners;
  • Strong skills in academic research, data collection and analysis, and ability to translate collected data clearly to diverse audiences;
  • Ability to foster an inclusive and collegial team environment and leverage diverse perspectives of committee members and internal staff;
  • Experience managing complex projects on tight deadlines;
  • Ability to creatively problem-solve and be flexible in a changing work environment;
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Word) and data visualization;
  • Occasional travel may be required.