Research Director – American Oversight – Washington, DC – Full Time

American Oversight is looking for an enthusiastic and strategic Research Director to lead our team of passionate and talented researchers. We’re a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog that advances truth, accountability, and democracy by enforcing the public’s right to government records.

American Oversight uses its extensive experience in open records law to act where abuse of authority and government power overlap. From the federal Freedom of Information Act to state transparency laws, we file carefully crafted records requests to extract information from the government. If officials fail to respond as required by law, our team has the expertise to take them to court and enforce the public’s right to hold our leaders accountable. American Oversight has obtained and published more than one million pages of emails, memos, calendars, text messages, and other records and used those documents to ensure accountability, expose misconduct, and drive significant corrective action at all levels of government.

Setting and executing strategic research priorities – and adapting as circumstances warrant – is key to American Oversight’s impact and success. The Research Director will lead American Oversight’s daily investigative work and will help set and guide the organization’s overall investigative strategy. They’ll mentor and supervise our research team and work with the organization’s leadership team to uncover the facts and help the public understand critical accountability issues facing the country.

Job Responsibilities

Specific tasks will shift day by day with our work, but in a typical week, you will:

  • Manage and drive AO’s investigations on a day-by-day basis, making sure that AO is maximizing its impact in every priority mission area. Identify opportunities for new, high-impact investigations, distill large amounts of information into clear takeaways, and determine when to wind down investigative work with minimal impact.
  • Serve as a member of AO’s senior management team, collaborating with the Executive and Deputy Executive Directors and department heads across the organization to set and adjust strategic priorities and advance AO’s mission.
  • Cooperatively build a collegial, inclusive, and supportive workplace environment that prepares the team and the organization to achieve its mission and to meet evolving government accountability opportunities and challenges. 
  • Hire, manage, and make final personnel recommendations for members of the research team.
  • Ensure that the research team has the tools and training needed to conduct creative, high-quality investigative work.
  • Oversee all internal and external work products coming from the research team. Foster a culture and processes for the research team that prioritizes factual accuracy and real-world impact.
  • Serve as the primary ambassador for AO’s comprehensive research. Speak comfortably and with strong judgment to both internal and external audiences about every aspect of AO’s research work and the organization’s larger mission.
  • Participate in regular planning meetings to identify new opportunities to amplify and publicize the information we’ve uncovered and inform the public on key issues.
  • Engage in rapid response to current events, developments, and document releases in AO’s records requests and litigation.


  • At least seven years of previous research or investigatory experience. 
  • Experience designing and leading creative, high-impact research and investigations that achieve positive, real-world change.
  • Understand AO’s mission and how the research team works to advance it. 
  • Proficiency with the Freedom of Information Act and public records requests as well as commonly used research tools.
  • Communicate and express ideas effectively. Has impeccable writing and editing skills that convey our work in a persuasive and effective manner that is easily understood by the public.
  • Understand and is fluent in relevant news developments, the political landscape, and how public records can inform news coverage and government action. 
  • Proven ability to manage staff and drive a team’s performance by setting clear goals and expectations, tracking progress against goals, ensuring constructive feedback, and investing in the development and growth of staff members.
  • Demonstrated prioritization and project management expertise. Can accurately assess the time and resources needed to accomplish tasks as well as organizational priorities.
  • Commitment to building positive and collaborative relationships. Value and work to achieve an inclusive, and supportive workplace environment.
  • A high degree of professional ethics and integrity. 
  • Care deeply about how government actions impact the lives of ordinary people.

Additional Information

American Oversight is proudly an equal-opportunity employer and is committed to building a diverse team. Studies have shown that women and people of color are less likely to apply for jobs unless they believe they have every one of the qualifications listed. We are dedicated to finding the best candidate for the job. Our hiring process is centered on assessing candidates with diverse lived experiences. We would encourage you to apply, even if you don’t believe you meet every one of our qualifications described. If you are unsure of whether you meet the qualifications of this position, or how this would be determined, please contact us to discuss your application.

  • The starting salary range for this position is $130,000 – $150,000, commensurate with experience. Generous and comprehensive benefits package.
  • American Oversight is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
  • There is a preference for a candidate who is DC-based or within commuting distance and able to work in the office on a hybrid basis. This role will be managing a primarily remote team.

How to Apply

Interested applicants are encouraged by November 10, 2023, to ensure consideration of your application. Following November 10, 2023, we will be interviewing candidates and will continue to review applications on a rolling basis until the position is filled.