Research Director

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The Harmony Academy at National University (NU) launched in 2014 with a mission to create positive societal change by centering relationships through our programs for students, training for educators, and supports nonprofit leaders. The center is comprised of three major initiatives:

  • Harmony Curriculum: the largest of our three programs, Harmony Curriculum is a social and emotional learning (SEL) program for pre-K-6 grade students designed to foster communication, connection, and community both in and outside the classroom and develop young people into compassionate and caring adults.
  • Harmony Professional Learning: our mission is to empower educators with research-based knowledge and classroom-tested tools and practices, so they can inspire students to achieve academic and social success. Harmony Professional Learning offers more than 80 no-cost, on-demand courses to support teacher training in the areas of social and emotional learning and inspirational instruction in the pre-K-12 classroom.
  • Fundraising Academy: we prepare nonprofits and their fundraisers for greater, measurable impact by providing learning opportunities designed to enhance their cause, their communities, and the world. Through peer-to-peer instruction, our participants develop time-tested, relationship-building skills they can apply to their organizations now and in the future.


NU is breaking barriers in education. We are united in our mission to build a better future for our 45,000 students and more than 5,000 employees. Along with our 190+ career-relevant degree programs and innovative four-week course structure, we also provide meaningful support services designed to help our students succeed in the classroom, at work, at home, and beyond; and prioritize our employee’s wellbeing and growth.

The Harmony Academy is an extremely unique organization within NU – we see ourselves as an entrepreneurial start-up business thriving within a large academic institution. Since our launch, we have helped over 30,000 schools, serving 18M students across 88 countries, to develop strategies that benefit children socially, emotionally, and educationally. The COVID pandemic has increased our mission’s urgency, accelerating our rate of innovation and transition to a fully digital platform.

The Research Director will report to Dr. Nick Yoder, Associate Vice President of Whole Human Education & Research for the Harmony Academy at NU. Over the past two decades, Dr. Yoder’s expertise in integrating social, emotional, and academic development into educational policy and practice has been pivotal. His work is marked by a commitment to equitable whole-child development, underpinned by a strong foundation in research and data to improve educational outcomes. Prior to joining Harmony Academy, Dr. Yoder was the Director of Policy and Practice at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a principal/senior technical assistant consultant at the American Institutes for Research, a pre-service instructor and field coach at the University of Michigan, and a first-grade teacher in Chicago Public Schools.




  • Salary – $90,000 – $120,000
  • Medical, dental, vision, life insurance, AD&D, and disability insurance
  • 403(b) retirement plan with an employer match
  • PTO: 10 paid days off, 96 hours paid sick leave, 11 paid holidays, plus winter recess
  • Flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts
  • Emotional and mental health benefits


This is a fully remote position that will require you to travel 4-5 days per month.


The Research Director position was created to help Harmony and National University (NU) equip youth and adults with the social and emotional skills required to succeed in the worlds of education, career, and life. This role embodies innovation, collaboration, and a commitment to advancing knowledge and practice in education. Specifically, the Director will spearhead research efforts for the National Center of Whole Human Education & Research, collaborating closely with senior leadership at both the Harmony Academy and NU. Responsible for shaping and executing a robust research agenda, the Director drives national-level initiatives, forging impactful partnerships and leading diverse research studies. They will focus on translating research findings into actionable practices and ensure alignment with evidence-based strategies. The Director will also play a vital role in strategic planning, securing grants, and guiding the next generation of researchers, supervising, and mentoring 3-5 graduate students and research assistants.

Key functions include:

  • Develop and execute research agendas.
  • Foster research participation among staff and students.
  • Identify, pursue, and secure new grant funding sources.
  • Lead a team of 3 direct reports (FT Grants Specialist, PT Research Assistant, and a contract Researcher)
  • Create and lead an organization-wide evaluation roadmap for the Harmony Academy as well as individual program evaluations.
  • Build research briefs and tools to enhance Harmony’s overall user experience.
  • Facilitate collaboration and communication across the Harmony Academy and with NU.

The Research Director will be a key thought leader, looking over the horizon to determine future market needs around SEL and assisting the Harmony Academy to create products and services to meet those needs.


  • Collaborate with researchers, graduate students, and post-docs at the NU Cause Research Institute, Sanford College of Education and Psychology Department to co-develop a robust research agenda around relationships and SEL.
  • Conduct implementation and impact evaluations that fully implement Harmony, including the systemic approach both for NU and externally with third-party evaluators.
  • Engage in research-practice partnerships with school districts and strategic partners to better understand ways in which innovative solutions from Sanford Harmony Academies are implemented.
  • Identify new grant opportunities, contribute to grant writing, and manage relationships with grant officers, including leading content- and research-driven grants, as well as tracking and communicating our impact in grant reports.
  • Manage research projects with a research team (graduate students, research assistants, and stakeholders), ensuring research projects stay on track and within budget.
  • Participate in training, coaching, and supporting graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Collect, assemble, and maintain datasets for SEL, professional learning, and teacher preparation.
  • Analyze data to generate evidence that can influence policy and practice.
  • Author research reports, briefing memos, and summaries of journal articles, books, blogs, and news articles individually and in collaboration with other researchers and scholars (internal and external).
  • Present results of empirical analysis in interesting and easy-to-understand formats.
  • Partner with external clients and consultants to support research and evaluation.
  • Review content, products, and materials to ensure they align with evidence-based practices.
  • Attend conferences and seminars as needed.


  • Demonstrated experience leading research projects, including project director roles.
  • Strong project management and continuous improvement skills preferred.
  • Proficiency in mixed-methods research.
  • Experience in grant writing and educational publishing desirable.
  • Expertise in data collection and evaluation in community-based settings.
  • Ability to design analyses with practical implications.
  • Competent in training and managing teams effectively.
  • Excellent communication skills with diverse audiences, emphasizing clarity and precision.
  • Doctoral degree in education, psychology, or related field preferred.



All employees and new hires are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 unless otherwise exempted.


Katie Do, Director, Blair Search Partners
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