• Social Science Research Council (SSRC)
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Jul 24, 2020
Higher Education Executive

Job Description

The Presidential Search Committee invites nominations for the position of president of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Founded in 1923 and based in New York City, with several project offices overseas, the SSRC is an independent, not-for-profit, international organization that advances social scientific research for the benefit of all societies. Its activities include interdisciplinary research, workshops and conferences, fellowships and summer training institutes, and a wide array of scholarly exchanges. In collaboration with several hundred US and internationally based researchers, policymakers, professionals, activists, and others from the private and public sectors, a staff of approximately eighty develops and implements the Council’s programs, while working to strengthen research capacities in the United States and abroad. The SSRC shares knowledge with various public and decision-making groups through publications and other communications.


The president and chief executive officer of the SSRC are responsible for the organizational leadership, fiscal health, and achievement of the SSRC’s vision and goals. The president’s responsibilities include defining organizational and programmatic direction; bringing the Council’s convening power to bear; and communicating the goals, mission, accomplishments, and research findings of the organization and its programs. This president should also be able to lead and oversee the organizing of the Council’s centennial celebration in 2023. As a respected and creative intellectual, the president engages various communities of scholarship and practice, foundations, government, and international agencies, and public fora to harness the power of the social sciences and the SSRC itself to make a difference in addressing contemporary challenges around the world.

Beyond intellectual leadership and fundraising, the president must possess demonstrated organizational leadership, administrative, and budgetary skills. The president leads, guides, and mentors a diverse staff of professional social scientists, led by two experienced executives, the Vice President of Programs and the Vice President of Administration and Operations. The president supports staff in raising program-specific funds and achieving programmatic goals and is supported by staff in developing new initiatives. The president works to increase the Council’s institutional capacities through the cultivation of productive relationships with people of diverse interests and affiliations, including foundations and federal funding and private gifts; superintends the basic features of the budget, especially fundraising to meet core operating costs; and envisions new program directions. The president reports to the SSRC Board of Directors and usually has a five-year renewable term.

The president of the Council should be a distinguished social scientist dedicated to scholarly, programmatic, and institutional innovation. They will possess a wide range of intellectual interests, an appreciation for different scholarly approaches, and the capacity to connect, collaborate, and facilitate across diverse geographic, institutional, and intellectual boundaries. The Council’s president must also be an energetic fundraiser, skilled speaker, and an able representative of the social sciences who can explain their contributions to the public interest.

Desirable Attributes and Skills

Intellectual and Creative Leadership - The president should have a strong base in the social sciences, broadly defined, wide-ranging intellectual interests, and breadth of intellect. Evidence of distinguished leadership related to the academy and intellectual life is expected, as are deep connections within academia. The president should seek to advance new ideas and approaches and help the SSRC to build new areas of scholarship. The president should be a creator of innovative intellectual conversations and exert broad intellectual and public policy leadership.

Commitment to Diversity - The president should be committed to the promotion of intellectual and demographic diversity. They should combine intellectual assertiveness and passion with intellectual range and show appreciation for topics and methods outside of their personal knowledge and tastes. In other matters, the president should seek to make the Council as inclusive as possible.

Core Fundraising - In addition to championing programs and projects, the president should have the ability to raise core and endowment funds not attached to programs and to fundraise in the more traditional style of a university president, through the cultivation of sources of financial support, both individual and institutional, whose strategic concerns align with the Council’s work.

Institutional Knowledge, Administrative Experience, and Organizational Skills - The president should have experience with how organizations operate and how they can be best deployed to fulfill their mission. The president must be able to manage a complex organization and oversee its administration and budgets. Experience beyond the university, either in a foundation or not-for-profit, or broad intellectual experience in a public-oriented organization is important.

Constituency Connections and Cultivation - The SSRC is a network of networks. The president should demonstrate skill at creating and using cultural capital. This includes the ability to interface with the SSRC’s wide range of constituencies and stakeholders, such as the US- and internationally-based social scientists, foundation presidents, and officers, individual donors, consumers of social science inside and outside of governments, international agencies, and advocacy groups.

International Reach - The SSRC exists in a globalized world. The president should not be constrained by the boundaries of American intellectual life or by issues of domestic concern. The ability to nurture the SSRC’s international networks of social scientists and practitioners and to enhance the SSRC’s international orientation is strongly positive attributes. This includes fostering interdisciplinarity, international reach, and innovative knowledge production, in order to mobilize high-quality social science knowledge for the benefit of all societies.

Terms, Salary, and Benefits

Annual salary is commensurate with experience. Comprehensive benefits include health, dental, vision, disability, life, and gym reimbursement; annual tuition and/or student loan reimbursement and professional development funds; outstanding pension plan and tax savings programs; generous vacation and sick leave; and more.

Inquiries and Nominations

For inquiries and nominations, please contact Search Committee Chair, Dr. Helen Milner.

Applicants are asked to provide a statement (no more than 4 pages) of why you are interested in this position and how you see yourself in terms of the qualifications we have outlined for a new president of SSRC in the job description document.

The Social Science Research Council is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. We are dedicated to equal employment opportunity and to cultivating and sustaining a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. The SSRC maintains a policy of nondiscrimination with all employees and applicants for employment. All aspects of employment with the Council are made on the basis of competence, skill, and qualifications and will not be influenced in any manner by race, creed, color, religion, sex/gender, national origin/ancestry, ethnicity, age, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital or domestic partner status, medical conditions (including pregnancy and/or genetic information) or physical or mental disability, citizenship status or any other categories prohibited by law.