Director of Learning Innovation and Data Systems (LIDS)

  • Polaris
  • Washington, DC, USA
  • Oct 28, 2019
Full-time Data Analysis Data Collection Data Engineering Data Quality Data Science Machine Learning Qualitative Quantitative Research Strategy

Job Description

Position: Director of Learning Innovation and Data Systems (LIDS)

Department: Programs

FLSA Status: Full-Time, Exempt

Reports to: Chief Programs Officer

Direct Reports: Associate Director, Data Quality; Learning and Impact Manager; Strategic Research Specialist 

Location: Washington, DC

About Program

Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris acts as a catalyst to systemically disrupt the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. By working with government leaders, the world's leading technology corporations, and local partners, Polaris equips communities to identify, report, and prevent human trafficking. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what we do – helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate.  Founded in 2002, Polaris is currently in a period of rapid growth, introducing new programs aimed at strategic interventions to change systems, disrupt human trafficking where it is occurring, and restore freedom to survivors.

About Opportunity

Polaris is hiring a Learning, Innovation and Data Systems (LIDS) Director to join the leadership of the Program team and serve on the Senior Leadership Team of the organization. 

This position will lead the newly formed Learning, Innovation, and Data Systems team which serves as a data analysis and learning hub for Polaris and the broader anti-trafficking field. 

The LIDS Director will lead a team that performs three key functions in the organization:

1) the team analyzes information from the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline and other key data sources to create the largest human trafficking dataset in the United States and shares this critical information with the anti-trafficking field to facilitate a data-driven understanding of the evolving crime,

2) the team conducts qualitative and quantitative research to better understand emerging areas and to ensure survivors’ perspectives and voices are integrated into the field’s understanding, and

3) the team is responsible for developing learning and impact systems to help Polaris track and better understand our impact.


Data Systems:

  • Direct and oversee the organization’s data strategy including: data diversification, data acquisition, sharing, and collection methods to increase data about human trafficking, data analysis, and data use. This includes conceptualizing and deploying new machine-learning and AI efforts in partnership with the Polaris technology team. 
  • Establish and nurture strategic data partnerships with relevant research institutions and stakeholders to develop data sharing initiatives and collaborative data analysis efforts.
  • Lead the organization’s efforts to improve data collection, data management, and analysis efforts, ensuring that Polaris is leveraging cutting edge data tools and systems to improve its work.
  • Oversee data policies and procedures with a survivor-centered approach to data engagement.
  • Communicate Polaris’s data standards and research methodology publicly in order to continue to grow Polaris’s position as a leader on data and analysis in the human trafficking movement, both nationally and globally;


  • Serve as the senior technical expert on quantitative and qualitative research methodologies (in partnership with outside experts as needed)
  • Oversee major national research initiatives undertaken by the organization

Learning and Impact:

  • Lead the organization’s development of a learning and impact framework.  With support from the Chief Program Officer, guide the adoption of key tools, including complex systems analysis methods. 
  • Work alongside program directors and program teams to design monitoring and evaluation frameworks, guide research, create and verify data collection tools, and analyze and interpret data using a wide range of approaches, techniques and tools.
  • Provide oversight and support to strategic initiatives and the National Human Trafficking Hotline to summarize and report impact of grant-funded programs, including the creation of logic models, M&E plans, and other tools.
  • Manage external consultants on internal evaluation and learning efforts.

Team Leadership:

  • Provide direct management, mentorship, direction, and support to the Associate Director of Data Quality who oversees 2 staff and a team of 16 data quality associates, the Learning and Impact Manager, and the Strategic Research Specialist.    
  • Direct the activities and manage the contracts of consultants providing project support, as needed. 

Organizational Leadership:

  • Serve on the Senior Leadership Team
  • Cultivate and maintain effective relationships across the Program team and Senior Leadership Team to advance Polaris’s program priorities;
  • Commitment to the National Human Trafficking Hotline mission and Polaris values; 
  • Other duties as assigned by supervisor. 

This job description provides a summary of the major duties and responsibilities performed by individuals in this position.  Incumbents may be asked to perform other tasks not specifically written in this job.

Required Qualifications

  • At least 7 years of experience in one or more of the following areas: quantitative and qualitative social science research with marginalized or hidden populations, data science with marginalized or hidden populations, monitoring and evaluation of complex human trafficking programs, tool design, validation, data collection, and analysis in human rights, international development, or comparable fields
  • Understanding of how to apply machine learning techniques and other technology toward analysis of large data sets
  • Demonstrated proficiency in project management;
  • Genuine interest and passion for Polaris’s issues and priorities;
  • Ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment that requires rapid prioritization of a number of projects;
  • Personal resilience and ability to remain positive and work well under pressure, within tight deadlines, on topics that may be personally challenging;
  • Ability to consistently apply professionalism and good judgment in a fast-paced environment;
  • Demonstrated discretion in handling sensitive and confidential information and ability to maintain the highest degree of confidentiality regarding all aspects of work at all times
  • A self-starter with demonstrated ability to produce results in a high-performance environment and collaborate effectively across multiple functions 
  • Highly developed written and verbal communication skills with a strong focus on being able to explain complex technical information to a non-technical audience and to act as a conduit between technical and programmatic teams, and a demonstrated ability to communicate across diverse communities;
  • Demonstrated track record as an effective team manager with the capacity to build, mentor and supervise a diverse, inclusive and equitable team;
  • Ability to travel domestically, and on occasion, internationally

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience collecting, analyzing and applying data to improve racial and economic equity
  • Expertise in data ethics in social science
  • Demonstrated flexibility and non-dogmatic approach to learning and impact, and a service orientation toward working with program teams
  • Experience using data to support effective decision-making, with a track record of pivoting in response to opportunities and challenges

Communication (“External” Changes based upon position)

  • Internal: Ability to communicate effectively with executives, peers, and direct reports ; and
  • External: Ability to represent Polaris’ data and research work to external audiences including policy makers and academics.

Working Conditions

  • Typical office setting

Physical Requirements (can change with position)

  • Prolonged sitting, chiefly at a computer terminal;
  • Occasional bending, stooping and stretching;
  • Requires eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity sufficient to operate a computer, telephone, calculator, and other office equipment;
  • Requires normal range of hearing and eyesight to record, prepare, and communicate in writing, in person and by phone;
  • Requires occasional lifting up to 25 pounds.

Values Statement

The work of Polaris is grounded in a set of values and organizational beliefs that provide a common starting point for all of our activities. At Polaris, we look for talented individuals who are passionate about combating all forms of human trafficking and who will strive to embody and model these values within the Polaris community and in the anti-trafficking field. Please take a moment to make yourself familiar with these values and our mission statement before submitting your application. You can find a full description of our values on our website.


Polaris designs and implements data-driven strategies to prevent and disrupt human trafficking, and restore freedom to survivors.  Achieving this ambitious goal requires both trafficking-specific systemic interventions and broader cultural and structural shifts that reduce the inequities that lead to human trafficking. While Polaris alone cannot build a more diverse, just, equitable, and inclusive society, both the success of our work and our organizational values require modeling in the workplace the change we want to see in the world.

This means cultivating a workforce, organizational culture, and priorities that respect and celebrate a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team made up of individuals with different identities, lived experiences, and backgrounds. Within both our team and across every part of our work, we strive to integrate and elevate the full range of survivor voices.

This is a living commitment. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are values to be manifested daily, in the work we do, the decisions we make, and the way that we treat each other and the people we seek to serve.  This means creating space where staff can be included, heard, valued, and set up for success, and where everyone feels empowered to bring their full, best selves to work. We will not check boxes and consider it done. We will push new innovations and different ways of thinking, and treasure the community built and strengthened by each of our contributions.