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Director of Data Services

  • Opportunity Posted On:


  • Company / Organization:

    Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)

  • Location:

    Boston, MA

  • View Job:

    View Job Opportunity
  • Opportunity Description



    MAPC seeks an experienced individual with a background in planning, research, data, and technology to become the agency’s next Director of Data Services, leading a team of planners, data scientists, digital technologists, researchers, and software developers dedicated to using data and technology to support informed and equitable decision-making.

    The department includes three working groups: a Research team that provides new insight on the past, present, and future of Metro Boston; an Analytical Services team that creates custom analyses and decision support tools for local and regional planning projects; and a Digital team that builds data-driven web applications and tackles the digital divide. Individually and collaboratively, these teams work on a wide variety of activities to advance the vision of MAPC’s regional plan, MetroCommon2050, including:

    • mapping and data presentations for local planning projects;
    • research and data development on topics of regional concern;
    • demographic and land use forecasting;
    • creation of digital tools for collection and dissemination of data;
    • creation of digital equity plans for municipalities, housing authorities, non-profit housing agencies, and others; and
    • using data and analysis to educate legislators, state and local officials, the media, and many other stakeholders.

    These activities cover a broad spectrum of topics, usually in a multidisciplinary approach covering everything from land use and housing to climate resilience, food systems, and complete streets.

    The Director establishes the strategic direction for the Department; supports project scoping and budgeting; provides guidance, when needed, on technical methods and data sources; designs, and occasionally writes or edits, research reports; and works with partners both within and outside of MAPC to identify policy implications and recommendations that emerge from research findings.  The Director also plays a key role in promoting and disseminating the work of the Department through presentations; engagement with state agencies, municipal officials, and advocacy organizations; media appearances; and participation in professional associations and peer groups.

    In addition to ensuring the technical rigor and relevance of the team’s work, the Director also fosters camaraderie among a team of roughly 15 professionals with a variety of backgrounds and skillsets. Creating opportunities for shared learning and collaboration, ensuring staff understanding of the agency mission, and building strong relationships with other MAPC departments are all essential parts of the position.

    The ideal candidate for this position has experience working in planning and policy in a large city or metro region; demonstrated experience working with a wide variety of data and research methods, including quantitative and qualitative research; experience leading and managing a diverse team; and a commitment to building a more sustainable, equitable, collaborative, and climate-resilient Greater Boston.


    Responsibilities (including but not limited to):


    • Provide strategic and managerial oversight of the department, including developing innovative strategies, annual work plans, departmental budgeting, and work priorities.
    • Support project scoping; provide guidance, as needed, on data sources and research methods; oversee critical review of data products, model outputs, and qualitative findings to ensure high quality work products.
    • Contribute to the production of deliverables (memos, plans, short- and long-form reports) through writing, editing, and review. Also, working together with other MAPC departments, coordinate the response to questions and data requests from state agencies, municipalities, media outlets, allied organizations, and the general public.
    • Make presentations about the agency’s work and policy priorities at meetings of other organizations, conferences, public hearings, and other venues; conduct media interviews about research releases and policy initiatives.
    • Build relationships with municipalities, other agencies, and allied organizations.
    • Prepare grant applications and project proposals; support fundraising activities conducted by other departments.
    • Oversee, manage, and support 3 working group managers and their teams, with an emphasis on long-term professional development and advancement of staff; collaborate with Human Resources to address hiring needs, performance issues, and personal accommodations, as needed. 
    • Contribute to the overall strategic direction and management of MAPC through collaboration with the Executive and Deputy Executive Director and other department and division leaders.   
    • Support overall integration of data and technology across the agency, including increasing the capacity of other departments to conduct analysis and use digital tools; integrate data and analysis into a wide variety of planning projects; and advance the use of digital tools to improve agency workflows.
    • Encourage the democratization and accessibility of data and data visualization throughout the region as a key agency principle, including the use of data by state agencies, local governments, community-based organizations, and residents of the region.
    • Serve as a mentor and leader of staff, developing relationships that are supportive and focused on professional development.




    Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s degree preferred. Coursework and concentration in regional and city planning, public policy, public management, social sciences, or a similar field, preferably with an emphasis on data analysis, research, and application. Candidates for this position should have at least 8 years of progressively senior experience in research and/or planning practice; experience in a regional context and multidisciplinary, applied research are preferred; and at least 5 years of demonstrated experience managing a team and supervising the work of others in a supportive and engaging manner.

    Successful candidates for this position will demonstrate all or most of the following:

    • Commitment to advancing equity in projects and policies across race, ethnicity, income, gender, and ability; commitment to developing a region that is collaborative, sustainable, and climate-resilient.
    • Demonstrated experience with the strategic management of data sources and research methods; helping to establish new sources and methods; ability to design projects in collaboration with non-technical partners, working in diverse content areas; and ensuring consistency and rigor of analysis by team members.
    • Familiarity with application and interpretation of spatial and statistical software programs such as GIS, R Studio, Python, and/or SQL; familiarity with qualitative research software tools such as NVivo and/or Dedoose; as well as understanding of basic web development frameworks. (Fluency with any or all of those programs/frameworks is a bonus, but not required.)
    • A solid understanding of how to design, interpret, and present demographic, employment, and housing demand forecasts for technical and non-technical audiences; knowledge of regional land use forecasting models is preferred; familiarity with principles of scenario planning and development of exploratory scenarios.
    • Strong project management skills, e.g., the ability to map deliverables strategically across multiple teams and stakeholder groups; the ability to design and deliver projects within a budget and on schedule; the ability to communicate schedule, resources, quality, progress, and trade-offs to internal and external stakeholders.