Mental Health and Justice Policy Researcher

01 Jun, 2021


Mental Health and Justice Policy Researcher

Pew Charitable Trusts
Washington, DC

Formal job title: Officer, Research, Mental Health and Justice

The Government Performance Portfolio within Program

Pew’s government performance work identifies and advances effective approaches to help solve complex challenges at all levels of government in the United States.

The portfolio’s work can be traced back to our founders’ early efforts to improve the lives of Americans by supporting efforts that promoted health, civic engagement, and democratic ideals. Today, we conduct research on emerging topics, develop data-driven reports, and highlight innovative, non-partisan approaches in addressing complex problems at the federal, state, and local levels as well as the interplay that can occur between jurisdictions. Current initiatives focus on health, fiscal and economic policy, and safety and justice, and take into account significant trends such as evolving technologies, and the increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the United States population.

Our teams explore and advance effective, evidence-based policies using credible, timely, and accessible research, assessing public support for change, identifying approaches that have proved successful elsewhere, and bringing together diverse perspectives to find common ground. We work in collaboration with organizations that share our commitment to rigorous research, measurable results, and public service, and we focus on developing durable policy change. In addition, our teams use strategic outreach and dissemination to ensure that good information is widely communicated to decision-makers, media, influential stakeholders, and the public.

Mental Health and Justice Partnerships

On any given day in the United States, there are far more people with serious mental health needs in jails than there are in mental health facilities. Building on the momentum that exists in the field to address this issue and Pew’s history of working on criminal justice and behavioral health issues, Pew launched the mental health and justice initiative to connect stakeholders, establish models for reform, and improve the capacity of states and county governments to implement comprehensive alternatives to decrease the use of law enforcement, jails, and emergency rooms as the response for people experiencing an acute mental health crisis. This project envisions a continuum of services that ensures people with mental health and substance abuse needs are connected to treatment and engaged in recovery. This initiative will combine intensive state and national engagements to provide data-driven policy considerations, technical assistance, and design funding strategies, together with policymakers, philanthropy, and other stakeholders to implement promising practices across the county.

Position Overview

The officer, research, mental health and justice partnerships, will help conceptualize, design and complete research and analysis on key issues related to mental health, behavioral health, and crisis services. This position requires close collaboration with Pew’s research review and support, government relations, and communications units as well as external researchers, reviewers and evaluators. The ideal candidate has a research background, strong quantitative and qualitative skills, strong writing skills, and expertise in the project’s areas of work.

The position, based in Pew’s Washington, D.C., office, reports to the project director, mental health and justice partnerships.


  • Manage research processes for the team, coordinating with Pew’s quality control staff and outside experts as needed to ensure sound methodologies and accurate findings.
  • Identify possible topics and develop the scope of research needed to fully explore the topics.
  • Conduct background and primary research, including empirical analysis; compilation, analysis and presentation of data sets; literature reviews; and interviews.
  • Cultivate and maintain a broad knowledge of public policy discussions, regulatory changes, and other relevant changes to state- and national-level mental health, behavioral health, and crisis services policies, research methodologies, and practices.
  • Develop and write major policy research reports and shorter issue briefs, fact sheets and other content that are relevant to policy deliberations and easily understood by the public, media and policymakers, often in collaboration with external writers and consultants. Prepare charts and tables as needed.
  • Edit and proof draft documents for accuracy.
  • Represent the project and Pew at conferences, meetings, and other events, including preparing materials for distribution, as well as making presentations.
  • Participate in conferences, seminars and other professional development activities to keep current in a broad range of relevant policy issues.
  • Maintain, strengthen and expand a broad knowledge of research methodologies and practices.
  • Closely collaborate with Pew’s research review and support, government relations, and communications units as needed.
  • Contribute to and participate in tasks of the project and department as assigned as well as broader Pew-wide projects and committees as needed.


  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience required. An advanced degree in a relevant discipline preferred.
  • At least eight years of applicable experience in the field gained through professional education, training and professional experience, including demonstrated research, data collection, analytical, and writing skills, including a proven facility with quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Deep knowledge of mental health, behavioral health and crisis services research and public policy.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills, including ease in translating complex concepts clearly and effectively, ability to synthesize and summarize large amounts of information and focus quickly on the essence of an issue, and ability to listen carefully.
  • Demonstrated strong analytical skills applied to public policy issues, including an ability to synthesize and summarize large amounts of information and to focus quickly on the essence of an issue.
  • Proficiency in Excel required; familiarity with other statistical analytical tools (R, Stata, and/or SPSS) is a plus.
  • Demonstrated time- and project-management skills, including an ability to meet multiple deadlines by maintaining a high level of organization. Able to manage multiple complex research projects simultaneously.
  • Ability to independently deliver high-quality work while also operating as a team player; able to develop and manage productive and collaborative relationships, both internally and externally
  • Able to independently deliver high quality products in a timely manner.


This position requires occasional domestic travel to meetings and conferences.

Total Rewards

We offer a competitive salary and benefit program, including: comprehensive, affordable health care through medical, dental, and vision coverage; financial security with life and disability insurance; opportunities to save using health savings and flexible spending accounts; retirement benefits to help prepare for the future; and work/life benefits to maintain a good balance.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is an equal opportunity employer, committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. Pew considers qualified applicants for employment without regard to age, sex, ethnicity, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity, military/veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.

Apply here

Job posted: 2021-06-01