Senior Associate Director, Research Operations

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

Posted: 8/19/2020

Position Type: Full-Time (Paid)

Function: Programs

Primary domain: Foundation/Grantmaking

City: New York

Postal code: 10120

State: New York

Country: United States

Organization Information:


Not Available


Mission statement:

About us:

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) was founded in 2000 with one clear objective: finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease (PD) in our lifetime. The Foundation applies extraordinary scientific, business and media assets to this singular focus — thus creating a unique and dynamic organization. Since inception, MJFF has quickly grown into the largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson’s disease research worldwide, having funded more than $900 million in research projects in academic and industry labs worldwide to date. We exist to put ourselves out of business, so we deliberately hold no endowment or excessive reserves, but spend what we raise quickly and efficiently; 88 cents of every dollar spent goes directly to research programs. Today, the Foundation has about 160 full-time employees.

We work aggressively to support the entire Parkinson’s therapeutic development enterprise by de-risking specific therapeutic approaches and developing and distributing fieldwide tools, in order to seed and support a robust pipeline of new treatments for patients. Achieving our mission requires that we inspire the engagement of all Parkinson’s stakeholder groups — industry and academic researchers, clinicians, data scientists, policy makers, and most important, people and families living with Parkinson's. In service of this mission, the Marketing & Communications team works to leverage the Foundation’s tremendous research achievements and highly respected brand identity in service of our mission to speed better treatments and a cure for Parkinson’s.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation strongly encourages applications from individuals who will contribute to our efforts to build and support a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce. Diversity may refer to characteristics including, but not limited to, race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic circumstance, geographic background, ability and disability, political ideology and age.

Within MJFF, the Research Programs department supports the Foundation’s mission of developing new and improved PD therapies through its focus on three key activities:

  • Developing the strategic research agenda for MJFF based on our unique position as thought leaders and conveners of key stakeholders including academic, government and industry researchers and the patient community
  • Selecting the most promising research projects for MJFF funding given our portfolio approach and scientific priorities
  • Management of research awards through peer-to-peer partnerships

The Research Operations is a team within Research Programs that operationalizes the strategic and tactical goals of the science team connecting the bridge between the department and the wider foundation on operational activities. Recently, the Research Operations team extended support to implement the funding programs of the Aligning Science Across Parkinson’s (ASAP) Initiative. ASAP is partnering with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) to leverage the Foundation’s grant administration and grantmaking infrastructure to receive applications, administer the review process and make grant awards to projects selected for funding. 

Position Details:

Job Description:

Position description

As Senior Associate Director, you will have two primary responsibilities: (1) ensuring integrated, cohesive funding strategy development across priority research areas and (2) complex project and portfolio management (e.g. digital health).


MJFF’s Research Programs team resources are organized around priority areas – top-down priority scientific topics for which multifaceted funding roadmaps are developed and executed (e.g. synuclein, LRRK2, diagnostic biomarkers, etc). The department needs a strategic thinker and experienced project manager to catalyze alignment of individual priority area roadmaps and ensure our overarching portfolio approach cohesively and efficiently advances the organization’s mission. The position will be pivotal in driving MJFF’s research agenda by harmonizing research initiatives across functional teams, identifying synergies to improve the efficiency of our portfolio, and presenting recommended optimization strategies and specific projects to senior management to secure approval and departmental resources.


The Senior Associate Director will also manage several high-profile, complex initiatives led by Research Programs. Multi-stakeholder consortia have become a critical tool in executing the MJFF agenda, and this position will leverage your project management skills to manage focused consortia tackling key research challenges. As a seasoned project manager within the department, you will also mentor junior department project managers on business process issues, establishing and sharing best practices across the team. The position reports to the Director, Research Program Operations.


The ideal candidate for this role should be comfortable in a high performance, fast paced, collaborative environment. In addition, he/she should have exceptional project management, research and analytical skills, ability to work well within a team as well as superb written and verbal communication. This role has high visibility to MJFF’s senior leadership who are deeply engaged in our fast-growing, dynamic business environment.


Primary roles and responsibilities:

  • Portfolio Alignment
    • lead semi-annual research vision planning; collaborate with priority area leads during strategic planning to connect dots across portfolio areas to ensure efficient use of staff and funding resources toward our holistic research mission
    • Lead development and execution of strategic work streams that are coordinated across research department
    • Lead holistic alignment of funding initiatives and research planning linked to individual priority area strategy with an eye toward improving efficiency of resource allocation (staff and funding) and accelerating progress toward the Foundation’s mission
    •  Establish novel department-wide processes to ensure MJFF research funding strategy across priority areas are aligned on project-level, semi-annual and multi-year timeframes
  • Portfolio Management
  • Complex Project Development

Aids senior management in the identification of operational and strategic risks and the development of mitigation strategies along with contingency options
  • Consortia Management
    •  Lead MJFF programmatic consortia and multi-stakeholder initiatives
    • Reconceive and lead consortia to maximize value to MJFF and research community (e.g. LRRK2, digital health/mobile tech, and inflammation consortia)
  • Cross-Departmental Liaison
    • Develop mechanisms to effectively communicate research programmatic strategy across departments including Advancement, Communications, and Marketing
  • Project Management Mentoring
Serves as a mentor for department project management staff including aiding in onboarding and coaching


Ideal candidates will possess:

  • Experience in grants life-cycle administration and compliance for varying types of grants and grantees.
  • Expert who will balance the standardization needed for our grantmaking processes to operate efficiently and equitably at scale, with the flexibility to meet the individual needs of our program teams.
  • Passionate about systems improvement, customer service, analytics and learning, and process documentation.
  • Ability to take a project from initial idea through plan development and implementation and ultimate conclusion
  • Sophisticated people and project management skills with minimum of 3-5 years of proven track record in managing complex multi-party projects and minimum of 3-5 years of direct people management.
  • Self-starter with exceptional critical thinking, analytical, influencing and communication skills. Being able to plan and execute with and through people is critical to success
  • Candidate should be organized, independent, detail-oriented, flexible multi-tasker who is comfortable working in a fast-paced environment with competing projects and priorities while maintaining composure under demanding deadlines.
  • Ability to facilitate meetings and communicate findings and results to project teams, sponsors, and management
  • Ability act as a point of contact between senior leadership, employees and other stakeholders
  • Excellent relationship management, interpersonal, verbal, and written communication skills
  • Ability to on-board and manage a team in-person, remotely or a combination of these setting
  • Strong computer skills including use of standard software packages (e.g., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) and familiarity with additional technologies useful for team project management.


Not Specified


Commensurate with Experience

Posting Expiration Date:


How to Apply:

How to Apply

Interested candidates should submit a resume and thoughtful cover letter to this link. Submissions without cover letters will not be considered. We ask that you do not contact our staff directly and no phone inquiries please. Applicants who best match the position needs will be contacted

The Michael J. Fox Foundation strongly encourages applications from individuals who will contribute to our efforts to build and support a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce. Diversity may refer to characteristics including, but not limited to, race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic circumstance, geographic background, ability and disability, political ideology and age.


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