Director of Research

The Partnership on AI (PAI) is hiring a one (1) year fixed-term Director of Research with the possibility of permanent extension at the end of the year. This role will support strategic vision-setting for the organization’s research agenda, and will manage the Research team and grow the Research program area as our work expands. This position reports to PAI’s Acting Executive Director. 


PAI is a nonprofit multistakeholder research organization founded in 2017 by a coalition of leaders representing technology companies, civil society organizations, and academic institutions interested in ensuring the safe, effective, ethical, and responsible development and deployment of AI. The Partnership was established to study and formulate best practices on AI technologies, to advance the public’s understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society. Today, the Partnership is a global coalition of over 100 organizations spanning a wide array of sectors and interests, including commercial technology companies, research laboratories and academic institutions, civil society organizations, and more. 

The significant majority of PAI’s work is supported by our research issue areas, which span six Thematic Pillars: 

Safety-Critical AI

Fair, Transparent, and Accountable AI

AI, Labor, and the Economy

Collaborations Between People and AI Systems

Social and Societal Influences of AI

AI and Social Good 

More information on our work, and samples of our publicly-available research, can be accessed here:

PAI’s Research Program

Over the last year the Partnership has invested significantly in the development of a multidisciplinary, multistakeholder research program focused on building the field of responsible AI. We do so via research that expands inquiry in the field, and active experimentation with and improvement of the practice of AI technology development and deployment. With a year of development and experimentation behind us, PAI is seeking a Director of Research responsible for building on these successes and leading a growing and dynamic research team to support its mission.  

PAI gathers researchers, practitioners, and global community members to collaborate on work that will positively shape the practice of AI development and deployment via our coalition of 100+ global organizations and our extensive network of affiliates. We work to ensure that such practice is applied by researchers, developers, and other practitioners in the field, and informed by a wide community of experts, disciplines, and perspectives. The work we do ultimately aims to influence day-to-day practice and policy in our Partner organizations, including some of the world’s largest technology companies, and is designed to meaningfully support the process of informing policy making and regulatory development by global policymakers grappling with important questions about AI’s impact and development. 

The Partnership is at once a research organization, a testbed for meaningful collaborations between organizations on experiments in AI governance, and a community of practice. We are looking for a dynamic research leader interested in the compelling, urgent, practical work of driving an evidence base to support responsible AI, and to help the Partnership and its community move the field from principles to practice.


The Director of Research Role

The Director of Research will be responsible for overseeing and facilitating the research endeavors of the organization, with possibilities extending across conducting original research, contracting external research, conducting multistakeholder work with the PAI community, and other forms of support of the sociotechnical AI research ecosystem (e.g. with grants or paper prizes). The individual will also contribute to the development of the Partnership’s strategic roadmap of priority areas for research attention, working in collaboration with the Acting Executive Director and the organization’s leadership team, and interface with Partner organizations on best practice development for the AI field as it relates to PAI research areas.


PAI is headquartered in San Francisco, with a global membership base and scope but we will consider remote work.


Key Responsibilities:

  • Actively contribute to and participate in strategic direction setting for the Partnership on AI. Develop a compelling research agenda for PAI, spanning original research and multistakeholder work in support of capacity-building the research field in directions important for further inquiry, and in support of best practice generation. Seek out and support ground-breaking work that further advances the field of Responsible AI, understanding of its impacts, and its governance and practice. Oversee research budget and develop scalable systems for research prioritization (e.g., across internal/external configurations, across content areas).

  • Recruit and manage teams of cross-disciplinary researchers and issue area teams to address major challenges in responsible AI across PAI’s Thematic Pillars and priorities. Support and mentor PAI’s research team where most valuable across their projects. Build a supportive, inquisitive research culture that empowers and enables staff researchers, program leads, and Fellows. 

  • Understand and monitor the state-of-the-art in the AI field and related disciplines; represent the organization and its progress at conferences and other public forums to maintain visibility within the science, technology, and society community.

  • Champion diversity, equity and inclusion both within the organization and with regards to its research goals, keeping at the forefront the broad and diverse community that AI technology serves. 

  • Coordinate with Partner members to envision and launch research collaborations and multi-stakeholder convenings that address open questions and problems in the field.

  • Directly manage a team of individuals, and oversee management of the Research Team overall, including PAI’s Research Fellowship program.

Qualification & Experience: 

  • We seek a Director of Research enthusiastic about building a program that strongly supports diverse methodologies, disciplines, and contributors, including both qualitative and quantitative research method

  • Master’s degree in related discipline required. PhD strongly preferred.

  • Extensive research record in artificial intelligence or otherwise demonstrated competence in implementing, designing and managing responsible AI systems (e.g. publications in top conferences and/or PhD in statistics, mathematics, CS, ML or other relevant fields)

  • Extensive experience overseeing large research projects in addition to managing and setting priorities for a research budget. Understands research needs and demonstrates the ability to strategically set funding levels, allocate resources, and support the hiring of relevant talent across projects.

  • Experience approaching scientific inquiry from a multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary point-of-view.

  • Exceptional partnering and team skills as a trusted colleague and team leader. Track record of supporting a collaborative and cohesive team environment.

  • Ability to communicate effectively with and relate to a broad range of stakeholders, including senior leaders, peers, direct reports, partner organizations, and Board members.

  • Flexible and adaptable in a start-up and fast-paced environment. Enthusiastic about joining the leadership team of a young organization and contributing to strategic vision-setting.

  • Extensive network within the responsible AI research community. Ability to supplement one’s own expertise with perspectives of leading researchers and practitioners, and to incorporate these perspectives into PAI’s projects.

  • Excellent conflict resolution skills. Ability to resolve disparate research directions, Partner interests, and resourcing trade offs, with an orientation toward win-win solutions. 

Preferred Leadership Competencies: 

  • Vision – Ability to develop and articulate a vision for the future of an organization or significant initiative. Possesses a “big picture” perspective. 

  • Strategic Development – Demonstrates success initiating, developing and implementing large-scale project execution strategies for an organization. 

  • Decision-Making – Demonstrates a high level of technical acumen and judgment required for the role; ability to make practical, realistic, data-driven and timely decisions in support of the organization’s objectives. 

  • Problem Solving – Ability to understand, analyze and interpret complex problems and develop appropriate action plans to achieve sustainable solutions. Engages team in collaborative problem solving to develop well- informed plans to achieve results. 

  • Hands-On – Unafraid to roll up their sleeves to contribute to the success of an emerging organization. 

  • Entrepreneurial Drive – Desire and proven ability to have an impact. An energetic self-starter with a strong work ethic and sense of urgency, capable of thriving in a high growth environment. 

  • Detail-Oriented – Encourages the highest quality and rigor of research output and commitment to scientific inquiry and ethics. 

  • Collaborative Style – A team player, who works effectively in a team-based organization, collaborates cross- functionally across multiple stakeholders, exercises influence diplomatically and builds trust and credibility at all levels. Someone who builds consensus and achieves agreement on key priorities. 

  • Relationship-Oriented – Ability to successfully influence, build credibility and work effectively with a diverse range of stakeholders: senior leaders, policy makers, partners, Board members, and externally with key stakeholders. Able to synthesize divergent views and coalesce all constituencies around a shared view or plan. 

Other Considerations:

  • PAI offers a generous paid leave and benefits package, including: Twenty vacation days, three personal reflection days, sick leave and family leave above industry standards, high-quality PPO and HMO health insurance plans, many 100% covered by PAI, Dental and vision insurance 100% covered by PAI, up to a 7% 401K match, vested immediately, pre-tax commuter benefits (Clipper), automatic cell phone reimbursement ($75/month), up to $1,000 in professional development funds annually, team lunches & reading days, opportunities to attend AI related conferences and events and to collaborate with our 100+ partners across industry, academia and civil society. Please refer to our careers page for an updated list of benefits.

  • Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States and/or Canada; we are unable to sponsor applicants for work visas for this position at this time.

  • PAI is headquartered in San Francisco, with a global membership base and scope. The role will be considered for remote work outside of San Francisco and will report to the Acting Executive Director.

PAI is proud to be an equal opportunity employer.  We celebrate diversity and we are committed to creating an inclusive environment in all aspects of employment, including recruiting, hiring, promoting, training, education assistance, social and recreational programs, compensation, benefits, transfers, discipline, and all privileges and conditions of employment.  Employment decisions at PAI are based on business needs, job requirements, and individual qualifications. PAI will consider for employment qualified applicants with criminal histories, in a manner consistent with the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance or similar laws.

The Partnership on AI may become subject to certain governmental recordkeeping and reporting requirements for the administration of civil rights laws and regulations. We also track diversity in our workforce for the purpose of improving over time. In order to comply with these goals, the Partnership on AI invites employees to voluntarily self-identify their gender and race/ethnicity. Submission of this information is voluntary and refusal to provide it will not jeopardize or adversely affect employment or any consideration you may receive for employment or advancement.  The information obtained will be kept confidential. 


We know that research has shown that some potential applicants will submit an application only when they feel that they have met close to all of the qualifications for a role - we encourage you to take a leap of faith with us and submit your application as long as you are passionate about working to make a real impact in the AI industry. We are very interested in hearing from a diverse pool of candidates.


To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the role is filled. 

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