Policy Director – Harm Reduction

R Street Institute Policy Director
Location Washington DC
Application deadline 31 March 2021
Contract type Permanent
Hours Full-time
Salary TBD
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The R Street Institute—a free-market think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C., and with regional offices across the country—seeks a skilled Policy Director to develop and oversee our projects in Harm Reduction. If you want to join an energetic organization and do something extraordinary while helping us conceptualize the next evolution of our harm reduction portfolio, this may be just the opportunity for you. This position will report to the Associate Vice President, Research Programs.

The role

Your typical day at R Street may include speaking with an ally about an upcoming U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) comment period, working with our criminal justice unit on the impacts of vaping product bans, exploring a new public health issue on which we might engage or preparing a presentation for participation in a global conference on tobacco control. Our current portfolio emphasizes efforts to reduce the harm in behaviors involving tobacco use, opioids and sexual behavior. We believe that “abstinence only” approaches do not work on a population-wide level and that safer (although not safe) alternatives are a desirable part of a public health strategy. Efforts we support in these terms include needle access programs, pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection and availability of non-combustible tobacco products for adult smokers. While the work will initially center on this harm reduction portfolio, which itself emphasizes tobacco harm reduction, we are also seeking help in charting the future of our public health work broadly.

We actively seek out diversity and are particularly eager to consider candidates who bring a diverse background (in all its forms) and relevant lived-experience to this role.

Key roles and responsibilities

Other Aspects of Your Role

  • Write widely and knowledgeably on harm-reduction related topics through a public health lens, with a particular but not exclusive focus on tobacco.
  • Present before a variety of audiences; attend and speak at convenings in the United States and globally where appropriate.
  • Produce formal regulatory comments and policy writing (long- and short-form) on regulatory and legislative efforts involving harm reduction.
  • Offer testimony before legislative bodies and regulatory panels.
  • “Translate” findings in scientific literature for a lay audience.
  • Work with Congressional staff to advance R Street’s research messages and organize events for Capitol Hill staff as well as regulators and legislators federally and at the state level.
  • Help build coalitions around harm reduction topics.
  • Work with R Street leadership to conceptualize and build a broader public health program.
  • Assure the fiscal solvency of our program by creating proposals for new ventures and maintaining relations with existing supporters with support from R Street’s Business Development department.

Experience and skills

  • Top-notch public speaking skills
  • Excellent writing ability, ideally demonstrated by a record of publication in mainstream and public policy outlets
  • Broad understanding of scientific topics related to harm reduction and an ability to synthesize work across a wide array of fields
  • At least 10 years of relevant experience. For this purpose, we construct “relevant” experience broadly: things like applied academic work done while in school and personal experiences should be mentioned in a cover letter if not evident from your resume.
  • An advanced degree in a relevant field is required, a doctoral degree is preferred.
  • Ability to work productively with a wide variety of groups and individuals including those with whom you may disagree
  • A passion for limiting the negative public health consequences of a variety of risky behaviors
  • Lived experience with harmful behaviors we study is not a requirement but will be looked on favorably if mentioned and contextualized.
  • Alignment with our mission of supporting free markets and limited, effective government
  • A sense of humor and a desire to grow with a dynamic organization

Additional information


R Street offers a flexible working arrangement. This is a full-time position that can either work the majority of the week in our DC office or be fully remote. When it is safe to do so, this person will attend in-person meetings, conferences and likely multiple events on Capitol Hill, and will travel frequently throughout the United States and internationally.

R Street strives to provide a compensation package superior to those at other think tanks and nonprofits. In addition to a competitive salary, we provide a health insurance option entirely paid by the employer (even for families); wellness benefit; a choice between a child care assistance, pet care assistance or student loan repayment assistance benefit; employer-subsidized mobile phones benefit; 401(k) contributions with up to a 4 percent match; and an exceptionally generous vacation policy.

R Street does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, era of military service, gender identity, relationship structure or anything else that’s illegal, immoral or stupid to use as a basis for hiring.

We currently plan to accept applications for this job until filled. We will contact qualified individuals for video interviews on a rolling basis. Due to COVID-19, we will hold interviews virtually, via Zoom, until our D.C. office reopens. To apply, please upload a cover letter and resume in Microsoft Word or PDF format.