Vice President and Chief Research and Knowledge Officer

Overview

We are at a moment of both great peril and great opportunity. Chronic underinvestment in community mental health – a byproduct of stigma, discrimination, and inattention at the political and policy level – has resulted in people living with mental illness experiencing unjust cycles of criminalization, hospitalization, chronic homelessness, addiction, and deep social isolation and marginalization. This only promises to grow in scale in the wake of COVID-19, where mental health needs are on the rise, and where more of us than ever are at risk of trauma, turning to substance use, developing mental illness and of decompensating into crisis. As as we have seen throughout history and again with the pandemic, this impact will be felt inequitably, with the greatest burden on marginalized people of color, immigrants, and otherwise vulnerable people. Community mental health is in dire need of rehabilitative models well beyond healthcare, that align closely with public health impact and social determinants of health, and that engage people living with mental illness to both meet their basic health and social needs, and to provide opportunities for them to achieve their goals and aspirations for a better life.

Community mental health models, especially rehabilitative models like Fountain House’s psychosocial rehabilitation “clubhouse”, have historically served as trust agents and as necessary social infrastructure for people living with mental illness, where people choose to engage as opposed to simply being recipients of mental health care and services. For these approaches to attract greater investment and attention as a community-based alternative to criminalization, hospitalization, marginalization and isolation, we must first design and execute rigorous evaluation and research that examines their impacts on rehabilitation and function, community engagement and reintegration, return on investment, and of course, health, mental health, and social outcomes. Mental health must also be further mainstreamed into routine public health surveillance and epidemiology, especially with an eye towards early identification and intervention, and nonprofits like Fountain House must be engine rooms for this development, working in close partnership with the public sector. Finally, working with a highly vulnerable and marginalized population demands participatory research structures that center the voices and experiences of people living with mental illness in the conception, design, execution, and dissemination of research.

Working with new leadership and galvanized by a transformative $3M investment from the Dauten Family Foundation, Fountain House is seeking a new Vice President and Chief Research & Knowledge Officer. This person will ideally have 8-10+ years professional experience in public health, health equity, health services research, and/or policy and implementation research, with a demonstrated track record of interdisciplinary collaboration and scholarship. This is a pragmatic and strategic leader who fundamentally sees data and research as a way to tell stories, persuade, and to achieve key policy and organizational goals. Specific experience in community mental health systems is a plus, but not a pre-requisite. The Vice President and Chief Research & Knowledge Officer will serve as a thought leader on the local, national, and global level, and be the driving force for using the highest-quality data and evaluation methods throughout the organization. We are building a high-performance culture of the utmost transparency and accountability, and this requires a strong foundation of inquiry, research, monitoring, evaluation, and dissemination, which this role will lead.

 

Organizational Background

For more than 70 years, Fountain House has successfully addressed the devastating impact of mental illness on individuals, families, and communities through its pioneering clubhouse psychosocial rehabilitation model, which provides a structured, therapeutic social community and the tools to break the bonds of social isolation faced by people living with mental illness, while also addressing their basic health and social needs such as access to healthcare, housing, employment, education, nutrition, and safety. Fountain House accomplishes this by working in partnership with its members – people living with mental illness – and putting them at the center of their own recovery. Fountain House has over 300 affiliated clubhouse programs in 37 US states and in more than 30 countries, that annually serve more than 100,000 people. Under new leadership, it aims to bring strategic coherence and tighter organization to the global network of clubhouse model programs, and to drive change in public health, mental health, and social policy. Akin to Planned Parenthood or other federated nonprofit delivery networks, Fountain House will leverage its base of direct services to engage in multi-site and multi-country population health, policy and implementation research, and to engage in strategic policy development and political advocacy.

Fountain House’s Research Department has already made some significant gains, including the use of Medicaid claims to evaluate healthcare utilization and cost patterns of our members, and a value-based payment initiative, working with Healthfirst, NYU, Nonprofit Finance Fund, and funded by Altman Foundation, NY Community Trust, and others. We have robust academic collaborations with Harvard, Yale, Columbia, NYU, Michigan State, and other universities, and a long-standing partnership with the World Health Organization on evidence-based protocols for improving health outcomes amongst people with serious mental illness. These opportunities continue to grow as we expand our digital presence, including the launch of our Virtual Clubhouse which has been instrumental and keeping communities connected during COVID-19 and in reaching into new communities in need of mental health support (young people, limited mobility, cultural and linguistic minorities, etc.)

 

Position Overview

Reporting directly to the President & CEO and serving as a key member of the Senior Leadership Team at Fountain House, the Vice President and Chief Research & Knowledge Officer will be responsible for building out a first-class research team, in close collaboration with academia and national and global policy think tanks and research organizations, that can center community-based solutions to mental illness, can advance early identification and secondary prevention of social isolation and other consequences of mental illness, and investigate the population and public health impact of such approaches. This is a full-time position, though we are open to candidates who currently have or would seek joint faculty appointments with academic institutions, and would consider arrangements that make that possible.

Specific Responsibilities:

  1. Craft a multi-year research strategy for Fountain House and its affiliate network, working within the wider Fountain House strategic planning process underway with The Bridgespan Group.
  2. Evaluate Fountain House’s network of community-based mental health interventions using a public policy and social determinants of health lens, leveraging cross-sector data and outcomes analyses (e.g. data from healthcare, housing and homeless services, law enforcement and criminal justice, substance use and addiction services, employment, education, costing and cost-effectiveness analyses, etc.)
  3. Evaluate Fountain House’s network of community-based mental health interventions using strengths-based, person and community-level metrics that emphasizes recovery, functional status, reintegration, and mitigation of social isolation, with emphasis on health disparities and health equity
  4. Develop a public health research approach, working with our young members and programs like Fountain House College Re-Entry, that emphasizes early identification, intervention and secondary prevention
  5. Organize a Fountain House research consortium, including academia, public policy think tanks and research organizations, and other partner non-profit institutions, that prioritizes, implements, and evaluates data-driven solutions in community mental health management and public health policy.
  6. Establish a program of technical assistance to build research readiness, capacity, and data standardization and integration throughout the national and international network of community-based Clubhouse model sites.
  7. Create a cross-clubhouse learning collaborative model to drive quality and performance improvement through shared learning and standardized goals and outcomes at the local, national, and global levels
  8. Build and lead a high-performance research team that has core in-house capacities and that can leverage the wider FH research network for other skill sets
  9. Promote participatory action research methods to empower individuals with lived experience.

Essential Functions:

  • Evaluate new mental and public health solutions will staying abreast of research and policy trends in direct and indirectly-related fields
  • Manage multiple research partnerships across academic, healthcare, and other professional settings.
  • Effectively lead, manage, and mentor a diverse team of researchers in all phases of the project lifecycle to include planning, execution, implementation, and dissemination.
  • Constructively engage with all levels of administration to communicate technical approach, tradeoffs, and research decisions.
  • Depth of understanding and application of public health data platforms and research technologies
  • Ability to build a team to strengthen and standardize in-house data systems across program sites
  • Lead teams in effective technical and research proposal grant writing and fundraising

Qualifications:

  • U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident (Green card Holder; Fountain House does not have the ability to sponsor visas for foreign nationals, at this time)
  • PhD or other Doctorate level degree in Medicine, Public Health, Behavioral Health, Public Policy (criminal justice, housing policy, or related fields, is preferred. Masters-level candidates with extensive experience and demonstrable track-record will also be considered.
  • 8-10+ years of relevant experience in health-related research and professional environments (academia, non-profit, government, etc.)
  • Demonstrable track record of grant-writing and acquisition of research funding from government (NIH, CDC, SAMHSA, CMS, HRSA, AHRQ, etc.) and/or non-government sources (foundations, multilateral funders, research philanthropy, etc.)
  • Demonstrable record of peer-reviewed and other publications
  • Record of clear scientific communication and public advocacy. This role would be expected to be a public thought leader in mental health policy and programming
  • Leadership experience and history of building and managing research teams and developing strategic research programs.
  • Experience in maintaining responsible oversight and ethical guidance in research methods in accordance to HIPAA and IRB standards and regulations
  • Experience managing large public health data sets for strategic research use and public policy initiatives.
  • Experience leveraging cross-sector partnerships for collaborative research.

Preferred Additional Skills:

  • Excellent people skills and front-line experience in working with vulnerable populations.
  • Experience leading and collaborating in a multi-disciplinary, diverse, and dynamic team environment.
  • Experience in using and managing staff to use relevant research databases and programs (e.g. SAS, Stata, R, Python, Access, MS-SQL, Excel and other flat-file programs, MATLAB, Power BI)

Salary Range: a highly competitive salary, commensurate with experience, is available for the right candidate

We especially encourage applicants of different backgrounds, cultures, genders, experiences, abilities, and perspectives to apply. We actively work to increase the diversity of experience and perspectives on our team, and we want to hear from you. Remember, no one comes with the entire complement of skills, and no one is the perfect candidate, so don’t let a lack of experience/ skill in one specific area deter you from applying.

Fountain House is committed to being a diverse and inclusive workplace. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, physical disability, or length of time spent unemployed.

We’re working for a world where no one is powerless, where health for all is not just an aspiration but a reality, and where creating change is a part of everyday life. We’re just getting started and hope you’ll join us.

If you are interested in this position, please submit your resume and cover letter via e-mail to VPResearch@FountainHouse.Org with “VP and Chief Research & Knowledge Officer - [Your Name]” in the subject line. NO PHONE CALLS.

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