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Design Director (User Centered Design)

Programs | New York, NY | Full Time

Job Description

Reboot works with change agents who care about creating a better future—within governments, foundations, international organizations, media, and civil society groups.

We innovatively apply methods pulled from ethnography, design, political science, and other disciplines to the challenges of global development and public sector innovation. Reboot puts empathy for people and user-centered design at the core of our work in our three program areas:    

We are seeking a Design Director to support the Programs team on technical skills including user-centered design and ethnographic research. From leading teams of local researchers in rural Nigeria to crafting written policy recommendations for senior public officials in Washington, DC, the Design Director will ensure thoughtful and impactful processes and outputs across our programs.

This is a full-time staff position based in our New York office, with the expectation of significant travel (approximately 30%) for project work.


Project Technical Leadership (50%)

  • Lead projects from start to finish, which includes advising on user-centered design processes in project scoping and roadmapping, research, synthesis, design, implementation, and evaluation. Manage collaborations with diverse subject matter experts, both internal teams and external consultants.

  • Manage key relationships with partners and clients through proactive communication, always with a strong focus on ‘super-pleasing’ and optimizing the partnership experience.

  • Direct the execution and lead the synthesis of research work (primarily design research, institutional ethnography, and political economy analysis, with light quantitative work), and their translation into robust services and/or written outputs.

Team Development & Management (20%)

  • Lead or coordinate ongoing training for the Programs team, ensuring team continues to grow their technical skills, including research, synthesis, and writing as they relate to our areas of work.

Communications & Business Development (15%)

  • Create and cultivate partnerships around new opportunities, in collaboration with our Partnerships team. Educate partners on Reboot’s unique approach, and lead development conversations on project scope, methodology, design, outputs, and budgets.  

Process Innovation & Knowledge Management (15%)

  • Contribute to process innovation and improvement within Reboot to improve organizational agility, efficiency, and impact.

  • Ensure frequent knowledge transfer between programmatic team members and technical specialists, and support cross-pollination of expertise across the organization.  


An ideal candidate has:

  • At least 8 years of relevant professional experience, ideally in a fast-paced and growing company, social enterprise, or nonprofit, or the ability to speak to how you have been entrepreneurial within the organizations in which you’ve worked.

  • Knowledge of user-centered design user-centered design processes, ideally with experience using design methods to discover, define, and develop programs and policies to address social issues;

  • Experience in designing and implementing international development and/or social innovation programming. Specialization in open government, media development, and/or institutional innovation is preferred.

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including the ability to effectively synthesize and present complex ideas to diverse audiences. Comfort with public speaking.

  • Significant international work experience in low resource settings and ability to operate effectively in unfamiliar cultural contexts and poor infrastructure environments.

  • Ability to direct multiple projects under tight time constraints. Knows how to triage under pressure, and can adapt to frequently changing priorities.

  • Demonstrated experience in supporting the growth and development of staff, at different levels of experience and across cultures.

  • Experience directing deep qualitative research exercises, with expertise in: institutional ethnography, generative design research, and/or political economy analysis.

  • Strong experience in the design and facilitation of interactive workshops. Brings a deep understanding of how to select interactive exercises, facilitate tough conversations, and leverage visual facilitation to support participatory design and synthesis exercises.

  • Professional fluency in languages other than English—with a preference for Spanish, French, and Arabic—is strongly preferred.

  • Advanced degree in a relevant field, including international development, public policy, public administration, economics, political science, anthropology, or journalism.

  • Appreciation of complexity. Comfort with ambiguity. A sense of humor. Fan of cute office pups.

Reboot is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Reboot respects and values diversity. We are committed to ensuring that there is no discrimination in the recruitment, retention, training, or development of employees on the basis of gender, gender identity or expression, race, national origin, religious belief, political opinion, age, or disability. Diversity of perspective and experience benefits our firm and helps us deliver our best work; we encourage qualified individuals from all backgrounds to apply.

To Apply:

Please complete the application through the link below. Include your CV and, in lieu of a standard cover letter, please respond to two of the following three prompts. Suggested limit of 200 words per question.

  • Per the job description, which three responsibilities resonate most with you and why? What unique value would you bring to these aspects of the role?

  • How would you describe your philosophy on user-centered design for social impact? Please explain the experiences or lessons that led you to this conclusion and how this influences your work.

  • What gaps or opportunities do you see in how Reboot approaches its mission?  

We will be reviewing applications on a rolling basis, until the position is filled. We encourage interested applicants to apply as soon as possible.