Senior Manager: Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL)

Causal Design Inc.

Senior Manager: Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL)

1.  Summary

Causal Design is an economic consulting firm conducting rigorous program evaluations and analyses for international development organizations. Our evaluations are designed to provide timely and practical information to decision-makers working to end poverty and inequality.
We are looking for a Senior Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL) Manager to join our team. While we work collaboratively on all our projects, this role is expected to work fairly independently as they are often on-site with our NGO partners (including in the field). This role will be focused on MERL, but is also expected to lead other types of quantitative evaluations such as Impact Evaluations.

The Senior MERL Manager will independently supervise, conduct, and deliver significant evaluation and research products for clients. If required, s/he might lead a small team of multiple researchers to conduct applied research and evaluation that sums to a timely, cost-effective, top-tier research deliverable for diverse clients. S/he is already fluent in methods, their tradeoffs, and research designs—both qualitative and quantitative—as well as how to best mix methods for a specific end, and need. A track record of engagement with the research, evaluation, and/or international development community, including engagement with relevant communities of practice (whether methodological or for a specific technical domain of interest), is preferred. Engagement with the industry’s state-of-the-art is desirable (emerging methods and learning agenda), while remaining focused on ensuring effective client relations and quality of products. 

The position is expected to participate in all aspects of our business, but the primary role is to manage MERL, as well as a range of evaluations, including impact evaluations. This position is Denver, CO or Washington D.C. based and has the potential for extensive international travel.

2. Responsibilities

This position will be expected to leverage technical expertise to complete and comfortably manage all aspects of evaluation design and implementation across a range of complexity within individual evaluation projects.

This is primarily a technical role with some client-facing responsibilities. Senior MERL Managers are expected to spend 75% of their time directly supporting projects; the remaining time will be spent training/supervising staff and supporting proposals for new projects.

Technical: Performance Evaluations and Assessments

  • Utilize appropriate research and research and evaluation techniques to identify ways to improve services to client’s program populations
  • Plans and performs data collection efforts such as questionnaire design, sampling, field operations, and estimation
  • Conduct analyses, interpret data; identify critical factors such as data limitations, biases, sampling errors, and inconsistencies. Revise or tailor methods as necessary to ensure optimum research results

Technical: Qualitative research

  • Independently develop, lead, and implement qualitative inquiry from design through to dissemination
  • Lead and manage all aspects of data collection and data quality exercises
    • Craft qualitative survey tools, sampling plans, and field manuals
    • Lead or oversee enumerator training and management activity
  • Carry out qualitative analysis approaches and train junior staff in coding


  • Develop intuitive and visually appealing client-facing products or reports
  • Represent the methods, results, and Causal Design at briefings with the client, donor, or public audiences
  • Assume overall responsibility for the quality of products and client relations over the life of projects, and portfolio
  • Further familiarity with industry trends
  • Directly contribute to the profession through outward-facing blogs, publications, and/or novel proposals


  • Supervise other staff and maintain oversight and responsibility for their collective work, its quality, and alignment with unit goals or objectives
  • Lead and conduct performance reviews of assigned direct reports
  • Train, mentor, and manage more junior Economists on all aspects of evaluation 

General Administrative Functions

  • Assist with project proposals, grant applications, or concept notes for future projects
  • Coordinate regularly with management-level staff to implement firm-wide initiatives and
  • Lead development, implementation, and standardization of Causal Design processes such as quality control and quality assurance measures

3. Qualifications

    • MA in a related field including economics, statistics, political science, international studies/development, sociology, or anthropology. PhD preferred.
    • At least 6 years of experience in applied research or MERL as well as previous supervisory and project management experience (or 3 years experience for PhD candidates).
    • Demonstrated competence with industry accepted CAQDAS.
    • Familiarity with MEL systems and applied research best practices, including experience with data collection, IRB, and informed consent.
    • USAID experience is required. Understanding of the rest of the donor landscape in international development is preferred.
    • Experience in performance evaluation or M&E Team Lead roles is required.
    • Exceptionally strong written and oral communication skills, in particular with respect to communicating nuanced research findings to clients.
    • Quantitative – a strong applicant will have most, but is not required to have all, of the following:
      • Extensive experience conducting impact evaluations;
      • Experience in working through theories of change, results frameworks and performance management plans, and/or data quality assessments;
      • Experience conducting program performance evaluations;
      • Extensive experience leading data collection (survey design, coding, and enumerator management);
      • Co-authored applied research or policy papers where analysis is tied to practical
        Recommendations; and/or
      • Experience working in the field with an NGO/implementor.
    • Experience with impact evaluations is a strong advantage.
    • Qualitative – You should have enough technical experience to be confident in managing
      qualitative-focused evaluations from start to finish. This means translating a client’s Terms of Reference into a meaningful research plan, leading the approach, supporting data collection (e.g. leading focus group discussions or key informant interviews), coding, and analysis.
    • Must be an American citizen or have US work authorization.

4. Our Team

We are a small firm with an ambitious vision. Our team is passionate about innovating practical evaluation strategies and providing phenomenal support to our clients working to end poverty. You should be excited about being client-facing. Our goal is to support implementers – not just do research. We strongly prefer researchers who have a background or experience in implementing projects, so the more you understand and empathize with the challenges of their work the better.

5. Employment

This is a full-time, exempt, employee role with Causal Design. Only candidates with the authorization to work in the USA for any employer need apply. The salary range is $75,988 to $98,779 and will be based on experience.


  • Opportunity to work in a dynamic and collaborative team environment
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Eleven paid holidays
  • 20 days of Paid Time Off (PTO) annually
  • Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA) allowance

6. Application

To Apply: If you are passionate about international development, possess the necessary qualifications, and are ready to make a meaningful impact in the field, we encourage you to apply. Join our team at Causal Design Inc. and be part of a dynamic environment dedicated to driving positive change through data-driven decision-making. To apply, please submit your resume, cover letter, and any relevant supporting documents to by the application deadline. NOTE: Please put “Senior Manager MERL  Job Application” and add your first and last name in the subject line of the email. We look forward to welcoming a dedicated Senior Manager, MERL to our team in Denver, Colorado or Washington, DC.

7. Equal Employment Opportunity/Fair Employment Practices

Causal Design is an equal-opportunity employer and makes decisions based on merit and business needs. The Company does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, citizenship, veteran or military status, sex, sexual orientation, or gender (which includes gender identity or gender expression), pregnancy (including childbirth or related conditions and lactation/breastfeeding), marital status, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, taking or requesting statutorily protected leave or other benefit, or any other characteristics protected by federal or state laws, regulations, and/or any executive order, except as allowed by law. In addition, the Company prohibits the harassment of any individual on any of the bases listed above or any other protected characteristics.


Upload your CV/resume or any other relevant file. Max. file size: 1 GB.

You can apply to this job and others using your online resume. Click the link below to submit your online resume and email your application to this employer.