National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research

Executive Director

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The Opportunity

The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute (NRI) is seeking to appoint a visionary Executive Director (ED) who can build upon its legacy of excellence. The ideal candidate will possess a background in the behavioral health field and demonstrate a hands-on leadership style conducive to business development and relationship cultivation. This role is hybrid, based at the NRI headquarters in the greater Washington DC area.

About NRI

NRI is a prominent nonprofit organization headquartered in Falls Church, VA. Established in 1987, NRI serves as one of the foremost data and analytics research entities for behavioral health, providing invaluable resources for state mental health program directors nationwide. With a dedicated staff of 20 employees and annual revenue around $3M, NRI conducts extensive research, data analysis, and consulting services aimed at informing and improving public behavioral health policies and practices across the country.

NRI was originally formed as the research ally of the National Associate of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) and is now one of the leading data and research organizations for behavioral health. NASMHPD is a separate 501(c)(3) entity that serves as the membership association of state-level commissioners and maintains a close working relationship with NRI.

The Executive Director Role

The ED of NRI will strategically lead the Institute in the areas of data collection, trend analysis and interpreting data for the public mental health system. The ED, with the Board of Directors, key management staff, and other stakeholders, will ensure business development and organizational health by establishing long-range and short-range goals, strategies, plans, and policies. The ED is responsible for the development, management, coordination, and evaluation of the NRI’s total project portfolio and reports to the Board of Directors.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities


  • Supervises and monitors the operations of NRI departments to ensure NRI mission is upheld and supports the Board of Directors in setting and meeting annual goals and strategies.
  • Supervises staff and provides general oversight of all products and services generated within the NRI.
  • Ensures that the work of the organization properly informs and is of benefit to state mental health directors and other key stakeholders of the public mental health system.
  • In collaboration with the Board of Directors, develops, plans, and implements the Strategic Plan, which includes strategies, objectives, programs, and initiatives that deliver on NRI’s mission, goals, priorities, and national and international outreach.

Finance & Operations

  • Works with the Controller to ensure that the NRI’s financials are up to date and that project managers receive accurate financial information to effectively run programs.
  • Monitors and approves the annual plan and budget for the entire NRI organization and ensures the most cost-effective strategies are utilized.
  • Supervises the preparation and participates in writing grant proposals and develops other mechanisms to fund future activities.
  • Monitors NRI policies and procedures to ensure that they are up to date.

Communication & Strategic Partnerships

  • Cultivates strategic partnerships within and outside of the mental health community to “market” the products and capabilities of the NRI as a business development strategy.
  • Maintains appropriate liaison with external officials, agencies, and consultants to ensure that the NRI is both well informed and proactive regarding information related to research and innovative, exemplary programs.
  • Maintains a strategically coordinated relationship with the ED of the NASMHPD.
  • Facilitates meetings and teleconference calls with State Mental Health Commissioners and other key public sector stakeholders.
  • Effectively analyzes and distills NRI’s gathered data to craft narratives that will resonate with partners and the general public to encourage action.


  • Supervises the development of projects by planning tasks, staffing patterns, and funding sources; ensures that projects are completed on time and within budget.
  • Supervises the development and utilization of the NRI databases and website and ensures that the products are up to date.
  • Develops and maintains relationships and communications between the NRI Board of Directors and the NRI staff.
  • Works with the pertinent staff at NRI to develop, implement, and monitor annual plans and budgets for projects within the NRI.

Required Skills, Experience, and Desired Qualifications

  • Proven leader with 10+ years of experience in an ED, COO, or senior-level position within an organization of comparable complexity including responsibility for budget oversight, strategic development, and operations of organizational programs.
  • Master’s degree required; a degree in an appropriate field related to health, mental health, social service, business administration, management and/or public service administration. Doctoral degree a plus.
  • Demonstrated experience in change management as well as strategic planning, particularly an ability to integrate organizational components behind shared objectives.
  • Successful track record of identifying and securing grants and/or contracts.
  • Ability to network and cultivate key relationships to attract a broad range of potential funding sources.
  • Excellent organizational skills and ability to manage a wide variety of projects and tasks within deadlines while working within association and government policy and fiscal constraints to bring about desired outcomes.
  • Strong communication and interpersonal relationship skills, with ability to lead, direct and motivate staff teams; commitment to working as part of a senior management team is essential.
  • Ability to communicate clearly and concisely so that collaborative relationships are established throughout the mental health field to foster credibility and trust.
  • Must be able to articulate the vision of the organization and grow the NRI consistent with this vision.
  • Ability to interpret and synthesize data sets.
  • Travel is required to attend national meetings and events.

Personal Qualities and Competencies

  • Candidates from historically underrepresented and marginalized communities are encouraged to apply.
  • Entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Strong data analysis and synthesis skills and an ability to make data actionable.
  • A vocal and determined leader to drive forward NRI’s mission.
  • Fundraising and grant experience a plus.
  • Charismatic, visionary leader who can set goals and rally internal and external stakeholders and partners to move forward towards achieving them.


A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract an outstanding candidate.

To Apply

To apply, please send a cover letter and current resume (Microsoft Word® format preferred) here. The cover letter should outline how your experience fits the requirements of the position as this will be an important factor in considering your candidacy.

Sterling Martin Associates is committed to providing equal opportunity for employees and applicants in all aspects of the employment relationship, without regard to race, religion, color, age, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, ancestry, national origin, citizenship, political affiliation, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or other applicable legally protected characteristics. All employment is decided on the basis of qualifications, merit, and business need.