DataKind is a global nonprofit dedicated to harnessing the power of data science and artificial intelligence (AI) in the service of humanity. Named one of Fast Company’s 2017 top 10 innovative nonprofits, DataKind teams talented pro bono experts from academia and industry with visionary changemakers to collaboratively design innovative solutions to tough social challenges. We help social organizations apply their data to predictive analytics, machine learning algorithms, and AI needs in a way that both increases impact and prioritizes ethics.
We are 20,000 strong: DataKind volunteers hail from almost every country across the world, representing a community of technologists and social change makers who believe in using data science and AI for a stronger planet and a more just and prosperous world.
We have served 300+ projects around the world: From using satellite imagery to measure crop yields to automating the fight against hate speech online, our volunteer community has shown up to support a range of humanitarian needs around the world. Through this approach, illustrating what we call “the art of the possible,” these projects have resulted in more effective NGOs, more funding for social change organizations, and more awareness of the power (and pitfalls) of data science and AI in the social sector.
People are at the center of our process: The most advanced machine learning algorithms are useless if they’re not designed for real people’s problems. DataKind celebrates human centered design principles that focus on the “why,” the “for whom,” and the “should we” long before we ever get going on the “what.”
“AI for Good” will only succeed if it’s “AI for All”: We will continue our work until all people and all communities can use digital technology for the outcomes they want to see. We support not just the tech communities of today, but anyone in any community who wants to lead in how data technologies serve their needs fairly, with an emphasis on including individuals from groups that are historically underrepresented in technology or will be impacted by the intervention.
The Next Phase
DataKind has always known that we will not be able to combat all of the world’s looming challenges on the backs of individual, short-term projects alone. Thanks to generous, long-term support from The Rockefeller Foundation and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, we are now focusing the DataKind network on issue areas, such as improving health outcomes through Frontline Health Systems as well as increasing economic resilience. Over a period of five years, DataKind has been granted $20M to make this vision a reality, and we are looking for people to join us in this journey. You can read more about the new strategy here.
About the Opportunity
DataKind’s success ultimately comes down to the quality, timeliness, and effectiveness of our volunteer data science projects. Our Technical Lead will be responsible for overseeing a portfolio of volunteer-led projects using cutting-edge technology to help high-performing organizations worldwide make an even greater impact. In this highly visible and high impact role, you’ll manage a set of long-term DataCorps projects from start to finish, staffing teams of talented pro bono data scientists with the right skills to get the work done, and building strong relationships with our nonprofit partners, ensuring everyone has a great experience in the process. We anticipate this person to spend roughly 60% of their time on project support (project management, scoping, and other activities that support others in performing data science work) and 40% on executing data science work oneself.
The Technical Lead will report to the Senior Data Scientist and will work closely with other staff, pro bono data scientists and our Community and Network team.
What You’ll Do
The Technical Lead will be responsible for the following in addition to any other project assigned by the manager:
Manage a variety of projects in DataKind’s flagship program, the DataCorps.
Scope potential projects, contributing to scope statements and developing project plans.
Write and oversee project briefs for DataCorps project portfolio and managing scope creep.
Prepare projects for a seamless launch with volunteers and non-profit project partners, including but not limited to coordinating contracts with and collecting data from our partners, as well as making sure that tech and communications systems are in place for teams.
Vet and select a diverse group of volunteers for project teams, with an eye towards individual qualifications and overall team composition.
Plan and execute project kick-off meetings, overseeing client and volunteer check-ins and end of phase presentations.
Consistently communicate and manage expectations of partner organizations and volunteers throughout the entire project lifecycle.
Ensure the technical quality of volunteer-led DataCorps projects.
Ensure volunteers have a great experience on our projects, celebrating their efforts and work throughout the project.
Be willing to work a flexible schedule to meet on some nights or weekends with your volunteer teams or to run DataKind events.
Create data science for social good
Conceive of creative, and appropriate, applications of data science to amplify the impact of our project partners (i.e. turning a vague business challenge into a crisp data problem.)
Conduct data audits where you will dive into complicated, messy datasets and verify that the data supports the technical solution being pursued.
Prototype and document data science solutions for project partners in the initial scoping process.
Own a small portfolio of internal data science projects from start to finish, being able and ready to step in on projects as needed to provide support.
Stay up-to-date with emerging data science solutions.
Monitor quality of DataCorps project output, both in terms of algorithmic and statistical output as well as code quality and best practices.
Set up cloud infrastructure for volunteer teams.
Be a key cross-functional collaborator
Collaborate with the Business Development team to document project and portfolio successes, contribute to all grant reporting, and keep funding partners aware of project outcomes.
Share insights and feedback with the Director of Global Volunteers to identify top volunteers for projects and subsequently recognize their efforts.
Work closely with the Communications team to amplify and celebrate the work of the DataKind community.
Contribute learnings to the Product team so we can update our process and our product and continuously improve.
How You’ll be Measured
At the end of year one, the Technical Lead will have accomplished the following:
Led scoping on 5-10 projects through to the completion of a Project Brief and successfully co-managed 3-5 DataCorps projects from recruitment to handoff.
Expertly applied your data science skills to at least three data science projects – either ones you have owned completely or through technical support provided to volunteer teams.
Fostered strong relationships with external partners that have led to at least three collaborators expressing interest in continued DataKind engagement.
Prepared DataKind project outputs for professional presentation and delivered technically sound, community invigorating presentations at both internal and external venues.
Successfully completed and documented all phases of active project activities through the DataKind Project Playbook.
At least 3 years of work experience, preferably including experience in a nonprofit or start-up context.
Fluency in data science technology stack including R/Python, SQL, Postgres, AWS, and their brethren.
Deep experience in machine learning/AI with confidence in applying, tuning and evaluating a wide variety of AI algorithms, from logistic regression and random forests to deep learning.
Comfort and skill in communicating highly technical information to semi- and non-technical audiences.
Proven track record of successfully managing full lifecycle tech/AI projects.
Experience managing technical teams and deliverables in the volunteer, non-profit or tech spaces (or perhaps all three.)
Comfort and skill in translating a problem into technical requirements and ability to recognize when a solution might be an algorithm, a database, an application, a retrospective analysis, or none of the above.
Ability to motivate people to collaborate towards a shared goal, to keep them engaged throughout the process, and to intervene as needed to make sure balls don’t get dropped.
Demonstrated customer service orientation that will allow you to represent DataKind well to our volunteers and partners alike.
Why Work with DataKind
At DataKind, we believe that people are the most important asset to delivering on their mission to collaboratively design>here.
This is ideally an onsite opportunity located in our Brooklyn, NY headquarters; however, we’d be open to a remote location for the right candidate as long as most of the workday overlaps with Eastern Standard Time. (Note that our Brooklyn office is currently closed through at least December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re offering flexible scheduling to staff as they manage life demands like childcare alongside their jobs.)