Vice President of Research, Energy


Sorrell is pleased to partner with the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) in the search for a Vice President of Research, Energy. HARC is a 501(c)(3) research institute that applies science to drive energy, air, water, and resilience solutions for a sustainable and equitable future. HARC’s research professionals have diverse backgrounds and broad experience in science, technology, policy analysis, geospatial technologies, and public outreach. The organization enjoys a positive, collaborative culture while tackling serious environmental issues that will impact generations to come.

HARC is looking to increase its impact and influence by focusing on sustainability issues in Texas and working to address some of the world’s biggest challenges – mitigating climate change, developing resilience, and planning for climate equity. The Vice President of Research, Energy will help with this expansion by championing and leading the use of independent research and analysis to develop and implement sciencebased solutions that address overlapping economic, environmental, and equity and climate risk mitigation issues. The multi-disciplinary, innovative team’s independent research supports the sustainability work of communities and local governments, non-profit organizations, and private and public sector institutions. HARC’s researchers collaborate with multiple individuals and institutions to identify problems and investigate the scientific and policy basis for solutions.

Over the next three years, HARC will focus on applying independent scientific analysis and research, technology validations, and solutions’ implementation on the following four priorities:

• Implementing impactful, sustainable, solutions-driven research to protect our environment and natural resources, and to promote resilience and climate equity.

• Strategically supporting the broad deployment of clean distributed energy resources to decarbonize the power system, ensure electric grid reliability and resilience, reduce costs, and lessen energy burdens.

• Accelerating decarbonization and resilience practices in the commercial sector by raising awareness of HARC’s net zero building and sustainable site and offering consulting expertise in sustainable commercial building practices.

• Championing climate equity in underserved communities through the development and launch of the Climate Equity and Community Engagement Initiative.

HARC’s new Mission and Vision Statements also set the tone for the organization’s directional focus:

Mission Statement

HARC applies science to drive energy, air, water, and resilience solutions for a sustainable and equitable future.

Vision Statement

We envision a world where:

• natural resources are sustainably used and equitably distributed;

• the economy is viable and ensures the well-being of current and future generations;

• society is fully engaged in the stewardship and enrichment of nature; and

• effective action is consistently taken to ensure all communities thrive. In addition, a defining statement on HARC’s Guiding Principles confirms that at the core of what we do — and how we do it — is our commitment to showing demonstrable respect for all humans, nature, and our planet.

HARC’s Guiding Principles

• We are committed to solid, non-partisan science and analysis.

• We believe diversity is essential to the most successful systems, solutions, and outcomes.

• We are committed to equal opportunity and access for all.

• We value community and are committed to building collaborations to understand the needs of the communities in which we work.

• We believe in teamwork to achieve common goals.

• We practice transparency in how we operate as a business and how we work within the community.

For more information about HARC, see

Position Overview

Reporting to the President and CEO, the Vice President of Research, Energy will be an integral member of HARC’s executive management. HARC’s VP of Research, Energy directs, administers, and coordinates the operations of the organization in support of administrative policies and strategic goals established by the President and the Board of Directors. This Vice President will grow research opportunities and equitable energy and climate solutions through external engagement, as well as work internally to help the team develop new research lines, make critical network connections, remove obstacles, and promote collaboration. The Vice President of Research, Energy directs and guides HARC’s solutions-driven research mission to promote the organization’s reach and growth. The Program Directors will work with the Vice President to take HARC’s strategic plan and move it to action. This includes identifying funding options, supporting growth and development of team members, and assessing and implementing best practices in research and project management. The Vice President also will work closely with the Program Directors to ensure the efforts of the team contribute to meeting HARC’s goals.

Core Responsibilities and Duties

The Vice President of Research, Energy will:

• Provide Strategic Direction and Collaborative Opportunities

Direct and guide HARC’s research mission to develop effective energy and climate solutions. The VP of Research, Energy will prioritize projects and workflows to ensure each of the directors has the appropriate share of resources to meet the department’s priorities. In addition, the VP of Research, Energy will foster a sense of culture so the team of directors and staff are all working together and across all departments.

• Develop Funding Networks

Interact with partners, funders, and the public, developing networks and creating connections for HARC’s growth.

• Mentoring and Guidance

Develop and manage a programmatic team, acting as a mentor and guide, and creating a high-performance and inclusive working environment where staff can realize professional growth and success, and advance in their position at HARC. Provide management and leadership to facilitate outcomes in support of HARC’s vision and mission. Facilitate the development of and support for energy and climate impact research and solutions, proposal development, budget management, and development within the teams.

• Provide Executive Leadership for the Team

Facilitate strategic development in both external engagement and internal operations. Ensure that senior level employees are developing their skill sets and growing from working on project management tactics coupled with strategic planning and development.

• Research

• Lead, team-wide research strategies and the transference of knowledge into development of marketoriented solutions. Plan, direct, and manage proposal development, negotiations with funders and project deliverables. Be well-versed in current thinking of the specific research program and maintain a broad knowledge of state-of-the-art principles, theories, and practices in their discipline. Make contributions to their respective discipline through application and programmatic development, peer-reviewed publications, conferences, and/or presentations. Act as spokesperson on HARC research and solutions development. Identify potential new funding sources and write white papers and proposals for submission to funding sources.

• HARC Leadership

Provide a leadership role in HARC’s programmatic and strategic development. Maintain continuous lines of communication, keeping the President and Executive Team informed of all critical issues and programmatic development.

Key Skills and Requirements

• Experience as an employee of a nonprofit or public sector organization that engages in sponsored research to develop solutions related to climate, air quality, clean energy, water, and/or natural resources.

• Proven track record of success facilitating progressive organizational change and development within a growing organization.

• Excellent judgment and creative problem-solving skills, including negotiation and conflict resolution skills.

• Experience mentoring or coaching a team with diverse levels of expertise.

• Superior management skills coupled with the ability to influence and engage direct and indirect reports and peers.

• Demonstrated self-reliance, results-orientation, and exceptional attention to detail.

• Flexible, collaborative, and proactive team leader who can positively and productively impact strategic, administrative, and programmatic initiatives.

• Exceptional written, oral, interpersonal, and presentation skills, interacting with anyone and everyone both outside and inside HARC, including executive management, Board members, staff, partners, and community stakeholders.

• Strong networking and business development skills.

• Able to foster and promote business relationships and partnerships within various communities.

• Ability to operate as an effective tactical and strategic thinker.

• Passion for HARC’s sustainability, research, and innovative solutions development.

• Ability to directly supervise and guide the team, including:

 o interviewing, hiring, and training employees;

 o planning, assigning, and directing work;

 o appraising performance;

 o rewarding and disciplining employees; and,

 o addressing complaints and resolving problems.

• Strong financial management skills.

Education and Experience

• Ph.D. in a scientific discipline with a minimum of 10 years of experience in research or similar environment; or

• Master’s degree with a minimum of 15 years of experience;

Physical Requirements:

• Able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. Accommodations are made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

• Prolonged periods sitting at a desk and working on a computer.

• Must be able to lift up to 15 pounds at times.


Compensation is competitive and commensurate with experience. Benefits include health insurance, a 403(b)- retirement plan, flexibility, generous PTO, and ongoing training and development.

Application and Referral Process

Applicant review is currently underway and will continue until the candidate has been selected. To nominate or be considered for this position, please contact Laura Sorrell at and 713.854.5351, or Priscilla Plumb at and 281.224.0881. All inquiries will be held in confidence.

About Sorrell

Sorrell is a highly relational provider of executive recruiting. Our mission is to serve as partners with our clients to accelerate their efforts to attract, hire and retain talent that impacts the future of the organization. For more information, call 713.840.1870

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