The position provides strategic direction to the association’s talented four-person public policy staff team in order to advance federal policies that lead to a more welcoming, globally engaged, democratic, and educated United States. This position will be directly involved in leading NAFSA’s advocacy on issues that are at the forefront of the public debate and discourse. Working collaboratively with the Senior Director for Media Relations & Advocacy, the Senior Director for Public Policy functions as one of two principal deputies to the Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy in the Public Policy Department of NAFSA: Association of International Educators and plays a key role in developing and strategically implementing NAFSA’s advocacy agenda.
The Senior Director must demonstrate experience balancing a diverse portfolio of responsibilities within a complex and changing environment, including policy agenda development and issue management; staff leadership and management; and effective relationship building. The position requires a high degree of conceptual ingenuity and a high level of independent decision making, initiative, and discretion.
Specific responsibilities include the following:
Issue Management and Policy Agenda Development
- Provide strategic leadership to collaboratively develop and advance NAFSA’s advocacy agenda in a complex policy environment.
- Identify and coordinate rapid responses to issues that threaten NAFSA’s mission or policy’s position as they arise.
- Sustain and build upon NAFSA’s position as a leading advocate by maintaining momentum on critical issues and by laying the groundwork for emerging policy issues.
- Provide direction for careful analysis of potential consequences of federal policies and make strategic recommendations for appropriate responses.
- Working with the policy staff team, develop NAFSA’s positions on public policy issues pertaining to a more welcoming, globally engaged, democratic, and educated United States, in keeping with the strategic plan of the association.
- Develop, manage and successfully advocate on a portfolio of issues based on the association’s strategic plan and advocacy goals.
- Create effective policy proposals, legislative language, hearing testimony, agency comment letters, and other policy documents for advocacy purposes.
Leadership and Management:
- Provide strategic direction to four full-time policy staff, based on advanced understanding of public policy process and strategies.
- Collaborate with DED and Senior Director of Media Relations on long and short term agenda priorities and communications and advocacy strategies.
- Supervise and ensure professional development of talented staff with varying roles, skills, expertise, and experience.
- Manage public policy staff team funds within budget guidelines and work with the director of public policy to develop the annual departmental budget.
- Cultivate collaborations with organizations and movements whose values intersect with NAFSA’s to advocate for policies that value diversity, openness to the world, equal access to opportunity, and the interconnectedness of global society.
- Mobilize and lead coalitions to achieve NAFSA's advocacy priorities and strategic plan objectives.
- Develop, nurture and maintain key contacts and champions, both in the public and the private sector, for NAFSA’s advocacy agenda.
- Represent NAFSA to senior government officials, taking positions as appropriate on behalf of the association, in keeping with the association’s strategic plan.
- Work collaboratively with the Senior Director for Media relations & Advocacy who oversees NAFSA’s media and grassroots advocacy outreach efforts, to advance advocacy objectives.
The Senior Director position requires:
- 8-10 years experience in advocacy or public policy;
- 5 or more years of Hill experience (legislative director or committee experience preferred);
- Bachelor's degree in an appropriate field (advanced degree preferred);
- Sophisticated understanding of the public policy process;
- Demonstrated ability to take initiative, set priorities and exercise sound judgment in a complex, fast-moving, political environment and contribute at strategic level to advance the advocacy agenda;
- Exceptional leadership and staff management skills;
- Commitment to the association’s mission;
- Proven success working effectively with multiple stakeholders both within and outside the association;
- Excellent communication and organizational skills;
- Demonstrated ability to lead in team environment; and
- Demonstrated ability to handle controversial issues with confidence, tact, and discretion.
Other Preferred Skills and Knowledge:
- Thorough knowledge of immigration, national security, or education policy;
- International education and/or foreign language experience; and
- Association or nonprofit experience.
About NAFSA: Association of International Educators:
NAFSA is the largest association of professionals committed exclusively to advancing international higher education. The association provides leadership to its diverse constituencies through establishing principles of good practice and providing professional development opportunities. NAFSA encourages networking among professionals, convenes conferences and collaborative dialogues, and promotes research and knowledge creation to strengthen and serve the field. NAFSA’s nine-person public policy and media relations/advocacy department offers a collegial, action-oriented work environment for change agents who want to make a difference in creating a more welcoming, globally engaged, democratic, and educated United States.
Work environment: The NAFSA workday is 9-5; during the summer, it is 8:30-5:30 M-Th, and 9:00-12:00 on Friday. Travel is required occasionally. Participation in the NAFSA annual conference the week of Memorial Day, including the holiday itself, is a job requirement.
Honoring Diversity and Inclusion: As the Association of International Educators, NAFSA honors the richness of human diversity and the essential power of discussion and collaboration across geographic and other boundaries. We affirm that engagement with the range of human beliefs, thoughts, and actions is an important element in global learning that fosters creativity, innovation, and excellence. It strengthens our capacity for constructive engagement to solve the world’s complex challenges. NAFSA affirms its commitment to diversity and inclusion as principles that enrich not only individuals but also organizations and society as a whole. Minority candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.