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The National Head Start Association Is Looking for a New Director of State Affairs

Are you looking for a new job opportunity? The National Head Start Association is looking for a New Director of State Affairs! Learn more and find out how to apply.


The Opportunity

The opportunity to succeed in school and in life, regardless of circumstances at birth, is a core American value, and for the past fifty years, the Head Start movement has embraced the challenge of delivering on that value and developing our nation’s most vulnerable children and their families. A strong and sustainable future for Head Start will mean the success of generations of children who may otherwise struggle throughout their lives. Their future success rests on the knowledge, commitment, and collaboration of families, programs, researchers, and policymakers. The research from Head Start documenting a number of long-term outcomes, including improved high school and higher education graduation and lower incarceration rates, has inspired great interest in early childhood education among state and local policy makers. With the 2020 Presidential election and federal policy makers struggling to find agreement on nearly everything, early childhood policy is being driven by states. State early learning systems are developing and expanding rapidly in nearly every state, the Head Start community must take a leadership role to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable children, and their families are not overlooked. As part of NHSA’s Government Affairs team, the Director of State Affairs is a full-time position based in Alexandria, VA working on state advocacy, legislation, and policy on behalf of Head Start children, parents, staff, and alumni. The position is designed to help the Head Start community realize its leadership potential and support local grantees/associations push for policy changes supporting Head Start children and families in their states. The tasks associated with the position range from coordinating direct state-based advocacy efforts to providing technical assistance to the Head Start community related to state policy and system development to helping state associations build capacity, and supporting a network of Head Start state leaders. The position demands a flexible, detail-oriented team player who thrives while managing competing priorities in a fast-paced environment. The Director of State Affairs will report to the Senior Director of Government Affairs.

Major Duties and Responsibilities

  • Cultivate and maintain a network of best practices and information sharing around state-based early learning initiatives/policies as well as state/regional association management.
  • Craft and implement a strategy for ensuring vulnerable children and families are prioritized in state early care and education systems.
  • Provide technical assistance to Head Start community regarding state system development, legislative proposals, and regulatory proposals.
  • Build and support a network of sharing and learning for state Head Start leadership including association leaders, grantee leaders, parents, and collaboration offices.
  • Manage grants state-based advocacy and policy efforts supporting Head Start grantees, staff, and parents.
  • Manage and coordinate NHSA senior staff engagement in policy, legislative, and strategic opportunities that support Head Start grantees and State/Regional Head Start Associations.
  • Represent NHSA and the Head Start community at various meetings with other early learning stakeholders, as appropriate.
  • Assist with the development and execution of a Head Start re-authorization strategy as well as strategies for various legislation.
  • Manage and coordinate the State Executive Directors Meeting, assist with coordination of Fall and Winter Leadership Institutes and assist in government affairs support for other NHSA conferences.
  • Other relevant duties as assigned.

The Requirements

  • Passion for Head Start’s commitment to ensuring every vulnerable child has the opportunity to succeed.
  • Strong academic success, including a bachelor’s degree at a minimum, with an ability to learn quickly and ask appropriate questions.
  • Demonstrated analytical abilities for synthesis of information, strategy development, and identifying themes and relationships.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Curiosity and continuous learning.
  • High tolerance for ambiguity.
  • Task-oriented with an ability to identify and manage competing priorities.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills and ability to be comfortable and assertive working with large and small groups.
  • Strong attention to detail, superior organizational skills, and computer literacy.
  • A high level of energy, ability to multi-task, and sense of humor.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of association management, early learning policy, and/or state systems preferred.
  • Minimum of 5+ years relevant work experience, Head Start, and/or association experience preferred.
  • Excellent organizational skills, including ability to handle and prioritize multiple tasks and meet deadlines.
  • Must be able to work independently and proactively while being a dependable team-player.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel as well as G suite applications.
  • Good judgment, flexibility, and problem-solving skills.
  • Salary is commensurate upon experience.

These are a plus, but not required:

  • Experience in journalism, advocacy campaigns, media relations, and/or strategic communications strongly preferred.
  • Spanish-writing proficiency.
  • Skills with video editing software and photography.
  • Experience working on grant-funded projects.
  • Knowledge of best practices in PowerPoint presentation and design.

The Process

Please submit your cover letter, résumé, and short writing sample (1-3 pages of non-technical writing) to [email protected] with Director of State Affairs in the subject line.