Senior Director, Public Policy & Legislative Strategy

Washington D.C.
Comprehensive benefits package
Oct 06, 2019
Nov 10, 2019
Program Manager
Education, Nonprofit
Full Time

Position Summary:  The Senior Director of Public Policy and Legislative Strategy provides direction to the association’s public policy team to advance federal policies that lead to a more welcoming, globally engaged, and educated United States. Reporting to the Deputy Executive Director (DED) of Public Policy, this position will be directly involved in leading NAFSA’s advocacy on issues that are at the forefront of public debate and discourse.

Major Functions and Responsibilities

Issue Management and Policy Agenda Development (35%)

  • Provide strategic leadership to collaboratively develop and advance NAFSA’s advocacy agenda in a complex policy environment.
  • Develop and advance NAFSA’s positions on a portfolio of public policy issues, in keeping with the strategic plan and advocacy goals of the association.
  • 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.
  • Create a legislative advocacy plan that builds on and expands existing relationships.
  • Develop a culture of engagement with Hill staff and other policymakers, while promoting the expertise of NAFSA on relevant issues.
  • Conduct analysis of various factors to create a congressional target list for the department’s government relations and advocate engagement work.
  • Provide direction for careful analysis of potential consequences of federal policies and make strategic recommendations for appropriate responses.
  • Create effective policy proposals, legislative language, hearing testimony, agency comment letters, and other policy documents for advocacy purposes.
  • Identify and coordinate rapid responses to issues that threaten NAFSA’s mission or policy positions as they arise.

Leadership and Management (45%)

  • Provide strategic direction to four full-time policy staff, based on advanced understanding of the public policy process and strategies.
  • Collaborate with the DED and Senior Director of Media Relations on agenda priorities, communications, and advocacy strategies. 
  • Provide strategic direction for the international student campaign and supervise relationship development in key states.
  • Supervise and ensure professional development of staff
  • Manage unit funds within budget guidelines and work with the DED to develop the annual departmental budget.
  • Respond to interdepartmental association requests as needed.

Relationship Building (20%)

  • Cultivate collaborations with organizations and movements whose values intersect.
  • Mobilize and lead coalitions to achieve advocacy priorities and strategic plan objectives.
  • Develop, nurture, and maintain key government contacts and champions for NAFSA’s advocacy agenda.
  • Represent NAFSA to senior government officials, taking positions as appropriate on behalf of the association.
  • Work collaboratively to advance advocacy objectives. 

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent combination of education and experience in a related field
  • At least eight (8) years of experience in advocacy or public policy
  • Five or more years of direct advocacy or lobbying experience (legislative staff or committee experience preferred)
  • Extensive knowledge and 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 a 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
  • Superb communication and organizational skills
  • Ability to lead in a team environment, while handling controversial issues with confidence, tact, and discretion

Desired Qualifications:

  • Juris Doctor or Master’s degree in a relevant field
  • Thorough knowledge of immigration, national security, Department of Homeland Security, or education policy
  • Previous global professional or international education experience
  • Familiarity with public relations and advocacy campaigns
  • Experience with social media to promote NAFSA’s agenda
  • Experience with foundations, associations, or nonprofit organizations

Work Relationships

As representatives of a membership organization with a broad and diverse range of activities related to education and training, NAFSA staff possess more than simply specialized capabilities.

Each individual is expected to take the initiative to become knowledgeable about the organization as a whole. Association members and other staff expect colleagues to be accessible and responsive, to convey a positive attitude, and to exhibit a high degree of professionalism.

Office Environment

The workday is generally 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The week after Memorial Day to Labor Day, it is 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday.

Travel is required occasionally related to job responsibilities, especially for the annual conference, regional meetings, and other leadership meetings. Participation in the NAFSA annual conference the week of Memorial Day, including the holiday itself, is a job requirement. The annual conference is held in varying cities in the U.S.

About NAFSA: Association of International Educators

NAFSA: Association of International Educators is an organization of people dedicated to building a global community and fostering a more peaceful world through advancing international higher education. With approximately 10,000 members, NAFSA is the world’s largest professional development and advocacy organization committed to international learning and creating a more globally engaged, welcoming, and educated United States.

NAFSA believes that international education advances learning and scholarship, fosters understanding and respect among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, is essential for developing globally competent individuals, and builds leadership for the global community. We believe that international education lies at the core of an interconnected world characterized by peace, security, and well-being for all.

NAFSA is a workplace that not only appreciates diversity but believes it is our strength, and we strive to create an inclusive culture for all our team members. NAFSA is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. Learn more about NAFSA at

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