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Director of Federal Policy

POSITION SUMMARY:

Higher education costs are rising faster than inflation and wages, while need-based financial aid has not kept up. As a result, our higher education system often exacerbates rather than breaks the cycle of poverty. The Director of Federal Policy will work to advance systems-level change that helps students from low-income backgrounds and communities of color access and complete an affordable postsecondary degree. At uAspire, we believe systems change is possible and that policies will be more effective when students and front-line experts contribute to the solutions.

The Director is responsible for leading the advocacy and thought-leadership strategies for uAspire’s national policy agenda, as well support systems-change projects improving financial aid systems for  students across the country. By simplifying the pathways to federal aid, making college costs transparent to students, and ensuring equitable distribution of resources, the Director of Federal Policy will work to drive improved financial aid systems, transparency, equity and access for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. In this role, the Director of Federal Policy will cultivate effective relationships with Members of Congress, key Congressional staff, leadership and members of the Committees of jurisdiction in the House and Senate, representatives of the Administration, and federal agencies, while remaining alert to emerging opportunities to advance college affordability and systems change. 

The Director of Federal Policy will work closely with our Knowledge, Policy and Consulting teams to analyze the landscape of FAFSA mandatory and imminent states as well as support in the cultivation of relationships with these state agencies. The Director will collaborate in the leadership of policy analyses to determine implementation plans. This position works collaboratively across the organization to achieve grant deliverables and serve as a thought leader in Federal Policy. 

This role requires a self-driven, goal-oriented individual with a proven record of leading policy and systems change in government and higher ed sectors. The Director of Federal Policy will leverage interpersonal and communication skills to influence and partner with a variety of stakeholders -- students, leaders in government, K12, higher education, nonprofit, and corporate sectors. The Director will be a visible advocate and expert on affordable  and equitable postsecondary education. 

Reporting to the VP of Policy and Systems Change, the Director will cultivate, design, and execute policy initiatives, student advocacy program support, and systems-change projects that make college more accessible, affordable and equitable for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds on a measurable scale.
 

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES:

Advocacy:

  • Map national, political and institutional landscape to identify multi-year advocacy strategy to advance our college equity & affordability agenda.
  • Lead the development and implementation of a proactive federal relations strategy to advance uAspire’s policy positions related to higher education including issues related to student aid, higher education accountability, transparency, etc.
  • Cultivate and maintain strategic relationships across a diverse set of leaders and policymakers and track advocacy initiatives and impacts  via department Salesforce system.
  • Engage with partner organizations and coalitions aligned to our policy agenda by regularly participating in external meetings and identifying opportunities for collaboration and shared advocacy on issues related to college affordability 
  • Conduct research and analysis on legislative solutions to address uAspire policy agenda via bill tracking as well as developing and/or influencing model legislation.

Student Advocacy Program Support:

  • Provide support for student-led advocacy with midatlantic students as part of a national uAspire fellowship program to advance state-based and federal affordability policy with student-driven solutions.
  • Engage with students to provide guidance in professional development and advocacy through the completion of  projects such as op-eds, policy memos, and office visits with their legislators.
  • Center program learning and context with equity and affordability focus to advance leadership and amplify voices of students of color,  students from low-income backgrounds, and those historically marginalized in the higher education system.

Thought Leadership:

  • Advance federal Policy Priorities and support the policy team to leverage and refine uAspire’s national policy agenda, based on external environment and progress to goals.
  • Support and/or lead policy-related communications efforts and strategy for federal influence, including creation of policy briefs, talking points, responses to media inquiries, public speaking engagements, with particular emphasis on development and execution of social media for policy advocacy. 
  • Showcase and disseminate uAspire college affordability expertise via: development of federally-focused written publications; participation in conferences/convenings; engaging in events to advance policy priorities and meet grant commitments.

Institutional Systems Change Cultivation and Support:

  • Cultivate relationships with institutional leaders and regulatory agencies to create opportunities for national systems change implementation aligned to uAspire policy agenda and national student impact goals.
  • Design and execute systems change projects with a variety of stakeholders on different financial aid topics - lead delivery to select national partners with high quality and partner satisfaction.
  • Support, VP of Policy, Development and Impact leadership by engaging in fundraising efforts to make national and federal policy projects financially sustainable.
     

QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERIENCE:

We understand that people gain skills through a variety of professional, personal, educational, and volunteer experiences. We encourage candidates to review the key responsibilities and qualifications below. If you believe you have the transferable skills necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of this role, we encourage you to apply.

Education, Experience & Skills:

  • 5+ years of policy and systems change experience advancing national social impact, including experience in a government setting or external advocacy role; ideal if related to higher education and/or financial aid
  • Bachelor's in public policy, political science or related system-change field, Master's degree preferred
  • Passionate about and committed to making higher education more equitable and affordable for the underrepresented young people we serve
  • Ability to effectively interact with a variety of stakeholders including elected officials and staffers, media, funders, and higher ed leaders to influence change
  • Experience in policy and systems change strategies with ability to identify opportunities by reading external environments and to tackle complex issues via strong project management skills
  • Persuasive public-speaker with strong communications skills adaptable to diverse platforms such as briefings, hearings, presentations, press, social media, etc.
  • Exhibit flexibility and adaptability needed to maneuver in changing policy landscape and a solutions-oriented approach to challenges
  • Excel at executing independently and in collaboration with others, including remote engagement
  • Ability to work flexible hours that may include some travel over evenings and weekends

 

ANTICIPATED START DATE: December 16, 2021

COMPENSATION: The salary range for this position is $81,000 - $106,5,000. Salary commensurate with experience and education.  

GRADE: E

STATUS: Exempt, full time

LOCATION AND WORK ARRANGEMENT: Preference for candidates based in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area. Employee works remotely 5 days/week with occasional travel to Washington, D.C..

VACCINATION REQUIREMENT: All uAspire employees are required to be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination or proof of exemption for medical or religious reasons will be collected upon employee onboarding.

REPORTS TO: VP of Policy & Systems-Change

APPLICATIONS: Applicants should apply through uAspire’s website here.

 

ABOUT UASPIRE

Organization Vision: uAspire imagines a day when all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential by graduating from college, regardless of their families’ financial resources or college experiences. 

Organization Summary:  uAspire is a national leader in providing college affordability services to young people, families, and college access and success practitioners.  By 2022, uAspire’s strategic plan aims to impact the lives of 3,000,000 young people through:

  • Student Advising: In person and over text, we support students one-on-one to maximize financial aid, minimize loan debt, and make informed financial decisions about the best post-secondary option for them.
     
  • Training: Online and in-person we provide professional development for school counselors and college access providers, sharing our expertise so they can effectively support their students.
     
  • Policy & Systems Change: To level the playing field for young people from all economic backgrounds, we work to improve financial aid systems so everyone has a chance to graduate with a degree they can afford. 

 

uAspire is an equal opportunity employer, fully committed to achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace that embraces and encourages applicants of every background.  The company’s policy regarding equal employment opportunity means that all decisions regarding recruitment, hiring, benefits, wage and salary administration, scheduling, disciplinary action and termination will be made without unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, race, color, age, national origin, religion, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, citizenship status, pregnancy or maternity, veteran status, or any other status protected by applicable federal, state or local law. If you require reasonable accommodation in completing an application, interviewing, or otherwise participating in the employee selection process, please direct your inquiries to hr@uaspire.org

 

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