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Director of California Policy


Higher education costs rise 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 CA 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 strategy and delivery of uAspire’s California state-based policy agenda and supporting systems change projects improving financial aid systems for California students. By simplifying the pathways to federal aid, making college costs transparent to students, and ensuring equitable distribution of resources, the Director of CA Policy will create improved financial aid systems, transparency, and access for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

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 CA Policy will leverage nuanced 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 for and expert on affordable postsecondary education in CA. Reporting to the VP of Policy and Systems Change, the Director will cultivate, design, and advance policy initiatives. This includes ensuring that policies are implemented and enacted with practitioners, students, and communities at the center. student advocacy program leadership and systems-change projects that make college more accessible, affordable, and equitable for California students on a measurable scale.



Key Responsibilities (include but are not limited to the areas below):


  • Map political and institutional landscape in CA to identify multi-year advocacy strategy to advance our college affordability agenda.
  • Cultivate and maintain strategic relationships across a diverse set of leaders and policymakers and track advocacy efforts via department Salesforce system.
  • Engage in coalitions aligned to our policy agenda and represent uAspire’s college affordability expertise in those groups.
  • Conduct research and analysis on legislative solutions to address uAspire policy agenda via bill tracking as well as developing and/or influencing model legislation.
  • With annual changes in the financial aid space, the Director of Policy CA will be responsible for carrying policy work from advocacy to implementation. They will also be responsible for creating and managing feedback loops throughout the process. 

Institutional Systems Change Cultivation and Support:

  • Lead strategic initiatives to ensure recently passed legislation and policies are equitably implemented and executed. 
  • Cultivate relationships with institutional leaders and regulatory agencies to create opportunities for systems change projects in CA aligned to uAspire policy agenda and CA student impact goals.
  • Design and execute systems change projects to a variety of stakeholders on different financial aid topics - lead delivery to CA partners with high quality and partner satisfaction.
  • Support Development and Impact leadership by engaging in fundraising efforts to make policy projects in CA financially sustainable.

Thought Leadership: 

  • Advance CA Policy Priorities and support the policy team to leverage and refine  along with uAspire’s national policy agenda, based on external environment and progress to goals.
  • Support and/or lead policy-related communications efforts and strategy in CA, 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 advocacy. 
  • Showcase and disseminate uAspire college affordability expertise via: development of CA-focused written publications; participation in conferences/convenings; engaging in events to advance policy priorities and meet grant commitments.

Student Advocacy Program Support:

  • Coordinate student-led advocacy for CA students as part of a national uAspire fellowship program to advance state-based and federal affordability policy with student-driven solutions.
  • Coach students in professional experience, advocacy, and through completing 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.



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 social impact in CA, including experience in a government setting or external advocacy role; ideal if related to higher education and/or financial aid
  • Relentlessly passionate about and committed to making higher education more equitable and affordable for the underrepresented young people we serve
  • Proven ability to effectively interact with a variety of stakeholders including elected officials and staffers, media, funders, and higher ed leaders to influence change
  • Experienced policy and systems change strategist with the ability to identify opportunities by reading external environments and to tackle complex issues via strong project management skills
  • A persuasive public speaker with strong communications skills adaptable to diverse platforms such as briefings, presentations, press, social media, etc.
  • Exhibits flexibility and adaptability needed to maneuver in changing policy landscape and a solutions-oriented approach to challenges
  • Excels at executing independently and in collaboration with others, including remote engagement



COMPENSATION: The salary range for this position is $81,000 - $98,000. Salary commensurate with experience and education.  


STATUS: Exempt, full time

LOCATION AND WORK ARRANGEMENT: Ability to work flexible hours that may include some travel, as well as occasional early morning, evening, and weekend hours for attendance at events. The position is primarily remote for now,  1-2 days ideal, based in Oakland.  Travel to Sacramento and/or within CA may be monthly, with additional estimated quarterly travel to the East Coast pending COVID safety & restrictions

REPORTS TO: VP of Policy & Systems-Change

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.

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



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


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