California Policy Director

  • Bay Area or Sacramento, CA
  • Full Time
  • Mid Level

POSITION SUMMARY:

Each fall, low-income, first-generation students enter colleges and universities across California. They enter college having faced and surmounted tremendous barriers to this milestone, including navigating a complex financial aid system. They will have paid their first bill, and be ready to study. But many students will not make it to the finish line. Once on campus, students will encounter a myriad of bureaucratic and financial barriers. Some students will find a way to navigate through the challenges, but for others, these obstacles will be unsurmountable and they will go deeper into consumer debt, transfer to another institution, or ultimately stop out or drop out. 

uAspire knows it is essential to address the underlying systems and policies that drive inequality in postsecondary access and success in order to best serve students and families. We leverage our front-line expertise to inform and guide policy that will work best for low-income, first-generation postsecondary students. uAspire has worked on federal policy as well as state policy in California and Massachusetts, the other two states where we advise students. 

The California Policy Director is responsible for leading the strategy and delivery of uAspire’s California state-based policy agenda. 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. Reporting to the Senior Director of Policy, the Director will cultivate, design, and advance policy initiatives that advance uAspire’s California Policy Priorities. The Director will be a visible advocate for and expert on affordable postsecondary education in CA.

 

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES:

Policy Advocacy and Thought Leadership

  • Develop a landscape analysis of California to identify key stakeholders and opportunities for change within the legislative, budgetary, and regulatory processes to drive college affordability.
  • Complete a statewide power map to determine effective alliances and targeted actions to move forward these policy recommendations.
  • Advance the CA Policy Priorities through strategic advocacy and policymaker education.
  • Develop materials for policy-related communications efforts and strategy in California, including creation of policy briefs, talking points, responses to media inquiries, and social media.
  • Track and analyze key legislative bills that could represent opportunities for best advancing new policy initiatives.
  • Prepare reports, testimony, memos, op-eds and other briefing materials.
  • Support uAspire federal advocacy projects where there is significant state / federal partnership. 

Strategic Partnerships

  • Build allies at the state level in service of the policy work.
  • Cultivate and maintain strategic relationships with elected, administrative, and appointed government officials and higher education institution and system leaders.
  • Manage coalitions to support uAspire campaigns and participate in coalitions to advance policy goals.
  • Identify and cultivate champions for college affordability among influential lawmakers, community-based leaders, and other stakeholders in higher education.

Policy Implementation Support

  • Share political analysis and broker relationships to support Consulting Team staff in projects, such as financial aid offer consultations, FAFSA completion mandate implementation, or other college affordability priorities.
  • Support implementation of priority policies through project management and creating and managing feedback loops between relevant stakeholders. 

Organizational Leadership/Team Contributions and Collaboration

  • Supervise two to three Policy Fellows (college interns who actively support the state policy work through writing, legislative meetings, social media, and other projects).
  • Convene internal cross-team policy committee to solicit colleagues’ feedback and insights on policy questions and inform organization about team activities.
  • Support Development team by providing state-specific policy lens for grant proposals and reports. 

 

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 social impact in NY, 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

 Core Competencies:

  • Equity and Inclusion
    • Equity Mindset - Identify and examine personal biases, stereotypes, prejudices and cultural norms in ways that consider their impact on persons with marginalized identities.
    • Awareness of Inequity -  Recognize the social effects of race, ethnicity, class, gender and other identities and the systems of oppression which perpetuate these inequities.
    • Advance Diversity and Inclusion - Proactively seeks out diverse perspectives and relationships within the workplace and the broader community served.
  • uAspire’s Core Competencies
    • Excellence - Steps up and follows through to consistently deliver high-quality work.
    • Equity & Inclusion - Champion the values of diversity and the creation of inclusive spaces.
    • Growth Mindset - Embrace challenges and setbacks as the fuel for learning and development.
    • Teamwork - Contribute actively and collaboratively with colleagues to active shared goals.
       

ANTICIPATED START DATE: March 1, 2022

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

GRADE: E

STATUS: Exempt, full time

LOCATION AND WORK ARRANGEMENT:  Hours are 9am to 5pm, with some occasional early morning or evening events or legislative hearings. The position is remote, with expected travel to Sacramento as advocacy requires. The position can be based in the Bay Area, Sacramento, or a location convenient to Sacramento.  Travel to the California uAspire office in Oakland may be monthly with additional estimated twice a year out of state, pending COVID safety & restrictions.

REPORTS TO: Senior Director of Policy

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.

 

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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