Vice President, Economic Development and Community Engagement

Washington D.C.
May 01, 2018
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APLU seeks an experienced leader with knowledge of the role of higher education institutions in innovation and entrepreneurship; talent and workforce development; and social, cultural, and community advancement. While APLU recognizes that candidates may have more depth in one of these broad areas of university partnerships with external stakeholders, the association seeks someone who is able to apply knowledge and experience across a diverse array of partnerships, and across different kinds of economic and societal outcomes. The candidate should also be an experienced grant developer and leader of volunteers and/or distributed teams.

The incumbent will serve as the staff director—the principal organizer and coordinator—for the activities of the Council on Engagement and Outreach (CEO) and the Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP), the APLU groups that bring together professionals from across the university engagement enterprise (community engagement, public service, outreach, extension, innovation, technology transfer, industry partnerships, workforce development, etc.). S/he will relate the activities of the Council and Commission to work across APLU as well as serve as APLU’s liaison with other higher education associations and national organizations that influence federal policies and laws affecting the roles of universities in economic and societal impact.

The incumbent will provide expertise concerning implementation and effectiveness of new and existing programs at member universities in support of various APLU initiatives. S/he will promote initiatives to improve university engagement in community and economic development. S/he will act as the primary advocate for APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities program and will lead ongoing advancement and improvement of that program. S/he will develop concepts for grant development, pursue grant funding, and implement initiatives funded by foundations, federal agencies, and others.

Types of Candidates: The successful candidate may come from the ranks of current university economic or community engagement leadership, or from leadership of associations, government, foundations, or other organizations working at the intersection of higher education, economic development, community engagement, and/or university partnerships.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • PhD or terminal degree
  • At least ten years of experience working with higher education institutions—preferably research universities—on issues related to their engagement in economic and workforce development, innovation and entrepreneurship, and/or community engagement
  • Accomplishment in higher education and/or science and technology policy—analysis, development, and implementation, as well as publications or other demonstrations of thought leadership in the field
  • Substantial fundraising experience with a record of securing and managing multiple large grants.
  • Substantial experience leading or facilitating change at higher education institutions, toward helping them to be more engaged with—and to develop better partnerships with—external stakeholders
  • Proven champion and advocate for university engagement with the economy and communities
  • Existing relationships with key stakeholders in higher education engagement contexts
  • Ability to innovate, both in ideas and implementation
  • Collaborative leadership style and ability to serve as a unifying force for change
  • Strong understanding of the economic and societal impacts of institutions of higher education, and how these are linked to the teaching/learning and research/discovery missions of these institutions
  • Excellent persuasive written and oral communication skills
  • Willingness and ability to travel up to 30 percent of the time

Duties and Responsibilities include the following:

  • Keep abreast of trends in the role of higher education in community and economic development, such as: talent and workforce development, including alternative credentialing approaches, flexible delivery options, and work-and-learn opportunities; social, cultural, and community development issues such as equitable and inclusive communities, creative placemaking, and community resilience; and innovation and entrepreneurship such as university start-ups, technology transfer, industry partnerships.
  • Organize and coordinate the activities of the Council on Engagement and Outreach (CEO) and Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity (CICEP), including membership, and succession of leadership, of the Executive Committees, regular Executive Committee conference calls, multi-day Summer Meetings of the CEO and CICEP membership (~150 – 180 attendees), and CEO- and CICEP-sponsored sessions of the APLU Annual Meeting (~1,500 attendees).
  • Help to catalyze university engagement by leading the Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities initiative, focused on helping universities demonstrate their commitment to and accomplishment in economic and community engagement. Oversee the development of a learning community among designated and award-winning institutions. Provide leadership for the development of a research agenda around the corpus of IEP Universities applications and the community of designated and award-winning institutions.
  • Maintain existing and develop new programs and initiatives and seek grant funding from private foundations and federal agencies to support them, to further advance university efforts in talent and workforce development, innovation and entrepreneurship, and social, cultural, and community engagement, coordinating as appropriate with other efforts underway across APLU.
  • Working with the APLU Office of Public Affairs, identify and seek appropriate opportunities to publicly serve as an expert on university economic development and community engagement issues (i.e. media interviews, op-eds, and public speaking engagements).
  • Serve as an advisor to the APLU Office of Congressional and Governmental Affairs on legislative and federal policy issues related to university economic and community engagement.
  • As appropriate, serve as APLU’s liaison with other higher education associations (e.g. AAU, AASCU, AACC, ACE) and other national organizations that influence institutions of higher education, their public and private partners, and public policies and federal law affecting university economic and community engagement.
  • Provide policy analysis and policy recommendations for current and pending federal legislation pertinent to universities’ role in economic and community development.
  • In cooperation with other APLU leadership, design and organize key broad-audience sessions for the APLU Annual Meeting.
  • Lead specific projects and task forces as may emerge from the APLU agenda.


  • Supervise two full-time support and program staff members, and additional program staff as required by funded projects and initiatives.
  • Provide staff leadership for the Council on Engagement and Outreach (CEO) and Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP).
  • Work with the APLU President, Vice Presidents, and program staff to create a “coordinated engagement agenda” across the association, helping staff understand the ways that economic and community engagement fit into their own councils, commissions, and funded initiatives, working especially with the Chief Academic Officer to relate and integrate teaching and learning and the engagement and workforce agendas; and also especially with those focused on research and science policy, on issues related to public partnerships and engagement around science and technology.
  • Work with council and commission leadership to develop strategic plans and operational activities in support of achieving strategic objectives.
  • Provide thought and policy leadership for the Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities program, and for other initiatives related to university engagement in communities and the economy.


  • Identify and, as appropriate, seek opportunities to support current or new programming through grants from private foundations, government agencies, corporations, and other potential funders.
  • Lead APLU’s Office of Economic Development and Community Engagement’s (OEDCE) solicitation of grants and writing of grant proposals.
  • Pitch ideas and share highlights from OEDCE accomplishments with potential funders, both formally and informally.
  • Coordinate with other APLU leadership and staff when approaching funders; document all meetings/outreach activities using APLU’s CRM.

Project Development

  • Provide high-level leadership for new aspects of the Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities program.
  • Work with other APLU leaders involved in community and economic engagement to align those efforts.
  • ·Coordinate across APLU to develop strong partnerships with associations, nonprofits, government agencies, and other relevant actors in higher education, science and technology, community development, workforce development, and other relevant areas.
  • Engage regularly with APLU leadership and staff to develop collaborative projects and stay abreast of initiatives across program areas.
  • Work closely with Public Affairs and Congressional and Governmental Affairs on development and delivery of key messages about university impact.

About APLU
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 237 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations. Founded in 1887, APLU is North America's oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, Canada, and Mexico. Annually, member campuses enroll 4.8 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $44.9 billion in university-based research.

With a membership of 237 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU's agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement. The association's work is furthered by an active and effective advocacy arm that works with Congress and the administration as well as the media to advance federal policies that strengthen public universities and benefit the students they serve. APLU undertakes a wide array of projects and initiatives along with its members and provides a forum for public higher education leaders to work collaboratively and better meet the challenges and opportunities facing public universities.

The position reports to the President of APLU.

Salary: Negotiable, based on experience and qualifications
Start Date: Summer 2018

To Apply
Please send a cover letter and resume electronically to [email protected] with the subject line: “VP Economic Development and Community Engagement.”

For more information, please visit Application review will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

APLU is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.

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