Director of Policy and Advocacy

United States
Jul 16, 2018
Jobs Outside Higher Education
Public Policy
Institution Type
Other Organizations

Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust (“Partners”) seeks a Director of Policy and Advocacy to join our growing team of professionals working to make college more affordable for students and families.

Partners ( is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving higher education affordability, transparency, and quality. We give voice to the students and families who pay for the rising cost of college — but rarely have a seat at the policymaking table. We advocate for common sense policies and practices that will ensure that students graduate with less debt and are better equipped to make good on higher education’s promise of economic mobility. We will achieve our mission through the following four core strategies:

  • Change public policies, particularly on the state level.
  • Change institutional policies and practices at public colleges and universities.
  • Empower trustees of public institutions with the information, tools and resources they need to make informed and strategic decisions about financing.
  • Build a movement of students, families, advocacy organizations, business and civic leaders and other concerned citizens to improve college affordability.

Position Description: Director of Policy and Advocacy

The Director of Policy and Advocacy (DPA) will work with the president, board and staff of Partners to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based college affordability policy agenda. In addition, the DPA will play a key role in the execution of advocacy campaign strategies designed to achieve our policy goals in five or more states in the next several years. This is an exciting opportunity for a versatile, highly motivated policy and issue advocacy professional to make a major impact on one of the most complex domestic public policy challenges facing the country today: making sure that a college degree is affordable for all.

Rather than focus on debt relief, financial aid, and ways to cover an increasingly out of reach cost of public higher education for consumers, strategies that do little to incentivize industry change, Partners focuses on the root causes of the affordability problem, such as cost drivers, public financing and pricing models, and lagging adoption of innovation.

The DPA will review and analyze existing research about the potential effectiveness of a wide range of proposed policy solutions to address the college affordability crisis, including but not limited to: tuition freezes and controls; outcomes-based funding models; more affordable degree pathways; the impact of new technologies on costs; ways to improve the transparency and accountability of data and decision making about costs; and strategies to increase administrative efficiencies. The primary responsibility of the DPA will be to develop the policy agenda and write issue briefs, white papers, fact sheets and other documents that explain the policy goals in a persuasive manner that will be easily understood by a diverse group of stakeholders. In addition to this vital policy analysis role, the DPA will also be a key strategist on state advocacy campaigns. He/she will work closely with our coalition partners and network of grassroots activists, meet with policymakers, brief the media, speak with students and parents, and help us use the tools of digital advocacy to achieve our policy goals.

The DPA will report to the president and be supported by the vice president for development and projects, a state advocacy manager, and education policy and communications consulting firms currently under contract with Partners.


  • Research and analyze existing research on college affordability and innovation in higher education.
  • In close consultation with the president, staff, and board, make recommendations for policy proposals most likely to achieve Partners’ goals in particular states with sensitivity to diverse policy and political contexts, including higher education governance and funding structures.
  • Consult with experts within the higher education policy landscape to stay current on developments in affordability and innovation and apply that knowledge to Partners; represent Partners and our unique mission to experts and organizations.
  • Write original white papers, issue briefs and other policy documents that synthesize existing knowledge of the subject, analyze the pros and cons of potential policy solutions, and explain the reasons for the Partners position on those policies.
  • Work with state higher education officials to understand the state policy agenda and collaborate, where possible, to advance Partners’ policy agenda.
  • Create a new online resource center consisting of policy documents and online tools and resources for advocates tentatively called the “Policy Action Center for College Affordability.”
  • Develop and refine a state targeting priority list, to inform expansion plans, based on alignment of Partners goals with state-by-state data and specific policy and political contexts.
  • Monitor legislation and policy developments across the U.S. for awareness of opportunities for Partners’ policy intervention.
  • Support Partners’ development of politically diverse, state-based coalitions by: arming staff and advocates with a compelling, evidence-based case for college affordability solutions; advising the coalition and participating in activities; being a public champion.
  • Write e-mail action alerts, social media posts, coalition updates, sign-on letters, talking points, fact-sheets and other documents that empower our partners to be effective advocates for college affordability.
  • Represent Partners at conferences, speak to student groups and at meetings of our coalition partners, meet with policy makers and other key stakeholders.
  • As appropriate, speak to the media about our policy goals and strategies and help draft press releases, op-eds and other materials to generate earned media coverage.
  • Participate in meetings with potential foundation, corporate and individual donors and write sections of grant proposals as necessary.


  • Strong analytical and research skills and ability to understand complex policy issues
  • Experience translating complex policy issues to key stakeholders and lay persons
  • Ten or more years of experience in policy development and advocacy preferred; politically savvy
  • Expertise in higher education policy among states, preferably on the issue of affordability
  • Knowledge of cutting edge research and developments in higher education innovation and conversant on those topics
  • Excellent writing and verbal communication skills
  • Minimum of a master’s degree preferred
  • Knowledge of grassroots and grasstops advocacy principles and strategies
  • Ability to build, maintain and strengthen positive relationships with state-based partners and other key stakeholders
  • Experience dealing with high-end external stakeholders, such as lawmakers and media
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment, meet deadlines and adapt to frequently changing priorities and strategies
  • A passion to make college more affordable for students and families
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiasm to help build a new, small but growing, and ambitious organization
  • Team oriented, intellectually curious, and desire to learn new skills

Location: DPA can work remotely but must be accessible to Washington DC by travel for frequent networking with potential national coalition partners and higher education policy convenings. The other members of Partners’ team are located in Virginia and Washington DC.
Salary and Benefits: This is a grant funded position with a salary expected to be in the range of $110,000 to $130,000 annually. Full benefits package, including generous retirement plan contribution.

If you are interested in applying for this position, please send a cover letter and resume to Matt Farrey, Vice President for Development and Projects, at [email protected].

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