Director, Higher Education and Public Policy

NAFSA: Association of International Educators
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Jun 16

Position description

The Director for Higher Education & Public Policy develops and implements strategies to achieve NAFSA advocacy priorities and strategic plan objectives, as established by the Board of Directors. The position assumes lead responsibility for a diverse and highly visible portfolio of issues as well as the overall higher education policy federal portfolio.


Major Functions and Responsibilities

Lead development of NAFSA’s diverse and highly visible portfolio of U.S. higher education federal policy issues: (25%)

  • Identify and develop new policy ideas and concepts to achieve NAFSA’s strategic goals;
  • Stay abreast of relevant public policy debates taking place in Congress and within the U.S. higher education community in order to advance NAFSA’s policy agenda;
  • In collaboration with the Senior Director for Public Policy and the Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy, develop and implement a multi-year initiative to make global preparedness a policy priority for policymakers;
  • Collaborate with the Senior Director for Public Policy and the Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy to develop the association’s positions on international education and higher education policy;
  • Draft necessary written materials, including policy proposals, briefing papers, white papers, talking points, speeches, legislative language, and hearing testimony.

Lead implementation of NAFSA’s higher education congressional and administrative policy agenda: (25%)

  • Lead NAFSA’s higher education advocacy agenda before the U.S. Congress to ensure Congress is informed and aware of the association’s perspective and issue priorities;
  • Serve as the lead public policy staff person on issues pertaining to NAFSA’s education policy agenda particularly with congressional education and foreign relations committees;
  • Develop key contacts and champions for international education and maintain effective working relationships with policymakers and their staff. This position will lead on managing relationships related to higher education policy but will also be expected to develop congressional relationships that advance policies related to international student and scholar issues as a secondary role;
  • Represent NAFSA in meetings with congressional offices, coalition partners, and at policy-focused events;
  • Develop and lead NAFSA’s U.S. higher education policy agenda before executive branch agencies, including the Departments of Education and State; 
  • Demonstrate initiative in executing federal legislative strategies in a complex policy environment, using creative and effective strategies to overcome obstacles; demonstrating success in advancing organizational public policy objectives with Congress; and finding ways to raise awareness of global education policy issues.

Work collaboratively with NAFSA staff, member advocates, and coalition partners: (40%)

  • Mobilize and manage disparate groups and coalitions to achieve NAFSA's advocacy priorities and strategic plan objectives in higher education policy portfolio;
  • Work with NAFSA members, allies, and champions to identify new advocacy opportunities;
  • Coordinate with the Director of Advocacy & Media Outreach to mobilize constituents to support advocacy objectives with the federal government;
  • Liaise with Education Abroad Services, Organizational Advancement, and Regional Affairs to inform stakeholders of NAFSA’s policy priorities and to gain insight on policy and practice issues affecting the field of international educators;
  • Maintain effective working relationships with coalition partners, managing NAFSA’s education abroad involvement with international education and higher education coalitions;
  • Work collaboratively with inter-departmental teams to advance a broad range of the association’s strategic priorities as noted above in position description.

Manage special projects, task forces, and consultants within budget to achieve advocacy objectives, as needed, to: (5%)

  • Spearhead research on study abroad to advance NAFSA’s policy agenda;
  • Convene policymakers and thought leaders on the importance of graduating U.S. globally prepared students; and
  • Identify and convene appropriate NAFSA members to participate in federal program review panels and other programs;

Other duties as assigned, for example: (5%)

  • Provide direction to temporary staff and interns, as required;
  • Maintain and update relevant sections of the NAFSA website;
  • Support media inquiries as requested by Senior Director for Media Communications & Advocacy; and
  • Respond to interdepartmental association requests.


  • Bachelor’s degree in relevant field
  • At least 5 years demonstrated effectiveness in advocacy or public policy
  • Strong interest in and command of higher education policy issues;
  • Strong understanding of Congress, federal agencies, and the policy process

Desired Qualifications:

  • Advanced degree in relevant field
  • international education/exchange, or international affairs experience preferred.
  • Experience with the Hill or federal agencies (State or Education, etc.), preferred

Behavioral Competencies:

  • confident presence, comfortable in a multi-cultural and high-level political environment;
  • excellent written, oral, and organizational skills;
  • ability to be detail-oriented and discrete with sensitive material;
  • commitment to the association's mission

Work Environment

The workday is generally 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The week after Memorial Day to Labor Day, it is 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday.

Travel is required occasionally related to job responsibilities, especially for the annual conference or other leadership meetings. Participation in the NAFSA annual conference the week of Memorial Day, including the holiday itself, is a job requirement. The annual conference is held in varying cities.

Tasks are performed in a typical office environment, involving sitting for extended periods of time. Sitting, standing, bending, and lifting 10lbs or less will occur intermittently throughout the workday. Position involves constant use of computer keyboard and monitor, with intermittent use of headset and microphone.

Application instructions

Please be sure to indicate that you saw this position on