Deputy Director, Early Childhood Learning

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Location
    Seattle, Washington
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Jan 10

Position description

The Deputy Director is responsible for development, implementation and progress of the national early learning strategy. You will act as leader to a team of three senior program officers and one program assistant, and have oversight and authority of a $20 million annual budget. You will also serve on the PNW Leadership Team. The position will tackle three related strategic objectives: 1) Move into the next stage of national implementation across a select number of states with key external partners, aimed initially at building effective state-funded Pre-K systems and networks; 2) As one of the target states of the national strategy, accelerate progress in Washington State and Seattle based on recent research and significant past investment; and 3) Operate within the existing highly collaborative PNW P-16 Washington state strategy, coordinating closely with other PNW and USP strategies and initiatives, and foundation business and program partners. At this stage of the national strategy, the foundation’s role is focused primarily on how to build high quality public Pre-K systems for three and four year-old children in pre-school settings, assuring that these gains are sustained into elementary school cost-effectively, and with special emphasis on low-income students who are disproportionately from communities of color and dual language learners. The strategy is actively seeking future opportunities to strengthen federal Head Start.

Other responsibilities to include:

  • Strategic leadership, team management and growth and development of early childhood learning team members including continuous feedback for improvement, role clarity and a culture that inspires open dialogue, consensus building and action.
  • Effective strategy implementation in an organizational culture based on analytical rigor, evidence, quantitative analysis, and strong project management.
  • Developing, managing and leveraging external partner relationships, including some grant making, research and evaluation, and development of more effective policy, practice, tools and workforce preparation and support systems. Activities will also include public speeches, partner convening, and development of networks of practitioners, parents and federal, state and local policy makers to create demand for improvement and change.
  • Oversight of early learning investments within the context of the overall Washington State P-16 strategy implementation, including overlapping programmatic activities with other PNW and USP sub-teams.
  • Active ongoing participation within PNW leadership team to significantly contribute to overall PNW strategy and team culture. Contribute to the overall USP division to build a trusting, collaborative and results-based culture.
  • This role manages people and is responsible for hiring and nurturing the talent needed to achieve our goals. Activities include ensuring successful employee onboarding, communicating performance expectations, creating goal alignment, integrating project and change management, giving and seeking feedback, providing coaching, measuring progress and holding people accountable, supporting employee development, and recognizing achievement and lessons learned.
  • This role is responsible for high quality interactions and clear and consistent communications with grantees and partners to build capacity and effectiveness of the field.

Reports to Director, Pacific Northwest.


The ideal candidate will be an acknowledged expert in a relevant field (education, child development and/or learning sciences) and have demonstrated significant accomplishments in driving improvements in complex public education or child development systems.

Knowledge and Experience

  • Education and experience: A minimum of ten years of experience in the early learning field and preferably a doctorate in a related field. Ideally a mix of experiences, such as a senior level systems administrator (federal, state or local) leading systems-level reform initiatives, experience in the classroom or center, research/evaluation, and/or demonstrated success with a private funder in the early learning field.
  • Building and leading high performing teams: A well-articulated approach to leadership that instills and strengthens core values of PNW and the foundation, especially trust, collaboration, rigor, continuous improvement for results, and intelligent risk-taking.
  • Change management: Well-articulated approach to change management in large and politically complex publicly funded systems. Ideally experience would include driving administrative adoption of solutions in a public system and policy development and/or advocacy.
  • Applied knowledge: Conversant in research and evaluation literature to discover new knowledge, and the ability to apply new knowledge for improvement and innovation such as: standards, curriculum, professional development, program implementation, personnel systems and scaling effective practices.
  • Variety of experience: Working knowledge of both school-based Pre-K and community-based Pre-K and, ideally, deepen existing relationships into these sectors.
  • Broader relationships: Experience effectively working with national foundations, advocates, government, universities and research organizations.


  • Strong ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing to be clear, direct, and inspirational for broad audiences both internally and externally including foundation executives.
  • Strong ability for strategic and critical thinking, conversant with quantitative analysis and meaningful use of numeric data, and strong program/project management skills.
  • Ability to synthesize and integrate ideas and activities, and manage through ambiguity, thinking across systems and disciplines.
  • Commitment and ability to build diverse teams, and work with diverse individuals and partners.
  • Ability to help the team prioritize the work, manage conflicting expectations, manage large amounts of information, and stay calm.
  • Enthusiasm for feedback (both giving and receiving), self-reflection, and continuous improvement individually and with the team.

Application instructions

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