Director of Higher Education Policy

The Education Trust seeks a Director of Higher Education Policy to support the work of the organization’s division of Higher Education Policy and Practice.

Reporting to the Vice President for Higher Education, the Director of Higher Education Policy will lead an ambitious, innovative effort to advance the equity agenda in colleges and universities. The work will combine efforts to improve both policy and practice to increase the access and success of low-income students and students of color. To this end, the Director works closely with the higher education research and practice teams, the K-12 Policy and Practice division, and Partnerships and Engagement and Communications divisions. While The Education Trust’s higher education work historically has focused on K-16 issues (e.g., teacher preparation, alignment of standards and assessments), the work is increasingly focused on substantive improvements within higher education, such as federal and state financial aid policy and institutional accountability for improving student access and success, as it pertains to low-income students and students of color.

About the Organization

The Education Trust promotes high academic achievement for all students at all levels—pre-kindergarten through college. Our goal is to close the gaps in opportunity and achievement that consign far too many young people—especially those who are black, Latino, American Indian, or from low-income families—to lives on the margins of the American mainstream. We work alongside parents, educators, policymakers, and community and business leaders across the country in transforming schools and colleges into institutions that serve all students well. Lessons learned in these efforts, together with robust data analyses, shape our state and national policy agendas.

Core Competencies

The Director of Higher Education Policy responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Lead the policy team in researching, analyzing, and developing new proposals on key higher education topics;
  • Develop reports, briefs, blogs, and other resources on key topics in the higher education policy space;
  • Work collaboratively with our Legislative Affairs team to advance policy positions and influence legislation, including working with our coalition partners and presenting policy proposals and positions to legislators, administration officials, stakeholder groups, advocacy organizations and others;
  • Work collaboratively with the Government Affairs and Communications division to monitor and respond to federal, state, and local policy activities related to higher education, including serving as a media spokesperson on those issues and actively participating on relevant cross-organizational committees (e.g. policy development, communications);
  • Work collaboratively with the higher education research and practice teams to coordinate the work that helps inform the policy-related activities;
  • Continually track, organize, and report concisely information relevant to higher education policy priorities from a variety of sources, including pending legislation, media reports, reports from think tanks, academic research literature, and other advocacy organizations;
  • Collaborate with the Government Affairs and Communications team on the strategic dissemination of reports, briefs, and other collateral materials including press outreach and interviews, presentations to key audiences including legislative staff, and web-based outreach to the public; and
  • Respond to time-sensitive higher education policy data inquiries from staff, media, legislators, and the public at-large.
  • Manage relevant budgets to ensure they are spent in accordance with grant requirements.

Qualifications and Experience

  • We are looking for a combination of the following qualifications and experience:
  • A minimum of 5 years of experience in a role addressing higher education issues;
  • Deep understanding of higher education policy and finance issues such as but not limited to the Higher Education Act and its reauthorization, higher education finance, and student financial aid;
  • Demonstrated experience in policy development on higher education issues with a keen emphasis on equity and closing gaps in opportunity and outcomes;
  • Understanding of federal and state policy contexts that affect higher education, and thoughts about how to improve these policies through appropriate policy levers; An understanding of various institutional and system governance structures within higher education and the unique challenges specific to diverse types of colleges and universities (e.g., HBCUs, HSIs, tribal colleges, community colleges, etc.);
  • Excellent analytic and communication skills (both oral and written, and in a variety of formats and contexts);
  • Demonstrated ability designing, communicating, and advocating for policy positions;
  • At least a bachelor’s degree (a master’s degree in public policy, higher education, education policy, political science, economics, or related field preferred); and
  • Ability to travel 10-20% of the time.

Personal Characteristics

  • Passion for improving the educational experiences and outcomes for low-income students and students of color, and an unwavering belief that these students could be much more successful if institutions better served them;
  • Self-starter mentality and the ability to work independently;
  • A demonstrated commitment to excellence;
  • Healthy respect for colleagues and ability to work collaboratively with others within the higher education team and across the organization;
  • Goal-oriented, project-oriented, and results-oriented;
  • Desire to be part of an intellectually rich and action-oriented work environment;
  • Strong sense of honor and integrity; and
  • A warm, personal style with a good sense of humor.


Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications. The Education Trust offers a comprehensive benefits package.

Please provide a cover letter and resume to be considered for this position. You must combine your cover letter and resume into one document and upload that document. Our application system will not allow you to upload more than one file.

The Education Trust is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages diversity in all facets of the organization’s work.
To be considered, please apply by March 15 deadline.