Chief External Affairs Officer (Flexible; New York or Washington, DC preferred)

The Opportunity for Impact

The Chief External Affairs Officer is responsible for developing and implementing Teach For America's external affairs vision and strategy to:

  • advance the interests of our students and our community of 57,000 corps members and alumni;
  • inspire, engage, and educate key constituents outside our network to advocate for access to an equitable and excellent education for all children; and
  • leverage the diversity and scale of our network to drive learning, innovation, and collective leadership.

The Chief External Affairs Officer will oversee 350 staff members across our marketing and communications, development, public partnerships, and corps recruitment and admissions functions, ensuring the integration of these efforts and aligning the overall direction of our external affairs work to our core tenets; core values; commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness; and organizational strategy. The Chief External Affairs Officer will be a member of Teach For America's Management Team and report directly to the Chief Executive Officer, Elisa Villanueva Beard.

Specific Responsibilities Include:

Provide vision and focus for a dynamic organization. Teach For America is a large, diverse and dynamic organization with activities occurring simultaneously in many locations and on a variety of issues, with a unique combination of prospects, corps members, alumni, staff, donors, partners and other constituents. The Chief External Affairs Officer must lead our external affairs teams in the work to inspire, motivate, coordinate and honor these multiple constituents in ways that advance the mission of Teach For America and ensure the organization communicates with one voice and a consistent set of messages.

Activate our base, allies, strategic partners, advocates, and donors. The Chief External Affairs Officer must lead the refinement of Teach For America's digital and social media presence and focus the use of interactive media to engage our corps members, alumni, key stakeholders and the public. S/he must be able to lead Teach For America in leveraging the scale and diversity of our growing network by effectively communicating with our base and finding new ways to attract, retain, and activate a new generation of leaders and a broad and diverse base of donors, advocates, decision-makers, and partners. S/he must be skilled in coalition building and working in partnership with community and national partners to tackle legislative and policy needs on the state and federal level.

Represent and lead Teach For America's public profile, enhancing the organization's visibility and influencing public opinion. The Chief External Affairs Officer will position the institution to reach government and business decision-makers and influence public opinion on issues vital to Teach For America's mission. It is essential that the Chief External Affairs Officer be able to set up the organization to convey Teach For America's history, outcomes, impact, and narrative effectively, persuasively, and above the partisan debate to thought leaders, supporters, and the broader public through a wide variety of communication tools.

Manage through change. Teach For America's ability to maximize our impact will depend on how well we manage uncertainty and a changing political environment and how nimble we can be in responding to the broader external landscape, including the philanthropic community. Managing these changes in ways that keep the organization relevant and at the vanguard of the education change effort will be critical for success.

Qualifications:

Chief External Affairs Officer Profile

Teach For America seeks a skilled individual with strong external relations experience at the intersection of advocacy, policy, communications and fundraising. S/he should be comfortable with and bring implicit credibility across education reform initiatives. The successful candidate will have a proven ability to:

  • Translate high-level strategy into tactical implementation in the areas of public affairs, marketing, communications and development
  • Set a vision for communications that extends beyond traditional one-way media relations, encompassing the key roles that thought leadership and stakeholder development play in supporting mission and organizational initiatives
  • Build coalitions and invest constituents utilizing exceptional political acumen
  • Navigate the workings of news media (print, broadcast, and online in national and local markets)
  • Analyze program, policy, and advocacy issues and communicate findings and recommendations to a variety of audiences

Prior experience

  • 10+ years of senior-level development, external affairs, marketing, and/or communications leadership with track record of success and progressively responsible experience
  • A demonstrated record of issue-advocacy within fast-paced media relations
  • Leadership experience in public relations strategy development and implementation
  • A track-record of success with major gift fundraising and expertise with all aspects of development, including institutional giving, planned giving, annual giving and event management; strong knowledge of how marketing, communications and public relations can further fundraising efforts and success using these tools to improve and optimize development outcomes
  • Prior experience in education is desirable

Skills

  • Visionary and Strategic Thinking: The Chief External Affairs Officer will work with Teach For America's senior staff to establish the external affairs plans, methods, and mediums to achieve its mission while providing the strategic direction necessary to evolve the organization's external relations strategy. S/he will work well across lines of difference to develop differentiated strategies with multifaceted approaches to address disparate audiences, cultures, and political contexts.
  • Leading High-Performing Teams: The Chief External Affairs Officer will lead diverse, inclusive teams and oversee the management of a complex, fast-moving organization while fostering a culture of empowerment, collective leadership, and excellence, and hiring and retaining high-performing people. S/he will ensure Teach For America's external affairs efforts function in a strategic, integrated and fiscally responsible manner. The Chief External Affairs Officer will set priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, assure accountability and allocate resources to ensure results.
  • Exceptional Presence and Communication Skills: The Chief External Affairs Officer will communicate with passion, energy, intensity and enthusiasm, making arguments in a compelling, nuanced, and concise manner.

The Chief External Affairs Officer will approach his/her work with:

  • Shared Values and Desire for Impact: The Chief External Affairs Officer will embody and model our core values and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness, remain grounded in the mission of our organization, and commit to ensuring Teach For America is making a meaningful difference in the lives of kids and as a part of communities.
  • Exceptional Judgment: The Chief External Affairs Officer will make timely and rational decisions and take appropriate risks to achieve results. S/he will be thoughtful about deploying the organization's resources in a way that maximizes outcomes aligned with Teach For America's organizational strategy and core tenets, while managing all types of risk, particularly reputational and brand. S/he will listen to and learn from key stakeholders (inside and outside of the organization), and be an independent thinker, who can manage ambiguity and devise solutions even when a clear path is not evident.
  • Strong Interpersonal Acumen: The Chief External Affairs Officer will be energetic, gracious, and comfortable navigating a complex organization to get work done. S/he will also operate with a strong emotional intelligence, a collaborative working style, a high level of personal and professional integrity, and a balance of self-confidence with humility and awareness of his/her own strengths and weaknesses.

Education

  • Bachelor's degree is required. Advanced degree in Public Policy, Law or Business is preferred.

Work Demands

  • Frequent travel is required.

Apply Now

To be considered for this role, you must submit an online application. Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the link to the online application. For more information, please contact [email protected] or visit www.teachforamerica.org/about-us/careers.

About the Organization

There are more than 16 million children growing up in poverty in the U.S., and less than 10 percent of them will graduate from college. These statistics are not a reflection of our children's potential; we know that children growing up in poverty can and do achieve at the highest levels. Rather, these statistics reflect the systemic lack of access and opportunity for children in low-income communities.

Teach For America (TFA) finds, develops, and supports an ever-expanding network of outstanding and diverse leaders committed to expanding opportunity for children in schools, school systems, and in every sector and field that shapes the context in which schools operate. Representing the diversity of America and sharing the experience of having taught successfully in our most challenging public schools, TFA corps members and alumni form a network of change agents inside and outside of education who are grounded in the tremendous potential of our most underserved children and connected to families and communities impacted by educational inequity.

Founded by Wendy Kopp in 1989, Teach For America has since expanded to 36 states and 53 regions, reaching more than 10 million students. Now 53,000 strong and growing each year, the TFA community is leading across all sectors, including as teachers, school and school system leaders, elected officials, policy and advocacy organizers, social entrepreneurs, and business and civic leaders. We support the individual and collective leadership of this network as they work hand-in-hand with students, families, and allies in the effort to realize educational equity and excellence for children across the nation.

Our Core Values:

Our core values define who we are at our best and guide our work together.

  • Pursue Equity: We work to change practices, structures, and policies to realize educational equity for all children. As we do so, we actively examine our roles in perpetuating inequitable systems.
  • Strengthen Community: We assume responsibility for our collective strength by developing relationships, building diverse and inclusive coalitions, and challenging one another to be our best. We act with empathy and extend grace to ourselves and others.
  • Achieve Impact: We pursue ambitious, meaningful outcomes that lead to access and opportunity for all children. We hold ourselves to high standards, make data-informed decisions, and orient to long-term success.
  • Choose Courage: We act on our beliefs and values, especially when it's hard. We center our efforts on the aspirations of our students and their families.
  • Act with Humility: We acknowledge the limitations of our perspectives. We seek different points of view and historical context to evolve our thinking and actions.
  • Demonstrate Resilience: We see every challenge as an opportunity to think expansively about solutions. When faced with obstacles, we deepen our resolve, adapt, and persist with optimism.
  • Learn Continuously: We operate with curiosity and embrace new ideas to innovate and constantly improve. We take informed risks and learn from successes, setbacks, and each other.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness at the Center of Our Mission

At Teach For America, we aspire to embody the commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness we envision for our nation. Unequal access to opportunity along lines of race, class, and other aspects of identity has deep roots in American history, and institutional racism and classism contribute to inequitable access to educational opportunity in our country today. Therefore, understanding race, class, and the intersectional nature of oppression along these and other lines is critical to eliminating educational inequity and creating an education system in which all students can flourish.

Realizing educational equity and excellence will take a broad and diverse coalition of people—of diverse races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, political views, and other aspects of identity and spheres of influence—united around a common purpose and shared values. We know that the change effort must be shaped by those of us who are most directly impacted by educational inequity. We also know that progress is only possible if each of us works effectively across lines of difference—with students, parents, partners, and each other—and if each of us understands and leverages the assets we bring to this work based on our identities and life experiences.

This understanding guides our strategy as we pursue our mission, and impacts how we allocate resources to recruit, select, train, support, retain, and engage corps members, alumni, and staff. In all we do, we act on the following beliefs.

→ Diversity is crucial for successful change efforts and is one of Teach For America's greatest strengths.

→ The full potential of our diverse network will be reached only when we are an inclusive community.

→ The predictability of success or failure for our students or individuals in our organization should not correlate with any social, cultural or other identity-based factors.

In striving to grow as individuals who lead with a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusiveness, we focus on:

  • Understanding of self and self in relation to others. We examine our worldview and experiences to understand how they're influenced by power, privilege, oppression, and biases. As we deepen our understanding of self in relation to others, we seek out diverse perspectives and experiences to challenge our assumptions and expand our perspectives.
  • Understanding and interrupting systemic racism, classism, and other forms of oppression. We understand that our society and education system have been shaped by multiple forms of oppression, in particular racism and classism. We understand the role and impact of unconscious bias in establishing low expectations for children's capabilities, and we also see this play out in the workplace. Therefore, we commit to work together `to envision and implement new ways of operating that disrupt these systems and practices.
  • Working toward equity. We leverage this understanding to surface and interrupt inequitable practices in our schools as well as within our organization. In classrooms, we are committed to ensuring all students have the necessary resources, supports, and academic preparation they need to ensure full agency in their lives. In our organization, we're committed to allocating our resources and setting organizational policies, systems, and practices to reduce and eliminate gaps in experience and outcomes by demographic group.
  • Building inclusive coalitions. We recruit and retain a corps and staff that reflects the inclusive coalition we need representing our nation. Simultaneously, we ensure those of us who have faced educational inequity shape our direction. We intentionally build authentic relationships across lines of difference; facilitate honest and productive conflict among diverse groups; create structures, policies, and processes that enable this effort; and value the diversity of ideas and perspectives required in this effort.

Benefits and Salary

Salary for this position is competitive and depends on prior experience. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package is included. Learn more at www.teachforamerica.org/about-us/careers/employee-benefits.

Commitment to Diversity and Equal Opportunity Employment Policy

Teach For America encourages individuals of all ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds to apply for this position. We are committed to maximizing the diversity of our organization, as we want to engage all those who can contribute to this effort. Learn more about our diversity on staff: www.teachforamerica.org/about-us/careers/life-at-tfa/workforce-diversity-and-inclusiveness.

Teach For America is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, marital status, veteran status, pregnancy, parental status, genetic information or characteristics (or those of a family member) or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.

This job description reflects Teach For America's assignment of essential functions and qualifications of the role. Nothing in this herein restricts management's right to assign, reassign or eliminate duties and responsibilities to this role at any time.


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