Senior Director, Public Policy and Legislative Strategy

Position Summary: The Senior Director, Public Policy and Legislative Strategy, provides direction to the association’s public policy team to advance federal policies that lead to a more welcoming, globally engaged, and educated United States. This position will be directly involved in leading NAFSA’s advocacy on issues that are at the forefront of public debate and discourse. Working collaboratively, the Senior Director functions as one of two principal deputies to the Deputy Executive Director (DED) for Public Policy and plays a key role in developing and strategically implementing NAFSA’s advocacy agenda.

The Senior Director plays a crucial role in translating NAFSA’s policy objectives into action and will lead our team of issue experts in conducting legislative and government education and advocacy; developing and maintaining strategic partnerships with other membership and advocacy groups; providing strategic support to the media and grassroots advocacy team; and offering support and guidance to NAFSA staff and member leadership on relevant policy issues. The position will have primary responsibility for implementing the policy aspects of NAFSA’s leadership role in advocating for the contributions of international students to our campuses, communities, and country. Provides project management and strategic guidance to experts responsible for carrying out new and existing initiatives in defense of international education. The position will play a pivotal role in cultivating long-term relationships at the federal, state, and local level; building awareness of the importance of international students and scholars to the nation; and ensuring that key partners are poised to support policies and legislation that encourage a welcoming and globally aware nation.

The Senior Director must balance a diverse portfolio of responsibilities within a complex environment, including policy agenda development and issue management, staff leadership, and effective relationship building. The position requires high levels of conceptual ingenuity, independent decision making, initiative, and discretion. NAFSA’s public policy and media relations/advocacy department offers a collegial, action-oriented work environment for change agents who want to make a difference.

Major Functions and Responsibilities:

Issue Management and Policy Agenda Development
• Provide strategic leadership to collaboratively develop and advance NAFSA’s advocacy agenda in a complex policy environment.
• Identify and coordinate rapid responses to issues that threaten NAFSA’s mission or policy positions as they arise.  
• Sustain and build upon NAFSA’s position as a leading advocate by maintaining momentum on critical issues and by laying the groundwork for emerging policy issues.
• Create legislative advocacy plan that builds on and expands existing relationships.
• Develop a culture of engagement with Hill staff and other policymakers, while promoting the expertise of NAFSA on relevant issues.
• Provide direction for careful analysis of potential consequences of federal policies and make strategic recommendations for appropriate responses.
• Develop and advance NAFSA’s positions on a portfolio of public policy issues, in keeping with the strategic plan and advocacy goals of the association.
• Create effective policy proposals, legislative language, hearing testimony, agency comment letters, and other policy documents for advocacy purposes.

Leadership and Management
• Provide strategic direction to four full-time policy staff, based on advanced understanding of the public policy process and strategies.
• Collaborate with the DED and Senior Director of Media Relations on agenda priorities, communications, and advocacy strategies. 
• Supervise and ensure professional development of staff
• Manage unit funds within budget guidelines and work with the DED to develop the annual departmental budget.

Relationship Building
• Cultivate collaborations with organizations and movements whose values intersect.
• Mobilize and lead coalitions to achieve advocacy priorities and strategic plan objectives.
• Develop, nurture, and maintain key contacts and champions for NAFSA’s advocacy agenda.
• Represent NAFSA to senior government officials, taking positions as appropriate on behalf of the association.
• Work collaboratively to advance advocacy objectives.

Required Qualifications:
• Bachelor's degree or equivalent in a relevant field;
• Eight to ten years of experience in advocacy or public policy;
• Five or more years of direct advocacy or lobbying experience (legislative staff or committee experience preferred);
• Extensive knowledge and understanding of the public policy process;
• Demonstrated ability to take initiative, set priorities, and exercise sound judgment in a complex, fast-moving, political environment and contribute at a strategic level to advance the advocacy agenda;
• Exceptional leadership and staff management skills;
• Commitment to the association’s mission;
• Proven success working effectively with multiple stakeholders;
• Superb communication and organizational skills; and
• Ability to lead in a team environment, while handling controversial issues with confidence, tact, and discretion.

Desired Qualifications:
• Juris Doctor or Master’s degree in a relevant field preferred;
• Thorough knowledge of immigration, national security, Department of Homeland Security, or education policy;
• Previous global professional or international education experience;
• Familiarity with public relations and advocacy campaigns;
• Experience with social media to promote NAFSA’s agenda;
• Experience with foundations, associations, or nonprofit organizations.

Office Environment
The workday is generally 9:00 am-5:00 pm. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it is 8:30 am-5:30 pm Monday through Thursday and 9:00 am-12:00 pm on Friday. Travel is required occasionally.
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 in the U.S.

About NAFSA: Association of International Educators

NAFSA: Association of International Educators is an organization of people dedicated to building a global community and fostering a more peaceful world through advancing international higher education. With approximately 10,000 members, NAFSA is the world’s largest professional development and advocacy organization committed to international learning and creating a more globally engaged, welcoming, and educated United States.

NAFSA believes that international education advances learning and scholarship, fosters understanding and respect among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, is essential for developing globally competent individuals, and builds leadership for the global community. We believe that international education lies at the core of an interconnected world characterized by peace, security, and well-being for all.

NAFSA is a workplace that not only appreciates diversity but believes it is our strength, and we strive to create an inclusive culture for all our team members. NAFSA is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. Learn more about NAFSA at


To Apply: 

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