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3 May 2023

Research and Policy Executive Director

First State Educate
 Houston, Kent County, Delaware, United States

Job Description

Executive Director

Organization: First State Educate (including First State Action Fund and Act Together For Kids)

Reports to: Boards of Trustees of First State Educate and First State Action Fund

Start date: June 2023

Location: Delaware

The preferred application deadline for this position is May 29, 2023. Please note that we do not guarantee review of applications after this date.


About the Organization

First State Educate, a 501(c)(3); First State Action Fund, a 501(c)(4); and Act Together For Kids, a political action committee (three separate but complementary entities collectively referred to as First State Educate or FSE herein) were formed in 2019 to align and elevate the work and voices of community advocates and practitioners to create and sustain the policy and political conditions needed for a thriving education system in Delaware (DE).

Through collective action, FSE:

  • Changes decision makers through a statewide pipeline of people for school board service.
  • Changes the conversation through family efficacy and demand.
  • Changes the culture of innovation by removing policy barriers to excellence and introducing opportunities to solve problems creatively.

During our first four and a half years, we have made progress including:

  • Catalyzing and empowering collective work: the Advocacy Council of charter school and education leaders; Rise Up Delaware, a statewide family advocacy group; FaCE, a coalition of family facing organizations tackling improved education funding and representation; and the Wilmington Learning Collaborative, a group of highest needs schools embracing innovation and autonomy
  • Electing twelve courageous people (with seven additional candidacies) to school board seats who are standing up for teacher conditions and student outcomes
  • Proposing and passing legislation to increase transparency and encourage engagement on school boards
  • Raising $3,000,000 in contributions to fund the above efforts


Position Overview

Deeply committed to the organizations’ mission, the Executive Director (ED) works relentlessly to create opportunities, build philanthropic support, and partner with families, educators, candidates, policy-makers, and state and local education leaders to drive continued progress in DE’s schools. The ED is responsible for building the organizations’ strategic vision, ensuring robust execution of advocacy initiatives, and overseeing the fiscal health, team culture and management, and day-to-day functioning of FSE. The ED will build the organization from a five year start-up to a sustained, galvanizing force of change that sets and executes on sequenced, longer-term people and policy goals with creativity, credibility, and an expansive belief of what is possible in Delaware.

The ED role is a full-time hybrid DE-based position.  FSE utilizes a shared work space for in-person team work. In-person work is often necessary, given the relationship-focused nature of the position.


Key Responsibilities

Strategy and Leadership 

  • Develop and sustain a clear and compelling vision in collaboration with staff and boards for accelerating the rate of progress and closing gaps for all students in DE
  • Execute on strategic priorities while being opportunistic with new information, shifting needs, data, and alliances
  • Lead, align, invest and collaborate on existing and emerging priorities, including school board pipelines and races, changing the state’s education funding system, and developing a culture of innovation and problem solving
  • Demonstrate strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and FSE’s organizational values in all aspects of leadership
  • Oversee change management as needed in partnership with key stakeholders including boards and outgoing ED

Partnerships and Advocacy

  • Build relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders, exercise influence, and organize and deploy resources toward specific policy outcomes
  • Organize, invest, and sustain a broad coalition of funders, education organizations, community groups, student-focused school board and related candidates, and others to advocate for policies and practices that improve outcomes
  • Foster and maintain ongoing communication with partners and coalition members
  • Lead a multi-dimensional communications strategy that generates support for catalyzing change
  • Seek, train and elect aligned candidates for public office
  • Offer ongoing support and resources toward leaders and efforts of traditionally marginalized communities

People and Team Management

  • Recruit and hire a strong, diverse, high-performing staff
  • Lead and provide oversight to FSE staff, ensuring sound management and the meeting or exceeding of team goals and commitments
  • Support, develop, and retain staff, providing feedback, performance management support, and professional growth and leadership opportunities
  • Foster a strong, productive, and positive team culture and sense of morale within a growth-minded, accountable, and inclusive environment
  • Manage contracted partners toward specific project aims


  • Lead organizations’ C3, C4, and PAC fundraising efforts
  • Build and maintain a donor base and raise funds from board members, individuals, foundations, and businesses and other sources at a scale necessary to achieve success
  • Cultivate and continue relationships with new and existing donors in partnership with the board and partners to serve as sustaining anchors to further FSE’s work

Financial/Operational Management

  • Develop and manage the organizations’ annual budget as a responsible fiscal steward
  • Manage operational aspects of the organization, including legal, finance/budget, and compliance with support from the boards; build and refine internal operational processes towards an enduring institution


Preferred Qualifications 

We are deeply committed to identifying an amazing candidate for this role. We encourage you to apply, even if you don’t believe you meet every one of the below qualifications or you have a less traditional background.

  • Prior work experience including:
    • Experience working with K-12 schools, ideally in an external-facing role; experience working in or with DE schools strongly preferred
    • Experience leading advocacy or election campaigns, ideally for education-related priorities
    • Experience leading teams and/or an organization
  • Knowledge of education policy, politics, elections, and critical education issues and the opportunities and barriers facing students, educators, and political candidates, particularly in DE
  • Strong mission alignment including demonstrated focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion; commitment to FSE’s core values (Speak up, Show up, Act Together); a deep conviction about the potential for change; and belief in the mission of dramatically improving education in DE
  • Leadership style that embraces humility, confidence, persistence, and disruption
  • Authentic desire and willingness to listen to, learn from, and connect with diverse  stakeholders and a strong track record of relationship building and management and working across lines of difference around a shared aim
  • Exceptional communication skills across a variety of mediums
  • Demonstrated success in fundraising and fiscal and operational management
  • Experience effectively managing, motivating, and supporting individuals and teams to achieve impact



The annual salary for this position will be between $135,000 and $175,000, depending on experience. FSE also offers a comprehensive benefits package, including medical, 401k with match, monthly $25 towards cell phone; a hybrid work environment, vacation, and holidays.



We do not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff and contractors, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, and vendors.

How to Apply

Please submit your application here. Note: the preferred application deadline is May 29, 2023. After this date we do not guarantee review of submissions.  

Bureaus: -Other-. Job Categories: Full-Time. Job Types: Research and Policy. Salaries: 100,000 and above.