Director of Higher Education Policy

Director of Higher Education Policy 

Oakland OR Sacramento, CA 



The Education Trust—West (ETW) seeks a Director of Higher Education Policy in its ETW office. The Director will join a staff who are committed to fulfilling a mission of closing educational opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

The Director of Higher Education Policy leads the higher education policy team to ensure that Ed Trust produces high-quality analyses that expose inequities in the education system, highlights equitable policies that advance student achievement, and ensures that policymakers and key stakeholders have the information and tools they need to advocate for policy change. The Director builds relationships to provide guidance, thought partnership, and support to members of the Higher Ed Policy team, partners throughout the organization to ensure the Higher Education policy function of the organization is strategic and aligned to organizational goals, and key stakeholders and policymakers across the state.

Ed Trust is committed to advancing policies and practices to dismantle the racial and economic barriers embedded in the U.S. education system. Through our research and advocacy, Ed Trust improves equity in education from preschool through college, engages diverse communities dedicated to equity and justice, and increases political and public will to build an education system where all students will thrive.

This role, available immediately, can be based in our Oakland office or Sacramento area and is eligible for telework for up to 3 days per week. If based out of Sacramento, there would be some regular travel expected to the Oakland office. The Director of Higher Education Policy reports to the Senior Director, Strategic Advocacy and will supervise a small team.



The responsibilities and objectives for this role include, but are not limited, to the following: 

  • Collaborate to set the long-term vision and direction for the Higher Ed Policy team, overall Higher Education policy function, and translating that vision into short and long-term goals with relevant work plans
  • Serve as a member of the Ed Trust–West Leadership Team (LT) including collaboration around the annual work plan and budget, monitoring progress towards team and team members’ goals, coordinating team professional development
  • Lead a dynamic team by identifying and retaining diverse talent, coaching and developing direct reports, and managing and assessing performance
  • Oversee the day-to-day work of the team, allocating resources, and supporting prioritization
  • Elevate ETW’s higher ed policy priorities by representing the organization in external meetings and developing relationships with key external stakeholders, peer organizations, policymakers, leaders, funders, and other advocates
  • Lead the conceptualization and development of tools and resources, such as reports, policy briefs and statements, which make complex policy information accessible to a broad array of stakeholders across preschool through post-secondary education arenas
  • Inform the organization’s Higher Education policy positions by monitoring and reporting the changing landscape of education equity policy conversations
  • Direct the review of all higher policy products to ensure that they are high-quality, accurate, equity-driven, timely, and actionable, as well as aligned with Ed Trust’s mission and goals
  • Develop and present on key metrics to assess the mission-impact of our policy efforts
  • Build systems and structures for effective internal collaboration within and across teams to ensure on-time, high-impact, and high-quality products
  • Build and maintain new and existing philanthropic and funder relationships and contribute to grant proposals and reports as needed



The ideal candidate is a strategic thinker, people manager and higher ed advocate with an existing external-facing presence, who can support ETW grow its higher education policy portfolio.  

 The ideal candidate will also possess the following qualifications and experience: 

  • Shared belief in Ed Trust’s mission and a commitment to improving educational equity, with a focus on race equity
  • At least a bachelor’s degree in education, public policy/administration, or a related field; advanced degree is a plus
  • Significant and relevant experience analyzing policy, data, and research in higher education or a related field, preferably on topics of equity, including the conceptualization and development of policy recommendations, written feedback to proposed legislation, and evaluation of efficacy of other tools/ campaign resources for advocates and policymakers
  • Deep expertise across Higher Education policy landscape in California, with a particular focus on issues of education equity; previous experience at an advocacy organization is a plus 


Nice-to-Have Skills & Characteristics 

  • Commitment to “Walking the Talk,” which means operating with an understanding that systemic and institutionalized racism significantly affect communities of color and the historical impact of privilege and power on American systems 
  • Strong relationship-building skills with a range of stakeholders 
  • Dedication in contributing to and maintaining an equitable working environment 
  • Knowledge and understanding of education equity issues 
  • Eagerness for collaboration with both internal and external partners 
  • High emotional intelligence, professional maturity, and problem-solving skills 
  • Willingness to provide constructive feedback to others; as well as to receive and act upon feedback from others 
  • Ability to exercise sound judgment and decisiveness  



The position falls in Level F of our salary structure, which has a range between $117,820 and $176,740, and offers are commensurate with skills and experience. For complete transparency and equity purposes, new hires in this role typically start between the minimum and midpoint, which is $117,820 – $147,000.

The Education Trust prioritizes the health and well-being of its employees and, to that end, offers a highly competitive benefits package. Medical, dental and vision insurance are covered at 100% for the employee, with significant coverage also offered for spouses, domestic partners, and dependents. We provide sick leave, vacation leave, and personal leave, and we follow the federal government for most holiday closures. To ensure staff have synchronous opportunities for rest and renewal, the office is closed for a week-long summer break and a week-long winter break. Among other offerings, we provide an Employee Assistance Program at no cost to the employee, and a generous 7% contribution opportunity on a 403(b)-retirement plan.



At The Education Trust, the health and safety of our employees is of the utmost importance. As such, all Education Trust employees are required to be fully vaccinated and remain up to date on their vaccinations for COVID-19. New hires should be fully vaccinated and up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations prior to their first day of work. Requests for accommodations due to medical or religious reasons will be reviewed by Human Resources.  



Please provide a cover letter and resume, combined into one document. In the file name, please write the name of the position you are applying for and your last name: e.g., “Director of Higher Education Policy_Robinson.”

We invite you to consider your cover letter as an opportunity to:    

  • Tell a story that illuminates your interest in education equity and Ed Trust–West’s mission
  • Share how your background and experience make you the right fit for this position     

Please submit your application materials at Recruitment ( the priority deadline of Friday, April 14, 2023. Applications will be accepted/reviewed until the position is filled. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.  

Additional questions about the role can be directed to Vanessa Ramirez, Recruitment Consultant who is supporting this search at [email protected] 

The Education Trustis an equal opportunity employer and welcomes candidates from diverse backgrounds.