Children's Defense Fund

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Policy Director

at Children's Defense Fund

Posted: 9/28/2019
Job Reference #: 1084

Job Description

Title:Policy Director
Department/State Office:Policy
Campaign Start Date:08/08/2019
Location:National Office - Washington, DC

Policy Director

Mission of the Children's Defense Fund:

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. CDF provides a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor children, children of color and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investments before they get sick, drop out of school, get into trouble or suffer family breakdown. CDF began in 1973 and is a private, nonprofit organization.

Position Summary:

The Policy Director is a position at the heart of CDF’s impact for children in America. This role is responsible for leading CDF’s policy team and CDF’s policy advocacy strategy to improve the odds for all children in America – particularly children of color, poor children, and children from historically marginalized populations. This person will be central to continuing CDF’s five-decade track record of achieving policy wins for children, starting back in 1975 with the passing of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act through the 2018 Family First Prevention Services Act, with many wins in between. This position will manage the national policy staff and will report to the National Executive Director.


  • Develop and Execute CDF’s Advocacy Strategy
    • Develop and execute CDF’s policy agenda through advocacy efforts to positively influence the development of child-focused policy, research, technical assistance, lobbying efforts of the federal government across multiple branches, and/or other mobilizing efforts.
    • Develop and execute strategies working in collaboration with CDF’s national communications team and CDF’s state offices to be the most effective voice for children.
    • Cultivate and maintain relationships with mission-aligned peers to exercise opportunities to harness the power of coalitions to drive CDF’s policy agenda.
  • Provide Policy Expertise and Acumen
    • Track policy trends, emerging challenges, and opportunities (legislative, administrative, and otherwise) affecting children across CDF’s issues: poverty, hunger, homelessness, child health, child welfare, early childhood development, education, youth justice, gun violence, immigration, and others.
    • Understand the status of federal policy implementation and respond accordingly to ensure services and benefits are being effectively delivered to children.
    • Lead the children’s advocacy community on policy thinking on targeted issues through major reports, public events/conferences, press engagement, and others as determined.
    • Support other communications, marketing, or state efforts to ensure policy elements are accurately presented in public facing materials.
  • Lead and Manage the Policy Team
    • Manage the day-to-day activities of the CDF policy team, assessing bandwidth and priorities to ensure CDF’s resources are best deployed on behalf of children.
    • Lead long-term personnel management through effective hiring, team structuring, performance management, and staff development to strengthen the policy team.
    • Develop and maintain the policy team’s budget, working closely with the finance team.
    • Support efforts relevant to funding the work of the policy team in conjunction with the development team.
    • Ensure the policy team’s work and internal systems are consistent with relevant law and internal policy.
  • Serve on CDF’s Leadership Team
  • Other Duties as Assigned

Mandatory Qualifications

  • A demonstrated commitment to and passion for children’s issues with a particular focus on children of color, poor children, and children from historically marginalized populations.
  • A strong understanding of the range of CDF’s issues (poverty, hunger, homelessness, child health, child welfare, early childhood development, education, youth justice, gun violence, immigration) and expertise in specific areas of children’s policy.
  • A strong understanding of the current legislative climate, political environment, and other factors that affect the child advocacy climate.
  • A track record of developing and maintaining strong working relationships with internal partners and external stakeholders ranging from legislative staff to coalition partners to constituents.
  • Experience thoughtfully managing teams with significant number of staff.
  • Excellent analysis, writing, editing and speaking skills.
  • Strength in managing multiple, complex priorities often with tight deadlines.
  • A commitment to a high standard of work-product, deadline-driven timeliness, attention to detail, and driving toward results even when faced with obstacles.
  • An orientation of servant-leadership in pursuit of CDF’s mission.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Expertise in several of CDF’s policy areas.
  • Direct experience working with the communities we seek to serve.
  • Experience managing staff who manage other staff.
  • Experience on-the-record with press.
  • Relationships with policy leaders at mission-aligned national organizations.
  • Leading the process from ideation development to publication of major policy reports.
  • A dynamic and innovative perspective to making short- and long-term impact in challenging environments.

Salary commensurate with experience. Attractive benefits package.

To apply submit cover letter, resume and salary requirement

The Children’s Defense Fund is an Equal Opportunity Employer