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The Senior Policy Strategist for Early Care and Education (ECE) serves as the leading strategist for First 5 LA’s ECE public policy agenda and is responsible for developing, driving, and executing local, state, and federal policy and advocacy strategies to advance First 5 LA’s policy goals in coordination with Policy Director and Vice President of Policy and Strategy. Managing a team of Policy Analysts and contractors, and working closely across the organization with Program staff and partner organizations, the Senior Policy Strategist will drive public policies relevant to First 5 LA’s priorities; build relationships and coalitions with key policymakers, advocates, and stakeholders; develop policy solutions, legislative and administrative amendments, and proposals; and develop and lead strategies to advance policy and systems change on behalf of LA County’s youngest residents.
The Senior Policy Strategist will also provide ECE, public policy, and advocacy content expertise across the organization; drive communications and coordinate ECE public policy activities and opportunities with relevant staff; and represent First 5 LA as a subject matter expert with local, state, and federal policymakers, partners, and coalitions. This position reports directly to the Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs and serves as a leading member of the Department’s senior strategy team.
The Senior Policy Strategist will work in partnership with the Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, the Director of Early Care and Education, and leadership across the organization to provide content expertise, thought leadership and vision, and drive First 5 LA’s policy and systems change agenda through the design, execution, management, and monitoring of policy strategies, communications, and coalition building. While bringing ECE expertise, the Senior Policy Strategist will work in partnership with leadership across the organization in multiple areas of policy to drive a cohesive early childhood development agenda. The Senior Policy Strategist will provide creative, out-of-the-box thinking, initiative, and responsiveness to evolving political opportunities, and the ability to independently drive strategy and team execution consistent with First 5 LA’s Strategic Plan. The Senior Policy Strategist provides strategic vision for the organization’s ECE policy approach across strategies, projects, and work streams. The Senior Policy Strategist also provides essential leadership within the Public Policy and Government Affairs Department and manages team members in implementing special projects and integration to achieve results.
ESSENTIAL DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES
The Senior Policy Strategist for Early Care and Education (ECE) should visibly demonstrate the adopted organizational values of collaboration, integrity, respect, accountability, purpose, shared leadership and learning in the execution of their key areas of responsibility:
Key Areas of Responsibility:
ECE public policy monitoring and analysis
ECE public policy research and development, with a focus on legislation, regulations, budget, and other administrative policy issues
Strategy development and advocacy
Policy communication, training, and technical assistance
Strategic integration and special projects
Supervision of direct reports and talent development
Public Policy Monitoring and Analysis
Monitors events, policy decisions, coalition politics and opportunities, and trends and other issues with implications for the political and policy landscape related to First 5 LA’s strategic plan priorities
Analyzes policy proposals including budget, legislation, executive actions, regulations, reports, and recommendations
Public Policy Research and Development
Researches ECE public policy issues, drawing from a variety of disciplines such as education, economics/cost-benefit analysis, child development, neuroscience, public health, demographic trends, distribution of public goods, GIS, etc.
Produces white papers, reports, policy briefings, and presentations
Recommends First 5 LA positions on key policy proposals and prioritize opportunities for First 5 LA engagement
Develops policy amendments, alternatives and solutions
Strategy Development and Advocacy
Establishes and maintains strong relationships with key policymakers, advocacy and policy research partners, and government officials focused on ECE and broad child development policy
Investigates potential alignment with key stakeholders in field
Represents First 5 LA on ECE coalitions, at public meetings and events, and with key advocacy partners involved in relevant policy work
Plans and implements comprehensive strategies to advance First 5 LA policy priorities including access to subsidized quality, affordable early learning opportunities
Develops and executes advocacy campaigns
Facilitates advocacy coalitions, drives advocacy partnerships, manages contractors and consultants, and identifies opportunities to work with others to advance public policy
Coordinates government relations activities with First 5 LA’s Senior Government Relations Strategist and relevant program staff
Oversees capacity building across all strategies, projects, and work streams to ensure achievement of outcomes
Advises First 5 LA leadership, including Senior Program Officers, on the approach and ongoing refinement of policy, advocacy, and systems change priorities consistent with First 5 LA’s Strategic Plan
Supports the Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Director of Early Care and Education, and other First 5 LA leadership in ensuring initiatives and projects align with the First 5 LA policy agenda and Strategic Plan investment guidelines
Policy Communication, Training, and Technical Assistance
Keeps First 5 LA staff and Commissioners apprised of policy opportunities, threats, successes, and challenges related to the organization’s strategic plan, and collaborates across organization to ensure alignment with org-wide and programmatic investments
Supports staff understanding of policy and systems change, including the organization-wide adoption of policy and systems change strategies
Coordinates ECE policy activity with First 5 California, the First 5 Association, and other key partners
Develops, coaches, and supervises staff consistent with values and competencies required for successful job growth and development
Drives organization-wide staff learning related to policy, systems change, and advocacy best practices and strategy
Strategic Integration and Special Projects
Identifies and supports points of integration between the varying components of the department’s programs and projects, and across the organization
Works closely with the Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs and the ECE Department on special projects
Provides direction and guidance to staff assigned to work on special projects
Collaborates with project teams within the Department of Public Policy and Government Affairs and across the organization to promote integration and learning, strategy refinement, and innovation
Represents First 5 LA on relevant external committees, work groups, and at conferences/meetings, particularly as it relates to opportunities to sustain outcomes and leverage key aspects of First 5 LA’s investments in ECE
Facilitates and supports staff in effective communication with internal and external audiences, including, but not limited to, presentations, Commission discussions, key partner meetings, etc.
Partners with Director and Senior Program Offices/Senior Strategists/Managers to hire relevant staff
Supports the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and values a diversity of perspectives
Adheres to policies and procedures to ensure alignment with State regulations, local ordinances and
First 5 LA directives
Keeps apprised of all laws, regulations, statutes, rules and policies affecting First 5 LA and Proposition 10
Supervises contractors and consultants, as needed
Collaborates both internally and with external stakeholders to capture, synthesize and share learning and knowledge outcomes from the ongoing execution of all activities as necessary
Other duties and responsibilities may be assigned. The duties and responsibilities listed are designed to provide typical examples of the work performed; not all duties and responsibilities assigned are included here, nor is it expected that all similar positions will be assigned every duty and responsibility.
Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:
Commitment to organizational mission and values: Mission-driven and self-directed, with a demonstrated passion for First 5 LA’s work to strengthen families and improve child outcomes; strives to model organizational values through daily actions and behaviors
Possesses Customer-Focused Mindset: Is able to identify appropriate and relevant stakeholders; identifies internal and external stakeholders needs (customers); is responsive to stakeholder needs, considers impact when making recommendations
Collaborative: Collaborates with peers to drive results in alignment with organizational and operational goals in support of the organization’s mission; is able to work in cross-functional teams; is able to establish and maintain effective working relationships with co-workers, public officials and the general public
Communicates Effectively: Communicates effectively both written and oral; strong presentation skills; demonstrates ability to develop and deliver relevant and appropriate communications; delivers messages in a direct manner; able to tailor messages appropriately to various audiences
Demonstrates Integrity and Judgment: Follows through on commitments letting others know of his/her true intentions; ensures decision-making or recommendations are fact-based and others understand the decision/recommendation before moving forward; considers the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one
Demonstrates Critical Thinking: Applies critical thinking, logic and reasoning to analyze complex problems and information; identifies relative strengths and weaknesses of options, solutions or approaches
Demonstrates Strategic Thinking: Identifies key issues and relationships relevant to achieving long range goals or vision; develops alternatives based on logical assumptions, facts, available resources, constraints, and organizational values to develop a point of view on a course of action to accomplish goals; develops priorities with the right balance of short and long-term wins
Job Specific Competencies
Role Specific Content: Strong knowledge of local, state, and federal government operations including legislation, budget, and program development; significant ECE subject matter expertise; ability toanalyze complex public policy issues and budgetary implications; ability to develop iterative policy solutions and recommendations; experience working in coalitions, including developing shared plans, coordinating external and internal communications, and understanding internal political dynamics among partner groups; ability to influence others; ability to communicate, build trust and rapport in- person, by phone and email; ability to digest large volumes of legislative and political information and distill key findings in writing and orally to wide variety of audiences; develop effective monitoring, tracking, and compliance systems; ability to adapt, pivot and seize emerging opportunities in the midst of quickly-changing political environment. Strong writing and editing skills required.
Content Knowledge: Competent in required job skills and knowledge; ability to learn and apply new skills; ability to learn how to operate new systems quickly; demonstrated ability to set priorities, establish clear expectations and execute identified projects; keeps abreast of current developments; requires minimal supervision; displays understanding of how job relates to others; knows how to use technology tools to effectively manage and expedite processes; uses resources effectively
Planning and Organization and Project Management: Works in an organized manner with strong attention to detail; prioritizes and plans work activities; ability to effectively manage overlapping projects and deadlines; ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines and adjust to changing priorities; uses time efficiently; plans for additional resources; integrates changes smoothly; sets goals and objectives; ability to manage high performance projects
Managing People: Provides direction and gains compliance; takes responsibility for direct reports’ activities; makes self available to direct reports; develops direct reports’ skills and encourages growth; provides regular performance feedback; encourages open communications; uses negotiation skills to resolve conflict; strong influencing and relationship skills; experience in managing high performance teams
At least seven (7) years of experience in state and/or local policy, advocacy, public administration, public affairs, or a related field; experience in early care and education strongly preferred
Three (3) years of staff supervision
A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in policy, public administration, political science, public affairs, or a related field
Advanced degree in relevant field a plus
Carries out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the organization's policies and applicable laws. Responsibilities include interviewing, hiring, and training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems
Proficiency in MS Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook)
Ability to use widely supported internet browsers
Certificates, Licenses and Registrations:
Valid California Class C Driver License or the ability to utilize an alternative method of transportation when needed to carry out job-related essential functions
Valid automobile liability insurance
This position requires frequent travel locally, statewide and nationally as needed.
PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS / WORK ENVIRONMENT
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. The employee will sit, talk, hear and use hands up to 2/3 of the time. The employee will stand and walk up to 1/3 of the time. The employee is routinely required to carry and/or lift up to 10 pounds.
The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.