Founded in 2008, Advance Illinois believes all kids deserve a quality education. Advance Illinois is an independent policy and advocacy organization that works toward a healthy public education system that prepares students to achieve success in college, career and civic life. They are committed to an aligned education system that strives for equity, stresses college and career readiness and completion, and supports the whole child from the earliest years through adulthood.
Motivated by the urgency that Illinois was not preparing its students to compete in a global marketplace, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, and the Boston Consulting Group collaborated to launch this nonpartisan education policy advocacy organization for the state, modeled on successful efforts elsewhere. Leaders from more than a dozen civic, philanthropic, business and education organizations from across the state came together to found Advance Illinois.
Advance Illinois, in collaboration with the Board of Directors and in consultation with stakeholders around the state, is engaged in the articulation of a 10-year policy strategy to contribute to increasing excellence and equity in the education system in the state of Illinois from early childhood through post-secondary. Advance Illinois is eager to welcome the new Policy Director to refine and finalize these strategic policy objectives. Areas of emphasis will include elevating the teaching profession to ensure high quality instruction in every classroom; improving kindergarten readiness and the transition between early childhood and kindergarten; equity in state funding; effective implementation of the state’s new school accountability and supports system; strengthening the transition between high school and college to improve post-secondary success.
The Policy Director serves as a core senior leader in the organization and critical to shaping the next decade of policy priorities. In conjunction with the Executive Director and the Policy Committee of the Board, the Policy Director helps establish, refine, and execute a strategic policy agenda in the context of the organization’s long-term goals.
The Director leads the organization’s policy development and research efforts, building and sharing an understanding of the state’s systemic barriers to successful student outcomes and potential solutions. To do this, the Director stays abreast of the education policy and practice landscape across Illinois, nationally, and in other states, to bring the best information to our work; remains current with the research literature and engages with other thought leaders; and regularly learns from organizational partners and collaborators.
The Policy Director will supervise a small staff. With support staff, the Director will:
lead the development of the organization’s policy agenda in collaboration with the Executive Director and Board, which includes being responsible for overseeing the development of key publications of the organization, including the biennial The State We’re In;
ensure policy is informed by strong data analysis;
develop materials for public dissemination, including, for example, policy briefs, comments on proposed policy action, legislation, rules, or state plans;
collaborate with others on the team and with partners to develop and execute strategic approaches for securing adoption of the organization’s policy goals, including building and maintaining relationships with education policymakers and stakeholders across the state and country to help continually refine and evolve Advance Illinois’ policy agenda;
be a public representative of the organization, participating actively in the state and national education policy and advocacy community, serving as an organizational representative on state advisory boards, councils, and committees, as well as representing the organization at convenings;
testify on legislation, be a spokesperson with media, and represent the organizational publicly; and,
serve as a member of the senior staff, providing overall leadership to the organization, including presenting to the Board and working with Board members, assisting with annual planning, budgeting, and goal setting, and contributing to a collaborative team environment.
Policy and Shared Values
The ideal candidate will be passionate about improving the state’s education system throughout the P20 spectrum through policy change and state-level impact and committed to educational equity and learning from and partnering with communities.
Experienced in navigating government policy-making processes, working effectively with key players within and outside government.
Capable of crafting a compelling and clear policy agenda that strategically places Advance Illinois in positions of leadership and collaboration on a discreet set of education priorities.
Intellect / Analysis
Intellectually curious, with track record of strong research or policy background and very strong analytic skills.
Rigorous in analysis and committed to integrity in data, research, and presentation.
Strategic thinker, able to develop and execute successfully on strategy, and contribute to the organization’s overall goals and priorities.
Collaboration / Communication
Skilled at building and maintaining relationships and supporting politically strong alliances.
Highly effective communicator, both oral and written, able to communicate complex material in a clear and concise manner to colleagues within the organization and to general audiences.
Respected and respectful, unquestioned ethics, with a high level of professionalism.
Recognized as someone with tremendous drive and strong ability to achieve outcomes, works well in a fast-paced environment, is comfortable working in an ever-shifting political environment.
Comfortable being hands-on, willing to engage on all aspects of the work. No job too big or too small.
Supportive teammate, committed to learning and committed to other’s learning, who brings a collaborative approach to the organization and to the work.
Excellent manager, committed to developing the Associate staff team.
Joyful and engaging personality.
The ideal candidate will have a clear commitment to Advance Illinois’ mission. The ideal candidate will have a Master’s or Doctorate in a related field and at least 10 years of experience in data driven policy analysis and development and experience identifying and using research and data to inform policy. Proven ability to partner with practitioners and others in pursuit of a shared policy agenda is a critical requirement. The ideal candidate will also have experience effectively managing and supervising a diverse staff.
Additional Salary Information: Competitive salary that is commensurate with experience along with excellent benefits, such as health/dental insurance; short-term/long-term disability plans; retirement plan with a company match; flexible spending account; generous PTO plan.