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Program Director, Special Populations

Department: Education
Location: Washington, DC

Job Description

The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) seeks an experienced professional to join the Education Division as a Program Director who will focus on state level policy issues related to special populations. For this role, special populations include; children and youth with disabilities, gifted learners, English language learners, rural students, students from economically disadvantaged families, and students in foster care.

The Program Director will focus on state policies and issues related to the success and wellbeing in these special populations. This includes early intervention, special education, racial equity, rural education, dual language learning, and equitable funding models.

The division is focused on helping governors develop and enact effective education policy and support its implementation. To do this, the Education Division provides information, research, policy analysis and technical assistance to governors and their staff in the areas of early childhood through postsecondary education.

The Program Director will supervise a team of up to three subject matter experts and work with the Division Director and other Program Directors to provide leadership for the division. The ideal candidate will have a strong understanding of the knowledge base and state education policy on issues related to improving outcomes for special populations and fundraising experience.

Essential Duties/Responsibilities

  • Conduct state policy analysis and provide high-ranking policymakers in state government with information about best practices, trends in state policymaking, and current research.
  • Provide ongoing, individualized and collective technical assistance to governorsí staff.
  • Manage multiple projects simultaneously and, at times, independently, including budgets, consultants and sub-contracts with states and external partners.
  • Establish and maintain relationships with individuals and groups externally and internally for forming partnerships that benefit our constituents and their role in state policymaking.
  • Organize, participate in and conduct workshops, conferences and seminars. Make presentations and facilitate panel discussions, state strategy sessions, and other meetings.
  • Write reports, articles, issue briefs and memos about state policy issues and best practices.
  • Assist fundraising efforts by developing and enhancing relationships with potential funders and writing concept papers and proposals to create new scopes-of-work to enable the NGA Center to provide relevant and timely expertise and assistance to governors and their staff.
  • Provide content for relevant NGA websites and electronic portals as needed.
  • Ability and willingness to travel up to 25% of the time.


  • Substantive knowledge and understanding of state policy, and its implementation, as it relates to improving quality outcomes and access for special populations.
  • Masterís degree and at least ten years of state-level education policy experience, including experience related to special populations.
  • Demonstrated experience with fundraising.
  • Experience working with high-level state policymakers in a variety of settings.
  • Strong analytical skills and experience interpreting and applying research and best practices for policymakers in a timely and effective manner.
  • Proven ability to communicate effectively in written and verbal forms, especially with policymaking audiences.
  • Proven ability to effectively manage multiple projects simultaneously within deadlines including staff, budgets and partnerships.
  • Strong interpersonal skills necessary to effectively work with colleagues, partner organizations and a variety of state policymakers; Ability and willingness to assume additional responsibilities and work independently and collaboratively internally and externally.
  • Knowledge of special populations issues related to funding and cost strongly preferred.
  • Competency in the use of relevant software packages (for example, Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and electronic communications (SharePoint, Skype for Business).
  • Commitment to NGAís bipartisan mission and goals.

The National Governors Association is committed to providing a productive and safe environment. To achieve that goal, we conduct background and reference check investigations for all final applicants being considered for employment.

Equal Opportunity Employment M/D/F/V

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