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US Vacancies

- Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Research, USA

Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Research 

Washington, DC 


The American Association of University Women (AAUW), a gender equity advocacy organization, is one of the nation’s leading voices promoting equity and education for women and girls and empowering them to reach their highest potential. What began in 1881 as a group of 17 like-minded women has grown into a powerful grassroots network with more than 170,000 members and supporters, 1,000 local branches, and more than 800 college and university partners across the United States. 

Across this broad and lively network, AAUW delivers high-impact and widely respected research, advocacy, educational programs, and philanthropy for women and girls: 

AAUW’s Mission and Vision 

Those who join AAUW belong to a community that breaks through educational and economic barriers to give women and girls of all backgrounds a fair chance. AAUW values and seeks diversity in the world and in its own membership, tolerating no barriers to full participation on the basis of gender, race, creed, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or class. 

AAUW conducts award-winning research that lays the foundation for advocacy and programming on the most pressing gender equity issues. In 2017, the Deeper in Debt report offered a revealing study of student debt as a women’s issue, showing that women take on larger student loans than men and—because of pay disparities—have less disposable income to pay them back. As a result, women hold nearly two-thirds of the nation’s $800 billion in student debt.

 Always active in national and state policy, in recent years AAUW has helped secure passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

 AAUW supports legal cases that seek to enforce civil rights protections and to advance standards for equal pay, harassmentfree workplaces, and protection for those who challenge discrimination.

 AAUW has pioneered programs that help women break entrenched barriers to STEM career paths and to equal pay in any career. In 2017, AAUW joined forces with LUNA to lead hundreds of salary negotiation workshops across the country.

 AAUW is one of the largest private funders of graduate education for women, providing more than $3.7M in funding to 250 outstanding women and nonprofit organizations in the 2017-18 academic year. 

AAUW’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Research will join a storied and dynamic organization as it confronts a pivotal opportunity to expand its impact on the most critical factors in achieving gender equity. Always a pioneering organization, AAUW recently completed a CEO transition designed to steer the organization in new directions as its demographics and the public policy challenges it confronts continue to evolve. CEO Kimberly Churches has begun a robust strategic planning process that will weave all of AAUW’s initiatives into a clear and compelling voice that advances non-partisan engagement with members and other stakeholders in an increasingly polarized and still inequitable political and socioeconomic environment. 


AAUW’s Strengths and Opportunities 

A New Generation of Members, Stakeholders, and Programs While AAUW has been the backbone for long-lasting networks of lifetime members, it has also been at the forefront of program development for a generation of women who enjoy a wealth of opportunities but confront persistent challenges 

Marketing a Richly Multi-faceted Association AAUW’s wide geographic reach, programmatic range, and demographic difference are key strengths for an organization that seeks to improve equity for all women. Harnessing that strength requires the continuous sensitive negotiation of a complex array of perspectives and needs. AAUW continues to find new ways to orchestrate that negotiation, assuring that it attracts a vibrant membership and engages its members and network communities in powerful public policy advocacy and programs that change the landscape of opportunity for more generations of women and girls. 

to their ability to take advantage of them. A suite of AAUW programs has tackled these challenges head-on by nurturing young women’s curiosity and confidence in predominantly male fields (Tech Trek and Tech Savvy) and coaching young women to secure strong starting salaries in their first jobs to decrease the gender pay gap (Start Smart). AAUW’s new strategic plan will focus the organization’s energy on a suite of programs where it can achieve the greatest impact. 

International Reach and Respect AAUW is the most established U.S.-based organization working on women’s equity. A grassroots association with members in every Congressional district, AAUW is able to marshal coordinated resources at the local, regional, and national levels to crystallize women’s experiences and build problem-solving communities around their most pressing needs. From its foundation in the U.S., AAUW has always pursued global partnerships to advance the cause of gender equity worldwide. The association has awarded fellowships to more than 12,000 women from 140 countries, conferred International Project Grants to fellowship alumnae, expanded relationships with international colleges and universities, and published landmark studies that have earned attention from Capitol Hill to the United Nations. AAUW is committed to new forms of global cooperation that enable women to find opportunity wherever they live and work. 

The Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Research is responsible for establishing a rigorous and probing agenda that helps to define and inform the execution of AAUW’s advocacy, communications, development, and programmatic activities. The SVP plays a key role on the senior leadership team, providing guidance, analysis, direction, innovation, oversight, and hands-on implementation for all aspects of AAUW’s public policy and research agendas to advance the organization’s strategic plan at the grassroots, regional, national, and international levels. The SVP leads and manages a robust team in a diverse range of activities that include original research studies, legislative and legal advocacy, and collaborative guidance on the creation of data-driven programs in all of AAUW ‘s work areas. The SVP’s specific responsibilities include: 

 Strategic Planning

 Serve as a leading voice for public policy and research on AAUW’s senior leadership team, ensuring that opportunities are fully reflected in strategic plans.

 Construct and lead deliberate and broadly inclusive planning processes that generate multi-year and annual public policy and research plans customized to measurably advance AAUW’s goals.  Set annual financial targets for a sophisticated public policy and research program that operates at the national and state levels. 


 Establish AAUW as a leading voice in the development of revealing research with the power to reshape public debate and public policy agendas and marshal broad support for gender equity initiatives.  Formulate and direct a strategic research agenda that measures key drivers of and obstacles to gender equity in the U.S., with a focus on making distinctive interventions on issues of critical importance to AAUW’s strategic priorities.  Identify opportunities to engage meaningful partners in AAUW’s research program and collaborate with the SVP of Advancement & Partnerships to cultivate partnership prospects.  Serve as a compelling representative of AAUW’s research agenda and findings at conferences, public and private events, and meetings. 

 AAUW Action Fund

 Establish parameters for nonpartisan issue advocacy consistent with AAUW’s brand, including clear standards for developing data-driven policy recommendations.

 Work closely with the Communications & External Relations and Fellowships & Programs teams to unite cross-organizational resources into a comprehensive public policy strategy, including public campaigns, government relations, and partnership-based programs. 


The Senior Vice President Opportunity 

 Oversee political action programming at both the national and state levels, ensuring that candidates, ballot initiatives, bills, and regulations are continually identified, evaluated, and monitored.  Develop sophisticated and creative approaches to nonpartisan coalition building, anticipating and seizing opportunities to forge new alliances and create new political alignments.  Serve as one of AAUW’s chief advocates before executive branch agencies, senators, and congressional representatives; work with the SVP of Communications & External Relations to prepare the CEO, Board members, and other senior leaders to represent AAUW in Congressional testimony, public forums, and private meetings with program officials. 


Legal Advocacy  Fund

In collaboration with the Legal Advocacy Manager,  establish priorities that advance AAUW’s public policy recommendations through the legal system.

Ensure the development of expert legal strategies in litigation with high precedential impact.

Set a high standard for respectful and sensitive engagement with individual plaintiffs participating in AAUW’s legal advocacy program. 


AAUW Action Fund

Establish parameters for nonpartisan issue advocacy consistent with AAUW’s brand, including clear standards for developing data-driven policy recommendations.

 Work closely with other key departments to unite cross-organizational resources into a comprehensive public policy strategy, including public campaigns, government relations, and partnership-based programs. 


Evaluate and build a staff structure that aligns investments with research and public policy goals and objectives. 

Assess individual and team strengths, identify skills gaps, and refine staffing plans to build AAUW’s internal capacity.  Lead recruitment, hiring, and retention processes that attract a diverse pool of top public policy, government relations, research and advocacy talent.  Foster a culture of inclusive innovation in which multiple perspectives are considered indispensable to strategic decision-making.  Generate and monitor the public policy and research budget, setting a high standard for efficient and responsible use of resources consistent with respect for donors, funding recipients, and mission.   Provide oversight and direction of the AAUW legal advocacy fund budget. 


The Candidate 

The ideal Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Research will be an accomplished strategic thinker who works through smart collaborative partnerships both internally and externally—with other members of the senior leadership team, across the entire AAUW organization, and with the full range of AAUW’s external partners. The SVP will have equal commitments to the goal of gender equity in all of its diverse dimensions and to the rigorous pursuit of data-driven nonpartisan advocacy as a critical pathway to achieve that goal. The SVP will combine these skills with an unwavering commitment to gender equity in all its diverse dimensions. S/he will have sophisticated experience applying this commitment to the effective orchestration of a large and talented team within a complex national organization.  


Experience and Background

At least 10 years of experience in senior management roles in a national non- or for-profit organization. 

Bachelor’s degree is required; advanced degree is preferred. 


Skills and Accomplishments 

Record of orchestrating a systematic, goal-oriented, and data-driven approach to the development of public policy programs, including an advocacy agenda and integrated grassroots and targeted advocacy activities.

Demonstrated ability to engage in imaginative nonpartisan coalition building capable of crossing the spectrum of a polarized political environment.

Knowledge of the legislative and regulatory process at the national and state levels.

Government contacts with officials and elected representatives of all parties at the national level.

 Track record of leadership or significant accomplishment within a sophisticated research program.

 Thorough experience in publicly representing a complex organization to the general public through speaking engagements, media interviews, and public presentations.

 Demonstrated ability to build and mentor an innovative cross-functional team.

 Record of making and monitoring wise budgetary investments in response to evolving organizational needs. 


Personal Competencies and Work Style

Proactive, hands-on strategic thinker with excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to anticipate and mitigate unforeseen challenges. 

Ability to prioritize, negotiate, and multi-task while maintaining vigilant attention to detail.

Proven ability to inspire, lead, and manage a multigenerational workforce and to cultivate an inclusive environment among staff. 

Excellent interpersonal and relationship building skills: ability to work effectively as part of a highly collaborative team. 


To Apply 

Questions, résumés, and CVs should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


All first round interviews for this position will take place at Development Resources, inc. at 1820 N. Fort Myer Drive, Suite 702, Arlington, VA 22209, (703) 294-6684, or via telephone/video conference. 

DRi is an executive search and development consulting firm that places non-profit leaders and works side-by-side with them to develop bold strategic plans, design powerful fundraising programs, and build talented staffs.   AAUW is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is seeking a diverse slate of qualified candidates for formal consideration. 

Job posted on 12th October 2017

Please mention Policy Jobs when applying to this position