Agenda for Children (Agenda) was founded in 1984 by a multi-racial group of dedicated community advocates to create an independent advocacy voice for Louisiana’s children. For nearly 40 years, Agenda has focused on child advocacy and has been the region’s leading support organization for early care and education. Agenda works to inform public conversations on children, advocate for better policies that impact children and families, increase access to high quality early care and education, improve the quality of those experiences, and connect people to community resources. For more information on Agenda For Children please see https://agendaforchildren.org.
Judy Watts, a co-founder of Agenda for Children, was tapped to lead the organization until her retirement in 2010. She was a fierce child advocate, a committed anti-racist and a known expert among local and national child advocates. Under her leadership, Agenda made major impacts on early care and education, child welfare, juvenile justice and children’s health care access.
In the spirit of Agenda’s founding vision, and to honor the legacy she and our founders instilled for decades, Agenda for Children seeks a Founding Director for its Judy Watts Child Advocacy and Policy Center.
The Director will lead advocacy efforts for Southeast Louisiana on behalf of policies that address disparities in well-being indicators for children. They will develop and lead the strategy, communications, operations, development, and finances of the Center. Informed and grounded by Louisiana’s KIDS COUNT project, they will work collaboratively with our state, regional and local advocacy partners and others to actualize a broad based agenda to improve child well-being regionally, with a specific focus on lessening disparities. The Director will represent Agenda and act as an external relations officer, engaging in partner and media relations with the overarching goal to build public understanding of children’s issues and increase support for policies that improve child well-being. The Director should possess an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to partner, train and empower individuals and organizations to advance a regional, child-focused policy agenda. The position reports to the Chief Executive Officer of the Agenda for Children, and collaborates closely with the Director of Data and Research as a primary partner.
Partnership Development and Cultivation
- Participate in and develop broad coalitions and strategic alliances with partners, community leaders, and local, regional and statewide child advocacy organizations in support of improving conditions impacting child well-being;
- Foster relationships across local, regional and state organizations which build public understanding of children’s issues, and increase support for policies that improve child well-being;
- Establish and maintain an active presence in Southeast Louisiana communities related to child well-being in Louisiana with an emphasis on the Greater New Orleans, and ensure appropriate local public and private response where proposed or current policies are not aligned;
- Identify and manage engagement opportunities to connect allies to the Center’s advocacy initiatives;
- Leverage support available through the Center’s national KIDS COUNT and other child advocacy networks to strengthen and inform the advocacy efforts of partner organizations;
- Work in partnership to deploy coalition resources to accomplish clear policy goals.
Public Policy Planning, Development, Advocacy and Education
- Develop and execute, in partnership with community members, policy makers, and child advocacy organizations, an actionable, inclusive child-focused policy agenda with measurable goals and clear strategies;
- Actively advocate on behalf of Agenda for Children and its partners and allies to promote legislation and policies to improve child well-being in Southeast Louisiana;
- Partner collaboratively with the Judy Watts Center’s Director of Data and Research to use relevant and current state data to inform policy objectives.
- Research, monitor and analyze current state and federal policies and legislation for impact on Southeast Louisiana’s child-serving organizations, and children;
- Coordinate the production and distribution of policy briefs, research reports, and other publications;
- Stay abreast of other youth policy and engagement strategies and initiatives locally and in other major cities and apply lessons learned.
Training and Technical Assistance
- Develop and implement a local advocacy fellowship programs to train, educate, and empower those interested in becoming child advocates;
- Create robust pathways for local child- focused service providers to be engaged in policy and strategy development and execution;
- Provide technical assistance and advocacy support to existing local organizations and leaders as a way of growing its advocacy impact.
- Engage in strategic thinking to determine the value the Judy Watts Center can add to the research and policy spaces around child well-being and develop a cohesive regional research and policy agenda;
- Work with Agenda’s leadership, board of directors, advisory board, organization partners and allies to develop and implement a strategic plan to guide the Center’s work;
- Bring an entrepreneurial spirit to develop the Center, its Advocacy Fellowship initiative and other projects;
- Position the Judy Watts Center as a hub for high-quality research in child well-being and a go-to source for policymakers, advocates, and others to improve childhood measures;
- Attend and participate in staff meetings and staff committees;
- Maintain bottom-line responsibility for the Center’s financial performance and day to day operations;
- Demonstrate mastery of and oversee the Center’s revenue sources (contracts and grants); revenue flow (seasons and cycles); grant and contract budget development; staffing, hard costs, and general administrative expenses;
- Attend and present information at the Agenda for Children’s board meetings and subcommittee meetings as requested;
- Help fundraise for the Center’s operations, nurture and expand existing funding relationships and cultivate new sources, assist in grant proposals and funder correspondence/reports associated with the Judy Watts Center’s work;
- Utilize the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s “Seven Steps” to advance and embed race, equity and inclusion within the center’s work.
Media & Communications
- Utilize a variety of marketing and public relations techniques to communicate the policy and advocacy agenda;
- Engage in strategic communications with the media, as well as diverse audiences (i.e., elected officials, educators, physicians, social service providers, business leaders, philanthropists, etc.);
- Provide social media posts, blog posts, short briefs and presentations that explain and disseminate analysis based on data and anecdotes.
Qualifications, Education, Experience, & Skills
The ideal candidate is a dynamic, forward-thinking, experienced, entrepreneurial and collaborative leader with hands-on experience in both service provision and policy/advocacy work on behalf of children. They should have experience with translating high-level research for broad audiences and be a compelling communicator in the intersections of research, policy, and practice. They are adept at building relationships with partners and hold a strong commitment to gender and racial equity, and be driven to generate power and agency for marginalized communities through policy and practice.
- Instinctively understands the lived experiences of stakeholders, specifically children, staff, and families of color.
- A demonstrated commitment to racial equity and social justice.
- Minimum of five years of professional experience;with three years in direct service settings and at least two years in public policy research, policy analysis or policy advocacy.
- Very strong written and oral communication skills including the ability to explain complex issues clearly;
- Familiarity with the New Orleans region’s politics, processes and child service landscape
- An extrovert with strong interpersonal skills;
- Strategic, creative thinker with strong problem solving skills;
- Ability to work both independently and collaboratively with internal and external partners;
- Ability to prioritize and manage multiple projects at one time;
- Ability to collect, interpret and simplify data and information;
- Proven track record of effectively interacting with diverse stakeholders including executives, researchers, practitioners, policy and advocacy organizations, public officials, and Boards of Directors;
- Proven ability to work strategically and collaboratively across the organization;
- Proven ability to build authentic relationships with individuals and parties different from themselves;
- Ability to travel; current driver’s license and access to a vehicle is required.
- In-depth understanding of public policies affecting children;
- Louisiana native;
- Minimum of seven years of professional experience;with three years in direct service settings and at least four years in public policy research, policy analysis or policy advocacy;
- Experience in advocating for policies to promote child well-being and demonstrated success;
- Ambitious and energetic leader who evidences a deep understanding of meaningful consensus and the importance of creating opportunities for collective action that leads to greater change;
- Entrepreneurial spirit with the ability to harness the potential of the Center and shepherd its growth.
Compensation and Benefits
Agenda for Children has offered all employees a hybrid work model during the pandemic. Post pandemic, this position will be based in the organization’s New Orleans or Mandeville offices per the preference of the hire with the option to work remotely a portion of each week. Additional in-state travel is required.
Salary range of $85,000 - $95,000 depending upon experience
Competitive medical benefits and very generous paid time off offered.
Position will be posted through November 29, 2021 with resumes continually screened, applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
Agenda for Children is an Equal Opportunity employer and considers all applicants on the basis of merit without regard to race, gender, color, religion, national origin, age, marital status, or disability.