Director of State Affairs

Job Title:                    Director of State Affairs

Unit Government Affairs
Reports to: Deputy Director
Origination Date February 7, 2023
Location Our offices are located in Alexandria, VA. All of our positions are currently  remote. We will continue to assess our operations as the pandemic evolves into an endemic.  
FLSA Status Exempt


The opportunity to succeed in school and in life, regardless of circumstances at birth, is a core American value. For the past six decades, the Head Start community has embraced the challenge of delivering on that value and changing life trajectories for the nation’s most vulnerable children and families. A strong and sustainable future for Head Start will mean the success of generations of children who may otherwise struggle throughout their lives. Their future success rests on the knowledge, commitment, and collaboration of families, programs, researchers, and policymakers.

NHSA is a unique organization looking to grow intentionally and to find the right person for the right opportunity on our team. If you are looking to be part of an organization that is static, where things are predictable, and challenges are hard to come by, you should not work with us. If you are interested in being a responsible contributor while flexing your curiosities and creativity, keep reading.

As part of NHSA’s Government Affairs team, the Director of State Affairs is a full-time remote position working on state advocacy, legislation, and policy on behalf of Head Start children, parents, staff and alumni. The position is designed to help the Head Start community realize its leadership potential and support local grantees/associations push for policy changes supporting Head Start children and families in their states. The tasks associated with the position range from coordinating direct state based advocacy efforts to providing technical assistance related to state policy and system development to supporting and strengthening a network of state Head Start leaders (some volunteers, some seasoned professionals). The position demands a flexible, detail-oriented, team player who thrives while managing competing priorities in a fast-paced environment. 



  • Cultivate and maintain a network of best practices and information sharing around state based early learning initiatives/policies as well as state/regional association management.
  • Craft and implement a strategy for ensuring vulnerable children and families are prioritized in state early care and education systems.
  • Provide technical assistance regarding state system development, legislative proposals, and regulatory proposals.
  • Build and support a network of sharing and learning for state Head Start leadership including association leaders, grantee leaders, parents, and collaboration offices.
  • Manage grants state-based advocacy and policy efforts supporting Head Start grantees, staff, and parents.
  • Manage and coordinate NHSA senior staff engagement in policy, legislative, and strategic opportunities that support Head Start grantees and State/Regional Head Start Associations.
  • In coordination with NHSA senior staff, represent NHSA and the Head Start community at various meetings with other early learning stakeholders, as appropriate. 
  • Assist with the development and execution of a Head Start reauthorization strategy as well as strategies for various legislation.
  • Manage and coordinate meetings of State Head Start association leadership, assist with coordination of Fall and Winter Leadership Institutes and assist in government affairs support for other NHSA conferences.
  • Other relevant duties as assigned.



  • Passion for Head Start’s commitment to ensuring every vulnerable child has the opportunity to succeed.
  • Strong academic success, including a bachelor’s degree at a minimum, with an ability to learn quickly and ask appropriate questions.
  • Demonstrated analytical abilities for synthesis of information, strategy development, and identifying themes and relationships.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Curiosity and continuous learning.
  • High tolerance for ambiguity and a strong sense of humor. 
  • Task-oriented with an ability to identify and manage competing priorities.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills and ability to be comfortable and assertive working with large and small groups.
  • Strong attention to detail, superior organizational skills, and computer literacy.
  • Ability to multitask and work both in teams as well as individually.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of association management, early learning policy and/or state systems preferred.
  • Minimum of 5+ years relevant work experience, Head Start and/or association experience preferred.
  • Excellent organizational skills, including ability to handle and prioritize multiple tasks and meet deadlines.
  • Must be able to work independently and proactively while being a dependable team-player.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel as well as Google Office suite applications.
  • Good judgment, flexibility, and problem-solving skills.
  • Salary is commensurate upon experience.

These are a plus, but not required:

  • Experience in journalism, advocacy campaigns, media relations and/or strategic communications strongly preferred.
  • Skills with video editing software and photography.
  • Experience writing and managing on grant-funded projects.
  • Knowledge of best practices in PowerPoint presentation or Google Slides and design.



NHSA is a nonprofit organization committed to the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in life. NHSA is the voice for more than 1 million children, 275,000 staff, and over 1,600 Head Start grantees in the United States. Since 1974, NHSA has worked diligently for policy changes that ensure all at-risk children have access to the Head Start model of support for the whole child, the family, and the community.


NHSA’s vision is for Head Start to lead—to be the untiring voice that will not be quiet until every vulnerable child is served with the Head Start model of support for the whole child, the family, and the community—and to advocate—to work diligently for policy and institutional changes that ensure all vulnerable children and families have what they need to succeed. NHSA’s mission is to coalesce, inspire, and support the Head Start field as a leader in early childhood development and education.


  • We are determined to play a valued and visible national leadership role in this country’s efforts to educate and serve its most vulnerable children and families.
  • We recognize change is constant and are building a flexible, nimble organization that values innovation and can respond effectively to change.
  • We are actively committed to being a high-impact organization that evaluates effort and measures outcomes; our commitment extends to helping the Head Start field value and uses measurements effectively.
  • We value partnerships and collaboration and at our core, we are relationship-based.
  • We celebrate Head Start alumni, both graduates and parents, and the lasting impact that they are having in this country.
  • We are accountable to our members and funders, seeking high standards of governance, carefully stewarding resources, operating transparently, and living up to the highest standards of quality.


NHSA is proud of our inclusive, collaborative, and professional culture. We value and reward teamwork, initiative, creativity, and intellectual and professional growth. We seek those qualities when considering people to join our team.

  • Collaboration: NHSA works in teams—we share ideas, brainstorm endlessly, and constantly seek innovative ideas that advance NHSA’s and Head Start’s missions.
  • Vision: NHSA values colleagues who see and seize opportunities, take risks, learn from failure, and bring a relentless passion for our mission.
  • Creativity: NHSA team members use data to form original insights. We find ways to incorporate innovative ideas and approaches that exist in the rich and vital Head Start community.
  • Mindfulness: NHSA has an organization-wide commitment to strive for excellence; we set clear objectives, achieve ambitious goals, ensure accountability for results, and focus on our impact.
  • Curiosity: NHSA values those who are curious and hungry for knowledge. Reflecting Head Start’s 55 years of commitment to continuous improvement, our staff is committed to personal and professional growth, understanding, and commitment to our mission.


Please submit your cover letter, résumé, and a briefing memo (no more than 2-pages) in one PDF document to with State Affairs in the subject line.

NHSA IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER. All qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, national origin, marital status, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, personal appearance, family responsibilities, political affiliation, or enrollment in a college, university, technical school, or adult education.

Take Part

Join NHSA to help advance a strong and innovative early childhood profession.

Take Action

We need powerful advocates to secure a bright future for Head Start children and families.

Take Care

Support our early childhood workforce as they shape the lives of the next generation.