Government Affairs Associate/Senior Associate

Unit: Government Affairs
Reports To: Senior Director of Government Affairs
Post Date: May 23, 2024
Location: Washington, D.C.
FLSA Status: Exempt


Please submit your cover letter and résumé to with Government Affairs Associate/Senior Associate in the subject line. Job title and salary are commensurate with experience. We thank you for your interest in NHSA and Head Start, and know that we will only consider complete candidate packages for this position. 


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 800,000 children, 275,000 staff, and over 1,600 Head Start grant recipients 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.


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 a person who is looking to only work on tasks on a job description (such as this) and has a proclivity to say or think “That’s not my job,” we respect that, but you should not work with us. However, if you’re interested in being a responsible contributor while flexing your curiosity and creativity, keep reading.

The ideal candidate will have the capability to prioritize competing needs, handle matters expeditiously and proactively, and follow through on projects to successful completion, often under tight deadlines. They should also be able to work independently but know when to ask questions and seek counsel. 

The tasks assigned will support NHSA’s efforts to carry out government affairs and grassroots advocacy actions, convene diverse groups of Head Start leaders from every corner of the country to understand and address their challenges and represent the interests of the Head Start community in Washington, D.C. This role requires a balance of skills; a strong candidate will have good organizational skills and attention to detail, but also creativity, strategic thinking, and the ability to take abstract ideas and turn them into concrete action. 

Amidst the political dynamics of 2024, early childhood education - including Head Start - remains a critical issue that faces numerous challenges ranging from funding uncertainties to changing regulations. As Head Start and Early Head Start providers face unique challenges navigating political instability, a national workforce crisis, and increased needs of children and families.

With all that in mind, NHSA is seeking a Government Affairs Associate/Senior Associate to advocate for the needs of children and families nationwide. In this position, you will have the opportunity to help shape the narrative around these issues, amplifying the voices of Head Start and Early Head Start providers and advocating for policies that support their vital work. Your efforts will directly impact the lives of children and families across the country, ensuring they have access to the high-quality education and support they deserve. The title of Associate or Senior Associate will depend upon the experience and qualifications of the candidate selected.

Reporting to NHSA’s Senior Director of Government Affairs, the Associate/Senior Associate should expect to spend time interacting with Congressional and Executive Branch staff, Head Start and Early Head Start staff, parents, and advocates, and, most importantly, with children and families we serve. The position is part of NHSA’s government affairs team and is responsible for aligning government affairs efforts with communications and marketing colleagues across NHSA.

NHSA practices a human-centered approach with Head Start children and families at the center of everything they do. The network is vast – with programs in every Congressional district – and the opportunity to expand its impact is great.

The opportunity to succeed in school and in life, regardless of circumstances at birth, is a core American value, and, for the past fifty-nine years, 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 – especially critical to this position – policymakers.


  • Navigate the political landscape to identify opportunities for collaboration and advocacy on behalf of Head Start and Early Head Start providers.
  • Schedule, prepare for, and manage follow-up from NHSA’s meetings with Congressional and Executive Branch officials.
  • Manage and update legislative and advocacy databases supporting the work of NHSA and the Head Start field.
  • Track and help guide NHSA’s advocacy and lobbying efforts around funding for Head Start.
  • Collaborate with marketing and communications staff to prepare written materials for the Head Start field, press purposes, informational documents, and website content.
  • Assist in the creation and management of advocacy campaigns to engage the Head Start field, Head Start alumni, and other early childhood education organizations.
  • Assist with planning and project management for various events throughout the year including NHSA’s Fall and Winter Leadership Institutes, other
  • NHSA conferences, task force meetings, briefings on Capitol Hill, and other meetings as necessary.
  • Create and support relationship-building opportunities between NHSA, Head Start practitioners, and policymakers and their staff.
  • Periodically create/update summaries, fact sheets, and website content.
  • Work independently and proactively while being a dependable team player.
  • Other relevant duties as assigned.


Minimum qualifications and skills:

  • Passion for Head Start’s commitment to ensuring every eligible child has the opportunity to succeed.
  • An ability to learn quickly and ask appropriate questions.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills with meticulous attention to detail and computer literacy.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills and ease of working with large and small groups.
  • Capacity to design and execute multiple and constantly changing projects, with both creativity and high-quality work, on tight deadlines.
  • Good judgment and flexibility in, and innovative and analytical approach to, problem-solving.
  • Ability to adapt quickly and confidently to new challenges and job requirements with entrepreneurial thinking, even while under pressure.
  • High tolerance for ambiguity, a high level of energy, and a sense of humor.
  • Skills in working remotely/independently while also being a dependable team player.
  • Washington D.C.-based (While NHSA does have an office in Alexandria, VA, NHSA operates as a remote organization with staff across the U.S. Given the requirements of this role,  the expectation is for you to be in or willing to move to the D.C. area, though the time spent in office is flexible.)

Salary is commensurate with experience.

These are preferred and not required:

  • Experience on Capitol Hill (especially with an appropriator and/or a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions or House Committee on Education and the Workforce is a plus.
  • Knowledge of the federal legislative process, especially the appropriations process.
  • Spanish-writing and speaking proficiency with cultural competency
  • Experience with using CQ (or similar) advocacy toolkits


NHSA is proud of our inclusive, collaborative, and professional culture. We value and reward teamwork, initiative, creativity, and intellectual and professional growth.

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 to push our mission.

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.

Intellectual Growth: NHSA values those who are curious and hungry for knowledge. Reflecting Head Start’s nearly 60 years of commitment to continuous improvement, our staff is dedicated to personal and professional growth, understanding, and commitment to NHSA’s mission.

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.

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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.