The Director of Public Issues reports to the President of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE) and collaborates with other senior staff by helping to link COFHE’s research agenda and policies to topical issues of concern for member campuses. The Director maintains close working relationships with appropriate personnel on member campuses in support of their efforts to speak publicly about selective higher education. The Director of Public Issues also advises the COFHE Board of Directors on issues pertaining to media attention to higher education, student aid policy, and federal legislative interest in undergraduate education.
COFHE founded in 1971, is an institutionally supported organization of 35 independent, nonprofit colleges and universities that provides research and sponsors membership meetings on how selective, private colleges and universities can advance their commitments to providing exceptional educational opportunities for highly talented students as well as to following best practices in fiscal management. COFHE has offices at two of its member campuses: MIT and Johns Hopkins University. This position works in the Washington, D.C. office (housed in Johns Hopkins University space).
COFHE has a perspective that is unique compared to other associations with respect to its members’ specific concerns about issues of need-based aid, costs of undergraduate education, tax policy, accreditation, value of a college degree, affordability for students, student debt, and assessment.
COFHE is committed to providing support to its member schools’ senior officers as they take public roles to articulate distinctive messages about highly selective private higher education; there is an unaddressed need for a more coordinated effort to link factual and analytic results to topical issues that represents an important role to be played by this office within COFHE.
Primary Duties and Responsibilities:
Support the Public Issues Committee (PIC) and actively develop its agenda in cooperation with the Chair and COFHE’s president, including planning a productive program for the annual Public Issues Seminar.
Convene the government relations and public relations officers of COFHE to target public policy topics not specifically addressed by other DC organizations, which are of high interest and importance to COFHE institutions.
Staff the biennial meeting of COFHE’s financial aid officers, ensuring highlights within the meeting plans for presentation of COFHE research findings, PIC topics relevant to aid directors, and the broader COFHE agenda.
Develop a personal network of contacts in Washington, DC and COFHE institutions, which will assist COFHE in the timely identification of policy issues and the development of core messages, while also supporting the advocacy efforts of individual COFHE schools.
Work with financial aid directors and with public affairs officers, advising and consulting on aid policy developments and on communications about COFHE-related issues.
Discern what information might be useful for the DC legislative and policy arenas in order to facilitate more productive connections with COFHE and campus officers.
Increase and strengthen COFHE’s organizational visibility in DC with other associations, while retaining a low profile and non-lobbying stance.
Find appropriate ways to connect COFHE data with topical issues in the media (e.g., soliciting information from targeted COFHE Breaks or other summary research from COFHE researchers—sensitive data will remain background only and for institutional use, but some topics can benefit from public release of summary data).
Strategically anticipate upcoming needs for members’ policy positions and legislative or administration engagement by collecting research results, convening discussion groups, and determining strategy for engagement.
Find ways consistently to make COFHE’s Public Issues Officer an engaged participant in articulating the issues and context of elite independent higher education
Inform COFHE staff in public issues topics.
Participate with research team in development of Value Visual Aids for member schools.
Contribute to communications efforts with the membership.
• Bachelor's degree required. Advanced degree in communications, law, policy study, or higher education preferred.
• A minimum of five years related experience; experience in higher education or federal affairs preferred.
Classified Title: Director Government Affairs Working Title: Director of Public Issues Role/Level/Range: ATP/04/PI Starting Salary Range: Commensurate with Experience Employee group: Full Time Schedule: M-F/8:30am-5:00pm Exempt Status: Exempt Location: 01-DC:District of Columbia Department name: 10000943-COFHE Personnel area: SAIS
The successful candidate(s) for this position will be subject to a pre-employment background check.
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