Network Of Schools Of Public Policy, Affairs And Administration (NASPAA)
District of Columbia, United States
Competitive Salary
Apr 20, 2021
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

Position Overview: 

NASPAA celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2019, having evolved into a truly global network, supporting programs that advance public service values and education across issues, sector, and geographic boundaries. NASPAA now has an unprecedented opportunity to build a more responsive, equitable, and just society - training the next generation of leaders to be able to respond to current and future social and political realities, as well as to have national impact and be levers of change in their countries, states, and local communities.

The standards for NASPAA’s accredited programs have been updated to reflect the importance of transparent, accountable, participatory, and equitable approaches in a globalized world, the critical role that diversity, equity and inclusion must play in public service education, and the need to bring nonprofit management to the core of the field.

This is an outstanding opportunity for a leader who is passionate about, and committed to, public service. In this role, they will guide NASPAA through its next phase of development and growth, identifying new priorities, programs and initiatives. The next Executive Director will build on a very strong reputational and financial foundation, as well as a healthy governance structure to help NASPAA meet the challenges of social, political, and economic change.


The Role:

Location:                      Washington, DC

Reports to:                         NASPAA’s 18-member Executive Council

Direct Reports:             9 direct reports in the areas of finance, accreditation, membership development, events and education, Institute of Innovation, Data Center and office management

The Executive Director will collaboratively develop a vision and strategy, while managing a successful transition from a long-tenured and highly regarded predecessor, supporting and guiding an exceptional team of professionals during a time of growth and change. They are responsible for driving the success of NASPAA’s mission by focusing on the following priority areas:

  • Support the entire organization as it comprehensively integrates core principles of equity, diversity and inclusion across all of NASPAA’s primary areas of influence, including accreditation, teaching and learning, delivering diversity in NASPAA and our field, research and recognition, and annual conference planning.
  • Collaborate with the NASPAA Executive Council members in the next strategic planning process in a post-Covid world.
  • Refine the business model, taking into account a blended approach of virtual and in-person conferences, seminars, gatherings and accreditation site visits.
  • Expand, maintain and diversify funding sources/revenue streams to ensure financial sustainability, and the availability of necessary resources to deliver the highest quality programming to the membership.
  • Capitalize on alliances with organizations in other countries to further internationalization efforts; invest in strong partnerships with government, nonprofits and businesses.
  • Promote innovation in teaching and learning for public service including the need to strengthen governance systems.


Key Responsibilities:

Leadership & Strategy

  • Provide leadership and management of staff; build and nurture an organizational culture that is grounded in a shared vision, respect and accountability, and in the pursuit of quality programming, services, and support to the membership and its students.
  • Work collaboratively with the Executive Council to develop and implement a strategic plan to achieve NASPAAs mission, next level of impact, and sustainable organizational growth.
  • Facilitate strategic discussions about how to make public affairs education relevant for our world; challenge traditional approaches and explore transdisciplinary approaches in NASPAA’s work; focus on big issues of climate change, global pandemics, and global geopolitics.
  • Continue an ongoing commitment to embed diversity in NASPAA and across the field educating and encouraging diverse constituents to have difficult dialogue, promote inclusion, and advance equity.
  • Assist the Executive Council in monitoring and evaluating NASPAA’s relevancy to the field, staying ahead of where public policy is going to effectively support members and inform/train students.

Executive Council & Committee Relations

  • Work with the Executive Council to ensure strong, transparent, and high-functioning governance role; support the Board in its role and responsibilities and that of its committees.
  • Participate as a member of the Executive Committee of the Council, together with the President, Vice President, and past President of the association.
  • Inform the Executive Council and its committees about policy trends, challenges and opportunities in order to facilitate discussion, deliberation and policy making; recommend policy positions.
  • Serve as a thought partner to the Executive Council & Committees to ensure that relevant, accurate, and timely information is provided to inform and guide strategic level thinking.
  • Build a trusting and transparent partnership with the Executive Council & Committees in order to achieve the mission, vision and goals.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

  • Capitalize on the opportunity to re-imagine how NASPAA thinks about equity- for NASPAA as an organization, and for how NASPAA supports member schools; the Executive Council has identified this as a key priority from the entire membership.
  • Build stronger support of policy programs in HBCU’s; accredit more and invite more membership/partnership with HBCU’s.
  • Elicit greater Tribal perspective and presence reflected in NASPAA’s work and partnerships.
  • Encourage a process of learning that equity impacts all that NASPAA does; NASPAA must think of the civic square as addressing structural inequities.
  • Commit to elevate more diversity into NASPAA leadership roles and our own understanding of EID and what it means to be anti-racist.

External Relations & Fund Development

  • Advance public service through partnerships with other organizations and promoting cooperation between member institutions with similar purposes domestically and in other countries.
  • Serve as champion and spokesperson, enhancing NASPAA’s leadership position in public affairs education and advocating for policy change both domestically and internationally.
  • Balance advocacy for core policies that impact our graduates such as efforts to reform the federal hiring through advocacy inside and beyond the academy.
  • Work with legislators, partner organizations and regulatory agencies at the highest levels to further strategic advocacy priorities.
  • Manage relationship with existing and potential donors and explore new creative partnerships to expand the funding base.

Infrastructure & Team Leadership

  • Provide general oversight of all NASPAA activities; assure the effective management of day-to-day operations, and a high-functioning, efficient organization.
  • Together with the CFO, prepare an annual budget for review and adoption by the Executive Council; oversee the fiscal status of the association including monitoring the budget, reporting and audit.
  • Continue to invest in, prioritize and build the internal capacity of NASPAA staff in order to effectively perform international work, accommodate association growth, and in its DEI work.
  • Inspire, coach and develop a high performing team with multiple responsibilities and talents; motivate and collaborate, actively seek input; assure a process for recruitment, development of appropriate salary structures, and consistent evaluation of staff and volunteers.

Accreditation and Programming

  • Working with COPRA, direct accreditation and quality assurance efforts; working with the Standards Committee, oversee the development of appropriate standards for educational programs and reviewing the quality of programs.
  • Grow and diversify the volunteer network of NASPAA site visitors domestically and globally, providing volunteers the opportunity to use their expertise to support the development of public service education programs, and the field.
  • Ensure the advancement of equality of opportunity of all persons to education for public service and the careers to which it leads.
  • Encourage innovation in education and provide a forum for the discussion of educational issues at conferences, committees, seminars, workshops and in all student engagement activities.
  • Amplify on the importance of curriculum, teaching and learning through continued focus on cases and simulations.
  • Continue efforts in data collection and building a robust data warehouse in public affairs education to enhance understanding and competitiveness of the sector.
  • Promote programs and services that are produced in a cost-effective manner; assure program quality and organizational stability through development and implementation of standards and controls, systems and procedures, and regular evaluation.


Candidate Profile:

Professional Experience: 

  • Fifteen years of strategic leadership experience, including at least three years at the executive level in membership, national/affiliate, geographically dispersed, or complex model organizations.
  • International experience and strong cultural competence is essential.
  • Professional experience may have been gained as a public policy practitioner, in a membership, nonprofit, international NGO, social enterprise, and/or large multi-site advocacy organization; familiarity with professional accreditation; knowledge of higher education space preferred.
  • Broad general management experience across finance, human resources, operations/technology, marketing, program, fund development, and working with volunteers and Boards.
  • Track record of working collaboratively on multi-year strategic planning; advocacy and quality improvement.
  • Demonstrated achievement in high growth and/or change environments, bringing to scale complex organizations and putting technology to work; adept at assessing infrastructure/operational requirements necessary to support sustainable growth and healthy organizational culture.
  • Proven ability to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion outcomes both internally and externally including the NASPAA organization, its membership, student body and partners.
  • Proven ability to communicate and work effectively with multiple internal and external stakeholders to achieve mutually agreed upon outcomes.
  • Track record of innovative and sustainable fundraising from individuals, corporations, foundations, and current and potential NASPAA partners.
  • Superior mentoring, professional development, people management and leadership skills; evidence of leading change with positive outcomes; an inspiring team builder who engenders trust and builds group commitment to goals and objectives.


Personal Attributes:

  • Passionate about NASPAA’s mission; has a strong appreciation of public service and views it as a calling; understands accreditation, the uniqueness of academia and the diversity of NASPAA’s programs; knowledge of the domestic policy landscape.
  • A servant-leader who communicates a clear and compelling vision for the future of the association; applies creative solutions to organizational problems, anticipating situations and needs, and responds appropriately to emerging situations.
  • Cares deeply about DEI, social justice and civic engagement; multi-cultural management experience and a high level of emotional intelligence.
  • Culturally competent given the challenge to advance racial equity.
  • Skilled at coordinating the work of a high performing team in a central office environment but can also coordinate many different committees and groups.
  • Proven change manager; ability to influence and enable others to work collaboratively in service of members, students, and graduates.
  • Systems thinker who is focused on the membership; helps to define goals and establish priorities to ensure results.
  • Exceptional written, verbal and presentation skills; ability to inspire and motivate people at all levels within and outside of the organization.
  • Displays the highest levels of personal and professional integrity and models exemplary behavior.


  • A Bachelor’s degree required; an MPA, MPP, MPAFF or similar graduate degree is preferred.

The Organization:

The Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) is the global standard in public service education.   NASPAA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) membership association with over 300 institutional member schools at U.S. and non-U.S. universities across 25 countries that award degrees in public administration, public policy, public affairs, nonprofit and related fields.   NASPAA is the recognized global accreditor of master's degree programs in these fields. NASPAA's twofold mission is to ensure excellence in education and training for public service and to promote the ideal of public service. 

Through the Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation (COPRA), and in collaboration with the Standards Committee, NASPAA Accreditation is the peer review quality assurance process for graduate-level, master’s degree programs in public policy, affairs, and administration. NASPAA’s accreditation process, driven by public service values, is mission- and outcomes-based, and grounded in an in-depth self-evaluation of programs using the NASPAA Accreditation Standards – the quality benchmark of graduate public service programs around the world.

NASPAA’s membership is growing and becoming more diverse consisting of large and small schools, HBCU’s, Tribal schools, minority serving programs and international programs. NASPAA holds several Memoranda of Understanding with peer organizations around the world, which facilitate collaboration to help programs based in different regions pursue relationships with both organizations. Cooperative activities that have been undertaken under these agreements include creating a coordinated accreditation process, identifying programs within a region interested in pursuing accreditation, supporting international exchange, and sharing best practices. NASPAA has also conducted conferences with partners outside the continental United States, in China, UAE, Qatar, Mexico, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

NASPAA’s priority is serving its members; it accomplishes its mission by offering direct services to its member institutions and students, through:

  • Developing appropriate standards for master’s programs through its Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation and offering 4 badges for accredited programs to earn, showing their commitment to Inclusion, Civic engagement, Global education, and Sustainability.
  • Representing to governments and other institutions the objectives and needs of education for public affairs and administration.
  • Curriculum Development & Innovation. Providing a forum for publication (Journal of Public Affairs Education) and discussion (Annual Conference and regional meetings) of education scholarship, practices and issues; supporting teaching and learning through the activities of the Institute for Innovative Teaching and Learning for Public Service (Publicases and the NASPAA Simulation Network).
  • NASPAA Data Center. Building a data center that collects, analyzes, and share data on the field. The NASPAA Data Center  is becoming the authoritative source for data-based decision makingin public affairs education.
  • Internship Opportunities. Providing internships for students and career resources for graduates by sponsoring the leading job board in the field (PublicServiceCareers.org).
  • Collaboration across the field. Undertaking joint educational projects with allied professional organizations and collaborating with institutes and schools of public administration in other countries through conferences, consortia, and joint projects to share best practice and learn from each other.

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