Allies for Children seeks a dynamic and courageous leader to serve as its next Executive Director to advocate for the health, education, and overall wellbeing of children in Allegheny County, PA.
Built on the foundation of child advocacy established by Child Watch of Pittsburgh, Allies for Children established its 501c3 in 2013 with the mission to build alliances and serve as a bold voice for policy and practice changes that improve the wellbeing of all children in Allegheny County. By recruiting allies and building coalitions, Allies for Children serves as a bold voice to positively change policies and systems that impact children and youth across Allegheny County. The organization works to propel children’s needs to the center of critical conversations with policymakers and thought leaders. To do this work, Allies for Children builds alliances with other advocates and service providers and integrates research into policy discussions. With a goal to get elected leaders to prioritize the needs of children, Allies for Children strives for a vision where each child has the opportunities and assistance necessary to develop into a healthy, educated, and contributing member of the community.
Currently, Allies for Children concentrates its advocacy efforts on two major policy areas: education and health. It has experienced victories for children regarding school funding, career and technical education, school transportation, child nutrition, and lead safety. Its current campaigns include:
- Child Nutrition – Since 2016, Allies for Children’s has worked in close partnership with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to help schools throughout Allegheny County increase breakfast participation, particularly through alternative breakfast models, and have published the report, Breakfast Basics: A Comprehensive Look at School Breakfast Participation in Allegheny County. In addition to school meals, Allies for Children advocates efforts to modernize and rejuvenate the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Together with partners, we are seeking to modernize and financially sustain the program by reversing a decade-long participation decline in the program.
- PA Schools Work – Allies for Children is a proud member of the PA Schools Work campaign, a coalition of organizations from across Pennsylvania with a mission to ensure that every child, regardless of their background or where they live, is attending a public school that has the funds necessary to help them succeed. The organization specifically advocates for increases in Basic Education Funding, Special Education, and Career and Technical Education funding areas.
- School Transportation – As a main barrier to attendance, Allies for Children and its partners advocate for better efficiency and equity when transporting students to and from school buildings. The organization believes that by working together with partners and optimizing school bus routes across district boundaries, cost savings and improved ride times can be accomplished.
- Children’s Health Insurance – Allies for Children believes every child should have access to, and be enrolled in, quality health insurance. The organization advocates for public health insurance programs specifically for children, such as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
As outlined in its 2020-2023 strategic plan, Allies for Children seeks policy and practice changes in local, state, and federal governments and in institutions that serve and impact children. Allies for Children will apply the following strategic approaches to achieve policy and practice change:
- Alliance Building – Changing policy requires bringing together diverse groups of stakeholders, building trust, and acting collectively. Allies for Children has established itself as an effective alliance builder and will continue to master this approach.
- Catalyst for Change – Direct influence with policy makers is the fastest path to positive change. Allies for Children catalyzes change by fostering relationships with those who possess the ability to change policy and should continue prioritizing building and utilizing these relationships to create positive change for all children.
- Awareness Raising – Raising awareness of evidence-based policies is essential for change. Keeping in mind its vision, mission, guiding principles and anti-racism statement, Allies for Children will continue to elevate policy issues, raise awareness and, thereby, lay the foundation for change.
Allies for Children is governed by a 15-member board of directors. The organization’s current projected revenue for 2020-21 is $680,000 with $1.3M in total assets. Current staffing includes a Research and Operations Manager, a Health Policy Manager, and an Education Policy Director. The Allies for Children founding Executive Director left the organization in February 2021 to join the Allegheny County Health Department as its COO. For more information about Allies for Children, please visit http://alliesforchildren.org/.
Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director provides leadership both inside and outside the organization, continually increasing the organization’s mission impact.
Leadership Near-Term Priorities
The Executive Director will ensure that the organization fulfills its mission, lives its values, and implements the strategic plan for success. This position requires strong relationship and networking skills, an understanding of public policy, and the ability to effectively engage the board, staff, partners, funders, and advocates. Toward these ends, the organization’s near-term priorities for the next 12- 18 months include:
- Thoroughly understand Allies for Children – its history, mission, values, priorities, finances, fundraising structure, and challenges.
- Establish relationships and build trust with all Allies stakeholders including board, staff, partners, funders, and those who benefit from its work.
- Establish themselves as the face and voice of Allies and build upon current networks while identifying and establishing new ones.
- Ensure that staff experience, talent, and focus is reflected in responsibilities and work priorities.
- Build a tactical strategy from the strategic plan.
- Decide appropriate work environment post-COVID.
The Executive Director will provide leadership to the organization and manage its day-to-day affairs. Primary responsibilities include:
- Oversee the development and successful implementation of Allies for Children’s research and public policy agenda.
- Advancing a policy agenda, data analyses, and communications designed to understand and remove systemic and structural barriers facing children of color.
- Develop, nurture, and leverage relationships with state and national elected and appointed officials to influence policy decisions related to Allies for Children’s goals and mission.
- Guide collaborations and partnerships with other leaders in government, children’s services, philanthropy, business, faith, and civic sectors to advance Allies for Children’s goals and mission.
- Collaborate with the board of directors to refine and implement Allies for Children’s strategic plan while ensuring that the budget, staff, and priorities are aligned with Allies for Children’s core goals and mission.
- Develop, maintain, and support a strong and inclusive board of directors (that is representative of the region) that is highly engaged and willing to leverage relationships and secure financial resources.
- Develop and implement a strategic resource development plan to include direct fundraising from foundations, corporations, individuals, and other potential sources of income.
- Provide leadership and direction to staff, and ensure the continued development and management of a professional and efficient organization.
- Ensure that the organization is operating in a fiscally responsible manner that supports the needs of the programs and staff.
- Serve as the organization’s primary media spokesperson and ensure effective relationships are in place with statewide media sources.
Experiences and Attributes
The Executive Director must embrace and be passionate about the mission of Allies for Children. S/he must be a courageous advocate for the well-being of children across Allegheny County. Ideal candidates will bring a variety of experiences and attributes to the organization, including:
- Passion for Allies for Children’s mission and desire to work fast to address pressing needs for children; ideally lived experience with the issues Allies for Children addresses.
- Knowledge of and experience with public policy issues concerning the needs of children and families, and the proven ability to help formulate imaginative strategies for achieving important public policy reforms.
- Experience in confronting and dismantling systems of racial and ethnic inequities and the policies that perpetrate them.
- Willingness to provide strategic leadership and outline a vision that translates into measurable actions and results; ability to push incremental change with broader long-term goals in sight.
- Authentic leadership with the ability to build trust among a wide range of constituents.
- Nonpartisan with the ability to network with decision-makers of all political backgrounds.
- Proven success lobbying and advocating with state legislators and government leaders for systemic change; experience in Alleghany County is a plus.
- Demonstrated experience leading/building coalitions and working in partnership with coalition members to advance policy agendas.
- Experience with annual organizational budgeting and financial oversight.
- Proven results in raising funds from local and national foundations and major donors.
- Ability to lead, manage, appreciate, and work collaboratively with a high performing staff.
- Past success supporting and working with a board of directors in its governance role a plus.
- Exceptional verbal, written, and interpersonal communication skills with the ability to serve as an organization’s spokesperson and persuade a variety of key audiences.
- At least 5 years of leadership experience, specifically in advocacy and public policy development with an organization, government entity, or business. Experience in the children and families field is a plus but not required.