Executive Director
Excellent Schools Washington

Executive Director, Excellent Schools Washington

CONTEXT

Charter public schools in Washington are located from the heart of Puget Sound to the Palouse. We are a small sector, comprising 18 innovative and entrepreneurial schools. We have grown strategically and we are poised for the next chapter, where new leadership will inspire collaboration and foster increased focus on quality and proliferation of best practices.

Washington State Charter Schools Association (WA Charters) is a non-profit organization that advocates for and supports high-quality student-centered charter public schools that are informed by the strengths and needs of communities. Since its inception, WA Charters has been the sole intermediary organization for the state, taking an end-to-end approach to support.

The growth and complexity of the sector have prompted the need for multiple intermediaries taking on separate support functions in Washington’s charter ecosystem. As part of a broader education strategy, the Gates Foundation is resourcing the process to establish a new intermediary focused on school quality, growth, and sustainability. This shift to having multiple anchors that can serve different roles and functions is aligned with the practices of strong charter ecosystems across the country. With a clear division of roles, each entity can focus on a smaller set of functions, while also coordinating and collaborating on joint efforts that support the sector.

Starting in July 2024, WA Charters will focus primarily on policy, advocacy, and communications, while Excellent Schools Washington (ESWA), will focus primarily on connecting member schools to opportunities for quality supports, convening the sector around common sector topics, and being responsive to the needs expressed by schools that rise to the level of sector-wide needs. Learn more about the distinction between the roles of WA Charters and ESWA, proposed organizational structure, and funding here.


OPPORTUNITY

The Executive Director role represents a meaningful opportunity to impact the academic and life outcomes of systemically underserved students in Washington as part of a collective of equally committed stakeholders across the state and the country. Our existing schools have seen considerable gains. Washington’s charter public school students have achieved higher scores than their peers in 7 out of 8 assessed academic measures.  Black, Latinx, and low-income students in our sector have outperformed their traditional public school peers in Washington in all tested subjects while we continue to apply the will and resources that exist for increasing baseline school quality. As Executive Director of Excellent Schools Washington, you will have the space to leverage your entrepreneurial experience and learning to elevate the sector and help close Washington’s education equity gap.

POSITION

As founding Executive Director (ED), you will launch Excellent Schools Washington (ESW) with the goal of expanding access to high-quality school options for students in Washington. The organization will focus on partnering with stakeholders and community leaders across the state and across the country to build the talent, funding, and ecosystem conditions necessary for the successful growth of new and established high-quality public schools with a special focus on charter public schools.

The ED must be a visionary and entrepreneurial leader with a demonstrated commitment to equity who is able to build strong and lasting relationships across stakeholder groups, convene and align stakeholders around a shared vision for education, and marshal resources across multiple levers of opportunity to grow the number of high-quality public schools for Washington students.

The ED will be responsible for the achievement of these strategic goals, set forth by the charter team at the Gates Foundation in its 2026 strategic plan for the sector:

    1. Quality: Charter students outperform their traditional district school peers by 7.5% (in aggregate) in Math and ELA
    2. Growth:  Support the reopening window to add more charter schools in the state by identifying and supporting sector-wide needs
    3. Sustainability: all charters operate with less than 10% of their budgets coming from philanthropy

The ED will participate in the strategic planning process for Excellent Schools Washington to determine metrics and milestones to set the sector on a path toward these, and potentially other goals defined by the intermediary.  Additional responsibilities of the role include:

Organizational Leadership
    • Develop and amplify the mission, vision, values, and brand identity of Excellent Schools Washington
    • Recruit, manage, and develop a small team to support operations and programming and forecast and manage multi-year, phased organizational growth
    • Oversee Excellent Schools Washington’s key operational functions, including finance, accounting, legal, and HR, laying strong foundations that ensure organizational health and sustainability
    • Foster a values-driven and inclusive culture
    • Identify, recruit, and manage a diverse board of directors
Coalition Building and Strategic Coordination
    • Cultivate mutually beneficial relationships grounded in trust and transparency to develop, alongside other education stakeholders, a collective vision, strategy, and set of programs designed to grow the number of high-quality public charter school options in Washington and support public education quality across Washington state
    • Identify and support existing high-quality charter school leaders to scale their models and open new campuses
    • Support the recruitment of existing and potential school leaders to incubate and launch new schools
    • Act as a central point of contact for school leaders to access statewide networks, resources and programming to grow their impact
    • Work across sectors in the education field to facilitate resourcing for the approval and launch of new charter schools; Identify potential barriers to creating high-quality schools and support the design of programs to address needs (e.g. talent pipeline initiatives)
Grant Portfolio Management
    • Partner with education leaders and organizations across the state to identify levers that inform a grantmaking strategy designed to support improving school quality as well as new school approval and launch
    • Manage a portfolio of grantees across the education sector, including prospective grantee relationship building, grant scoping and selection, grant reporting and evaluation, and collaborative learning among grant partners
External Relations and Development
    • Build strong, trusted relationships with a wide variety of education stakeholders including students, families, educators, single site and network leaders, grassroots and community leaders, grasstops leaders, elected officials, authorizers, and other local and national entities shaping the sector
    • With assistance from a board, develop and execute fundraising campaigns to support local programming and school launches
    • Build relationships with donors and other philanthropic partners to serve as sustaining anchors to further the organization’s work
    • Serve as a passionate public advocate for high-quality education in Washington and a thought leader on key issues in local and national education
    • Develop and share the organization’s key messages and perspectives through a variety of strategic communications channels, including earned and owned media

WHO YOU ARE

Those well suited for the ED role will bring to it:

    • Unwavering commitment to ensuring that every Washington student has access to high-quality schooling
    • Strong entrepreneurial orientation, with experience developing an organization or program from scratch, including building systems and structures from the ground up, optimizing limited resources through effective prioritization of demands, and finding creative strategies to push through barriers to success
    • Organizational or program leadership experience, including budget and operations oversight, team management, fundraising, and board development
    • Interest in disrupting inequitable power structures and shifting systems to focus more on the needs of families and students
    • A track record of developing and executing strategy and building systems and coalitions that result in significant and positive collective community impact
    • Proven track record of building trusted interpersonal relationships in order to develop and execute strategy and systems across a wide range of stakeholder groups, build powerful coalitions, and foster positive collective impact
    • Demonstrated dedication to equity and community-driven change, including experience working in diverse and systemically underserved communities
    • Excellent communication skills, including clear and compelling writing, narrative creation, public speaking and group facilitation
    • Understanding of the K-12 education sector and education politics, with expertise in charter school growth and/or the Washington education system preferred
    • Personal or professional ties to Washington a significant plus

LOCATION

The Executive Director must reside in Washington and should expect to travel the four corners of the state to visit our schools and engage with their leaders. Out-of-state travel will occur infrequently.

COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS

The salary range for this position is $200k-$250k, and will initially operate as a time-limited contract employee.  During that time the Executive Director will receive supplemental compensation to cover taxes and the cost of benefits. We anticipate that the role will turn into a formal staff role of Excellent Schools Washington by July 2024.

TO APPLY

We have engaged Promise54 to support the hiring process.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.  For best consideration apply on or before January 5, 2024. Follow these instructions to submit your resume and one-page cover letter expressing your motivation for pursuing this opportunity at this moment.

    1. Visit the Opportunities section on Promise54’s website and click on the APPLY NOW tab within the Excellent Schools Washington, Executive Director, position description.
    2. Answer a brief set of questions about you.
    3. Below the questions, you’ll be able to upload your resume as well as a cover letter.

Finally, if you encounter any technical difficulties, please contact: admin@promise54.org.

INCLUSION STATEMENT

We are dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value.

We strive for a global and cultural workplace that supports ever greater diversity, equity, and inclusion — of voices, ideas, and approaches — and we support this diversity through all our employment practices.

All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve our mission will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to race, color, age, religion, pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and prior protected activity.

 

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