Senior Associate, Early Learning

Children Now is a nonpartisan umbrella research, policy development, and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children’s health, education and well‐being in California. Children Now also leads The Children’s Movement of California, a grassroots network of more than 3,000 business, education, parent, civil rights, faith, and community‐based organizations, as well as thousands of individuals, working together to make children a top priority in public policy. Learn more at

Position Description

We are seeking a highly skilled and highly motivated Senior Associate to support Children Now’s ongoing policy development and advocacy efforts to ensure that all children in California have access to well‐funded, high quality, coordinated early learning opportunities from birth through early elementary school. Specifically, this position will focus primarily on early learning (child care, preschool, transitional kindergarten and early elementary school). This position will promote the importance of early learning to children’s lives and the state’s economic future, advocating for policies that improve the alignment of early learning with early elementary school, strengthen the state’s investments in early learning, and support state and county implementation of quality improvement efforts—all while applying a racial equity analysis to the early learning systems that impact young children and their families. This is a full‐time position based in either our Oakland or Sacramento offices and reporting to the Senior Managing Director of Education and Government Relations. Some travel between Children Now’s other offices will be required.

Ideal applicants have significant early learning research, systems and policy knowledge, with advocacy experience in state education policy and in Sacramento, including knowledge of and relationships in the state legislature, governor’s office and state agencies. Applicants must have outstanding relationship building skills, exceptional communication skills (written, verbal and interpersonal), excellent project management ability, and the ability to collaborate effectively and flexibly in a fast‐paced environment. Candidates should be positive and solution‐oriented, with a high level of integrity, strong work ethic, a deep commitment to racial equity, and a firm belief in Children Now’s mission to improve the health, education and well‐being of all children.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Under the primary supervision of the Senior Managing Director of Education and Government Relations, set goals, develop strategies, conduct policy and advocacy work to advance Children Now’s comprehensive early childhood and early elementary school agenda;
  • Manage specific early learning policy projects, both in collaboration with other policy staff and as project leader, including contributing to project planning and strategy, and ensuring execution of deliverables;
  • Support strategy development of new early learning issue areas;
  • Represent Children Now and build relationships with, and provide support for, government officials and local and state departments, funding partners, state and local partner organizations and other key constituencies;
  • Testify before policy‐making bodies and make presentations at meetings and conferences to advance policy and systems change efforts and to support engagement efforts of The Children’s Movement of California;
  • Working with policy, communications and development teams, lead the development and writing of grant proposals and reports; policy briefs, reports and presentations; and a range of other communications materials designed to elevate the importance of early childhood programs and supports;
  • Conduct email, phone and in‐person engagement efforts for specific informational or advocacy campaigns at the state, regional and local levels, including fast‐paced, quick turn‐around campaigns related to specific policy opportunities, particularly changes or actions in the political arena; and
  • Provide content support to other teams such as health policy, child welfare policy, research, communications and The Children’s Movement of California.


  • Extensive early education policy experience in California, with a preference for legislative experience;
  • Deep knowledge of early learning systems and policies and strong relationships in these fields; knowledge of health, social service and other early childhood systems and policies highly valued;
  • Knowledge of California’s political system;
  • Relationships with state‐level policymakers highly valued;
  • Ability to develop strong and effective working relationships with diverse and multi‐cultural constituencies ranging from Children Now staff, to government officials, to the media, to civic and community‐based organizations;
  • Exceptional written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills; Spanish language fluency a plus;
  • Excellent research, editing and writing skills, including non‐profit development and grant‐writing experience;
  • Effective multi‐tasking abilities and strategic and efficient time management skills;
  • Excellent project management abilities, including effective communication, and the ability to lead early planning and strategy development, incorporate a wide range of contributions of colleagues, partners and stakeholders, and manage multiple components and different stages of implementation;
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail;
  • Highly flexible with a positive attitude and a willingness to take on a range of assignments and to support multiple projects according to priorities;
  • Strong skills in the areas of technology (including MS Office), research, analysis and the use of social media; and
  • Graduate degree in public policy, education policy, public administration or related field is preferred.


Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. Generous benefits.

Application Process

Applications must include a 1) cover letter, 2) resume, 3) two to three page writing sample, and 4) three to five references.

Please submit your application materials to with attachments in PDF or Microsoft Word format only. Please include your name in the file name for all documents (e.g. g.smith – resume).

We do not accept phone inquiries regarding the position.

Applications are due March 29th, 2019.

Children Now is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to staff diversity. People of color are strongly encouraged to apply.