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Director of Government Affiars

First 5 Association of California
Alameda, California
Competitive benefit package and salary commensurate with experience
Closing date
Oct 1, 2021

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Position Overview

First 5 Association believes that all of California’s youngest children deserve to be healthy, safe, and ready to thrive in school and life. We are seeking a Director of Government Affairs is to help achieve that goal by advocating for public policies that support our mission. ( The position is instrumental in driving the development and implementation of our advocacy and engagement strategy. They accomplish this through building, growing, and deepening relationships with our local First 5 members, policymakers, governmental agencies and advocacy partner groups.  The Director of Government Affairs is an advocate, an activator, a natural motivator, and a clear communicator.  They are politically savvy and innately strategic, with the ability to advance big goals by identifying paths forward through smaller, actionable steps.  When they experience setbacks, they see it as an inspiring sign to review their approach, make course corrections, try creative tactics, and redouble efforts.

Successful Candidates:

  • Have a passion for children’s and family issues in a whole child, whole family framework.
  • Are deeply invested in policy and advocacy as levers of change to improve outcomes for young children and families, particularly those who face the most systemic barriers to opportunity.
  • Develop strategy for and offer insights into short and long-term approaches for advocacy impact.
  • Have a talent for synthesizing multiple issues, perspectives, contextual factors and considerations into a smart forward course of action.
  • Enjoy working collaboratively with partners and stakeholders with a range of perspectives and are effective at building and working in coalitions.
  • Are skilled at adapting their communication style and message in a way that authentically connects with the audience they seek to engage.
  • Have a knack for organization of large volumes of issues and information, project and deadline management, while maintaining composure and focus on overarching goals.
  • Want to be a part of a team that is collaborative, mission-oriented, hard-working, evolving and caring.



Key Responsibilities

Lead Advocacy Strategy

  • Lead, plan, organize, and coordinate all aspects of the organization’s government relations and advocacy work.
  • Develop political and policy strategies and positions to advance the Association’s strategic plan and policy goals at the state and federal levels.
  • Implement advocacy strategy to advance the Association’s state and federal budget, legislative and administrative policy priorities.  Advocate for the Association’s policy positions with the State Legislature and State Administration.  Build upon and expand existing federal advocacy efforts.   Work closely with lobbyists and political consultants.
  • Monitor, analyze, and track state and federal legislation and political developments, spearheading development of the Association’s position and response. 
  • Draft letters, comments, testimony and talking points and help plan legislative briefings and informational events for policymakers on key early childhood issues.

Build Relationships and Coalitions

  • Develop strong relationships with elected officials and policymakers, legislative and congressional staff, and key stakeholders and partners at the state and federal levels.
  • Represent Association in State Capitol.  Lead communications and advocacy efforts on Association sponsored bills, co-sponsored bill and budget items, and Association’s participation with partners in coalition joint advocacy work.
  • Partners with state agency First 5 California on joint early childhood policy advocacy efforts.
  • Participate actively and help lead early childhood policy coalitions. 
  • Represent the Association in a range of external settings and meetings.
  • Strengthen awareness in the policy realm of early childhood development policy issues and needs.

Lead Advocacy Engagement of First 5 Network

  • Working closely with local First 5 agencies throughout the state, inform, coordinate and mobilize local First 5’s participation in advocacy efforts to achieve the Association’s policy and government relations goals.  
  • Ensure timely and informative communications to members regarding the Association’s advocacy activities.  
  • Provide policy and political intelligence to the Executive Director, governing body, key committees, members and the team to inform and shape our policy and advocacy agenda and approaches.
  • Staff the organizational committee responsible for adopting positions on legislation and budget proposals at the state and federal levels. Analyze internal processes and recommend and implement procedural or policy changes to improve operations.
  • Lead planning and execution of annual advocacy days in Sacramento and Washington, DC.
  • Develop and coordinate the materials needed to effectively advocate the association’s budget and legislative positions.

Team Collaboration

  • Work collaboratively with policy, communications, and member engagement colleagues across the Association to develop and implement effective external advocacy strategies informed by policy research findings, field and member best practices, and recommendations emerging from local First 5 program and systems change initiatives.
  • Partner with internal colleagues to develop member service programs that help build the First 5 network’s advocacy capacity and effectiveness.
  • Maintain a collaborative, cross-functional, team-oriented approach and demonstrate leadership in the organization.


       Knowledge and Education

  • Knowledge of children’s and family issues strongly preferred;
  • Five plus years of experience working in the policy and advocacy arena (e.g., state legislature or administration, Capitol Hill, public affairs firm, trade association, non-profit policy and advocacy organization);
  • Bachelor’s degree or some college combined with equivalent experience;

          Skills and Capabilities

  • Demonstrated ability to work with government officials at the state and/or federal levels, preferably with experience in California;
  • Political advocacy and analytical skills; track record of sound judgment, problem-solving, and high decision quality in complex, multi-faceted situations and political environments;
  • Demonstrated ability to develop, recommend and execute advocacy strategies for accomplishing strategic policy and legislative objectives;
  • Demonstrated experience building partnerships and forging consensus among stakeholders; a proven ability to work in coalition;
  • Excellent communication skills and highly effective presenter, with the ability to convey complex concepts clearly, both orally and written;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, approachable, strong listening and synthesis skills, ability to maintain composure in a range of situations, acts with high degree of integrity and trust, dedicated to continuing to learn and grow professionally;
  • Ability to set priorities and manage multiple projects in a fast-paced, ever evolving environment;
  • Team oriented, collaborative with capacity to build strong peer relationships and work effectively on cross-functional issues and teams;

Location and Travel

  • Position may be located in East Bay Area or Sacramento. 
  • Some travel within California and to Washington, DC required.  For local/regional travel, valid California Class C Driver license and valid automobile insurance needed or the ability to utilize an alternative method of transportation when needed to carry out job-related essential functions.

The chosen candidate will join a ten-person team devoted to...

  • Making a difference in the lives of young children and their families in California, particularly those that face the most systemic barriers to opportunity;
  • Being strategic as we work toward long-term goals while maintaining responsiveness to member issues and nimble in navigating an ever-changing environment;
  • Growing our collective capacity to deepen our impact, take on new opportunities and challenges in the “what” and “how” of our work, and simultaneously be aspirational and pragmatic;
  • Intentional, thoughtful, meaningful collaboration;
  • Supporting individual and team learning and ongoing development;
  • Seeking to learn about and from each other’s backgrounds and experience and incorporate the fullness of each person’s talents and insights into our work together; and
  • Recognizing the importance of supportive relationships and the need to prioritize them inside and outside the workplace; making time for personal connections in the office, acknowledging challenges, and allowing people to share at their own level of comfort.

And an organization which….

  • Is in the process of developing a new three-year strategic plan to deepen our impact, advance our mission for young children and their families, and fully center our four core principles of a whole child whole family framework, equity, systems coordination, and prevention;
  • Focuses on the power of all 58 local First 5’s working together collectively toward shared goals to improve outcomes and opportunity for children and families while recognizing and honoring the strengths and expertise of local First 5’s work in their diverse communities; and
  • Is in the process of becoming more equitable, diverse and inclusive, taking actionable steps toward that evolving state of being.


It is the policy of First 5 Association to afford equal opportunity in all aspects of employment to all persons without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, physical or mental disabilities, color, marital status, sexual orientation or medical condition, or any other basis protected by law. This policy shall apply to all employees and applicants for employment, and extends to all phases of employment, including hiring, training, promotion, discharge or layoff, rehiring, compensation and benefits.

Please send cover letter and resume to   Applications will be considered on a rolling basis through September 30, 2021.


About the First 5 Association of California

In November 1998, the voters of California passed Proposition 10, the “Children and Families Act of 1998” initiative, also known as First 5, that levies a tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to provide funding for early childhood development programs. Proposition 10 provides funding for a First 5 state commission and 58 county commissions. The First 5 Association is a member organization that supports the 58 county commissions and works with our members, First 5 California, and many external partners and experts to advance programs, systems and policies to improve early childhood outcomes in California.

 Grounded in a whole child/whole family framework that advances equity, prevention and systems coordination, First 5 seeks to build comprehensive and integrated early childhood systems of care, with an intentional focus on Prenatal-3 during this critical stage of child development.   First 5’s policy framework aims to build State & Federal systems of care that proactively support the wellbeing of children and families and focus on those farthest from opportunity, recognizing the disproportionate impacts that poverty, systemic racism, COVID-19, and natural disasters have had on communities of color and low-income communities.

The Association’s 2021 key strategies and goals are rooted in our vision, mission and principles and the recognition of the importance of responsiveness in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic that has deep short and long-term impacts on young children and their families, the resulting economic recession that has hit low-income and black and brown families the hardest, and increased societal recognition of the need to address racial injustice and the inequities faced by California’s youngest children.  Our 2021 policy agenda is focused on advancing policies and systems change that help build resilient families, improve comprehensive health and developmental outcomes for our youngest children, improve early learning systems, access and outcomes, and increase sustainability and scale of early childhood systems and infrastructure.

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