Senior Director of External Affairs

  • Newark, NJ, USA
  • Full-time
  • Hiring Start Time: Immediate Start (Home Office)
  • HO Team: External Affairs

Company Description

Uncommon Schools is a nonprofit network of high-performing charter public schools that are closing the academic achievement gap and preparing students from historically underserved communities for success in college and beyond. Uncommon currently manages 55 schools serving more than 20,000 students in six cities: Boston, Camden, New York City, Newark, Rochester, and Troy. Uncommon graduates persist in and graduate from college at rates far higher than their peers. We believe that every child deserves an outstanding education, and we are committed to working beyond the walls of our schools to achieve that goal through our professional development workshops, books, and district partnerships. 

Job Description

Team & role overview

The Senior Director (SD) will play a meaningful role in leading all external- and community-facing work for their specific region! The SD will work to advance Uncommon’s reputation and influence as a leading charter management organization in Newark. They will build support for our schools by demonstrating a deep understanding of the community and ensuring that Uncommon Schools is working as effectively as possible with key external partners. They will work closely with the Associate Chief Operating Officer, who coordinates school operations and the central External Affairs (EA) team at Uncommon’s Home Office, as well as other leaders within Uncommon. The SD will report to the Senior Director of External Affairs and will supervise an External Affairs Manager.


We are seeking a mission-aligned, high-energy, relationship-focused and community-embedded leader who will build the strategic plan for Newark's external affairs, and build deep and positive relationships with school, regional, and external community members and partners (e.g., parent leaders, community leaders, elected officials, school Board of Trustees, charter authorizers, other charter leaders)! Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Management of External Affairs & Partners

  • Regional advocacy and government affairs
  • Plan and execute elected official engagement strategy, including handling high-level key relationships, supporting the team to deliver on initiatives and strengthening relationships with elected officials (e.g., school visits, community projects, meetings)
  • Leading all aspects of execution of a parent advocacy strategy and successful coalition-building to support Uncommon Schools and education reform interests, and lead and implement Uncommon advocacy initiatives within the regional context (e.g., Get Out the Vote campaigns, voter registration, parent advocacy & organizing, etc.)
  • Supervise local, state and federal policy as it relates to K-12 education and charter schools, and advise and make recommendations to internal partners regarding policy implications for Uncommon Schools in Newark.

Board management

  • Serve as the key owner and liaison for the regional Board of Trustees, including long-term relationship management and facilitation of all board meetings and sub-committee meetings
  • Other high-level external relationships
  • Partner with the central Uncommon External Affairs team on Uncommon Impact work related to supporting our district partnerships
  • Implement, and run a system for school tours/visits by external partners
  • Plan for and support all other high-stakes regional relationships (e.g., district leaders, fellow charter sector leaders, local coalition leaders, etc.)

Strategic Design & Execution

  • Partner with Newark and Home Office leaders to build and implement a robust external strategy
  • Lead strategy for all charter and governance compliance, including handling authorizer relationships, running the charter application and renewal processes and ensuring adherence to all relevant governance policies and procedures;
  • Resolve and drive strategy for core initiatives/relationships, including: relationship with local school district(s) and implementation of district/city policies; supporting student recruitment

Teamwork & Team Management

  • Work seamlessly with regional and organizational leaders, especially around projects involving school implementation and Board management
  • Partner with External Affairs, Development, and Media/Marketing teams and use organizational resources for the region
  • Act as an outstanding role model as a leader and manager, investing deeply in supporting and developing team members and growing their capacity to learn, chip in and engage in the work of the team and organization
  • Develop and handle a budget for board-related and community engagement expenses in the region.
  • Establish team and individual staff goals that add to organizational objectives
  • This position will manage 1FTE



  • 6-8 years of substantive work experience with growing responsibility in external affairs in a non-profit and/or educational setting.
  • Ability to build effective strategic plans and project lead to execute on that strategy.
  • Excellent relationship- and coalition-building skills and ability to move and communicate seamlessly and optimally among and between multifaceted audiences
  • Proven experience in navigating and using high-stakes relationships and to get to mutually beneficial outcomes.
  • Experience and background in the community, professionally or personally
  • Ability to serve as an effective ambassador for Uncommon Schools
  • Ability to thrive in a fast-paced, high-change organization; flexible; able to work autonomously as well as take direction as needed.
  • Excellent organization, time management, and follow-up skills; ability to prioritize and demonstrate a focus on efficency.
  • Ability to navigate within ambiguity and successfully drive decisions given current context and desired outcomes

Travel Requirements

This role requires local travel around the region as well as multiple overnight trips to the State Capital each year, as well as occasional travel between Uncommon regions.


  • Strong commitment to the organizational mission.
  • Bachelor’s degree required

Additional Information

Uncommon Schools offers salaries commensurate with experience and a very generous benefits and vacation package. All staff members receive extensive professional development, and are equipped with a laptop computer and all necessary supplies.

Uncommon believes in the importance of being a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization that enables our students and staff to thrive. We are committed to building a talented team that reflects the diverse backgrounds and experiences of our students. At the same time, we work to ensure an inclusive community through creating a space for meaningful dialogue about issues of race and identity for our staff and students.  As an equal opportunity employer, we hire without consideration to race, religion, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status or disability.

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