New England Board of Higher Education Senior Director, Policy and Research

Position Title: Senior Director, Policy and Research

Department: Policy & Research

Reports To: NEBHE President & CEO

Date: October 2016


Under the direction of the NEBHE President & CEO, is responsible for administering and directing all activities within the Policy and Research unit. Oversees the development and implementation of the organization’s policy and research activities, including; guiding the organization’s policy agenda and priorities; producing reports and analysis of salient policy issues, trends and developments affecting higher education and the economy in New England; engaging with key stakeholders and policy makers in the region to provide analysis, data resources, policy expertise and technical assistance.


Management and Coordination

1. Developing and providing strategic leadership to NEBHE’s Policy and Research unit. Working to expand the unit’s identity and capacity, while building a portfolio of projects, programs and relationships that support the growth and progress of the organization.

2. Manages, and coordinates the work of staff across multiple projects, activities, and functions within the unit.

3. Establishes unit plans and priorities, develops unit budget, allocates resources, and assigns staff to carry out unit activities. Establishes and defines standards of quality in unit activities and products and ensures that all standards, deadlines, and contract specifications are met.

4. Interviews, screens, select and recommends applicants for vacant positions within the unit and evaluates employee performance and makes recommendations for promotions, performance increases, or disciplinary action to senior management.

5. Advises the president and other senior staff on policy, program and administrative matters.

6. Organizes, allocates, and manages financial resources of the unit and recommends and oversees consultant subcontracts and other internal and external commitments of the organization's resources.

Research, Writing and Information Dissemination

1. Anticipates emerging issues and interprets unusual policy developments, assesses their importance to the states, institutions and legislatures, and initiates research, technical assistance or other appropriate unit efforts in response.

2. Develops policy resources, data and information, and best practice tools for institution leaders, state policy makers and the public.

3. Reviews, edits, and critiques the substance and quality of research and writing assignments of subordinate staff.

4. Manages, delegates or personally handles a wide range of research and writing tasks often involving sophisticated analysis, in-depth evaluation, and interpretation of political nuances.

Meetings, Consulting, and Technical Assistance

1. Directs and oversees primary NEBHE engagements with state stakeholders, including state higher education executive officers and other state higher education commissions and policymaking entities and their staff members.

2. Manages, delegates, or directs key meetings and seminars and coordinates the work of subordinate professional staff.

3. Plans, assigns, reviews, and coordinates complex, large-scale, multistate projects and technical assistance efforts, often requiring complex political judgments, a high degree of responsiveness to constituents, and a mature sense of organization priorities and concerns.

4. Works to serve in a consulting and technical assistance role to stakeholders, decision makers and policy makers in the region.

Organizational Support

1. Assigns, trains, directs, and manages the work of unit staff.

2. Identifies initiates, and develops resources to carry out the unit's activities and functions, including developing prospectuses and proposals for foundations and other funders.

3. Coordinates with other units and other organizations to develop proposals and demonstration projects to carry out activities that cut across unit lines.

4. Supports the development of other NEBHE meetings, conferences and events.

5. Advises NEBHE staff on research and evaluation methodologies for grant application and program purposes.

6. Manages, directs, and oversees the fundraising efforts of unit staff and personally handles most sensitive negotiations and high-level contacts with potential funding entities.

7. Maintains an extensive network of institution, agency, foundation, private sector, and interest group relationships with personal contacts at the highest level.

8. Staff and oversee the organization’s Issue Analysis and Research Committee and informs NEBHE president and staff of trends and developments affecting higher education and the economy in New England.


  • Maintains current knowledge of profession through peer association, review of literature, and attendance at meetings, seminars and continuing education related to duties and responsibilities.
  • Promotes and maintains positive relations for NEBHE.
  • Performs other related duties as required.
  • Prepares and submits department budget for approval; monitors expenditures in accordance with established policies and procedures.


  • Master’s or professional degree plus seven to ten years of relevant and progressive work experience are desired. The following work experience or some equivalent combination is preferred: four years of state policy or legislative experience, two years of professional policy experience in the assigned subject area, two years of project or research supervisory experience, and one year of management experience directing and allocating personnel and budgets in multiple projects or activities. A doctoral degree is strongly preferred.
  • Experience in developing unit initiatives, project ideas and new services, funding opportunities, and new resources.
  • Strong personnel supervision skills (i.e. planning, assigning, reviewing, and evaluating work) and budget and project management.
  • Substantial knowledge and technical expertise in higher education and mastery of major policy fields, as well as substantial knowledge of state legislatures and intergovernmental policy processes.
  • Strong knowledge of higher education finance and budgeting in states and higher education institutions.
  • Exceptional writing, speaking, research, analytic, and organizational skills.
  • Experience in working with state higher education executive officers and/or other state higher education commissions and policy-making entities.
  • Experience in working effectively with state legislators and legislative staff and dealing with politically sensitive constituencies.
  • Skill and competence in managing multiple projects and functions in a diverse environment.
  • Strong data analysis skills, with a background in statistics, policy analysis and research methodologies, as well as strong computer and technology skills.
  • An understanding of the roles and purposes of regional higher education entities, a knowledge of the New England Higher Education Compact and a strong commitment to the organization’s goals and mission.
  • Ability to help develop organizational-wide priorities and work cooperatively to support their accomplishment.
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks and to be detail oriented, recognizing organizational priorities and working cooperatively to support their accomplishment.
  • Travel to New England states (state capitals, colleges, universities).
  • Grant writing and fund-raising skills.
  • Ability to think strategically and to develop relevant and realistic plans, programs, and goals for NEBHE.


Supervises the Policy and Research team, including full- and part-time staff interns. Carries out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with NEBHE’s policies and applicable laws. Responsibilities include interviewing, hiring, and training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems.


  • Normal office environment, not subject to extremes in temperature, noise, odors, etc.
  • Regularly uses computer keyboard, requiring eye-hand coordination and finger dexterity.
  • More than half of time spent in normal office setting.
  • Carry; lift boxes of materials when traveling.

The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to do this job. The above is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all responsibilities and duties required.

*External and internal applicants, as well as position incumbents who become disabled as defined under the Americans With Disabilities Act, must be able to perform the essential job functions (as listed) either unaided or with the assistance of a reasonable accommodation to be determined by management on a case by case basis.


Interested applicants should submit:

  • Letter of introduction
  • Current resume or CV
  • List of five references

Questions or submissions should be sent via email (with documents in MS Word or PDF formats) to:

Phyllis Maguire
New England Board of Higher Education
45 Temple Place
Boston, MA 02111

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