Illinois Action for Children (“IAFC”), a local, state, and national leader in the early childhood care and education sector for over 50 years. IAFC programs, services, and advocacy improve learning and life outcomes for children and families, including reducing the effects of poverty. IAFC works to ensure that every child in Illinois – particularly those in need – have access to the necessary resources to succeed in school and in life.

Along with our mission, IAFC is committed to building and maintaining a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist culture. We are dedicated to this pledge through our hiring practices and our focus on creating a culture and environment where diverse perspectives, ideas, and identities are valued and integrated into our way of working and servicing our staff and clients . IAFC staff represent a wide diversity of racial, socio-economic, gender, religious, and national identities . We welcome all applicants who share our mission and vision to join us in our essential work.

Reporting at the Senior Vice President level, the VP of Public Policy, Research and Advocacy is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the public policy program . Develops and implements a strategic vision to improve public policies on early childhood education issues and builds organizational capacity at the grassroots level . The VP works with all other IAFC departments to integrate and advise on public policy and advocacy aspects of the work they do . Serves as a key representative for IAFC with multiple constituencies, including other nonprofit organizations, foundations, state agency staff and leadership, statewide, county, and local elected officials . All work is to be completed with minimum supervision and in accordance with organizational standards.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES included but not limited to the following. The organization reserves the right to add to, delete, change, or modify the essential duties and responsibilities at any time.

  • Assess statewide early education and childcare needs in consultation with various groups including but not limited to; IAFC Public Policy advocacy network membership, collaborating organizations, government agency staff, parents, childcare professionals, public administrators and research institutions.
  • Oversee department planning, implementation and evaluation of annual goals, objectives, and activities.
  • Lead development of public policy and advocacy initiatives and propose IAFC positions on legislative and administrative policy issues for approval.
  • Initiate and maintain IAFC relationship with appointed or elected public officials/policy makers.
  • Collaborates with Organizational Advancement to secure federal, state, and philanthropic funding. Identifies funding to support program development, PPRA work and supports proposal development. Writes technical proposals or oversees their development.
  • Builds and coordinates the Sylvia Cotton Center for Policy Innovation’s growth.
  • Ensure that policy, advocacy, and research work consider racial disparities and is informed by broad, deep, and diverse knowledge networks.
  • Represent IAFC in negotiations on policy formulation and implementation.
  • Position IAFC as a leader in collaborative relationships with organizations and coalitions relating to early childhood/education and related issues.
  • Market program issues to various audiences; serve as media spokesperson on public policy issues, promote media presence in coordination with the Communications department.
  • Recruit, recommend for hire and supervise direct reports, oversee department staff; provide staff training, and in coordination with direct reports, establish work plans and evaluate progress for department.
  • Conceptualize and implement project development and overall program growth; draft program proposals and budgets for administrative approval. Work with direct reports to monitor ongoingly, the financial health and future needs of the program. Administer department budget, recommend program specific items.
  • Prepare written program, data and financial reports as required by contract, agreements, and agency reporting needs.
  • Interface with other IAFC programs for integrated community assessment and service. Ensures the integration of program, research, advocacy and public policy initiatives.
  • Execute our workplace core capabilities of accountability, customer focus, continuous quality improvement (CQI), communication, competent people and clear priorities.
  • Other Functions: The organization may assign other functions to the job at its discretion


  • Responsible for providing strategic direction to a major segment of the organization. Formal responsibility for planning, assigning, directing, and managing the work of the Public Policy, Research and Advocacy division. Provides supervision and direction to direct reports.

QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS: To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required.

EDUCATION and/or EXPERIENCE: Master’s degree and six to ten years related experience and/or training. Persuasive speaker as well as writing and editing skills are essential. Must be able to present to a variety of audiences.


  • This position is required to be in Springfield frequently during legislative session.
  • Work under high stress situations for extended periods of time
  • Experience working with collaborations and diverse stakeholders
  • Ability to work productively as a member of an executive-level team

Location: Uptown neighborhood, Chicago, IL

Benefits of Working at IAFC:

  • Working with passionate team members that are driven by our Mission: Illinois Action for Children is a catalyst for organizing, developing and supporting strong families and powerful communities where children matter most.
  • We strive to foster and implement a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion across our organization. We know it is not only critical to the success of diversity initiatives – but instrumental in creating an unbiassed and inclusive workplace! It not only relates to the diverse clients we serve but also creates a positive employee experience.
  • We offer an extensive benefits package that adds value to your total compensation. Our benefits include:
  • Health, dental and vision insurance plans with company contribution of 95% for single coverage
  • 401k with company match
  • Generous PTO – first year-23 days, the second year-28 days, the third year and on – 35 days
  • 11 Paid Holidays and 1 Floating Holiday
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Flexible Spending Account
  • STD & LTD insurance
  • Company paid Life Insurance

Illinois Action for Children is EEO/M/F/V/D employer

As established by the Illinois Action for Children Board of Directors, all employees are required to receive a vaccination against COVID-19, unless a medical or religious reasonable accommodation is approved. If offered a job, the candidate must be able to prove that they have been vaccinated with one of the CDC-authorized vaccines, including either Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson / Janssen or request and be granted an accommodation before their start date.