Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) is a 501(c)(3) statewide organization that supports greater educational options through parental school choice. According to EdChoice, North Carolina and about 30 other states now offer families opportunities to participate in publicly-funded school choice programs―through private school tuition scholarship programs (vouchers), tax credit scholarship programs, individual tax credits or deductions for education expenses, grants for students with disabilities that offset the cost of tuition or other expenses or education savings accounts (ESAs). Hundreds of thousands of students across the country benefit from these school choice programs. Additionally, North Carolina has provided an environment for public charter school growth.
Overview of the Organization
Founded in 2005, PEFNC’s mission is to educate parents of the benefits of expanded educational options and empower them to exercise freedom in meeting their children’s needs, regardless of race, national origin, income or religion. PEFNC envisions an education system that maximizes parental choice because children have unique needs and parents should have the freedom to choose the best education to meet those needs.
Between 2014 and 2016, PEFNC’s annual operating budget was approximately $1.7 million. Overseen by a statewide Board of Directors comprised of seven members, PEFNC employs eight full-time staff members (including the President position), eight part-time parent liaison specialists and several consultants and lobbyists. In addition, Partners for Education Freedom in North Carolina (Partners) is an affiliated 501(c)(4) advocacy organization that concentrates its efforts on public policy at the state and local levels. Partners shares office space, staff, and infrastructure with PEFNC, reimbursing PEFNC for proportional expenses at approximately $200,000 annually.
Overview of Programs and Supports
In addition to its relentless advocacy on behalf of parental school choice and educational freedom, following is a representative list of programs and supports provided by PEFNC to North Carolina families:
- Parent Liaison Team (PLT) – Parent Liaison Team members, who hail from regions all over the state, connect with parents across an array of platforms and venues to share information, stories, and PEFNC resources, ultimately to empower parents to utilize the state’s school choice programs.
- Outreach for Private School Choice Programs – PEFNC works closely with the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority to support families awarded one of North Carolina’s three state-sponsored scholarships to help identify the most appropriate school for their child.
- NC Schools Around Me – PEFNC maintains a web application which enables families to learn more about the school options near their home.
- NC School Accelerator – The Accelerator equips education leaders in both public charter and private schools with tools to design effective educational programs and strengthen community partnerships to start and sustain high quality schools in rural communities.
Since its founding, PEFNC has been exceptionally well-led by Darrell Allison, its former President who recently joined the American Federation for Children to become its National Director of State Teams and Political Strategy. Brian Jodice, PEFNC’s Executive Vice President, is serving as the Interim President, while a three-member Search Committee of the Board of Directors completes its search for a new leader.
Strategic Opportunities and Challenges
As it transitions to new executive leadership, PEFNC and its President will face the following opportunities and challenges:
- Navigating PEFNC’s first leadership transition in its history, ensuring that existing external relationships are transitioned to the new President, so the leader is quickly identified as the public face of PEFNC and well-positioned to sustain the organization and grow its impact.
- Working collaboratively with the Board of Directors and the staff to determine an expanded strategic vision for PEFNC, one which identifies new leadership opportunities in the education sector to complement PEFNC’s expertise and successes to date regarding school choice.
- Expanding the organization’s fundraising base beyond a core of long-term national and local funders, many of which have supported PEFNC since its founding.
- Maintaining PEFNC’s reputation as the most credible voice for school choice in North Carolina, and ensuring the organization maintains its commitment to nonpartisan advocacy on behalf of children and families.
- Stewarding the board as it increases it membership and engagement, while also providing greater fundraising support to the professional staff than it has historically.
- Managing effectively and efficiently the daily operations of a mission-driven, $1.7 million nonprofit, while empowering a team of dedicated and accomplished professionals committed to education reform and school choice.
Profile of the Ideal Candidate
PEFNC offers prospective candidates the opportunity to lead a very well-regarded, state-wide, mission-driven and influential nonprofit committed to school choice in North Carolina, one with a remarkable history of effective advocacy and legislative accomplishments.
- Bachelor’s degree required; master’s degree preferred
- Minimum of five years of senior management experience
- Knowledge of or prior commitment to education reform, school choice and/or school quality preferred
Skills and Experience
School Choice Champion and Advocate
As a mission-driven nonprofit committed to school choice, the President must be a relentless advocate on behalf of parents and families to ensure they have the freedom to choose the best educational options for their children. The President must be a compelling, poised, intelligent, influential and professional leader who can sustain PEFNC’s credibility as the most prominent voice for school choice in North Carolina. Deep knowledge of the school choice movement and/or the educational or political landscapes of North Carolina is desired.
Networker and Political Influencer
The President must be a consummate and politically astute networker, eager and able to build and sustain deep and purposeful relationships with parents, legislators, government officials, educational leaders, donors and the public. The President must connect equally well with diverse audiences, listen intently to their issues and concerns and work collaboratively to find common ground amongst constituencies with disparate opinions and political perspectives to build consensus, influence legislation and develop other champions of the movement.
Visionary Strategic Planner
Under new leadership for the first time since its founding, PEFNC seeks a President who is forward thinking and able to develop and articulate a clear, impactful and sustainable vision for the organization as it enters its next stage of development. The ability to honor past successes and practices while challenging the status quo; experience in inclusive, strategic planning processes; and a personal commitment to continuous institutional improvement are desired qualities in the next President.
The President must be able to lead and execute a broad-based fundraising program across a range of funders, including foundations, government agencies and individual donors. Working collaboratively with the Vice President of Development and Operations, expanding the donor base beyond long-term funders and engaging the Board of Directors more intentionally in fundraising are key priorities for the leader.
Skilled Communicator and Passionate Presenter
The ability to serve as the credible public face and vigorous spokesperson for PEFNC is a key quality sought in a President. In this capacity, the leader must listen intently, speak persuasively and passionately and respond effectively to promote school choice and PEFNC’s legislative agenda throughout the State and to all audiences.
Empowering Team Builder and Manager
The President must be committed to empowering, coaching, developing and supporting a strong and committed professional team within a collaborative and supportive institutional culture. The President must hold staff accountable to high expectations and encourage all to make bold and informed recommendations that will collectively contribute to achievement of PEFNC’s strategic vision. Experience in remote staff management is helpful.
As the agency’s chief executive and administrative officer, the President will be responsible for overseeing the organization’s operations, finances and staff, working collaboratively with the Executive Vice President to efficiently align and maximize resources to achieve PEFNC’s strategic goals. The new leader will also serve as the primary liaison to the Board of Directors to engage all members in effective governance and to determine the strategic opportunities for PEFNC under new leadership and within the evolving education landscape.
This search is being managed by John Tarvin of Claremont Consulting. Please submit your resume and a cover letter with salary requirements, where you learned of the position and a description of how your qualifications and experience match PEFNC’s needs.
All submissions are confidential, and only fully complete submissions will be considered. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Salary is commensurate with experience, within the framework of the organization’s annual operating budget.
PEFNC is actively seeking to build a diverse and experienced staff. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, handicap, age, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin. We are an equal opportunity employer.