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Association of Public & Land-grant Universities
Office of Urban Initiatives
Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU)
District Of Columbia
Posted: 09/24/2020
Executive Director, Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, and APLU Vice President, Urban Initiatives

The Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) are seeking a highly skilled leader who will serve both as the USU Executive Director (ED) and APLU Vice President for Urban Initiatives (VP). This full-time position will be based in Washington, DC, and will manage a team of five FTE staff members.

The ED/VP will be responsible for a dynamic and extensive set of activities to advance and elevate the work of public urban serving universities. The incumbent is the senior strategic leader of USU, overseeing the implementation of current and future initiatives, including Frontier Set, Student Experience Project, Completion Grants Evaluation, 21st Century Skills Initiative, the Collaborative Opportunity Grant Program, health-related initiatives, WorkCred credentialing project, an emerging initiative on institutional racism and several proposals currently in development. USU has an organizational operating budget of $500,000 and a grants portfolio nearing $6 million.

The ED/VP will lead the development and implementation of the USU annual office strategy and workplan, including obtaining and implementing grants, oversee the USU budget and determine staffing allocations. The successful candidate will bring significant experience working in and across the urban university ecosystem, and will be well versed in the challenges and opportunities facing urban universities. USU is a president-led network, and thus, the successful candidate will be a national leader, known for their ability to successfully engage with and across university and urban leaders. Experience advocating for policy change at the local, state or national level is beneficial to this role.

The successful candidate will bring significant experience working on student access and success, engaging with university leadership, and specialized knowledge in one or more of USU’s priority areas of dismantling institutional racism, 21st century workforce, and social determinants of health.

Additionally, the ED/VP will have a track record of commitment to USU values including diversity, equity, inclusion, community engagement, and serving urban university students: who are often low income, first generation and/or students of color. The ED/VP will need to travel from time to time.

USU is a presidential network. Strong candidates will have worked on a campus and had leadership roles in a university or group of universities.

USU has grown its reach and impact in partnership with foundations and other funding organizations. It is essential that the successful candidate will have a track record of successful fundraising, including building and sustaining relationships with foundations, federal, and other non-government funding agencies. For more information about USU, please view

As noted, the incumbent also will serve as the Vice President for Urban Initiatives. As such, that person will be an integral part of the leadership team of APLU and will advise the association’s president and others on pertinent issues across APLU.


The Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) is a president-led network of approximately 37 public urban research universities working to drive transformational change throughout their institutions and the communities they serve. USU is 501 (c)6 organization with its own board, budget and members. USU works in permanent partnership with APLU, shares offices with APLU, and leads a joint urban agenda for the nation’s public universities, centered in the idea of the public urban university as an anchor institution for its neighborhoods. Its priority work areas are student success, health equity, 21st century workforce, and its newest priority -dismantling institutional racism.

is a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With a membership of 246 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, 's agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 5.0 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $49.3 billion in university-based research.

The responsibilities of the ED/VP include:

  • Manage USU and serve as an APLU Vice President, helping to drive the goals for both organizations, overseeing the successful implementation of USU’s multi-project portfolio and leading the development, operationalization and implementation of an annual USU strategy and workplan.
  • Supervise all USU staff, interns and consultants, providing training, coaching, mentoring, and identifying professional development opportunities as needed.
  • Design, develop and cultivate new programs in alignment with USU’s mission and goals and secure funding to support them. Serve as USU and APLU’s representative to a variety of donors (foundations, government agencies); cultivate and manage new relationships with donors.
  • Proactively maintain relationships with member universities.
  • Work with the USU board to develop and implement a plan to increase USU membership.
  • Oversee the USU budget and determines dues, staffing and project allocations in partnership with the USU Board.
  • Support the USU Chair, Executive Committee and Board of Directors including developing meeting agendas, staffing meetings, managing annual budgets, collecting dues, recruiting and retaining members, overseeing all USU communications, board nominations and designing annual meetings.
  • Collaborate with other APLU VPs to help ensure the effective implementation of the association’s strategic plan and annual objectives.
  • Perform other duties to advance the work of USU and APLU.

Required Qualifications

  • Significant experience in management, project planning and implementation, as well as collaboration within or across universities and organizational partners, and can demonstrate having produced positive impacts for students.
  • Experience and success in student access and degree completion work.
  • A commitment and successful record in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and desire to expand USU work in this area.
  • Track record of building and sustaining relationships with donors and obtaining grants.
  • Effectively develops and maintains excellent working relationships with diverse partners and constituencies.

Strongly Preferred Qualifications

  • Demonstrated ability to work both independently and collaboratively. Track record of effective staff management and advancement.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently, establish priorities and exercise sound judgment in response to complex and sensitive situations.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills. Possesses exceptional presentation skills; has spoken on national level concerning higher education and/or urban issues.
  • Some knowledge of public urban universities and their anchor mission.
  • Experience with one or more of the following areas: dismantling institutional racism, 21st century workforce and social determinants of health.
  • Innovative and entrepreneurial leader.
  • Exceptional skills in program development, design and management.
  • Person of integrity and emotional intelligence.
  • Exceptional organizational skills; able to juggle multiple responsibilities simultaneously.
  • Strong commitment to internal and external university-community engagement.
  • Experience planning events and collaborative activities. Excellent session design and facilitation skills.
  • Masters or terminal degree (eg Ph.D, Ed.D, JD).
  • Commitment to the work of USU and APLU.
  • Ability to partner with APLU Government Affairs to advance appropriate government policy.

To Apply

Please send a cover letter and resume to APLU’s Human Resources Department at with the subject line: ED/VP USU & APLU. Applications will be reviewed as received, with preference given to those received by October 23, 2020.

Salary will be commensurate with experience and qualifications, starting at $160,000. APLU offers an excellent benefit package.

APLU is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is committed to recruiting, employing, training, compensating and promoting staff regardless of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. Read more about APLU’s Commitment to Diversity here.