Overview of the Opportunity

Our new Senior Consultant will be invited to join the Effective Organizations and Investments team, one of three operational “home teams.” We are especially interested in candidates with experience working in more than one area of the education sector (e.g., philanthropy, state agencies, school districts, nonprofit organizations, technical service providers) and with demonstrated expertise in any of these areas: strategic planning; grantmaking; and/or local or state policies that better align P-20 system policies or practices to increase student success. Candidates should bring a network of relationships in the field, as well as strong project management and team leadership skills, and be excited to support a variety of organizations at the local, state, national and federal levels to advance systems change.

About Education First

Education First is a mission-driven education policy consultancy dedicated to ensuring that all students – and particularly students of color and students experiencing poverty – are prepared for success in college, careers, and life. We work with organizations that are shaping the future of P-16 education across the nation, including school networks and districts, state departments of education, policy and advocacy organizations, youth empowerment organizations, talent organizations and foundations. 

We help these system leaders catalyze change through our services:

  • Conduct research and analysis on policies and provide contextual recommendations and strategic support to translate findings into concrete, sustainable action
  • Develop and implement visionary, coherent strategies and strategic plans by prioritizing inclusive voices, focusing on the right problems, and providing space to explore
  • Plan and facilitate meaningful convenings for organizations and individuals to learn, problem solve, collaborate, and advance their work
  • Design actionable and equitable solutions that meet client needs, achieve program goals, and implement initiatives with clarity and quality
  • Support grantmakers, funders, and foundations to develop thoughtful, high-impact investment strategies that align with their goals, interests, and resources

We are a team of more than 60 former teachers, district and state education leaders, policy advisors, and grant makers who live and work virtually in more than 20 states and DC. Because of our experience, we approach the challenges our clients face with humility, realistic solutions, and a commitment to follow-through. Our culture is built on genuine care for our clients and for each other. We celebrate original thinking, collaboration, entrepreneurialism, authenticity and fun. 

Our Equity Commitment

We recognize that in order to pursue our own organizational mission at Education First, we must approach our work by studying gaps and inequities, asking tough questions about structural racism and more deliberately engaging diverse voices in problem-solving. We’ve been building our own skills to deliver solutions that center racial equity, with particular attention to equitable ways of thinking and working, and we are committed to helping our clients do the same in projects that have a goal of increasing equity at their core. Within Education First, we have committed to building a race equity culture – creating the conditions to adopt antiracist mindsets and actions.

 We believe:

  • Black lives matter. We are collectively responsible to amplify and support Black students, families and leaders.
  • People are experts in their own experience. We cannot effectively support our clients to problem solve and innovate without centering the people they aim to serve.
  • Racism and inequity were designed, and can be redesigned. People make up the systems, policies and processes that govern our experience, and we must support our clients to explore their role in reimagining what could be possible.

 For greater detail about our Equity Commitment, please visit our website.

Primary Responsibilities

Senior Consultants direct the overall work of client engagements, managing project teams and client relationships and ensuring on-time, high-quality deliverables. The primary responsibilities of all successful Senior Consultants at Education First include:

  • Discern client needs, develop trusting relationships and manage complex and challenging engagements involving senior executives in some of the nation’s leading school systems, states and organizations.
  • Understand root causes, design with and for people most proximate to the problems and deliver equitable, effective and innovative solutions to address client challenges.
  • Develop and execute on project work plans according to client needs and budget constraints; adapt these plans to reflect changes in project requirements while adhering to the budget and meeting client goals and deadlines. 
  • Oversee successful projects, including building capacity in and advising clients, and ensuring that project deliverables meet our excellence standard, including research plans, strategy and program documents, policy memos, briefs, status reports, interim reports, technical reports, presentations, abstracts and manuscripts.
  • Build and lead inclusive project teams on which members experience positive professional growth and where constructive feedback is regularly shared and accepted.
  • Confidently and respectfully advise, communicate and co-plan with clients, senor organizational leaders and field leaders; develop relationships with high-profile clients in the education field and support district, organizational and state teams that may include CEOs, foundation grantee leaders, chief state school officers, district superintendents and other stakeholder group leaders as well as key implementation leads and educators.  
  • Utilize expert facilitation skills and understanding of adult learning principles to design and facilitate effective client meetings and internal project team meetings, and to coach other team members to design, present and facilitate client and team meetings.
  • Contribute considerable knowledge about research findings, federal, state, and local policies and effective practices in current education reform areas.
  • Aim for $250,000 in sales (or mission-aligned projects) per year (not required but strongly encouraged;. Education First staff are rewarded for projects they help sell through the firm’s generous sales bonus program).

Experience & Qualifications

  • 10+ years designing, implementing and/or advocating for successful education policies designed to improve P-20 education outcomes for young people, in settings including education reform organizations, foundations, governor’s offices, state boards/departments of education, or major school systems/school networks.
  • In particular, we are especially interested in candidates with demonstrated understanding, experience and content expertise in one or both of these issue areas: (1) cross-system or aligned K12/postsecondary/workforce pathways, policies and programs (state or community level) that improve student outcomes; (2) policies, organizational efforts or grantmaking efforts that prioritize equitable opportunities and outcomes for diverse student populations–at the high school or postsecondary level.
  • 5+ years of strong, inclusive project management experience, including demonstrated ability to juggle several complex projects at once, develop work plans, maintain project budgets, manage risks, and meet deadlines and targets.
  • Experience leading and coaching organizational teams and leaders–at public agencies, philanthropies and/or nonprofits–in strategy development, theory of change articulation and/or evaluation.
  • Professional experience working for change from at least two different vantage points in the education sector (e.g., philanthropy, state agencies including state departments of education and governor’s offices, school districts, nonprofit organizations, technical service providers).
  • Experience helping to design public or private grantmaking strategies or grantmaking efforts, develop and review RFPs or grant applications and/or evaluate grant portfolios.
  • Ability to synthesize complex ideas from technical literature and qualitative research into a clear storyline for reports and presentations; ability to identify the key and relevant “so what” findings and advice for clients from data and research.. 
  • Strong client management, communications and relationship-building skills and experience. 
  • Experience working collaboratively in diverse team environments that require strong interpersonal skills and high emotional intelligence.
  • Ability to write clearly, concisely and in a professional tone.
  • Facilitation experience with a range of stakeholder groups and clients.
  • Skill at building well-organized and compelling client-facing PowerPoint presentations.
  • Bachelor’s degree (required). Advanced degree in public policy, public administration, business, education or a related field, or equivalent experience (preferred).

Who You Are

  • You are committed to the vision of a more equitable education system in the U.S., including a willingness to examine the role of privilege, structural barriers, and inclusion in changing the trajectories of students furthest from opportunity.
  • You are a strong, inclusive project manager.
  • You have a history of bringing varying groups of stakeholders together to help them seek strategic common ground.
  • You are self-motivated and results oriented.
  • You can lead through ambiguity to create clear structures that deliver high-quality results to clients.
  • You take initiative to resourcefully solve problems while anticipating and adjusting for the unexpected. 
  • You take ownership of your own development and derive satisfaction from supporting others to grow professionally.
  • You provide and receive feedback with ease.
  • You lead by influence – establishing open lines of communication and understanding and including the perspectives of others.

Location, Travel & Compensation

The Consultant will primarily work from home but is expected to travel for in-person client meetings as needed (roughly 20-30% of the time) once it is safe to do so from a public health perspective. 

Education First offers a market-based competitive salary, comprehensive and generous benefits package (including PPO health insurance, six weeks of paid time off/holidays and extended leave), work-life flexibility and professional development opportunities. The salary range for this position is $104,000 – $152,000 (with 20% of the offer supplemented by local market trends if that market is higher than the national market). We typically set initial starting salaries between the minimum and the 25th percentile of the pay range ($104,000 – $116,000) to ensure there is room for growth over time. Exceptions can be made for significantly more-experienced hires (e.g., if the position requires a minimum of 10 years of relevant experience, and the selected finalist has more than 18 years of relevant experience, or if the specialized skills demanded for the role and the market analysis recommend a higher starting salary).


We are excited to receive applications from a broad range of applicants as we grow our team to better reflect the diversity of the communities our firm is committed to serve. Enthusiastic candidates should apply online to submit their resume and their responses to each of the following prompts within the application portal, in lieu of a cover letter:

  1. What brings you to Education First and what knowledge and skills would you bring to Education First to advance our work in the Effective Organizations & Investments areas of focus?
  2. Tell us about a time when you were responsible for managing resources (e.g., people, time, money) for a project. What resources adjustments did you make? How did you communicate forecast updates?
  3. Tell us about a project that you managed that involved overseeing others’ work. How many people were on the project team and what were your responsibilities in relation to the other project team members? What challenges came up during the project and how were they addressed? What was the final result of the project?
  4. Education First is committed to RIDE (Race, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity) principles in how we operate internally and our work with clients. What are your reflections on how our RIDE commitment is reflected in your own personal values?

We do not expect you to spend a lengthy amount of time completing each question. Instead, we are looking for succinct responses (no more than 1-2 short paragraphs per question). Please submit all completed application materials by May 14, 2021. 

We plan to conduct screening interviews on a rolling basis and share performance tasks with select candidates by late April. Interviews with top candidates will occur in May. Ideally, we’d like our new Senior Consultant to start in June. Please, no phone calls, emails or other inquiries.

Pleae apply here: https://recruiting.myapps.paychex.com/appone/MainInfoReq.asp?R_ID=3550220 

Education First actively engages our team with a robust Race, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (RIDE) strategy to build our staff and organizational capacity to lead on issues of equity and to increase diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels of the firm. As a proud equal opportunity employer, we strongly encourage applications from candidates of all races, national origins, ages, religions, creeds, veteran or disabled statuses, sexual orientations, gender identities or gender expressions.