Director - Center for Racial, Social & Economic Justice

Washington Education Association
Position Announcement


Director - Center for Racial, Social & Economic Justice


Federal Way, Washington

May 2021

Open Until Filled

The Washington Education Association is committed to a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace where the contributions of each employee are respected as part of the work performed on behalf of 90,000+ WEA members in public education. WEA embraces employees with varied backgrounds and life experiences, including race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical ability, and veteran status.  Only those candidates who can commit to promoting diversity, equity and inclusiveness need apply.

About the Washington Education Association

The Washington Education Association, as part of the National Education Association, is an educator union representing more than 90,000 plus certificated teachers and education support professionals. The Washington Education Association was founded in 1889 and is the largest representative of public school employees in Washington State.

It is WEA’s goal to build confidence in public education and increase support for Washington’s public school system. WEA is recognized as the voice of public educators in Washington, advocating for quality public education, working conditions, professional pay, and respect for those responsible for educating public school students, PreK-12, and two- and four-year higher education faculty and staff.

WEA’s organizational objectives include:

  • Increasing WEA members’ and employees’ professional status and job satisfaction.
  • Improving the quality of and access to public education for all students.
  • Ending institutionalized racism and bias in public education.
  • Increasing the participation of individuals from historically underrepresented groups in all aspects of WEA activities.
  • Forging partnerships with parents, business, other unions, and community groups.
  • Promoting a just and inclusive society with respect for the worth, dignity, and equality of every individual.

The structure and culture of the Washington Education Association

The structure: As mentioned previously, WEA is made up more than 90,000 members, organized by way of 290+ Local Associations, 22 UniServ Council Offices, and the WEA Headquarters. In terms of governing structures, the WEA Representative Assembly of more than 1100+ participants help sets the overall strategic direction for the WEA and works in conjunction with the WEA Executive Committee, and the WEA Board of Directors - a board made up of 85+ WEA member-leader volunteers from around the state. 

From an operational standpoint, the WEA employs 180+ bargaining unit and non-bargaining unit staff and management assigned to WEA HQ, and our field operations (UniServ Council—a staffing model made up of WEA-assigned staff and Council governance). Current WEA departments and centers include: The Advocacy and Organizing Center, the Legal Department, the Communications Department, the Accounting Department, the Center for Education Quality, the Government Relations Department, Human Resources, Information Technology and Facility Departments. 

The culture: As with any organization seeking to implement a racial, social and economic justice (RSEJ) framework, WEA has had both successes and challenges as this work has developed.  Among the many examples of achievements: drafting a new RSEJ-related mission and vision statement, adoption of WEA new business items related to and directing work associated with RSEJ topics, creation of a RSEJ cadre -- teaching classes on implicit bias, institutional racism, white supremacy culture, LBGTQ+ and other topics impacting BIPoC and historically underrepresented groups of people. A significant win for the organization was a WEA Board motion creating the development of a work team to develop the WEA Center for Racial, Social and Economic Justice.

The challenges have also been many, and it is not the intent of the WEA in this position announcement to suggest otherwise.  WEA, like every organization, is immersed in white supremacy culture.  This has meant that RSEJ-related change has been difficult, including some strong resistance at times to RSEJ initiatives and decisions.  Likewise, there has been conflict, differences of opinion, and other institutional roadblocks. Although this work is exciting, it is also difficult as candidates can imagine.

WEA is positioned however, to make significant progress on our RSEJ-related journey and we firmly believe that the creation of the Center of Racial, Social and Economic Justice is a step in the right direction. WEA believes it not only has the talent made up of members, leaders, staff and management to address RSEJ challenges, but also the overall commitment and focus to be successful.  We are seeking a Director to join us in this journey.


The Center for Racial, Social & Economic Justice

The development of the WEA Center for Racial, Social and Economic Justice (RSEJ) began in the Fall of 2020. Although WEA has a demonstrated history of success in the areas of racial, social and economic justice, the WEA Board of Directors determined that we needed to explore the creation of a center to help coordinate the work across the organization and to accomplish RSEJ-related goals and objectives within the Washington State public education system.

The WEA Director of the Racial, Social, and Economic Justice Center is responsible for strategic leadership within the Washington Education Association, managing and supervising the organization’s elimination of systemic racial, social, and economic systems of oppression and ending the foundational culture of white supremacy.

The development work is just beginning and the ideal candidate, working with key constituents including members, leaders, staff and management, will help create a structure that encourages equity as an outcome.

More specifically:

The purpose of the Center is to work collaboratively within WEA to examine, develop, and implement policies, processes, and structures necessary to create systemic changes that dismantle institutional racism and white supremacy culture in the union through the lenses of racial, social, and economic justice.

 


Position responsibilities include (but are not limited to)

  • Complete the development and implementation work associated with the creation of the WEA Center for Racial, Social and Economic Justice.
  • Direct the overall strategic direction and operation of the RSEJ Center, working with key stakeholders to implement RSEJ-related goals and objectives.
  • In conjunction with managers, as well as elected leadership, create and oversee the implementation of the Association’s racial, social, and economic strategies.
  • Examine, develop, implement, and direct various strategies in collaboration with the WEA Representative Assembly, WEA Board of Directors, WEA committees and work teams, staff and management in the areas of racial inequities, social injustices, economic disparities, and address racial bias and white supremacy culture in the organization and within public education.
  • Seek collaborative conversations with other WEA Centers and Departments for consideration within the framework for RSEJ; participate in and help lead work associated with an external equity audit of the WEA’s structure, governing documents, processes, resource allocation and decision making.
  • Act as an effective change agent and organizational development advocate, helping to inspire and motivate action in the areas of RSEJ.
  • Help establish partnerships within public education, labor partners, communities of color and historically underrepresented groups of people to achieve RSEJ-related goals and objectives.
  • Effectively collaborate and communicate to create systemic solutions to RSEJ-related challenges, while building effective working relationships across the organization.
  • Organize constituents while helping to lead, direct, and encourage change in the organization.
  • Develop, implement, and direct strategies to address and resolve conflict in the areas of RSEJ.
  • Formulate, execute and oversee the budget and staffing resources for the RSEJ Center within the context of overall WEA budget development and adoption.
  • Direct and manage bargaining unit staff within the RSEJ Center.
  • Facilitate teamwork/collaborative work and transparent communication through established trust; serve as liaison to the NEA Governmental Relations Team; assist and participate in national, state, and local labor actions as necessary.
  • Effectively implement a high degree of diplomacy given the complex nature of and unique challenges related to the removal of systemic internal systems of racism and other identified oppressions; possess the ability to assess WEA policies, procedures, and norms applying a racial, social, and economic lens; craft recommended solutions and implement corrective action to further organizational justice.
  • Demonstrate a high degree of interpersonal skill-building related to maintaining cooperative workplace relationships; collaborate regularly with Directors to assess current departmental processes identifying disparities and effectively communicating the appropriate resolution.
  • Ability to use sound judgment with decision-making and apply rational solutions to potentially highly sensitive situations.
  • Demonstrate extensive knowledge of racial, social, and economic justice currently and maintain ongoing relevancy within the field.
  • Establish the RSEJC as the example of a just and inclusive culture with respect for worth, dignity, and equality. 

Essential functions, job requirements and/or preferences

The WEA is open to the consideration of a wide variety or combination of skills, experience, education, talents, aptitude and abilities to meet the essential functions, requirements and/or preferences of the position.  In some cases, WEA may provide growth and development opportunities for candidates who may not currently possess some of the identified qualities, through on-the-job training or similar concepts. It should be noted that the hiring process at the Washington Education Association and for this position are expected to be highly competitive and that the preferred candidate will be selected using a process grounded in equity. Essential functions and job requirements include (but are not limited to):

  • Strong knowledge and experience in racial, social and economic justice issues and topics.
  • Strong understanding and experience in developing techniques and approaches to fight organizational and/or systemic racism, bias and white supremacy culture.
  • Strong understanding or experience addressing economic disparity, supporting living wage campaigns, and/or income inequality; experience in or strong understanding of unionism, the labor movement, and the associated relationships with racial, social and economic justice issues.
  • Ability to lead work associated with an equity audit, including making recommendations related to addressing inequities in governing documents, policy, process, procedure, and structure.
  • Ability to lead, manage and direct the strategic operation of the Center for Racial, Social and Economic Justice.
  • Ability to learn the organizational structure and culture of the WEA.
  • Ability to collaborate, develop consensus, and effectively manage conflict on the individual and organizational level.
  • Advocate for, develop and manage a center budget of approximately $1.1 million.
  • Ability to manage staff in a work environment where the staff are unionized.
  • Ability to effectively communicate across the organization, provide reports in small to large settings, draft messaging and correspondence.
  • Implement change management and organizational development techniques to help drive and develop a racial, social and economic justice framework in the organization.
  • Ability to organize, advocate, inspire, lead and collaborate with stakeholders in RSEJ-related work.
  • Establish and maintain cooperative work-place relationships with governance, colleagues, staff, community and labor partners, vendors, and other stakeholders as needed.
  • Ability to understand emerging thinking, philosophy and approaches to addressing racial, social and economic justice work in organizations.
  • Strong understanding or experience with union advocacy and organizing.
  • Ability to effectively use technology and data to make recommendations to stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated history of and/or experience working with communities of color and/or with historically underrepresented groups to enhance civil rights; experience with union activism and/or political engagement on behalf of civil rights issues.
  • Respected within the racial, social, and economic justice communities as a leader with a proven track record of work is strongly preferred; experience in confronting problematic situations which may generate conflict and possess the skills to initiate problem-solving in seeking resolution; experience in facilitating/mediating difficult and sometimes controversial situations. 
  • Ability to initiate, organize and implement a comprehensive and multi-faceted plan using effective project management techniques and skills.
  • Ability to successfully work, communicate with, and support diverse individuals and groups who often have competing priorities or interests.
  • In conjunction with managers, as well as elected leadership, create and oversee the implementation of the Association’s racial, social, and economic strategies.

Job preferences may include (but are not limited to):

  • Experience working in a non-profit, labor or educational setting performing similar work.
  • Racial, social and economic justice experience with training, conference presentations, published articles, etc.
  • Mediation and/or other conflict resolution knowledge and/or experience.
  • Experience in recommending solutions in order to better support members and staff with racial, social, and/or economic disparities.
  • Experience with building stronger engagement with members of color and historically and currently marginalized groups.

Compensation and benefits

This full-time opportunity offers the ability to make a significant impact within the Washington Education Association and on communities across the State on behalf of Washington State educators. This exciting and difficult role offers a competitive base salary ($170,000 - $180,000  per year) as well as medical, dental and vision benefits, and a generous retirement savings plan. Specific benefits include an employer-paid comprehensive group health insurance package for individual and/or family (medical, dental, vision, flexible spending accounts, and life insurance); an employee pension plan; a 401(k) plan into which the organization contributes 9% of your base salary; generous vacation, sick, and holiday paid time off; long-term disability plan, employee life and accidental death insurance; access to training and development funds, and other benefits.


Applications and nominations

For immediate consideration, please submit your application materials online (i.e., application, cover letter, resume, and list of three (3) references).  The reference information should include contact information and relationship to applicant. 

THIS POSITION WILL REMAIN OPEN UNTIL FILLED.

Important note:  When submitting your application materials online, select "Save as Draft" until you have all materials together and ready to be attached to the application and uploaded.  This will ensure your application materials remain together as a single submission.  If you experience any difficulties when submitting your materials online, please contact:

Karen Knight/HR Generalist/Mbr. Benefits
kknight@washingtonea.org 
253-303-1477 (direct)

Online application