Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) began 50 years ago as the Task Force for Children Out of School, investigating the exclusion of large numbers of children from Boston’s public schools. An ensuing report led to the first bi-lingual education and first special education laws in the nation. Since then, MAC has established itself as an essential child advocacy and education reform organization within the state. Its roles include:
• Primary organization protecting the educational rights of children with disabilities and their families.
• Statewide and national leader in the growing movement to create trauma-sensitive and safe and supportive schools, benefitting all students.
• Leader of a statewide coalition to reform school discipline laws.
• Leading statewide advocate to expand educational opportunities for children on the autism spectrum.
• Lead advocate in creating access to higher education statewide for students with intellectual disabilities and autism.
• Statewide support center in the civil legal aid network for children’s rights.
Overview of the Organization and Programs
Since its inception as the Task Force on Children Out of School under the leadership of founder Hubie Jones, MAC has played a critical role in the enactment of Massachusetts’ first special education law, which, in turn, served as the model for the first federal special education law, passed in 1975. To this day, MAC still employs the unique multi-strategic approach to advocacy pioneered by Hubie. Strategies include case advocacy; administrative and legislative advocacy; generating and publicizing reports on high-impact issues; coalition building; fostering empowerment of families, youth and community leaders; technical assistance and training; and, when necessary, litigation. MAC acts to hold public institutions accountable and prioritizes systems change in order to achieve the greatest impact for the most children. Simultaneously, through its Helpline, case advocacy and trainings, MAC works to ensure that the needs of individual children are met.
MAC’s major projects include:
• The Autism Center – Launched in 2002, The Autism Center works with partners and elected officials to create laws and regulations to ensure that children and young adults with autism spectrum disorders obtain the services and resources they need in order to reach their full potential. The Center works to empower parents to be a voice for their children by providing legal services, advocating for their children, and providing community workshops and online resources to help parents understand their rights.
• Children’s Law Support Project (CLSP) – MAC throughCLSP identifies and addresses otherwise untended legal needs of Massachusetts children from low-income families, particularly those needs related to education. MAC through CLSP also serves as the statewide support center in the civil legal aid network for children’s rights.
• Racial Equity and Access Project (REAP) – The overarching goal of REAP is to eliminate gaps in opportunity and achievement for Black and Latinx students in Boston, including those living in poverty, immigrant students, English language learners, and students with disabilities. The project’s primary focus is to disrupt the “school to prison pipeline.”
• School Discipline Project – Rooted in the passage of the Education Reform Act of 1993 and Chapter 222 in 2012, MAC’s School Discipline project focuses on school exclusion and the effects of zero tolerance policies and practices, particularly among students of color and students with disabilities.
• Special Education – As the leading voice on behalf of children with disabilities within the State, MAC conducts effective legislative, administrative and case advocacy, develops training curricula to empower parents and youth, provides technical assistance and representation to low-income parents, convenes statewide coalitions, and mobilizes parents and advocates to defend special education.
• Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI) – TLPI is a nationally-recognized collaboration between MAC and Harvard Law School. Its mission is to ensure that children affected by family violence and other adverse childhood experiences succeed in school.
• The Boston Special Education Transition Project (B-SET) – The goal of B-SET is to increase inclusive workforce and post-secondary education placements and opportunities for Boston youth with disabilities, of all types and severities, while enrolled in school and after exiting.
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, MAC is overseen by a volunteer board of directors, currently comprised of 14 community, legal and education leaders. MAC’s annual revenue is approximately $1.6 million. The organization employs approximately 20 staff members, fellows and interns, who work from its headquarters on Kingston Street in Boston and in Cambridge at Harvard Law School.
Strategic Opportunities and Challenges
The Executive Director will have the opportunity to guide this statewide leader, a nationally-respected and well-known advocacy organization with an exceptional track record of success on behalf of children and families. High priorities for the Executive Director include:
• Managing effectively and efficiently the daily operations of a nonprofit with a $1.6 million operating budget and approximately 20 staff members.
• Directing, inspiring and empowering a team of highly experienced, very dedicated and deeply committed legal and advocacy experts to ensure MAC remains mission-focused and builds on its impressive history of advocating for the equitable treatment of all students and families.
• Navigating MAC’s first major leadership transition since 2003, ensuring that existing external relationships are transitioned to the new Executive Director so that the leader is well-positioned to interact with and influence a broad range of constituencies, funders, coalitions, and partners.
• Expanding MAC’s fundraising program, involving the board of directors and volunteers to build capacity to cultivate and steward individual and corporate donors, while also leading the staff-driven project-based grant seeking from foundations and others.
• Informed by MAC’s recently-completed planning preparation, finalizing a strategic plan which aligns financial and staffing resources to achieve the identified priorities and determining gaps in capacity and alternatives for filling those gaps.
• Ensuring that MAC incorporates a racial and social justice lens into its existing and new projects as well as its general work environment and culture.
• Expanding MAC’s public messaging and presentation, while also creating greater connections across projects and expanding the organization’s technological platform.
Since 2003, MAC has been very well-led by Jerry Mogul, who will transition from MAC upon the hiring of the next Executive Director.
Desired Credentials/Profile of the Ideal Candidate
• Minimum of 5 years of results-driven leadership and operational/management experience, particularly in the legal community and/or non-profit sector
• Passion for and demonstrated commitment to social justice, access and equity
• Knowledge of city and state government would be advantageous
• Bachelor’s degree required; law degree and litigation experience preferred
Skills and Experience
Persistent and Knowledgeable Advocate for Children and Families
The Executive Director must be aligned with MAC’s mission to remove barriers to educational and life opportunities for children and youth. The leader must be a persistent, committed, confident and courageous advocate with specific knowledge and experience related to special education, equal educational opportunity, and/or education reform. Ideally, the leader will have the ability to understand and discuss complex and diverse issues at the intersection of education and legal services as well as work collaboratively with MAC’s senior staff to leverage their subject matter expertise.
Strong Communicator and Public Spokesperson
The Executive Director must be a consummate and passionate communicator, savvy networker and honest broker on behalf of MAC, able to communicate equally well with educators, legal experts, families, students, government officials and thought leaders. The Executive Director must be a compelling spokesperson and presenter to the media and others to grow interest in MAC’s causes and to energize partners, collaborators and influencers to advance those causes on behalf of children and families. The leader must be politically astute, skilled at partnering with educational and legal experts, able to listen well and able to be reflective and responsive while influencing others to support the policies and strategies for which MAC advocates.
Inspirational, Creative and Experienced Administrator
The Executive Director must be a personable, charismatic and dynamic leader who can inspire the staff, board and coalition partners to pursue a cohesive strategy designed to achieve MAC’s mission. In addition, as the agency’s chief administrative officer, the Executive Director must be a collaborative multitasker, able to oversee the organization’s operations, finances, and personnel, decisively and efficiently aligning and maximizing resources to achieve MAC’s strategic goals. The Executive Director also serves as the primary liaison to the board of directors to engage it in effective governance.
The Executive Director will have experience in and a strong desire to engage her/himself and others in fundraising to sustain existing donors and attract new ones. The ability to create a vision and strategy for a fundraising program aligned with MAC’s mission and financial needs is required, both expanding efforts to raise unrestricted funds by broadening the base of individual donors while also growing the project-based grant-seeking from private foundations and other institutional sources. The leader must be eager, poised and proactive in assuming the Executive Director’s role in fundraising, while working collaboratively with board members, volunteers and key staff members to plan and execute multiple fundraising strategies.
Empowering Teambuilder Committed to Social Justice and Equity
A skilled manager of staff, the Executive Director must inspire, develop and empower others, while generating trust and respect across the entire organization. The leader will need to champion issues of social justice, racial justice, access and equity in MAC’s projects, advocacy, and workplace in general. The leader must work in partnership with and value the contributions of a highly-committed, long-serving, experienced and respected staff. Displaying empathy and patience, the Executive Director must be an active listener, able to create a collaborative and mutually supportive culture and climate. The Executive Director must be a team player who holds him/herself and the entire organization equally accountable to high expectations.
This search is being conducted by TSNE MissionWorks with transition consultant John Tarvin. All submissions will be acknowledged and are confidential.
Please include a resume and a cover letter with salary requirements, information regarding how you learned of the position, and a description of how your qualifications and experience match MAC’s needs and mission. All submissions of candidacy will be accepted until the position is filled. Salary is commensurate with experience, within the framework of the organization’s annual operating budget.
MAC strongly desires to attract a broad and diverse pool of candidates to apply, particularly candidates of color and/or candidates who know and/or represent the constituencies for whom MAC advocates.