Colorado Education Association

Colorado Education Association

Executive Director

Based in Denver, CO


CEA is the state’s largest public education employees union, representing nearly 40,000 public school employees across the State of Colorado, and is affiliated with the 3 million-member strong National Education Association. Recognized across the state as the authoritative voice on public education. Through its organizing work, CEA and its members use their collective voice to ensure the schools that all Colorado students and educators deserve.

The Association’s membership is comprised of PreK-12 teachers, other K-12 certificated staff, education support professionals, higher education faculty members, students enrolled in teacher education programs, and retired educators, making CEA the most inclusive and powerful voice of educators in the state.

The Executive Director is the Association’s chief administrative officer and manager who leads a staff of 62, which includes 5 Managers, 5 Confidential Staff, and 52 Bargaining Unit Staff, in coordination with the CEA President to ensure implementation of the full scope of the strategic plan, policies, procedures, and programs approved and adopted by the CEA Board of Directors. In collaboration with the President and Officers, the Executive Director develops and manages an annual organizational budget and is accountable to the Board for the long term financial and fiscal health and sustainability of the Association. The Executive Director works with labor, community, political and other partners to advance the goals of the Union.

The Colorado Education Association (CEA) seeks a strategic, motivational, articulate leader for the position of Executive Director. The Executive Director works in partnership with the Association's governance and staff to provide operational leadership for CEA to fulfill CEA’s mission “to work collectively to provide the best public education for every student.” Our Executive Director must have the vision, integrity, adaptability, skills, and experience to assist in the pursuit of this mission.

CEA is at an exciting point in its history as it moves through its vision for the 21st century and toward an expanding recognition as the preeminent advocate for and champion of public education in Colorado. Within a broad mandate to lead in this transformation, the Executive Director must face and embrace several interrelated opportunities and challenges:

Work in partnership with elected officers and Board to provide visionary leadership that is committed to engaging members as empowered activists. CEA will require continued focus on internal capacity building in the interest of growing and strengthening the membership by addressing member needs that demonstrate the power and value of union membership. CEA has an opportunity to cultivate a new generation of education leaders and increase organizational relevance to continue to build and grow the power of the union.

Experience collaborating with a union workforce. The Executive Director must have knowledge of applicable federal and state laws and of the administrative rules that regulate labor organization operations. Their experience must include both collective bargaining negotiations and implementing vendor contracts on behalf of large unionized workplaces.

Model a leadership style that supports diversity and professional growth and that creates an environment where governance, management, and staff are empowered to achieve CEA's mission. The Executive Director must establish strong, trusting, mutually supportive relationships with each stakeholder group in a complex environment with multiple priorities.

A champion for public education. The Executive Director must demonstrate a commitment to unionism and improving the lives of working people through collective action. They believe in and will be a strong advocate for educators owning and directing their profession, and are committed to promoting diversity, equal opportunity and social justice.

Encourage political action and strengthen external relationships to influence legislation that results in pro-public education policies and proper implementation that align with CEA’s mission, vision and core values. The Executive Director must directly and indirectly maintain effective relationships and partnerships with other educational, labor and business organizations, and with the governor, state legislature, and other government officials and their staffs.

Exhibit a clear understanding of how local, state and national politics affect public education. It is important for the Executive Director to maintain awareness of current issues and challenges in public education and the increasing global implications of education reform and privatization efforts. The Executive Director is responsible for working with the Board to ensure that the necessary resources are provided to enable CEA members to claim their place at the table and to ensure that members receive support in establishing genuine partnerships with schools, districts, and state leaders.

Respect and respond to the demands of a member-directed democratic and empowered environment, and ensure that decisions are made and action is taken. While working under the direction of the Board, the Executive Director exercises sound judgment and accepts the responsibility to act decisively when appropriate and engage staff in moving the organization forward.

Member Focus
A leader who values public education and is focused on member needs. Someone who believes in member engagement, trust, and loyalty, and who is committed to fostering strong relationships between CEA and its members. An experienced leader who has successfully demonstrated the ability to implement high quality programs and services that bring value to members. Demonstrated experience using data to identify additional ways to offer value to members’ professional practice and careers. An influential leader who understands membership and is able to expand market share, has effectively led innovative strategies, programs, initiatives, and policies designed to attract and increase new membership. Proven ability to create collaborative relationships and partnerships with local, county and state governments, as well as community groups and organizations.

Strategic Planning and Execution
Documented experience in leading organization-wide efforts in planning, implementation, process improvements, innovation, financial management and building high performance work teams. A record of executive leadership in strategic planning that required significant organizational change, including experience utilizing reliable methods to ensure accountability and timeliness in the execution of strategic goals and objectives. An individual who possesses the ability to juggle multiple projects with clear priorities and to articulate the connections between the big picture and specific action plans and timetables.

Leadership. A public education advocate who understands the central role educators play in leading change in their profession. Proven record of organizational leadership marked by a passion for education. A visionary leader who has confidently engaged others to identify and work toward common goals. Capable and willing to voice respectful and effective dissent when and where appropriate.

Evidence of success in achieving desired outcomes when leading organizational innovation and change. A nimble leader, who is capable of learning while leading, exercised political savvy and flexibility in adapting to changing political/organizational realities.

A demonstrated ability to manage effectively in a unionized environment. An organizer with a solid grasp of the appropriate role that staff play in building member power. Has a demonstrated, successful record of attracting and motivating highly talented staff and is highly skilled at coaching and mentoring others. Proven success in building and/or maintaining coalition partners.

Interpersonal Effectiveness
An effective communicator who has excelled in building successful relationships. An established record of fostering teamwork and consensus, effectively managing conflict, provoking creative problem-solving, and necessary risk-taking, and is inclusive of diverse individual and cultural perspectives. Has an ability to inspire trust and communicate sound reasoning in an authentic and persuasive manner. Must be a leader who is who is able to develop networks, leverage diversity and build internal and external alliances across boundaries to support strategic relationships and achieve common goals.

Desired Experience

  • A minimum of 3 years of middle or senior management experience in positions of responsibility in education, labor/union advocacy, public policy, nonprofit leadership, or other related fields.
  • A belief in the central role of unions, and unwavering support for organized public education.
  • Must be a lifelong learner who supports structures for staff's ongoing professional development.

Bachelor's degree from an accredited four-year college or equivalent work experience.

This is an exempt, confidential position with a salary range of $170,000 to $190,000 based upon prior experience and qualifications. A fringe benefits package is provided including health, dental, vision, life insurance, 401(k) plan, and paid sick, personal, and vacation leave.

To be considered for this position, please provide the following:

  • A current résumé reflecting your qualifications for this position.
  • A Letter of Application that specifically addresses how your career accomplishments have prepared you to meet the challenges and opportunities presented in this position.

All materials must be sent electronically to NEA-Colorado Search Consultant: Unionsearch.org
Patricia Johnson, Business Manager: patjohnson@unionsearch.org

For confidential inquiries, questions, salary information, or to schedule a call, please email Patricia Johnson.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: January 5, 2024, at 5:00 pm (EST.)


WHEN APPLYING: Be sure to indicate that you saw this information at UNIONJOBS.COM.