Oregon Education Association

Oregon Education Association

Executive Director

Based in Portland, OR


The member-led Oregon Education Association (OEA) seeks a highly motivated, collaborative and influential leader for the position of Executive Director. The Executive Director will work in partnership with the Association's governance and staff to provide administrative leadership for OEA to fulfill the vision of OEA of “improving the future of all Oregonians through quality public education.”

The Oregon Education Association (OEA) is a union that represents approximately 41,000 education professionals working in pre-kindergarten through community college in public schools. An affiliate of the 3-million-member National Education Association (NEA), OEA’s membership includes licensed teachers and specialists, education support professionals (ESPs), community college faculty and support professionals, retired educators, and student members.

Founded in 1858, the OEA is the largest advocate in Oregon for public education and educators. For over 150 years, OEA’s focus has been to promote quality public education, advocate for the professional interests of public education employees, and shape policies that affect public schools. Recognized across the state as the most inclusive and powerful voice of educators in Oregon, OEA offers programs and services to its membership that are aligned with its core values: Collective Action, Collaboration, Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity, Social Justice, Lifelong Learning, and Democracy. Member programs are delivered through the OEA Union School and the five centers: Great Public Schools, Public Affairs, Advocacy and Affiliate Services, Business and Finance, and Legal. The successful candidate for this position must have the vision, integrity, adaptability, skills, and experience to assist and guide OEA in the pursuit of its mission: to unite the public education profession and advocate for those professionals to ensure quality public education for students in Oregon.

OEA is a democratic organization that is governed by the OEA Board of Directors, which is chaired by the OEA President. OEA members are elected to serve on the Board by fellow Association members in 27 districts across the state. Two statewide officers (OEA President and Vice President) are elected biennially by member-delegates attending the OEA Representative Assembly. Member-delegates are elected by Association members in locals across the state and set the policy of the organization at the annual OEA Representative Assembly (OEA-RA).

OEA has 248 Local Association affiliates that bargain contracts with support from OEA UniServ staff.

OEA is headquartered in Portland, Oregon and employs the Executive Director who manages 5 Associate Executive Directors, 3 Directors, 48 Professional and 35 Administrative Bargaining Unit Staff as well as 3 Non-Bargaining Unit Confidential Executive Assistants. Staff work out of the headquarters office or one of the 14 statewide UniServ field offices.

The Executive Director is the Association’s chief administrative officer and management agent who leads the staff, in coordination with the OEA President, to ensure implementation of the full scope of policies, procedures, and programs approved and adopted by the OEA 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. Working with OEA Governance, the Executive Director helps identify, create and implement strategic plans to actualize business objectives. The Executive Director provides general supervision of the real property owned by the Association.

Candidates should possess high emotional intelligence, excellent judgment and creativity, with a proven record of strategic leadership, which include formulating objectives and priorities and implementing long term interests of the OEA.

OEA seeks a dedicated champion for public education with demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of working people through collective action. One who believes in and will be a strong advocate for educators owning and directing their profession with a commitment to promoting diversity, equal opportunity racial and social justice. Must be able to create, engage and nurture stakeholders to achieve a desired objective. An innovative, nimble leader who can learn while leading and has the flexibility and adaptive mindset to adjust a changing world.

The OEA Executive Director’s responsibilities include:

  • Institutional Leadership – exercise inclusive and decisive leadership to advance the mission and vision of OEA;
  • Long Range Planning – maintain focus on the strategic goals and priorities established by systematic and strategic planning processes;
  • Stewardship of Financial Resources – provide oversight and necessary due diligence to ensure the financial health of the Association;
  • Organizational Effectiveness and Accountability – drive for continuous improvement utilizing data and measurement processes to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of OEA programs and services;
  • Public Education Advocacy – champion public education in Oregon, including building collaborative relationships between OEA and external stakeholders in order to shape the highest professional standards for state and federal education policy;
  • Organizational Structure - manage and improve processes within the existing, predominantly local-option organizational model to maximize accountability, create clarity around roles and responsibilities, and foster collaborative decision making;
  • Staff Relations – build and nurture effective and appropriate labor/management relationships with OEA’s two staff unions, which includes regularly and effectively evaluating state affiliate employees.

The Oregon Education Association is at an exciting point in its history. Historic investments in Oregon public education through the Student Success Act give tremendous opportunities to Oregon students and educators. OEA leads with our members and our state partners in creating a public education system that addresses the systemic racism and inequities that have created disproportionate outcomes for our students, especially Black, Brown, Indigenous students of color, students experiencing poverty, students with special needs, and so many more. OEA’s ability to connect with new hires under Oregon’s 2019 HB 2016, which expanded union collective bargaining rights, is a tremendous opportunity for organizing. Within a broad mandate to lead transformative work within our union and in public education, the Executive Director must face and embrace several interrelated challenges:    

OEA has the opportunity to continue existing and new outreach with education, business and other public and private sector partners and community coalitions in support of quality public education and equitable opportunity for all students.

Encourage political action and strengthen external relationships to influence legislation that results in pro-public education policies and proper implementation that are aligned with the OEA 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. In 2019, OEA led and won Oregon’s Red for Ed campaign, securing the passage of a two-billion-dollar biennial investment in public schools through the Student Success Act. The Executive Director is tasked with creating plans to ensure the new revenue is expended appropriately.

Work in partnership with elected officers and Board to provide visionary leadership that is committed to engaging members as empowered activists. OEA’s ongoing focus on organizing will require continued internal capacity building in the interest of growing and strengthening the membership by addressing member needs that demonstrate the relevance, power and value of union membership.

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

Communicate clearly across OEA’s structure to help break down silos of information and help move the organization in a strategic direction.

Cultivate a culture of member engagement and growth in the face of the current COVID-19 crisis and post COVID.

Foster a culture of organizing in which members are engaged and mobilized to grow and strengthen their local associations to improve student outcomes, secure the proper teaching and learning conditions, and achieve educational opportunity and equity for all students, educators and education support professionals.

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 so that OEA members can claim their place at the table and are supported in defining true partnerships¬ with school, district, 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 officers and Board, the Executive Director recognizes and embraces the responsibility to act decisively and engage staff in moving the organization forward.

Work to align the staff and membership to serve local affiliates and strengthen relationships between the field and headquarters. OEA's organizational focus strives to unify and empower members to develop strong and effective local affiliates, to provide resources and leadership for professional growth, and to advocate for public education and public education employees.

To be considered for this position, the applicant must be prepared to share and validate a record of personal achievements in the following competency areas.

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 among OEA and its members. An experienced leader who has successfully demonstrated the ability to implement high quality programs and services that brings value to members. Demonstrated experience in using data to identify additional ways to offer value to members’ professional practice and careers. Ensures that the OEA stays vibrant and relevant as the education landscape and the demographics of the workforce continue to evolve. An influential leader who understands membership and can expand market share, has effectively led innovative strategies, programs, initiatives, and policies designed to attract and increase new membership. An established leader with the ability to drive member engagement and to increase member retention.

Leadership. A public education advocate who understands the central role educators play in leading change in their profession. Proven record of senior 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, and who has shown organizational savvy and flexibility in adapting to changing political/organizational realities. Past success in leading significant campaigns and projects.

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, retaining and motivating highly talented staff and is highly skilled at coaching and mentoring others. Has success in building and/or maintaining coalition partners.

Interpersonal Effectiveness/Communication. Must possess the ability to foster and maintain healthy and mutually beneficial professional relationships across the organization. An effective communicator who has excelled in building successful partnerships. Has an established record of promoting teamwork and consensus, effectively managing conflict, provoking creative problem-solving and risk-taking, and is inclusive of diverse individual and cultural perspectives.

Strategic Planning and Execution. Documented experience in leading organizational 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. Strong ability to delegate but resists the urge to micro-manage. Specific evidence that reveals past approaches to work that demonstrate personal prowess in assessing benefits and risks toward a goal of creating strategic advantage. An ability to juggle multiple projects with clear priorities and to easily articulate the connections between the big picture and specific action plans and timetables.


  • A minimum of 5- years of middle or senior management experience in positions of increasing responsibility.
  • In depth knowledge of corporate governance principles and managerial best practices.
  • Background in labor advocacy and collective bargaining experience desired.
  • Experience working in a member-based organization, reporting to and advising an elected board of directors.
  • Experience in public policy, labor advocacy, collective bargaining and social justice activism, especially as related to public education is desired.
  • Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited four-year college or university and a record of life-long learning, including recent professional development work. Advanced degree preferred.

OEA is prepared to offer a generous and competitive salary and benefits package consistent with experience, skills and demonstrated abilities.

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

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

All materials must be sent electronically to the following:

Unionsearch.org, Margolies Potterton & Associates, LLC
Patricia Johnson: patjohnson@unionsearch.org
For all questions regarding this search, including confidential inquiries, please contact:
Patricia Johnson (Central time zone)
972-824-3750 (Central time zone)

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