Director of Human Resources & Employee Engagement

  • Higher Achievement
  • Washington D.C., DC, USA
Human Resources

Job Description

Higher Achievement, a nationally acclaimed nonprofit organization working to close the achievement gap for motivated, yet underserved students from low-income communities, seeks a Director of Human Resources & Employee Engagement (DHRE). The DHRE is responsible for employee engagement and retention; training, development, and support for managers; hiring and onboarding; and HR operations and employee relations. This position reports to the COO, and is a member of the org-wide Leadership Team. This is a particularly exciting time to join HA: We have just launched a two-year literacy-based Covid-19 Recovery model intended to address the learning loss that has occurred during the Pandemic. The majority of our program staff are new, and many of our program leaders have recently been promoted. There is great momentum around the new curriculum and model and all of the new staff. The DHRE will be key in helping to onboard and develop our staff – and helping to create the organizational structure and systems that keeps staff engagement and success at the center of our work. Ideal candidates will see staff engagement as a strategy to accomplishing our mission with our students. 
Higher Achievement made a concrete commitment to racial equity, diversity and inclusion following the murder of George Floyd: Higher Achievement aims to be an anti-racist and inclusive organization where we aggressively work to improve equity and inclusion in all aspects of our organizational culture and operations.  For the past year these efforts have been led by our DEI Council, which includes one peer-nominated member of every department and city affiliate; the Council works with executive leadership and an external consultant to lead a range of organization-wide DEI initiatives including training staff, assessing equity blind spots, and supporting the Council and Leadership Team in strategy development and implementation of equity-focused initiatives.  At present, we are recruiting for our first Director of DEI to fully embed this work into the day-to-day operations of the organization.  The DHRE and the Director of DEI will work hand in hand.  
The Human Capital Team consists of: COO (filled), DHRE (vacant), Director of DEI (vacant), Senior Manager of Human Resources and Operations (filled), and Human Resources Coordinator (vacant) 
The DHCM has two direct reports: The Senior Manager of Human Resources and Operations and the HR Coordinator. 
The current HA team consists of approximately 60 full-time staff across four offices in three cities, with approximately 30 part-time, seasonal staff hired to support program operations each school year. 
Our Mission:  
By leveraging the power of communities, Higher Achievement’s proven academic model provides a rigorous year-round learning environment, caring role models, and a culture of high expectations, resulting in college-bound scholars with the character, confidence, and skills to succeed. Higher Achievement’s model delivers academic enrichment grounded in social justice principles. Our afterschool program for 5th-8th grade scholars combines small-group, high-impact tutoring with social-emotional skill building, culminating in placement in college preparatory high schools. 
​The Organization 
Higher Achievement, founded in 1975, closes the opportunity gap during the pivotal middle school years. By leveraging the power of communities, Higher Achievement’s proven model provides a rigorous year-round learning environment, caring role models, and a culture of high expectations, resulting in college-bound scholars with the character, confidence, and skills to succeed. Higher Achievement’s model delivers academic enrichment grounded in social justice principles. Our afterschool program for 5th-8th grade scholars in Washington, DC, Alexandria, VA, Baltimore, MD, Richmond, VA, and Prince George’s County, MD combines small-group, high-impact tutoring with social-emotional skill building, culminating in placement in college preparatory high schools. More information about Higher Achievement may be found at:   
Key Duties and Responsibilities by Role Element: 
Serve as the org-wide: owner of Staff Engagement  
Support org-wide communication, developing and supporting execution of quality communication related to recurring and one-off messaging (org-wide emails & surveys, meeting frameworks and content, hiring opportunities and decisions, key decisions, etc.) 
Lead work to engage teams across cities/departments (during the virtual period and in our going forward hybrid work arrangement model) including formal (within and across departments, including department meetings and emails, retreats, etc.) and informal (e.g. culture building). This also includes helping to design the annual org-wide All Staff Retreat. 
Develop and lead initiatives towards skill development, professional development, retention, and promotion of current staff 
With support from the Senior Manager of Human Capital and the Director of DEI, ensure that all open positions at HA have a clear, equitable hiring, transparent hiring process, and that all staff members involved with the hiring process are appropriately trained 
Direct team efforts to ensure that all new hires (external and internal) have robust onboarding experiences towards feeling welcomed, well-trained, and well-supported to be successful in their new roles 
Lead the annual org-wide survey on staff engagement (content and execution, analysis and recommendations, and communication with staff) 
Lead efforts to digest and learn from themes collected from staff feedback opportunities, including onboarding check-ins, skip-level mid-year check-ins, performance reviews, and exit interviews 
Ongoing support of staff in a virtual/hybrid work environment: innovation, best practices learning & application to promote both flexibility and cohesion as we continue to navigate a new paradigm of work 
Partner with Director of DEI to put our racial equity goals into action: 
Evaluate all human capital policies and practices through the lens of racial diversity, equity, and inclusion 
Rewrite the organization’s Policy Manual  
Pioneer a professional development program  
Engage in ongoing compensation and rewards analysis 
Support with staff training as needed related to policy and practice updates (e.g. related to hiring and onboarding) 
Embedding our newly articulated Core Values* in our practices and using them as a tool for staff engagement, culture building and organizational cohesion: 
*Scholar Centricity, Racial Equity, Voice and Inclusion, Power of Community, and Striving for Greatness. 
Serve as the owner for all staff management practices and systems:  
Facilitate the training and coaching of new and existing managers: Follow & build off of The Management Centers’: Managing to Change the World Philosophy  
Evolve org-wide management processes and norms to align with current org-chart, priorities, and systems 
Provide support and coaching of managers through management challenges  
Design and direct the annual review process and interim processes e.g.  90 Day Review, mid-year skip level retention conversations 
Direct all day-to-day HR Operations and Employee Relations 
Serve as Benefits Administrator for all organizational benefits 
Liaise with Finance Team on execution of bi-weekly payroll 
Maintain responsibility for organizational compliance with all Federal, State and local laws, and reducing organizational risk related to these laws: 
Ensure the consistent application of Higher Achievement procedures and policies across staff 
Identify and project managing to address  training gaps creating unnecessary or high risk for the organization  
Lead on all Employee related legal and logistical considerations related to Covid-19 
Direct use of HR technology including HRIS (Zenefits), Applicant Tracking System (Paycom), and other systems (SharePoint, Mind flash, etc.) 
The duties listed above are intended only as illustrations of the various types of work that may be performed. The omission of specific statements of duties does not exclude them if the work is similar, related, or a logical assignment to the position. 
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 
Commitment to the mission and work of Higher Achievement 
Minimum of 8-10 years of overall experience preferred, with a minimum of 3-5 years of progressively senior Human Resources experience required 
HR Legal and compliance background and proficiency gained through experience and/or education, including ability to work in a multi-state landscape (e.g formal certification, degree or training in HR) 
An understanding of foundational practices related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and how to approach HR work with a DEI lens. Preference for candidates who have helped lead DEI efforts.  
Experience with staff management required, including a preference for candidates with direct staff management responsibilities as well as experience coaching managers through performance management and employee development 
Ability to build relationships and interact with and relate to a diverse set of stakeholders, including through in-person and virtual interactions 
Ability to adapt to change and maintain a flexible mindset 
Ability to take initiative and to be able to work independently once given general instructions 
Strong skills in planning, organizing, attention to detail, and written and oral communication  
Strong skills in technology required, including use of Microsoft Office Suite and Zoom  
Compensation and Benefits: The salary range for this regular, full-time, exempt position is in the low 100s, based on relevant experience. Higher Achievement offers competitive benefits, including: company-paid insurance (medical, dental, vision, life, and long and short-term disability insurance); twelve paid holidays; five weeks paid time off; retirement plan with company match.  
Physical Requirements and Work Environment: Work is regularly performed in an office environment. Employee may spend long periods of time sitting, standing, and walking. Must be able to walk from one part of the worksite to another and climb stairs. Employee regularly lifts, carries, and positions objects weighting up to 20 pounds. Position involves regular use of a computer and keyboard, telephone, and face-to-face communication in small and large group settings with adults; employee must be able to communicate clearly and professionally in all of these situations. Employee must have visual, auditory, and physical ability to respond quickly to critical incidents involving students and act in an emergency situation.  
Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. 
Location: This position can be within commuting distance of any of our city locations: Washington DC Metro Area, Baltimore, MD Metro Area and Richmond, VA Metro Area.  
Covid-19 Update: 
As of November 2021, Higher Achievement remains a mostly virtual work environment outside of offering our in-person school based programming. Once our offices are able to more fully re-open, all staff will be able to work within a hybrid arrangement with in-person time focused on mission critical activities and relationship building rather than an expected amount of time in the office. At that time, this position will be expected to spend some in-person time at all Higher Achievement offices a few times per year, with more time expected during the onboarding period. This will primarily consist of day travel. Covid-19 vaccination is required for all Higher Achievement employees. 
To Apply:  
Please send a resume. And, instead of a Cover Letter, please answer the following 4 questions (3-5 sentences each.) 
What compels you about Higher Achievement’s Mission? 
Please share an example of a time where you had to deliver challenging news to staff: (a) What was the news, (b) How did you approach the communication? (c) How did the news impact staff engagement?  (d) What would you do differently next time?  
In designing a program for young staff who are new managers, what would be the initial set of topics, strategies you would want to work with them on?  
Please share an example of a time you had to develop a policy: What was the policy? How did you apply the lenses of diversity, equity and inclusion into the process?  
Applications will be accepted until position is filled; interested applicants are encouraged to apply immediately. Please, no phone calls, emails or recruiters. 
Higher Achievement provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants without regard to race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, sex, gender identity or expression, age, medical condition, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, military status, caregiver or family status, political affiliation, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local laws.