First Things First
First Things First (Arizona Early Childhood Development and
Health Board) is one of the critical state partners in creating a
child and family‐centered, comprehensive, collaborative and
high‐quality early childhood system that supports the development,
health and early education of all Arizona’s children. Created by
voter initiative in 2006, First Things First is governed by a state
Board with 28 regional partnership councils. First Things First is
a decentralized organization that engages diverse constituencies to
accomplish its mission. Organizational values include a focus on
accountability, transparency, coordination, collaboration and on
the outcomes that will ensure young children start kindergarten
healthy and ready to succeed in school and in life.
First Things First is seeking a dynamic, visionary leader
capable of spearheading and managing a statewide early childhood
organization with budgeted annual expenditures of about $150
million. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated competence in
the areas of systems thinking, early childhood policy and practice,
organizational development and management, fund development and
fiscal stewardship, public affairs and community engagement. First
Things First places a particular emphasis on a proven capacity to
operate within a multi‐faceted governance structure, which in the
case of First Things First includes a Board, regional partnership
councils, and program implementation through a coordinated,
collaborative statewide service delivery system and public
transparency and accountability. With a staff of 160 professionals
and more than 300 volunteers engaged across Arizona, this
individual must be able to inspire a collective vision, lead an
innovative and accountable organizational culture, and steward over
daily operations in pursuit of achieving that vision.
The Chief Executive Officer must be a persuasive communicator
who can work effectively with people from diverse groups and
disciplines, including staff, leaders from business and government
agencies, elected officials, representatives of community
organizations and tribal members. Other characteristics include but
are not limited to the ability to build and sustain partnerships
and networks and to foster collaboration among these diverse
groups. S/he will be a passionate advocate for young children who
brings ideas, positive energy and the motivation to work with
others to find solutions and implement best practices. S/he will
embrace the importance of First Things First’s mission and its
focus on early childhood development and access to high‐quality
early care, education and health.
The successful candidate may come from a host of backgrounds,
including early childhood policy and practice, relevant government
agencies addressing the birth to 5 population, private foundations
that are interested in these areas, health or policy institutes,
early childhood education, organizations working with vulnerable
populations or non‐profit organizations dealing with early
childhood issues. S/he should demonstrate evidence of excellent
leadership skills, collaborative and interpersonal skills in
teaming with colleagues and partners and a track record of
commitment to diversity and to building diverse leadership teams.
S/he should also understand Arizona’s culture and be able to work
effectively within that culture as well as possess the capacity and
desire to work with others on a national scale.
Duties and Responsibilities
- Direct early childhood system building efforts with the goal of
impacting child and family‐level outcomes. This includes program
and policy approaches in early learning, family support and early
literacy, children’s health, professional development, parent and
public awareness, and research and evaluation.
- Effectively guide diverse constituents and stakeholders toward
a common, implementable agenda.
- Navigate respectful, mutually beneficial and unique
relationships with Arizona’s Indian Tribes and Nations.
- Position FTF as a critical partner in the early childhood
Public Policy and Engagement
- Engage elected officials, governmental agencies, private
foundations, private sector companies and other external
stakeholders and potential donors in the mission of First Things
First, participate in appropriate levels of fund development and
work with the Board in garnering support for the organization’s
- Serve as chief spokesperson with high‐level external partners
and constituents, including elected leaders, business partners and
civic and faith leaders.
- Advance a public policy agenda that is inclusive of broad
geographies across the state and regions and diverse
- Establish and work collaboratively to advance a collective,
nonpartisan vision that advances statewide support for investing in
- Possess a commitment to Arizona’s young children and their
- Work closely and strengthen communications with the 12 member
State Board to help them grow and ensure they are assisted in such
a manner that they are able to effectively perform their
- Collaborate with the State Board and take primary
responsibility for all organizational and operational strategic
- Identify and assess issues, keep the State Board apprised and
- Advance and support the relationship between the State Board
and its regional partnership councils.
- Build and strengthen diverse community relationships.
- Recognize and promote the role of the Regional Partnership
- Advance FTF’s approved strategic direction, including its
Program and Policy Strategic Plan, Strategic Operations Plan,
Research and Evaluation Plan, Strategic Communications Plan and
Professional Development Plan.
Leadership and Management
- Lead and manage diverse teams and staff. This includes
building, managing and developing the following leadership team
members and their respective staff: Chief Program Officer, Chief
Financial and Operations Officer, Chief Regional Officer, Chief of
Communications and Engagement, Chief Policy Advisor, General
Counsel, Director of Fund Development and Strategic Investments and
Special Assistant to the CEO.
- Ensure complete fiscal and fiduciary transparency and
accountability through more than 250 contracts and an annual
organizational budget of about $150 million. Manage the
organization to meet its financial goals. Understand systems-scale
resource development challenges and opportunities as well as the
importance of research and data in management, program development
and allocation of resources.
- Work in and lead a State agency and ensure all FTF statutory
obligations are met.
Qualifications and Competencies
- Advanced degree from an accredited college or university in a
relevant discipline or equivalent terminal degree desired; a first
class intellect who can build personal credibility in a public
- Demonstrated experience in managing complex, enterprise‐level
operations with strong fiscal and fiduciary track record.
- Knowledge and experience in early childhood issues. Candidates
are not required to be content experts, but they should be
conversant on early childhood topics. A demonstrated record and
significant experience accomplishing results in early childhood and
health systems development and implementation is a plus.
- Strong team leadership combined with experience in shared
decision‐making management and supervisory skills. Demonstrated
ability to work with persons with diverse opinions, work styles and
communication styles and to engage them in meeting articulated
- Extensive knowledge of how to work effectively with community
volunteers and competencies in methods of moving public will.
Expertise in productively engaging elected and public officials and
local, state and federal agency leaders. Understanding of state
government and legislative operations.
- Proven business acumen with entrepreneurial and innovative
skills in identifying targets of opportunity and positioning the
organization to take advantage of them, creating and implementing
new initiatives and fostering the entrepreneurial spirit of
- Knowledge of the nonprofit sector and how a government agency
operates effectively in support of their work.
- Willingness to be engaged by diverse communities and
situations, being open to learn from them and using that
understanding to further FTF’s work.
- Ability to work and communicate effectively with internal staff
and externally (locally and nationally) with the diverse
communities which FTF works with and operates in.
- Capability to work collaboratively across the state, to build
relationships and connections across disciplines, and to motivate
and energize others to work together. Knowledge of the geographic,
political, cultural and social dynamics and nuances particular to
- Relationship-builder with a track record of building
relationships quickly and effectively across a broad constituency
of public and private sector organizations. A high degree of
comfort, sensitivity and flexibility in working across geographic,
political and cultural boundaries.
- Exceptional skills in managing people and gaining satisfaction
through their success.
- Excellent written and verbal communication and listening
skills; particularly adept in public speaking and presentations.
Ability to distill complex issues and convey a compelling story in
a clear, concise manner in individual, group and public
How to Apply
Review of resumes will begin on June 18, 2021 and continue until
the position is filled. For consideration, please submit your cover
letter, comprehensive resume and three professional references
JOB ID # 497022
The salary for this position is commensurate with the
applicant’s background and experience and within the State of
Arizona’s established salary range for this position at $145,000 to
$190,000 annually. The State of Arizona offers an outstanding
comprehensive benefits and retirement package. Benefits may be
elected within the first pay period. Positions in this
classification participate in the Arizona State Retirement System
(ASRS) with enrollment eligibility effective after 6 months of
Arizona State Government is an EOE/ADA Reasonable Accommodation
Employer. During all phases of the selection process, people with a
disability may request a reasonable accommodation such as a sign
language interpreter, by contacting FTF’s Human Resources Office
via e-mail at HR@firstthingsfirst.org.