Director of Policy and Partnerships

Job Description

About Pilot Light

Pilot Light is a Chicago-based nonprofit founded in 2010 by Chefs Paul Kahan, Matthias Merges, Jason Hammel and Justin Large that is dedicated to teaching children how to make healthier choices for themselves, their families and their communities by connecting the lessons they learn in their classrooms to the foods they eat on their lunch trays, at home, and in their communities. To accomplish this mission, Pilot Light partners chefs and teachers in its Institute for Food Education to make learning about food in schools a priority for children through food-based classroom curriculum in everyday subjects like math and science. These experiences feed young minds by igniting children’s curiosity for the food on their plates and demonstrating its connection to every aspect of what they do and learn.

We are looking for individuals who will join Pilot Light during this exciting time in our growth.

Pilot Light’s teacher-led model is game-changing: through our approach, K–12 teachers are provided with the support and resources needed  to integrate food education into the core curriculum to engage students in classroom learning while also teaching them about food and its importance in their lives.  

In less than 10 years, Pilot Light has grown from one Chicago elementary school to reach over 6,000 students citywide and is now positioned to scale its offerings throughout the nation.  In spring of 2019, Pilot Light’s Board of Directors approved two major new initiatives designed to grow the field of classroom-based food education: The Food Education Fellowship (the “Fellowship”) and the Food Education Center (the “Center”). 

The Fellowship includes 13 teachers and is designed to build a pipeline of talented teachers providing leadership in food education.  Fellowship teachers are committed to delivering weekly integrated food education lessons to their students and partnering with Pilot Light to evaluate its impact on student outcomes related to the whole child, including social and emotional learning, wellness, and academics.  Fellows also develop new lessons and instructional resources for teachers, which will be shared to Pilot Light’s larger community of teachers through the Center. 

The Center, which will launch to the public at the end of 2019, is a digital platform of instructional materials designed to fully support K-12 teachers with integration of classroom-based food education across all content areas. All resources are aligned to academic performance standards and Pilot Light’s own Food Education Standards (FES), providing a springboard through which any teacher, school, or district can embrace food education while meeting requirements.

In spring of 2019, Pilot Light partnered with the Harris School of Public Policy’s “Policy Lab” to develop an advocacy plan for statewide implementation of classroom-based food education, aligned to the FES.  Recommendations included relationship development with key local and state legislators and coalition-building activities. 


The Director of Policy and Partnerships is a new full-time position at Pilot Light.  This individual will be responsible for developing and maintaining key stakeholder relationships, including those with schools, districts, community organizations and policymakers. You will work closely with Pilot Light’s programming team to conduct outreach activities designed to recruit teachers, schools, and districts to Pilot Light programs, including our Food Education Fellowship (the “Fellowship”) and The Food Education Center (the “Center”), a digital platform of instructional resources.  You will work closely with PL’s Education Director to outline the strategic plan for teacher, school, and district recruitment and lead its execution through a variety of channels, negotiate contracts with school and district leaders, and oversee the launch of new partnerships. 

You will also lead the execution of Pilot Light’s advocacy plan, working with key community partners and legislators to  develop a strategy to support national implementation and endorsement of Pilot Light’s Food Education Standards. You will draw on PL programming outcomes and data to drive strategy, development, and implementation of external-facing activities of the organization. 

As Director of Policy and Partnerships, you will be skilled at inspiring, influencing and engaging people. You will consistently and passionately demonstrate support of the Pilot Light’s Vision, Mission and Core Values by striving for excellence and contributing to the team.

Travel may be required on occasion, as well as attending weekend and evening functions as-needed. 

Major Duties and Responsibilities: 

Teacher, School, & District Recruitment & Partnerships

  • Develop, manage, and implement strategy designed to promote PL offerings among teachers, schools, and districts nationwide
  • Identify leads on K-12 schools and districts and execute outreach. Examples include: cultivating and prospecting to build relationships with parent groups, teachers, school district leaders, and partners in food and education
  • Conduct landscape analyses to identify potential partnerships and recommend growth strategies
  • Execute on a variety of channels to connect and meet with schools to promote PL offerings
  • Build rapport with teachers and school leaders to understand their interest in PL and barriers to implementation
  • Project-manage to ensure the smooth launch of new school partners and districts
  • Work with partners, teachers, and schools to host events designed to recruit and connect teachers to PL offerings
  • Leverage social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) to engage current and potential teachers in collaboration with Marketing Manager
  • Support Center management as needed

Policy & Advocacy 

  • Develop, manage, and implement an advocacy plan designed to promote PL’s Food Education Standards and model; conduct policy analyses and dissemination activities
  • Cultivate, steward, coordinate and track outreach to and engagement with elected officials at Federal, State, County, and municipal levels
  • Convene and manage a coalition to provide leadership and regular input and guidance on evaluation of policy priorities
  • Monitor legislative and administrative policies and initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels in education, school food, food security, and nutrition
  • Plan and execute advocacy-oriented program visits in conjunction with the Programming team 
  • Advocate for policy priorities and positions, build consensus, and implement change by conducting research and outreach, writing reports and proposals, seeking out engagement opportunities (including community meetings and national conferences)
  • Compile and present reports on the status of advocacy and priority plans for various stakeholders, including the Board and funders 
  • Represent PL within related coalitions at the local, state, and national levels
  • Contribute to the development of resources and marketing tools, including briefs, newsletters, website content, reports and presentations
  • Develop workshops, press conferences and public events designed to promote PL policy and programming goals among educators, policy makers and the public.


  • Respond in a timely manner to all requests from the PL staff; collaborate on and occasionally lead projects in other departments to support organizational goals as needed.
  • Help to inform the strategic directions of the organization.
  • Work closely with the Executive Director and Education Director to provide support with office operations and data management.


  • Superior verbal and written communication skills (preferably policy-relevant), including the ability to communicate complex concepts and topics clearly, thoroughly, and succinctly 
  • Experience building relationships, managing pipeline, and closing deals with school partners and clients 
  • Ability to turn data into actionable information and direction
  • Ability to prioritize tasks and manage concurrent assignments under tight deadlines
  • Is both a team player and a self-starter, including exceptional organization and time management skills
  • A high level of enthusiasm, energy, initiative, and drive
  • Ability to analyze data and effectively present findings to various audiences, including school leaders, teachers, external organizations, policymakers, and funders 
  • Effective communication skills and the ability to engage with a variety of audiences
  • A commitment to Pilot Light’s mission and values
  • Experience utilizing social media platforms for outreach and education


  • At least two years of experience required; experience working for nonprofit organizations and/or knowledge of food, education, or health policy 
  • Experience with design-thinking and systems development
  • Teaching and sales experience

Pilot Light is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, age, or any other characteristic protected by law. 

Location:  The Director will report to our office in Chicago.

Position Type: Full-time. Pay competitive and commensurate with experience.   

Start Date: Position currently available. 

Salary Range: $60,000-$70,000

How to apply:

Interested applicants should complete the form found at the button below.  Please note that you will be required to submit your resume and cover letter through the form.



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