Director, policy and external relations

Universities Canada is the voice of Canadian universities, at home and abroad. We are a membership organization serving university presidents and providing a unified voice for higher education, research and innovation.

Universities Canada advances the mission of our member institutions to transform lives, strengthen communities and find solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our world.

As one of Canada’s premier advocacy organizations, we are seeking an accomplished, bilingual, results-oriented leader to join our team as the Director, Policy and External Relations.

Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer, you will use your superior leadership and advocacy skills to oversee and lead the policy, government relations and international relations teams in achieving their mandates.

As a member of the Senior Management Committee, you will contribute to setting the strategic direction of the organization, developing management policies and evaluating progress on organization-wide priorities.

Your responsibilities:

You will be responsible for the development and implementation of a multi-year government relations plan to guide the association’s research, policy development and advocacy on priority issues to address the needs of Canada’s universities. This includes strategic planning, overseeing, coordinating, and implementing a broad range of activities aimed at effectively driving Universities Canada’s advocacy including both national and international issues.

  • develop Universities Canada’s advocacy positions, strategies and tactics to achieve results for Canada’s universities;
  • cultivate relationships and execute government relations strategies and stakeholder engagement at the most senior levels of the federal government, allied stakeholder groups and member institutions;
  • propose, plan and coordinate policy-relevant research initiatives to inform Universities Canada work and policy positions across domestic and international higher education, research and innovation policy fields;
  • provide staff support to Universities Canada’s Research Committee, Education Committee, International Committee, and other ad-hoc working groups of university presidents.

The ideal person for this role is:

  • a strategic, politically astute, bilingual (FR/EN) government relations professional with 8+ years of progressive experience and success, including managing teams;
  • tenacious and can easily translate ideas and strategies into concrete plans and action to achieve desired outcomes;
  • an excellent leader who creates an enabling environment for team members to excel.
  • an experienced manager of manage people, projects and budgets;
  • diplomatic in responding to internal and external clients and audiences;
  • a registered federal lobbyist (or can become one).

Your skills and abilities include:

  • a strong understanding of the Canadian federal government’s decision-making processes, coupled with an appreciation for the political dynamics of the Canadian federation;
  • a capacity to work at the senior levels of government, the university sector and civil society;
  • an ability to analyze, understand and explain issues and events in complex policy fields, including an analysis of government projects/policies or any other initiatives that are likely to have an impact on Canada’s universities;
  • a sense of initiative and ability to work independently;
  • sound judgement;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in both official languages;
  • thriving in a fast-paced, dynamic work environment;
  • holding a master’s degree, preferably in management, public administration or a related discipline;
  • experienced in building high performing and empowered teams;
  • knowledge of the Canadian and international higher education landscape and policy-making environment would be a great asset in this role.

The position is based in Ottawa. Universities Canada has adopted a hybrid work model where employees are expected to work in the office a minimum of three (3) out of ten (10) days and four (4) days out of ten as of September 4, 2023. 

The hiring salary range for this position is from $118,000 to $140,000 depending on experience.  Candidates who do not meet all of the position requirements may be considered in an underfill capacity, in which case the candidate would be hired at a lower level than the position level.

Universities Canada is a National Capital Region Top Employer.  We offer a comprehensive benefit package which includes four weeks of vacation, an attractive pension plan, group insurance, free gym membership and scholarships for children of our employees.

Interested candidates are asked to submit their curriculum vitae and a cover letter to the human resources service, Universities Canada, 1710-350 Albert Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 1B1. This opportunity will remain open until a successful candidate has been identified. Email address: [email protected].

To learn more about us, visit us at or find us on social media.

Twitter: @univcan
Insta: univcanada
LinkedIn :

While all responses will be appreciated and handled in strictest confidence, only those being considered for interviews will be acknowledged.

Universities Canada promotes the principles of diversity and inclusion and adheres to the tenets of the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code. We encourage applications from women, Indigenous peoples and persons of all races, ethnic origins, religions, abilities, sexual orientations, and gender identities and expressions. Universities Canada provides accommodation during all parts of the hiring process, upon request, to applicants with disabilities. If contacted to proceed to the selection process, please advise us if you require any accommodation.

Universities Canada respectfully acknowledges that our offices are situated on the traditional lands of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg people. 

Universities Canada