Virginia Education Association (VEA) Seeks Executive Director (Richmond, VA)


The Virginia Education Association (VEA) seeks a strategic, motivational, articulate leader for the position of Executive Director. The Executive Director will work in partnership with the Association’s governance and staff to provide operational leadership for VEA to fulfill VEA’s mission, “to unite our members and local communities across the Commonwealth in fulfilling the promise of a high quality public education that successfully prepares every single student to realize his or her full potential.  We believe this can be accomplished by advocating for students, education professionals, and support professionals.”


On December 29, 1863, the Educational Association of Virginia was founded at a statewide meeting held in the basement of the First Baptist Church in Petersburg.  Its mission: “By all suitable means, to promote the educational welfare of Virginia and of the whole country.” Several name changes later, the Virginia State Teachers Association in 1925 formally became the Virginia Education Association. Among the early VEA’s accomplishments: Fostering sound instructional practices, boosting passage of a statewide minimum salary schedule, and supporting a sound retirement system for teachers. An affiliate of the 3-million-member National Education Association (NEA), VEA’s membership includes licensed teachers and specialists, education support professionals (ESPs), community college faculty and support professionals, retired educators, and student members.

Segregated public schooling persisted in Virginia until well into the 1960s. During that decade, VEA and the Commonwealth’s all-black teacher organization, the Virginia Teachers Association (VTA), began to discuss the possibility of merging the two organizations. Serious consideration of a merger increased after the merger of the nationally affiliated organizations—the National Education Association and the American Teachers Association—in 1966. VEA and VTA officially merged in 1967. The merged VEA has played a key role in advocating for educational equity in Virginia.

In 1973, VEA members voted to unify with the National Education Association, thereby officially bringing together local, state, and the national organization for the betterment of children and public education. Among the victories that followed were successful campaigns to significantly increase the state’s level of public school funding, enhancements to the teacher retirement system, and legal victories preventing a school board from firing a teacher who became pregnant. More recent successes have included the passage of legislation ensuring a grievance procedure for education support professionals and state funding for bonuses to be given to teachers achieving national board certification.

During the 1990s and continuing to the present time, VEA has continued to be a major force for the betterment of public education, advocating for and winning significant state funding increases for schools, boosting instructional support for teachers, and securing adequate health insurance for retired teachers.

Governance, Organizational Structure and Leadership:

As the voice of public education and educators in Virginia, VEA represents more than 40,000 members including elementary and secondary school teachers, education support professionals, students enrolled in teacher education programs, higher education faculty, and retired educators. VEA provides member workplace advocacy and representation for organizing, rights representation, legal assistance, research, professional development in teaching and learning, member benefits, and a strong voice for education in the Virginia legislature.

The VEA governance is organized into seventeen (17) regional districts from which the majority of members of the VEA Board of Directors and the delegates to VEA’s Delegate Assembly (DA) are elected. The VEA Delegate Assembly meets annually for a three-day session, with delegates voting on policies, goals, resolutions, and the VEA annual budget. The VEA Board of Directors, also elected by the membership, meets five times a year and directs the VEA between meetings of the Delegate Assembly.  The VEA Board of Directors is the corporate entity that hires the Executive Director.

The Association is governed by its Article of Incorporation, its Constitution and Bylaws, Standing Rules and Board of Director policies.  Additionally, the VEA has established committees to advise in areas of economic benefits, educational support professionals, instructional and professional development, legislative matters, membership development and recruitment, minority and women’s concerns, organizing and negotiations strategy, professional rights and responsibilities, public relations, resolutions, special education and technology. Ad hoc committees are appointed as needed in order to increase member engagement.  The districts represent one-hundred-thirty-two (132) local affiliates throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  There are 22 field offices in addition to the state headquarters.  VEA’s structure is bi-furcated into governance and staff functions.  VEA, a private sector union employer, employs an Executive Director, seven managers, a staff attorney, four non-bargaining unit confidentials, and 36 professional and 11 associate bargaining unit staff.

The VEA President serves as the Association’s spokesperson and Chairperson of the Board of Directors. The VEA president and vice president are elected for two-year terms. They can serve a maximum of two terms. The president is a full-time officer and is located at VEA’s Richmond headquarters. They work with the VEA Executive Director to provide essential leadership for the VEA in implementing its policies and programs.

Financial Condition:

VEA has put into place internal controls, investment strategies and operational efficiencies that have created a strong fiscal foundation.  Today, VEA’s budget is $11 million, with revenues generated from membership dues.


Along with teachers’ unions across the country, VEA faces a very challenging economic and political environment.  Federal education policy and court rulings have cut into state and local revenues to fund public education, by creating and continuing to legislate additional unfunded mandates and legal decisions (such as charter schools and vouchers) that must be borne by states and local school districts.

VEA leaders are playing a significant role in working with political leaders, the business community, education partners and other stakeholder to shape, enact and implement pro-public education legislative support.  VEA mobilizes members at the grassroots level, raises funds for political action, and works with like-minded organizations across the state to strengthen its political base.  A supportive political culture is vital to the future of VEA.


The Executive Director must face and embrace several interrelated challenges:

Work in partnership with the VEA’s elected officers and Board to provide visionary leadership to transform the VEA to a member-centered unionthat is committed to engage its members as empowered activists and Association leaders and building its internal capacity to operate more efficiently and effectively.

Model a collaborative leadership style that supports diversity and professional development and that creates an environment where management and staff are empowered to achieve the VEA’s mission.  In providing leadership to engage and inspire a high-performance management/staff team, the Executive Director will promote and expand the Association’s capacity to do their work by advancing a culture of organizing, that includes service.

Make organizing a priority to grow VEA membership.  There is widespread support for organizing. The challenge is to energize the locals, give voice, autonomy and support to new leaders, and find and allocate the resources to accomplish this goal.

Work to grow organizational relevance and sustainability by organizing the staff and membership to align program, action plans and resources with members’ professional needs.  One of the organization’s goals is to engage in strategic planning that will build and empower strong and effective local affiliates that view the state and national Associations as indispensable partners in supporting their professional needs, that in turn support the students they teach in providing equal opportunity to reach their full potential. The Executive Director will be expected to exercise global perspective and sound judgment in leading strategic planning and execution across the organization to accomplish this goal.

Effectively manage the VEA’s relationship with its employees and their unions — identify and resolve related organizational and staff issues.  The Executive Director will hold employees accountable for establishing and meeting performance objectives that will assure successful progress toward the accomplishment of organizational goals.  The Executive Director will oversee the successful renewal of contracts and continue to maintain productive labor management relation; s/he will conduct negotiations and collectively bargain with the VEA’s staff unions on behalf of the Association.

Develop financial policies that anticipate membership trends and that increase revenues in order to adequately fund member programs and services.  The challenge lies in developing strategies to increase membership and to identify alternate sources of revenue.

Encourage political action and strengthen external relationships to influence legislation that results in pro-education policies.  The Executive Director must directly and indirectly establish and maintain effective relationships and partnerships with other educational, labor and business organizations, and with the governor, state legislature, and other elected and appointed government officials and their staffs.


The Executive Director shall be the Secretary and the chief administrator of the Association.  He or she shall be responsible to the Board of Directors.  The Executive Director shall:

  1. Employ, direct and supervise all Association staff unless otherwise specified in the Bylaws;
  2. Serve as a consultant to the governing bodies of the Association;
  3. Advise the officers and governing bodies on all policy matters through appropriate reports and recommendations;
  4. Represent the Association as spokesperson on matters of established policy at the discretion of the President;
  5. Meet periodically with the President, Vice President and appropriate staff to confer on Association policies and procedures;
  6.   Advise and assist the Executive Committee acting as the Budget Committee in preparing the budget, and administer the budgets authorized by the governing bodies of the Association;
  7.   Co-sign and/or authorize a designee to co-sign with the Treasurer or his or her designee all authorizations for disbursement from the Association funds;
  8. Notify local affiliates of the number of Delegate Assembly Delegates to which they are entitled;
  9.   Furnish each member appropriate evidence of Membership;
  10.   Receive all petitions, amendments and ballots and certify from the current Association Membership list any necessary Membership qualifications; and
  11. Perform such other duties as may be assigned by the Board of Directors.


Required qualifications:  

  • Master’s degree in educational leadership, labor relations, organizational development, business or similar relevant field;
  • 10 years of management experience in positions of increasing authority and responsibility — at least 3-5 at a senior management level preferred;
  • experience reporting to a large Board of Directors or governing body; and,
  • labor advocacy and collective bargaining experience.

The successful candidate will ideally possess many or all of the following qualities and accomplishments:

A senior manager who has demonstrated her/his ability to lead and manage a large, complex, membership-based organization. VEA seeks an Executive Director with demonstrated success in overseeing financial, operational and organizational development functions in a diverse and unionized environment.

A visionary and strategic thinker. The Executive Director must be a proven, persuasive, inspirational and ethical leader and communicator, open and inclusive in management style, courageous in exercising leadership, respectful of alternative points of view, and capable of decisive action.  S/he must be able to develop the management team and to delegate appropriately while holding reports and staff accountable.

An established record of advancing diversity.  VEA is an inclusive workplace where individual differences are valued and leveraged to achieve the mission of the organization.

A supportive leader with a high tolerance for ambiguity.  The Executive Director must establish strong, trusting, mutually supportive relationship with each stakeholder group (Governance, Management, the Professional and Associate Staff Unions) within a complex environment.

Knowledge of the issues affecting public education.  It is important that the Executive Director have an awareness of the changes in education, technology, socio-economics and the increasingly global landscape that are reflected in today’s society.  This knowledge will be a powerful tool in guiding VEA into the future.

Experience with the union workplace and with all phases of the negotiations process.  The Executive Director must have knowledge of applicable federal and state laws and of the administrative rules that regulate labor organization operations.  Her/his experience must include both collective bargaining and negotiating, and implementing vendor contracts on behalf of large unionized workplaces.

Knowledge of technology’s role in maintaining and updating infrastructure.  Data and knowledge management within the organization is an increasingly important factor.  The Executive Director will ensure that accounting and financial operations continue to keep pace with best practices and the VEA remains fiscally sound.

Capacity to manage organizational change.  The ability to work across boundaries and to adapt will be integral to leading management and staff through transition.  The new Executive Director, in concert with Officers and the Management Team, must develop policies, procedures and systems to ensure smooth operations and administrative efficiency as VEA changes and grows.

A champion for public education. The Executive Director must demonstrate a commitment to unionism and improving the lives of working people through collective action. She/he believes in, and will be a strong advocate for educators owning and directing their profession, and be committed to promoting diversity, equal opportunity and social justice.


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


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

  • A current resume 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:

Margolies and Potterton, The VEA Search Consultants: