The Public Health Law Center (the Center), at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, is seeking nominations and applications for its next Executive Director. Founded in 2000, the Center’s mission is to promote public health through the power of law and policy. The Center provides legal research and other legal policy support to local, state, and Tribal health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health advocacy organizations, government attorneys, community coalitions, and others working on public health policy. The Center’s work is rooted in the collective belief that everyone deserves to be healthy. The Center strives to empower its partners to reduce and eliminate the usage of commercial tobacco, promote healthy food systems, support physical activity, and address other causes of chronic disease. Current and past partners in this work include Tribal health leaders, federal agencies, national health advocacy organizations, local and state governments, researchers, and major foundations.
Following the remarkable tenure of founding Executive Director Doug Blanke, JD, the next Executive Director will have a unique opportunity to advance the work of the Center. With a staff of 35, the Center is poised for a significant period of growth. While the Center is physically based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the Executive Director will be able to perform their duties remotely within the continental United States. The next Executive Director will be joining a fiscally sound organization with reliable funding relationships and a deeply credible reputation across the field of public health law and policy.
The Public Health Law Center (the Center) was founded in 2000 with an initial grant funded by Minnesota’s landmark 1998 tobacco settlement. Founding Executive Director Doug Blanke, JD, a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Minnesota, has grown the Center from a one-person law and policy think tank on commercial tobacco control issues to become a national organization of approximately 35 public health attorneys, policy analysts, and support staff that help community leaders strengthen public health laws and health equity.
The Commercial Tobacco Control Program continues to be the largest programmatic area of the Center, including state-level implementation contracts in California, Minnesota, and soon New York; a Federal Regulations program that seeks to influence policy at agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and a national program that offers technical assistance to partners from state, local, and Tribal health and advocacy organizations around the country.
The Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Program includes work on fostering healthy and equitable food systems; reducing the consumption of sugary beverages; supporting access to water; maximizing rural, urban, and regional planning for the health of community members; and increasing opportunities for physical activity and mobility, all through the lens of health equity. The HEAL program works with Minnesota and national partners.
The Center’s Tribal Public Health Law & Policy Program supports the work of Tribes and Native-serving organizations in service of Tribal sovereignty and healthy Indigenous communities. This work is rooted in the HEAL and commercial tobacco program areas, and also extends to other issues such as trauma-informed policy approaches in schools, suicide prevention, and general Tribal public health authority and infrastructure supports.
In keeping with our values of centering health equity and addressing pressing public health crises, the Center has recently expanded its programmatic work to include broader housing and climate justice work. Specifically, the Center has developed a Climate Law and Policy pilot program focused on addressing indoor air quality and climate change vulnerability in public and low-income housing.
Each new programmatic expansion has been directly rooted in an interest from Center staff to explore how the organization can bring its considerable legal and technical expertise into new areas of work that fit a broad definition of public health. The new Executive Director will be tasked with continuing these successes and leading the Center in identifying new opportunities to expand services and attract new philanthropic support of its efforts.
THE OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU
The next Executive Director of the Public Health Law Center will lead a committed team and will engage with the following opportunities and challenges:
Provide Leadership & Vision to Advance the Center’s Mission
The Executive Director will lead the growing work of the Center and its impact on the field of public health law and policy. The work of the Executive Director will build on the Center’s positioning as a leader in this field, with particular expertise in the areas of commercial tobacco, physical activity, and food justice, while supporting and helping to expand the growing areas of climate justice and Tribal public health.
The new Executive Director will bring vision and a sophisticated approach that harnesses the Center’s deep knowledge and success to identify future policy change needs and opportunities that address the social determinants of health. In partnership with the staff, the Executive Director will analyze, assess, and map the evolving health policy landscape, identifying issue areas where the Center can be most effective.
Build a Collaborative Team Culture that Aligns Resources to Strategy
In partnership with the leadership team, the Executive Director will lead and nurture a deeply committed staff of approximately 35 based in the Twin Cities and across the country, and manage an operating budget of $4 million. They will advance a sophisticated and clear framework for aligning growth with mission, planning for effective team structures, and advancing internal policies and practices with the organization’s core values to support equity. They will embody and support the development of a culture that values equity, transparency, trust, clear communication, and collaboration across the organization. Recognizing the need to support the Center’s wealth of talent – its staff – the new leader will seek to partner collaboratively with senior managers to inform a sustainable and effective strategy that attracts and retains exceptional and diverse talent.
Cultivate Funder Relationships & Fundraising
The new Executive Director will foster robust relationships with key funders and clients, as well as expand the organization’s funding base through new and innovative partnerships that ensure broad-based sustainable support and demonstrate its value to the field. They will partner with the senior staff to consider new business development, fundraising strategies, and enhanced communications strategies to ensure long-term organizational impact and performance.
Lead Partnership Development & Sector Networks
The new Executive Director will continue to build relationships with partners across the field, including those working at the national level in public health law and policy, as well as those working at the community level. They will work closely with senior staff to strategically build relationships with city, state, and Tribal public health departments and demonstrate the unique value proposition and opportunity for engagement to support laws and policies that support public health in local communities across the country. They will support the development of new partnerships with environmental, housing, and other groups to support growing areas of programmatic work.
Maintain Effective Relationship with Board and Mitchell Hamline School of Law
The Executive Director will be a member of, report to and maintain a productive relationship with the Center’s Board, which includes the President and Dean and Chief Financial Officer of the Mitchell Hamline School of Law. The Executive Director will explore opportunities to collaborate further with the law school, including engaging law students as Center Research Assistants, among other symbiotic arrangements.
THE SKILLS YOU WILL NEED
The new Executive Director will have a proven record of driving law and policy change that supports health equity and will bring a deep and sophisticated understanding of the public health policy landscape across a range of key issues. They will be a visionary leader, strategic thinker, skillful builder of relationships with funders and partners, and a charismatic spokesperson for the complex issues of law and policy. While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
A minimum of 10 years of experience in leadership roles in law, policy, advocacy, and/or public health organizations; an advanced degree required, Juris Doctor highly preferred.
A proven record of success driving law and policy change to promote health equity; expert knowledge of public health law, public health systems, and/or understanding of the impact of the social determinants of health, with particular interest in expertise in commercial tobacco, food justice, physical activity, climate and environmental justice, and/or Tribal health.
Vision, gravitas, and charisma balanced with humility and the willingness to share the spotlight in pursuit of the Center’s goals; deep intellect and dexterity of thought that synthesizes complex issues and can identify a clear path forward.
Demonstrated organizational management experience with the intersection of operations, finance, and development for effective stewardship of resources.
Experience working with funders and co-developing a scope of work; familiarity with major institutional funders supporting the Center’s core focus areas.
Experience overseeing financial planning and management of a comparably sized budget and funding streams.
A proven ability to build strong professional relationships and connect diverse audiences to the Center’s work; confidence and competence in engaging with diverse audiences and perspectives.
Commitment to creating a strong and healthy workplace that internally reflects the Center’s values by centering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Experience hiring, mentoring, developing, and coaching teams to build organizational capacity.
Ability to assess and identify obstacles in a growing organization and devise strategies to ensure that processes and systems are being developed in a consistent manner to guide growth and provide staff with opportunities to grow professionally.
A collaborative and self-reflective leadership style that values staff contributions and experiences, fosters trust, accountability, clear communication, and effective decision-making, and capably manages and motivates teams toward a shared vision and measurable goals.
Strong convening and facilitation skills and an authentic interest in listening to and learning from others; ability to establish trust with a diverse set of collaborators.
Superb communication and external relations skills and demonstrated success in building an organization’s profile and reputation in important local, regional, and national circles key to the Center’s
Ambassadorial approach that passionately articulates the impact of policy change on the social determinants of health; excellent oral and written communication skills and a strong external presence; ability to communicate with and gain the confidence of people from a variety of sectors and settings.
The anticipated hiring range for this exempt position is $180,000 - $200,000 depending on prior experiences and skills. Information on our comprehensive benefits package is available to candidates.
This search is being led by Cara Pearsall and Robert Diggs of NPAG. Candidates may submit their cover letter, outlining their interest and qualifications, along with their resume via NPAG’s website.
Mitchell Hamline School of Law is an Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer. We do not discriminate based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, veteran/military status, disability or handicap, age, sexual orientation, status with regard to public assistance, or any other protected class status. Members of marginalized and underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.
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