Executive Director

SDEA is seeking candidates with extensive experience and accomplishments.

The Executive Director is the Association’s chief administrative officer and management agent who leads the staff, in coordination with the SDEA President, to ensure implementation of the full scope of policies, procedures, and programs approved and adopted by the SDEA Board of Directors. In collaboration with the President and Officers, the Executive Director develops and manages an annual organizational budget and is accountable to the Board for the long term financial and fiscal health and sustainability of the Association. The Executive Director provides general supervision of the real property owned by the association.

Candidates should possess high emotional intelligence, excellent judgment and creativity, with a proven record of strategic leadership, which includes formulating objectives and priorities and implementing long term interests of the SDEA.

The South Dakota Education Association is a professional organization working hard for educators, so they can continue to work hard for our kids. SDEA members provide a wide range of professional education services in communities throughout the state.

We teach in kindergarten classrooms and college lecture halls. We counsel adolescents and assist in carving out career aspirations. We drive school buses, prepare for careers in education and prepare school lunches. We direct school plays and coach soccer. We provide professional services that benefit students, schools and the public in virtually every position needed to run South Dakota's schools.

Whether you call us your union or your professional organization, we have a long and wonderful tradition that spans over a century. Since our founding, SDEA members have been at the center of every struggle to advance the finest of American dreams - a high quality public education for every child.

As Chief Administrator of the Association, the Executive Director has organization-wide and budgetary accountability for Association business operations including but not limited to:

  • Organizational Management – advise and facilitate the development of The SDEA budget, administer and monitor the budget, ensure the fiscal health of the association, oversee compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, evaluate and manage risk, and ensure the proper management of all property owned and leased by the Association as The SDEA pursues its mission and vision.
  • Institutional Leadership – lead with vision, adaptability, creativity, and integrity to execute the policies of The SDEA’s board.
  • Public Education Advocacy – champion public education in South Dakota, including building collaborative relationship between The SDEA and external stakeholders to shape the highest professional standards for education policy.
  • Organizing – foster an organizing culture that grows the association while advancing the interests of South Dakota’s students and educators.
  • Staff Relations – as chief of staff, provide leadership for staff commitment to the Association’s mission, vision, and strategic plan, ensure compliance with The SDEA’s policies; prioritize and assign staff resources to programs and projects as necessary; coordinate, direct, and evaluate the work of The SDEA’s employees while fostering a collegial relationship; build effective relationships with management and the staff union; and successfully support management and staff to ensure the highest quality work on behalf of The SDEA’s members.

Opportunities for the SDEA:

  • SDEA has the opportunity to cultivate and build bipartisan relationships to move pro-education legislation at the Statehouse.
  • SDEA is committed to building a culture of member engagement and growth in the face of the current COVID-19 crisis and enhance strategies for recruiting and retaining members.
  • SDEA has an opportunity to strengthen coalitions to achieve political and organizational goals.
  • SDEA is committed to a culture of organizing in which members are engaged and mobilized to grow and strengthen their local associations in order to improve student outcomes, secure the proper teaching and learning conditions, and achieve educational opportunity and equity for all students, educators and education support professionals.
  • SDEA has an opportunity to cultivate a new generation of education leaders and increase organizational relevance, and create opportunities to engage early career professionals.
  • SDEA is committed to an intentional branding campaign to bring more visibility to the association as the leading expert on education in its community.

To be considered for this position, the applicant must be prepared to share and validate a record of personal achievements in the following competency areas.

A passionate public education advocate with a proven record of senior organizational leadership, who understands the central role educators play in leading change in their profession. A visionary leader who has confidently engaged others to be proactive in creating the future they desire.
Evidence of success in achieving desired outcomes when leading organizational innovation and change; a courageous and resilient leader who has shown organizational savvy and flexibility in confronting and adapting to challenging and changing political/organizational realities. Capable and willing to voice respectful and effective dissent when and where appropriate.

Proven ability to analyze, comprehend, and articulate the operational goals and strategic plan of the SDEA and implement this plan to guide decision making. Must possess the expertise to anticipate outcomes and decide on the best course of action. Uncovers potential opportunities by challenging conventional thinking and assumptions. Demonstrated experience analyzing strategic issues, opportunities and risks and long-term impact.

Interpersonal Effectiveness
An effective communicator and active listener who possesses emotional intelligence and has excelled in building successful relationships with diverse groups of people with varying cultural perspectives. A successful record of effective conflict management and an established record of inspiring and fostering teamwork and consensus, provoking creative problem-solving and risk taking. Strong public presence, articulate, optimistic and relatable, must possess the ability to motivate and inspire internally and externally.

Member Focus
A leader who values public education and is focused on member needs. Someone who believes in member engagement, trust, and loyalty, and who is committed to fostering strong relationships between SDEA and its members. An experienced leader who has successfully demonstrated the ability to implement high quality programs and services that bring value to members. Demonstrated experience using data to identify additional ways to offer value to members’ professional practice and careers. An influential leader who understands membership and is able to expand market share, has effectively led innovative strategies, programs, initiatives, and policies designed to attract and increase new membership. Proven ability to create collaborative relationships and partnerships with local, county and state governments, as well as community groups and organizations.


  • A record of 5 years of experience in positions of increasing responsibility at the middle or senior management levels.
  • Background in public policy and/or labor advocacy and collective bargaining desired.
  • Experience in fiscal management, including budget preparation, analysis, decision-making, & reporting.
  • Experience in public education advocacy and belief in the central roles of union and possess unwavering support for organized public education.
  • Experience reporting to and advising an elected board of directors.
  • A record of life-long learning, including recent professional development work.
  • Knowledge of South Dakota political landscape.


  • Bachelor’s degree is required; Master’s degree preferred.
  • SDEA is prepared to offer a competitive salary (commensurate with experience and qualifications).

SALARY RANGE: $115,000 – 130,000 per year

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

  • A current résumé 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, Union Search, LLC.
South Dakota Search Consultant

For all questions regarding this search, including confidential inquiries, please contact:

Ken Margolies (West Coast)
(831) 332-9324 (Pacific time zone)

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Monday, January 29, 2021 at 5:00 pm (EST).

South Dakota Education Association Education Association is deeply committed to diversity and inclusion in its hiring practices. We are an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. Women and people of color are encouraged to apply.