Senior Director, Conference Program

Washington D.C.
Salary range minimum: $110,000
Jan 06, 2023
Mar 07, 2023
Position Type
Employment Type
Organization Type

Senior Director, Conference Program

Position Summary:  Reporting to the Deputy Executive Director, Knowledge Development, the Senior Director, Conference Program leads the planning, development, and implementation of educational and networking offerings for the NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo. The Senior Director, Conference Program is the staff lead regarding conference content and drives the development of the strategic vision for the annual conference program, from the theme to the content to the event execution. To ensure smooth workflows and processes in realizing conference program deliverables, the Senior Director, Conference Program closely collaborates with various staff, including in Conference Logistics, Marketing, Technology, and the Executive Office.


Major Functions and Responsibilities:


Deliver cutting-edge and comprehensive content for the annual conference and related programming, and develop successful networking events (30%)

  • Ensure that effective systems are in place to bring strong content and networking opportunities to the annual conference.
  • Lead the ACC to maximize their effectiveness; two ACC groups, for different conference years, will operate concurrently for six months of each year.
  • Work with the ACC to ensure content that reflects the diversity of the conference audience and the importance of decision making informed by data and association priorities.
  • Develop and lead the content creation timeline and proposal review and selection process on a yearly basis, coordinating with colleagues and the ACC.
  • Provide strategic and statistical information to facilitate informed decisions that reflect NAFSA’s strategic plan.
  • Prepare agendas and background materials for committee meetings, contributing to these discussions.
  • Develop and manage the spotlight speaker sessions.
  • Lead collaboration with colleagues to seed session, workshop, and poster proposals, plan open meeting discussions, and conduct the comprehensive review of proposals annually.
  • Collaborate with colleagues to ensure a robust selection of preconference workshops and strong signature programs.
  • Manage opportunities for the international education colleague organizations to contribute global content to the conference program. Develop strategies and implement procedures to ensure high quality content for educational and networking offerings.


Ensure successful conference program delivery at the annual conference and through continuous cross departmental collaboration (30%)

  • Develop a cross-department timeline on the conference planning process to ensure consistency and time management.
  • Serve as the point of contact to colleagues on the development of signature programs.
  • Ensure that accurate records, data, and processes are maintained and accessible over the years to provide necessary information to the senior management, board, and conference committee as new needs arise and priorities change.
  • Coordinate staff volunteers at the conference.
  • Manage the delivery of all conference content, including sessions, poster fairs, open meetings, networking breaks, signature programs, spotlight and other speakers.
  • Collaborate with the Senior Director, Conferences, Meetings, and Special Events, and Senior Director, Technology Solutions, to ensure a cohesive conference experience for attendees.


Stay abreast of trends in international higher education and guide the development of content and networking opportunities for the annual conference (20%)

  • Identify global trends to ensure they are included in the conference content.
  • Work with the Annual Conference Committee (ACC), group of volunteer member leaders, to develop the annual call for proposals to reflect new directions in international education content, professional networking needs, and conference educational offerings.
  • Manage the ACC and staff in developing innovative proposals to showcase new ideas, global and diverse voices, and expert presenters.
  • Contribute to the discussion on the annual conference theme, working with the DED, Knowledge Development.
  • Utilize conference evaluation data to understand audience needs and potential areas for improvement in educational content and networking events each year.


Oversee creation of program-related content for NAFSA communications to ensure that all information is accurate and positions the conference as the important international education experience (5%)

  • Work closely with marketing, communications, and web services colleagues to ensure high quality messaging about the conference program and schedule.
  • Adjust communications based on analysis of data, trends, and communication statistics.
  • Collaborate with marketing colleagues to ensure effective strategies for audience segmentation.
  • Encourage the ACC as appropriate to contribute to social media, blogposts, and videos.


Develop strategic new conference services and features that enhance the participant experience, promote member value, and increase revenue for NAFSA (5%)

  • Develop a yearly proposal, budget, and implementation plan for conference programs and services.
  • Work with outside vendors on the development of new services and features.
  • Develop and implement a plan to measure the effectiveness of new services and provide timely and accurate reports to the DED.


Manage the conference evaluation design, collection, and reporting processes (5%)

  • Review evaluation design, collection, and reporting process yearly, to make recommendations to the DED based on data review and strategic priorities.
  • Analyze the annual conference data to be able to brief the DED, NAFSA Management Team, and the ACC.
  • Collaborate with colleagues in web services and technology support to develop survey questions and ensure timely collection of survey responses.
  • Manage outside vendors/consultants to ensure successful data collection and the delivery of survey reports to inform decision making.


Perform other duties as assigned to support fulfillment of NAFSA’s strategic objectives and goals (5%)


Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree with substantive work experience in educational event or conference programming.
  • Minimum eight (8) years of project management experience including strategic planning and management of projects and budget.
  • Demonstrated success in planning, coordinating, and executing conferences, symposia, exhibitions, meetings or related events and activities.
  • Excellent communication skills including writing, editing, oral communication and public presentations.
  • Ability to collaborate in a team environment, with multiple project groups comprised of association members, volunteer leaders, and staff colleagues.
  • Proven capacity for taking initiative, setting priorities, and exercising sound judgment in a complex, fast-moving environment.


Desired Qualifications:

  • Master’s degree in a related field.
  • Experience with NAFSA or other higher education associations, universities, or nonprofit organizations.
  • Experience with innovative program development and idea generation.
  • Experience with data analytics to inform business decisions.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office suite products.
  • International travel or work experience.


Scope of Supervision:

The Senior Director, Conference Program has supervisory responsibilities.



Office Environment

The workday is generally 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it is 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday.


Travel and weekend work is required occasionally. Participation in the NAFSA annual conference the week of Memorial Day, including the holiday itself, is a job requirement. The annual conference is held in varying cities in the U.S.

If interested in joining the team of dynamic and committed professionals at NAFSA, please submit your application with cover letter and resume.


About NAFSA: Association of International Educators

NAFSA: Association of International Educators is an organization of people dedicated to building a global community and fostering a more peaceful world through advancing international higher education. With approximately 10,000 members, NAFSA is the world’s largest professional development and advocacy organization committed to international learning and creating a more globally engaged, welcoming, and educated United States.

NAFSA believes that international education advances learning and scholarship, fosters understanding and respect among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, is essential for developing globally competent individuals, and builds leadership for the global community. We believe that international education lies at the core of an interconnected world characterized by peace, security, and well-being for all.

NAFSA is a workplace that not only appreciates diversity but believes it is our strength, and we strive to create an inclusive culture for all our team members. NAFSA is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. Learn more about NAFSA at


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