Pathways Manager 

Education Systems Center is seeking a full-time Pathways Manager to lead and grow a portfolio of high-impact projects relating to college and career pathway systems. Reporting to the Pathways Director, the Manager will lead or expand interrelated project areas within the Center’s portfolio, including, but not limited to: 

Collectively, these projects enable the Manager to play a critical supporting role in shaping the strategic vision for the growth of quality college and career pathway systems and related work-based learning in the State of Illinois and the other geographies where the Center works. Over time, the Manager is expected to expand existing projects and secure new projects that strategically maintain EdSystems’ leadership position in this field. 

Key Responsibilities 

  • Frequently represent EdSystems with critical community college faculty, secondary and postsecondary representatives, policy stakeholders, funders, and employer associations. 
  • Remain current on national best practices and emerging research in the fields of pathways, work-based learning experiences, postsecondary transitions and middle-skills occupations and apply that research to the work of the Center. 
  • Effectively manage and execute the Center’s pathways and “Bridges to Postsecondary” projects, leading to continuation and expansion of these projects by the project sponsors. 
  • Conduct research on industry and community college credentials, as well as community-based organization bridge programs, analyzing and documenting eligibility requirements, required courses, competencies relating to courses and credentials, best practices, and labor market outcomes. Determine the barriers for entry into these programs and make recommendations for increased access or transition to postsecondary institutions for higher labor market outcomes.  
  • Assist in the development of state-level supports and provide technical assistance to communities for implementation of work-based learning experiences.
  • Develop strong relationships with state agency staff to effectively coordinate EdSystems’ projects with related state policies and initiatives. 
  • Engage with community college faculty to develop and enact research to expand pathways and postsecondary opportunities and secure appropriations for support.
  • Develop project scopes and budgets for inclusion in proposals to public and private project funders. 


Desired Pathways Manager Competencies 

  • Passion for EdSystems’ mission and expanding opportunities for young people and adult learners through quality college and career pathway systems and apprenticeships.
  • Good project management and analytical skills with the ability to multitask and manage multiple projects, collect and analyze information, remain execution-focused, respect deadlines, and solve problems as they arise.
  • Deep understanding of public education systems, particularly at the secondary and postsecondary levels.
  • Familiarity with curricular and experiential components of pathways and community college preferred.
  • Understanding of public workforce systems and community-based organizations doing adult learning.
  • Familiarity with state government and policy context; familiarity with Illinois state government preferred.
  • Thrive in a high-volume, fast-paced, mission-driven work environment.
  • Highly developed verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to present effectively to large and small groups.


  • A masters-level degree is required, with preference for a master’s in education, higher education, educational leadership, education policy.


  • Five or more years of related professional experiences, with some of that time preferably in, or partnering with, a community college institution.
  • Experience driving complex projects requiring significant stakeholder engagement and cross-functional collaboration.
  • Established network of contacts within the education and workforce areas.

Terms of Appointment 

  • Full-time appointment with an annually renewable contract for each state fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).
  • Salary is based on experience and job performance.
  • Evaluation of performance is ongoing and is based primarily upon an annually negotiated set of performance goals.
  • EdSystems is currently working remotely for the indefinite future. When public health conditions permit a return to the office, the position will be based in Chicago at EdSystems’ office (with continued significant flexibility for regularly working remotely). The position will be expected to regularly travel throughout Illinois, and occasionally out-of-state, as needed to meet responsibilities of the position.

How to Apply for the Pathways Manager Position 

Please submit a resume, cover letter, and reference contact information addressed to Juan Jose Gonzalez, Pathways Director of Education Systems Center, to  

Who We Are 

Education Systems Center (EdSystems) is a mission-driven policy development and program implementation center based within Northern Illinois University’s Division of Outreach, Engagement, and Regional Development. We have a primary focus on Illinois, while also working with national and international partners. We leverage our NIU home to forge partnerships with state agencies and intergovernmental bodies such as the Illinois P-20 Council. Our intense focus on effective stakeholder engagement and successful execution has resulted in the Center securing longstanding leadership roles in a variety of key policy and implementation areas across the state.