University of Waterloo

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Director, Government Relations

Director, Government Relations

Requisition ID 
Job Category  
Government/External Relations
5692 - Government Relations
Job Status 
Regular Full-Time
Hiring Range 
$81,618 - $102,023

More information about this job


Provides advocacy and advice for the University of Waterloo’s relations with all levels of government. Supports the AVP, Government Relations (AVP GR) and senior leadership on the development of university priority projects and positions on university issues. Leads the coordination of campus-wide government relations strategies, activities and information sharing with campus leaders.


Strategic Advice and Advocacy Support 

  • A key leader of the university’s broad advocacy and engagement strategy and ongoing awareness campaign for the internal community regarding the role of government engagement. 
  • Acts as a resource for the various faculties, departments/offices, faculty, staff, and students who are seeking advice and assistance on engaging with government on advocacy and promotion of priority files (e.g. guest lists, funding opportunities, partnership opportunities). 
  • The Director will work directly with VPs, Deans and the President to co-ordinate and support UW external advocacy initiatives in Toronto and Ottawa.
  • The incumbent will be expected to regularly travel with senior administration, as well as on their own, to lobby and represent the university with the ministers, political staff, and senior public officials in the federal and provincial governments. 
  • Conducts background research on important issues and anticipates the need for information.
  • Gathers intelligence and conducts environ mental scanning of major initiatives and developments both on campus and externally to keep the AVP GR up-to-date on emerging issues. 
  • Identifies and cultivates relationships with key individuals in organizations and with other strategic partners who have objectives and interests that align with UW in existing and new areas of work. 
  • Fosters, develops and effectively liaises with key stakeholders including industry, alumni, donors, government and community partners in order to advance the University’s strategic relationships. 
  • Attends meetings with, or on behalf of the AVP GR or other University senior administrators as appropriate, to ensure that suitable follow-up occurs and the UW senior administrators are briefed on outcomes. 
  • Participates, contributes and supports the AVP GR in the development of annual work plans and measuring work plan progress. Contributes to the annual GR budget process. 
  • Supports major GR initiatives serving as the principal lead for GR projects as required. 
  • Has a direct and positive impact on University Relations and all lines of government engagement.

Environmental scanning, opportunity and threat analysis, and advice 

  • Proactively monitors, analyzes and interprets government programs, legislation and activities and provides advice on the implications and opportunities for the university. 
  • In conjunction with the AVP GR, the Institutional Analysis and Planning (IAP) department and the Office of Research, conducts environmental scans of various issues as it pertains to government activity and the post-secondary sector.
  • Advises and leads the writing of briefing notes, presentations and reports for the Vice-President, University Relations and members of the senior UW leadership team in advance of meetings with government officials or sector-wide meetings with government. 
  • The Director role will provide in-depth analysis through both written notes and formal briefings, along with recommendations on advocacy initiatives and emerging issues and opportunities.

Issues management 

  • Evaluates emerging and longer-term opportunities and threats to the achievement of the University’s priorities and the critical success factors for the University as they relate to government. 
  • Responds to and meets with a broad range of internal and external individuals and groups, frequently related to matters of immediate concern, and coordinates responses, solutions and follow-up with the AVP GR, senior UW administration and other University officers as appropriate.

Host for high-value guests to campus and the region

  • Creates and/or identifies opportunities for government officials to participate in activities at the university and opportunities for the university to engage in government initiatives. 
  • Leads government visits, campus and ecosystem tours, and meetings on campus and in Waterloo Region with support from the Manager, Government Relations and AVP GR

Leadership of government communications activities 

  • Leads, writes and coordinates projects with other University departments or faculties related to government advocacy of priority projects and issues. 
  • Develops high-level communications or briefing materials for dissemination to target audiences in collaboration with other units in the University, as appropriate (e.g., University Relations, Institutional Analysis and Planning, Office of Research, Advancement, Deans’ Offices, etc.) to advance the University’s message, profile and reputation with government. 
  • Provides leadership, writing and advice on responses to inquiries from government officials, advocacy documents, proposals for funding and special projects. 
  • Writes or provides input to speeches and remarks for the senior UW leadership team relating to government and thought leadership. 
  • Works with University Communications on written materials in support of thought leadership goals. 
  • Works with Marketing and Strategic Initiatives on university collateral impacting government audiences.

Relationship management 

  • Establishes and manages high-value relationships with government, industry and community organizations. 
  • Builds a network of government and influential relationships in both Toronto and Ottawa including both political, public service officials and thought leaders. 
  • Develops, builds and nurtures strategic relationships with key post-secondary advocacy organizations (e.g., Council of Ontario Universities (COU), Universities Canada, U15) and colleagues at other institutions which can be leveraged in advocacy or partnership opportunities.
  • Represents the University regularly in Toronto or Ottawa and occasionally at various local meetings.
  • Supports senior UW leadership team in their meetings with government officials. 
  • Acts as an additional contact for government officials at all levels. 
  • Develop positive relationships within and among University Relations and its primary stakeholders, both internal and external, and identify opportunities for internal collaboration and consultation with faculties, colleges, institutes and departments on government relations.  
  • Develop and build strong relationships and maintain a network with university colleagues involved with government relations.  
  • Contribute to the development and implementation of annual and longer term government relations plans.  
  • Building collegial relationships based on trust and mutual respect is critical to the effectiveness of this role. 
  • Develops and maintains a strong cross-campus network of senior administration and advocacy professionals, providing visibility to campus-wide GR initiatives and opportunities, and leveraging the support of campus advocacy channels. 
  • Identifies and supports opportunities to advance the University’s image and reputation with targeted audiences through multiple channels and engagement opportunities; including public and industry events; speaking opportunities, consultations and budget advocacy. 
  • May be required to act as a University spokesperson and must ensure that the University maintains strong relationships with all government officials locally, nationally and internationally.

Other Duties

  • Performs other duties of a comparable level/type as assigned.


  • Bachelor's degree in a related field or equivalent education and experience
  • Seven (7) or more years of experience working in the government (federal, provincial or municipal) sector or a post-secondary institution, including building relationships with multiple stakeholders  
  • Experience in a post-secondary institution is considered an asset   
  • Experience leading high profile projects 
  • The highest ethical standards, tact and diplomacy are essential 
  • Must be confident, organized and an accomplished problem solver 
  • The ability to handle complex multiple assignments at the same time and with competing demands and deadlines while maintaining a calm demeanour is essential 
  • Advanced oral and written communications skills including the ability to write and edit quickly, accurately and creatively
  • Advanced mediation, communication and relationship management skills including an ability to influence, negotiate and build productive working relationships with key stakeholders, senior UW management and external partners, including government, are essential to achieve the required outcomes
  • Highly developed people management, relationship building and leadership skills with the demonstrated ability to develop and support a professional, service and continuous improvement focused workplace culture 
  • Ability to form relationships with all senior UW management levels to serve the mission of the University
  • Ability to think and act strategically, creatively and dynamically in a high-pressure work environment 
  • Ability to make difficult and complex decisions with good judgment and with acute sensitivity to the political environment and to the reputation of the University 
  • Ability to quickly assimilate information, analyze data and be able to provide strategic advice, guidance and decisions on behalf of the AVP GR as required 
  • Strong analytical and financial skills to understand budget, proposal and planning documents 
  • Ability to manage confidential and sensitive materials and situations with the utmost discretion