After leaving office, Hays was elected to serve as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention for its 1957-1958 term. In that capacity, he traveled with Rev. Dr. Clarence Cranford, his pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and President of the American Baptist Convention, to Moscow for a joint peace mission. From 1959 to 1961 he served on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Hays served in the Kennedy administration as Assistant Secretary of State for congressional relations in 1961 and as Special Assistant to the President of the United States from late 1961 until February 1964.
Hays became professor of political science at the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers University and a visiting professor of government at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He served as director of the Ecumenical Institute at Wake Forest University from 1968-1970. In 1970 he was elected as co-chairman of Former Members of Congress, Inc. and served as the chairman of the Government Good Neighbor Council of North Carolina.
He also served on the Board of Directors of the National Conference on Citizenship in 1960.
In 1966, Hays ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Arkansas. The eventual party nominee, James D. Johnson, a former Arkansas Supreme Court justice from Conway, and an avowed segregationist, was defeated in the November general election by the Republican Winthrop Rockefeller of Morrilton.
In 1972 Hays made an unsuccessful attempt for election to the Ninety-third Congress as a representative from North Carolina, losing to the Republican incumbent, Wilmer Mizell (also known as "Vinegar Bend" Mizell).
With his career at an end, Hays took up residence in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Brooks Hays died on 11 October 1981 in Chevy Chase and was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Russellville, Arkansas.
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