Founded in 1960, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization with more than 45,000 members and tens of thousands of supporters. It is the state’s leading organization dedicated to advancing and defending civil liberties and civil rights. Since the 2016 presidential election, the ACLU-NJ has become stronger than ever and is relied upon to be on the front lines in defending against attacks on our constitutional rights and proactively promote civil rights and liberties across the state.
The ACLU-NJ seeks a creative and dynamic team player with policy campaign, organizing, and lobbying experience to fill the position of a full-time Policy Director. The ACLU-NJ is building a more expansive advocacy infrastructure to increase the organization’s effectiveness in achieving its public policy objectives.
Through campaign planning and execution, legislative advocacy, community organizing, public education, and other tactics, the Policy Director will lead a team to shape and advance the ACLU’s policy agenda with lawmakers, officials, and the community at large. Among our ongoing local efforts, the Policy Director will oversee the ACLU-NJ’s policy work pushing back on the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine constitutional rights. The ACLU-NJ’s policy work includes, but is not limited to, criminal justice policy reforms, reforming marijuana laws, promoting voting rights, advancing racial justice, promoting LGBTQ+ rights, and protecting and advancing the rights of immigrants.
The Policy Director will be a part of the organization’s management team, and will work under the supervision of and in close collaboration with the Executive Director. The Policy Director will also collaborate with other management staff, including the Legal Director and the Communications Director. The Policy Director will supervise the Policy Department, which currently includes the Policy Counsel and a law fellow. The ACLU-NJ is undergoing immense growth, and accordingly, the Policy Director, in collaboration with the Executive Director, will be responsible for planning for the growth of the department and building capacity. The position is based in the ACLU-NJ’s downtown Newark office, which houses 20 full-time staff members and numerous interns and volunteers.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
- Develop and oversee implementation of public policy campaigns that bring together legislative advocacy, organizing, communications, and legal strategy to achieve the ACLU’s goals;
- Manage a team of policy staff members and work collaboratively with other staff to plan and implement effective multi-disciplinary and integrated advocacy policy campaigns;
- Identify systemic patterns of civil liberties violations, envision changes in policy capable of addressing them, and carry out strategies to secure those changes;
- Oversee the ACLU-NJ’s legislative advocacy program, including tracking and analyzing legislation, drafting and delivering testimony, and drafting legislative proposals;
- Build trusted relationships with officials, staffers, stakeholders, and important organizations and coalitions;
- Lead the growth of networks of activists and volunteers, to mobilize support for key civil rights issues, building on a current network of ACLU-NJ members and supporters;
- Oversee the preparation of materials in collaboration with the communications department, including policy reports, action alerts, talking points, issue briefs, letters, op-eds, and website materials;
- Work in partnership with allied organizations and build coalitions to further the ACLU’s public policy priorities;
- Represent the ACLU in community events, panels, rallies, news conferences, and know-your-rights trainings;
- Work with development staff to identify funding sources, participate in donor meetings, help draft funding proposals, and draft reports to funders;
- Work collaboratively with the national office of the ACLU and other ACLU affiliates to advance nationwide policy campaigns;
- Participate in office management, budget planning, and developing organizational priorities;
- Perform other duties as assigned by the Executive Director.
Experience and Qualifications
- Bachelor’s degree required, law degree or other relevant advanced degree preferred, and at least three years of experience in policy work, preferably on ACLU-related issues;
- Political savvy and sophisticated understanding of how to be effective in the public policy arena, with experience formulating strategies that tie together research, legal analysis and litigation, lobbying, communications, and organizing strategies;
- Strong commitment to advancing the ACLU’s values, mission, and goals, with an understanding of the range of civil liberties and civil rights issues and their implications;
- Personal experience with the criminal justice system and/or immigrant experiences preferred but not required;
- Understanding of the legislative process and political strategic planning;
- Familiarity with New Jersey geography, demographics, and political landscape preferred;
- Exceptional analytical, research, writing and oral advocacy skills, as well as the ability to communicate complex legal issues effectively to a variety of audiences;
- Exceptional initiative, vision and ability to develop and implement short- and long-term integrated policy strategies;
- Experience in developing, executing, and leading legislative, policy, public education, or other issue-based campaigns;
- Proven project management and organizational skills, including the ability to prioritize policy issues, attention to detail, and the ability to meet deadlines while under pressure;
- Strong team-building and organizing skills;
- Ability to work effectively and collaboratively with diverse staff, coalitions and community groups, motivate volunteers, and work across the political spectrum;
- Commitment to the highest ethical standards of lobbying and professionalism;
- A commitment to diversity; a personal approach that values the individual, respects differences, and promotes inclusion of all identities
- Ability and willingness to regularly travel throughout the state of New Jersey and occasionally out of state;
- Ability to manage a demanding schedule, including long hours and tight deadlines, particularly during legislative session.
The ACLU-NJ offers a comprehensive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with experience and within parameters of the ACLU-NJ compensation scale. Excellent benefits include paid vacation, sick time and holidays; medical, vision and dental insurance for staff members, their dependents and spouse; life and long-term disability insurance; and 401(k) plan with employer match.
To apply, complete the application form below. Application materials will also be accepted via postal mail, but electronic filing is strongly preferred. No calls please. Resumes reviewed upon receipt. Position will remain open until filled.
The ACLU-NJ is an equal opportunity employer and embraces diversity, including those characteristics protected by law and beyond. We are committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills, and we value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The more inclusive we are, the better we are.