Director of Government Affairs

The Opportunity

ACLU California Action advocates for the defense and advancement of civil liberties and civil rights in the State Capitol in collaboration with ACLU’s three California Affiliates: ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, and ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. We work to secure greater equality, equity, justice, and freedom for all Californians, working in coalition with communities that have been impacted by the denial of justice. Our policy priorities are aimed at dismantling systems rooted in oppression and discrimination through an integrated advocacy approach that employs rigorous policy analysis, lobbying, communications, coalition-building, and grassroots organizing. ACLU California Action is a 501(c)(4)* organization federated with ACLU’s three California affiliates for the purpose of statewide advocacy.

We are looking for a Director of Government Affairs with superb analytical skills, strong relationships in the Capitol, the ability to inspire a diverse range of stakeholders, and the experience leading a team of high performing advocates in advancing a statewide policy agenda. We seek a mission-driven, values-aligned leader adept at working in teams and coalitions and motivated by ACLU’s diverse range of policy areas, which include criminal justice and law enforcement accountability, reproductive justice, LGBTQ equality, voting rights, immigrant rights, racial and economic justice, technology and civil liberties, and education equity. The Director of Government Affairs will work in partnership with the Executive Director, ACLU’s three California affiliates, the California Action team, and external partners to facilitate the development of ACLU’s statewide policy agenda, design innovate integrated advocacy campaigns to achieve ACLU’s statewide policy objectives, mentor and support a team of in-house lobbyists, and cultivate relationships with legislators in furtherance of our policy goals.

Job Functions

  • Facilitates a robust inter-organizational policy planning process that centers the priorities and needs of impacted communities, gathers input from 300+ internal and external stakeholders, and maximizes political opportunity while balancing against political challenges.
  • Co-creates comprehensive multi-year, cutting-edge legislative campaigns that educate public officials and drive accountability against ACLU’s policy goals, provides opportunity for communities that have been the targets of systemic oppression, and reform and dismantle inequitable and unjust systems.
  • Develops, maintains, and leverages strong working relationships with members and leadership of the California Legislature, the executive branch, regulatory agencies, and other state-level policymakers, and their staff. 
  • Fosters collaboration with a robust network of fellow advocates, organizations, and allies with aligned interests, missions, and values.
  • Manages a team of Legislative Advocates and Legislative Attorneys; cultivating a collaborative team approach to advance our policy agenda while effectively delegating and balancing workload amongst team members.
  • Builds systems, processes, and tools to track, measure, report, and communicate on legislative activity, priorities, progress in real time for internal and external stakeholders.
  • Designs, manages, and executes integrated advocacy campaigns in collaboration with internal staff, affiliate staff, and external partners and allies that fully leverage rigorous policy analysis, strategic communications, coalition-building, and grassroots organizing.
  • Develops, analyzes, and negotiates legislative and other policy proposals, positions, and amendments, as well as advocacy materials, and generates and presents committee testimony, working collaboratively with the government affairs and communications teams.
  • Collaborates with ACLU affiliate staff, responding to requests, participating in statewide program leadership team meetings, and preparing written summaries of the work.
  • Facilitates alignments and communication around legislative objectives and strategy between the government affairs team, coalition partners, affiliate teams, policymakers and their staffs, and other interested stakeholders.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities

  • Demonstrated experience navigating the legislative process, drafting, and introducing legislation, analyzing legislation, implementing policy, as well as navigating the state budget process and drafting and analyzing budget proposals, and/or other related advocacy, including legal advocacy, in California and particularly at the State Capitol (7+ years).
  • Demonstrated expertise with civil liberties and civil rights issues, and/or in one or more of ACLU’s core policy areas, including criminal justice and law enforcement accountability, reproductive justice, LGBTQ equality, voting rights, immigrant rights, racial and economic justice, technology and civil liberties, and education equity, preferably in California. (5+ years).
  • Strong working relationships with California policymakers, including members of the Legislature, Governor’s Office, and state agencies.
  •  Strong political acumen and experience anticipating how political conditions in the Capitol interact with the legislative process.
  • Demonstrated knowledge in and relationship to social justice and human rights.
  • Managerial experience leading professional teams in pursuit of aggressive and challenging goals. (3+ years)
  • Coaching and mentoring skills in the following areas:
    • Navigating California’s policymaking process and its procedures.
    • Developing and implementing effective strategy to realize policy goals.
    • Establishing and building strong working relationships with elected officials and their teams.
    • Drafting, analyzing, and advancing policy positions.
    • Communicating policy positions to legislators and their staff, members of impacted communities, non-lobbyist/policy partners, and the general public.
    • Data gathering and research to advance and enhance policy.
  • Knowledge and familiarity with equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging principles; proactively prioritizes these principles as a leader and hiring manager of a team.
  • Organizational and time management skills to oversee a wide-ranging and dynamic portfolio (200+ pieces of legislation) of sponsored, support, and opposition legislation; ensuring adequate time and attention to each, proper deployment of resources, and on-going communication with stakeholders to keep them engaged in the process and aware of progress and setbacks.
  • Exceptional written and oral communication skills to convey complex policy positions in simple terms and preparing documents and presentations.
  • Willingness to engage in the work “hands on” and take on a wide range of tasks and projects to advance our policy agenda. 
  • Resourceful, diplomatic, team-oriented, accountable, and sensitive to the needs our partners and staff.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively within a team environment and independently, with internal and external stakeholders, in large coalitions, and with diverse staff, activists, and public officials.
  • Strong relationship-building and interpersonal skills, enthusiasm, optimism, and ability to work across difference and power dynamics.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced, high stakes environment and balance a large portfolio of work; ability to manage one’s time independently and respect agreements, especially around due dates, timeliness, communications, and strategy.
  • Ability to work from Sacramento when the Legislature is in session.
  • Proficient in common office communication and presentation software, such as Microsoft Office, Outlook, and Teams.
  • Management skills sufficient to lead complex multi-year projects, develop and manage budgets, and facilitate change on many levels.

Preferred Skills, Knowledge, and Experience

  • Juris doctorate or equivalent legal education
  • Expertise and/or lived experience in one or more key advocacy areas such as criminal justice; immigrant rights; racial and economic justice; gender, sexuality, and reproductive justice; education equity; or voting rights.

Experience as a registered lobbyist in the State of California.**

Compensation & Benefits

Competitive compensation and benefits package includes employer sponsored medical, dental and vision coverage for you and your family, a retirement plan with a 2% employer contribution with additional employer match, 22 paid vacation days, 10 days of sick time, and 20 paid holidays a year. Salary ranges from $130,000-170,000.

Selection Process

Please submit your resume no later than November 14, 2022 to [email protected] for consideration. If you have any questions about the position or our process, please reach out to Lindsay Cooper Martin at [email protected] or 916-249-2500.

ACLU California Action is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need assistance applying online, please contact Lindsay Cooper Martin at [email protected] or 916-249-2500.  If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request accommodation during the interview process.

ACLU Cal Action advances equity and inclusion in the workplace by providing equal employment opportunity to all as part of a work environment free from discrimination. We encourage and welcome applicants who will work to further this commitment and add to the diversity of our organization on multiple dimensions including race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, exercising the right to family care and medical leave, genetic information, marital status, sex (includes pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and related medical conditions), gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, military and veteran status, political affiliation, or arrest or conviction record. 

*Please note that as a 501(c)(4) organization our team members are not eligible to participate in most student loan forgiveness programs.

** Selected candidate will be required to register as part of ACLU Cal Action’s lobbyist team within 10 days of hire.