2023 Fellow, Racial & Economic Justice Program

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ACLU of Northern CA

The Opportunity

The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU NorCal) seeks applicants to join the Racial & Economic Justice (REJ) team for a full-time fellowship position of two years (starting fall 2023).

 The Approach

Our work is guided by the principles of freedom, equality, and justice enumerated in the Constitution. However, we know that because of historic and systemic racism and other forms of oppression, these principles are not equitably applied to all. In an ideal world, everyone would have equal access to justice and equal protection under the law. Unfortunately, neither our world nor our country is ideal. Our work involves hard subject matter that can be emotionally draining for some people. Ideal candidates will understand that as a mission driven organization; we strive to make the world a better place knowing that the road is long and hard. At the same time, we understand the importance of self-care, and do our best to reflect that in our practices and values.

 The Position

The REJ Fellow will be integral in building and strengthening the work of the REJ team. The REJ Fellow will work to repair the current and historic harms wrought by race-based discrimination, colonial settlerism, and deprivation of economic rights and opportunities in one or more of our three areas of focus: decriminalization of poverty, Indigenous justice, and education equity. Our current multiyear campaigns include: protecting the rights of unhoused people, eliminating onerous fines and fees in the justice system; advancing tribal sovereignty; honoring land and sacred sites and removing derogatory place names and imagery; taking police out of schools; improving discipline and student absenteeism outcomes, particularly for Black, Brown, and Indigenous students and students with disabilities. The REJ Fellow position can be based in ACLU NorCal’s San Francisco, Sacramento, or Fresno offices. 

The REJ Fellow will help to develop and implement multi-modal, integrated advocacy strategies to advance the REJ’s strategic plans and to protect and defend civil rights and civil liberties for all Californians.  The REJ Fellow will spend their time directly engaging in substantive policy advocacy, legal advocacy, and litigation projects. This work may include developing grassroots advocacy campaigns to effect policy changes at the local and regional levels; leading public education efforts to advance programmatic priorities; conducting outreach to and advocating in coalition with our community partners; and facilitating internal and external trainings and leadership development in key issue areas. The REJ Fellow’s work may also focus on legal advocacy and litigation, including engaging in the investigation, development and initiation of high-impact cases; working up fact and expert discovery; conducting legal research and writing; motion practice; and appellate work and amicus briefing. 

The REJ Fellow will be supervised by the REJ Director and will work closely with REJ colleagues on various projects and assignments.  The REJ Fellow will also interact with colleagues across the six Program Teams that comprise the Legal-Policy Department, as well as with staff members in the Organizing and Communications Departments. 

About the Organization

The ACLU of Northern California is an affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union a nationwide, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the defense and expansion of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU NorCal) is comprised of two distinct corporations, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California (501c3) and the ACLU of Northern California (501c4). The incumbent is a joint employee of both corporations. For most of the last century, it has been at the heart of many of the most major – and sometimes controversial – struggles for civil liberties and civil rights in our state.

Our mission is to ensure that Constitutional rights don’t just exist on paper but are protected in practice. As we move into a new era and face dangerous policies that threaten our civil rights and civil liberties, we remain dedicated to confronting these issues and defending the progress we have made. We must use our decades of experience in impact litigation, legislative advocacy, and fearless organizing to fight these un-American policies and protect our most cherished rights and freedoms. We are committed to fostering an anti-racist work culture and to anti-racist principles and learning. We are the resistance. Join us.

 COVID-19 Prevention

Vaccination against COVID-19 is required as a condition of employment, unless an exemption is requested and approved.  Masking is required for in-office work at this time.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Engage in the investigation, development, initiation, and litigation of high-impact cases, including: managing fact and expert discovery, conducting legal research and analysis, drafting pleadings, motions, briefs and complaints, evaluating and investigating potentials claims, identifying potential plaintiffs and defendants, and coordinating amicus briefing.
  • Help to implement local and state campaigns to defend and promote civil liberties and civil rights, including legal and policy research and working on civic engagement, public education, and strategic communication materials.
  • Engage in legislative, agency, and political process lawyering, and support legal and policy efforts, including evaluating local and state legislation, helping to develop new legislation and policy models, drafting local and state advocacy letters, and providing expertise to policymakers. Manage and review public records act requests; craft strategies for addressing responses.
  • Forge and maintain relationships with community members, coalition groups, experts, government officials, and academics to engage them in our work and implement collaborative projects.
  • Engage in other activities to advance the work of the REJ team and participate in team meetings, Department Meetings, and Organizational meetings, as required.


Education / Experience:

  • JD. conferred by June 2023.

Required Skills / Competencies:

  • Strong commitment to pursuing public interest advocacy work, particularly in ACLU NorCal’s six core Program Areas.
  • Excellent analysis, research, and writing skills, including the ability to translate complex legal and policy issues for diverse audiences.
  • Excellent communication skills, including ability to interact effectively with people from different racial, social and economic backgrounds, and ability to negotiate, compromise, and problem solve in coalition settings.
  • Strong time and project management skills, including a high level of organization, attention to detail, and follow-through, while balancing and prioritizing multiple activities and responsibilities.
  • Excellent relationship-building and collaboration skills, including success working as a member of a team and/or with community organizations.
  • Experience engaging in creative problem solving and taking initiative, while utilizing a solutions-oriented approach and exhibiting flexibility and good judgment in a complex organizational ecosystem.
  • A commitment to racial justice work and incorporating racial justice principles into legal work.
  • Experience using and/or a willingness to use multi-pronged strategies - litigation, public education, and legislative and policy advocacy – in response to serious problems facing impacted communities.
  • Ability to maintain a high level of confidentiality.

Preferred Skills / Competencies:

  • Fluency in Spanish or other non-English language widely spoken in California.
  • Direct personal or professional experience with impacted communities.

Technical Skills:

  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Word, Outlook, Adobe Acrobat, PowerPoint, Excel and other Office programs.

Total Compensation

We are committed to creating and maintaining a diverse workforce through equity initiatives, which includes equitable pay practices. Competitive compensation is commensurate with experience. Starting salary  for this position is 76,490.

We understand how vital our work is and at the same time understand the toll engaged activism can take. Our goal is to retain staff and we believe that having a robust benefits offering is vital in meeting that goal. Our benefits include four weeks paid vacation in addition to 14 office holidays; fully employer-paid medical, vision and dental insurance for staff members, their dependents and spouse or domestic partner; life and long-term disability insurance; and, 401(k) plan with employer match. We have a robust Employee Assistance Program and emerging Employee Resource Groups.

This position is represented by IFTPE Local 20.

To Apply

Job Application for Fellow, Racial & Economic Justice Program at ACLU of Northern California (greenhouse.io)

Applications will be accepted until the position has been filled. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible as we will be evaluating applications on a rolling basis.  Applications must include (1) cover letter, (2) resume, and (3) a list of three references. Applicants concurrently applying to any other position with the ACLU should state what other position they are applying for in the cover letter. Please submit your application online at : GREENHOUSE LINK

The ACLU-NC 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 e-mail hr@aclunc.org.  If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.

The ACLU of Northern California advances equity and inclusion in the workplace by providing equal employment opportunity to support a work environment free from discrimination on the basis of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age (over 40), sexual orientation, military and veteran status, and any other basis prohibited by law. The organization also provides reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and employees with disabilities. This equal employment opportunity policy applies to all aspects of employment, including recruitment, selection, advancement, training, problem resolution, and separation from employment. Through this policy, the ACLU-NC strives to establish and maintain an equitable and accessible work environment that is free from discrimination and supportive of a workforce that reflects the rich diversity of our communities and the people we serve.  ACLU NorCal will consider for employment all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance (SF Police Code, Article 49).

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