Chief Operating Officer (San Francisco)

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ACLU of Northern CA

The Opportunity

The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU NorCal) seeks a Chief Operating Officer in our San Francisco office. 

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 matters 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 

Reporting to the Executive Director, the COO will be directly responsible for the organization’s overall operations and administration, guided by core values of excellence and equity, so that the organization’s staff and constituencies can achieve maximum programmatic impact for civil liberties and civil rights. The COO provides oversight of each of the major functions and their integration with each other, and alignment with the overall mission and strategy. The six major domains include 1) Human Resources & DEI, including the full life-cycle of employee experience, overall HR systems, integration of diversity, equity and inclusion, and labor union relations, 2) Finance, including systems and controls, reporting, forecasts and investments, 3) Operations, including administration at 3 sites, 4) IT Systems Administration, including through staff and outside service providers, 5) Risk Management and Compliance, including with IRS, state FPPC, insurance and other requirements, and 6) Organizational Management and Strategy, serving as a key leader in planning, strategy and implementation and board and staff relations.  The position includes supervising and supporting a number of direct reports, some of whom in turn supervise team members. They will also collaborate with the national ACLU, ACLU of Southern California, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, and ACLU California Action to exchange best practices and to identify and deploy/administer any shared infrastructure.

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 (the “Foundation”, a 501c3) and the ACLU of Northern California (the “Union”, a 501c4). The incumbent is a joint employee of both corporations. For most of the last century, ACLU Nor Cal has been part 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, we face dangerous policies that threaten our civil rights and civil liberties, we must use our decades of experience in impact litigation, legislative advocacy, and fearless organizing to fight these policies and protect our most cherished rights and freedoms. At the same time, ACLU NorCal is committed to advancing proactive and positive change to transform laws and institutions to advance our values. We are committed to fostering an anti-racist work culture and to anti-racist principles and learning.

Duties & Responsibilities

Human Resources & Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

  • Big Picture Oversight: Provide big picture oversight of the management of the human resources program (including recruiting and onboarding program, employee relations, policy and procedure development and implementation, benefits administration) and in the overall evaluation and improvement of HR practices.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion: Provide leadership to integrate DEI goals in the full spectrum of HR practices and in the organizational culture and climate, by producing measurable and sustained results and improvements.
  • Labor Relations: Work closely with the HR Director and General Counsel on collective bargaining and labor union relations, ensuring that the organization respects the rights of employees in the union and providing for effective management.


  • Financial Strategy: Provide strategic financial leadership on issues affecting the organization, including deployment of resources and long-term planning to achieve our mission.
  • Internal Controls: Ensure strong internal controls, financial systems and effective procedures in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and best practices of financial management.
  • Financial Management & Accounting: Ensure a rigorous budget process, timely reporting during the year and an efficient year-end closing, annual audit, and tax return processes.
  • Investment Oversight: Make recommendations for investment levels and choices consistent with our socially responsible investment guidelines, including proactive investment strategies that further racial and economic equity.

Operations and Facilities Management

  • Provide oversight of administrative, procurement and operational functions for all offices, including Sacramento and Fresno sites, which are leased offices, as well as the San Francisco office, which is a building owned by the organization – while also supporting hybrid/remote work and environmental sustainability.
  •  For the San Francisco site, oversight responsibilities include property management, relationship with building co-owner, code compliance, and capital improvements.

IT Infrastructure Oversight

  • Ensure that IT infrastructure is aligned with organizational and staffing needs, including through in-house staffing and working closely with external IT managed services provider to strategize and implement IT solutions.
  • Authorize business technology decisions, purchasing and project implementations. Ensure information security is in line with ACLU NorCal practices.
  • Supervise IT staff, as needed. 

Compliance and Risk Management

  • Working closely with General Counsel:
    • Oversee risk management, including MOUs, contracts, and other legal documents and agreements, serving as final approver and signer on contracts after review by General Counsel.
    • Coordinate on FPPC reporting and compliance.
  • Identify areas of vulnerability and risk across the organization, including evaluating and aligning organizational policies, protocols, guidelines, and practices to be consistent with compliance program.
  • Develop and implement internal controls and conduct internal spot audits.
  • Ensure adequate insurance and coordinate those insurance requirements with the other ACLU California organizations.
  • Ensure that the ACLU NorCal 501c3 and 501c4 entities have sufficient and necessary separation, while benefiting from sharing resources to advance their missions.
  • Health and Safety: Ensure organization is compliant with all laws relating to hazard control and industrial health/safety – including with the organization’s continuing response to COVID and future health hazards, as well as physical security of staff/facilities, safety risk assessments and injury prevention programs.

Leadership, Management and Strategy

  • Board Relations: Work closely with both the Union and Foundation boards, and their respective board committees, to fulfill their fiduciary duties. Support their direct reports in their work with their respective board committees (especially Finance and Investment Committee, Audit and Compliance Committee, and Personnel Committee) and work closely with both the Union and Foundation boards to fulfill their fiduciary duties.
  • Organizational Management:
    • Serves as a key member of the ACLU NorCal’s Executive Management Team and Senior Management Team.
    • Directly supervise 3-5 reports at the level of directors and managers and provide leadership and cohesion to the administration of functions including Finance, HR, and Operations departments (approximately 15-20 Administrative staff).
    • Builds strong relationships with the departments, managers, and staff in Development, to steward donor resources and relationships, and in Legal/Policy, Communications, and Organizing to develop and deploy systems that enhance the organization’s effectiveness to carry out its programs.
    • Handle a variety of special projects, and other related duties, as assigned.
    • Consistently apply our Equity & Inclusion philosophy and values to each function and to the overall organizational management, producing measurable and sustained results to advance equity.
    • Promote a culture of high performance and continuous process improvement.
  • Policy Development: Working closely with General Counsel and other key stakeholders, develop implement, policies, and procedures of the organization by way of systems and education that will improve the overall operation and effectiveness of the organization.
  • ACLU Collaborations: Collaborate with the national ACLU, ACLU of Southern California, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties and ACLU California Action in the areas of finance, operations, IT and HR to exchange best practices and identity and deploy any shared infrastructure.


Education / Experience and Skills/Competencies:

(We welcome you to include any lived experience you are comfortable sharing in your cover letter or an additional attachment)

The Chief Operating Officer will be a focused, self-motivated individual who is deeply invested in the defense and expansion of civil liberties and civil rights. They will be a broadly skilled organizational management superstar who is willing to both work at the strategic level and roll up their sleeves and dig into the nuts and bolts of two organizations. They will be a results-oriented leader who creates effective managerial and administrative processes and structures; has a demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion; takes leadership initiative and engages in strategic goal setting; listens well, communicates clearly, and seeks advice and feedback from others; has experience leading teams, facilitates problem-solving, and has top-notch organizational skills and attention to detail.

Education / Experience:

  • B.A. or equivalent education and experience.
  • Deep experience in managing and administering organizations., including 10+ years of directly related experience. This experience can be based in non-profits, for-profits, campaigns, or government. Successful candidates may have their deepest experience in any of the major functions of the position but must demonstrate knowledge and familiarity across most of the functions and must show overall aptitude and experience in organizational management.
  • Minimum of 5 years leadership experience, in a supervisory role, with a depth of experience in managing teams and the success of people who report to you.
  • Demonstrated ability to handle difficult situations/individuals effectively.
  • Experience creating effective processes, systems, and structures.
  • Knowledge of employee and labor relations best practices and programs.
  • Knowledge of employment, wage and hour, FMLA, and EEO laws and regulations.
  • Minimum of 5 years experience in labor relation contract administration.

Required Skills / Competencies:

  • Effective written and verbal communication skills.
  • Strategic and solutions-oriented thinker. Can handle multiple projects at once, meet deadlines, and effectively manage your time. Takes pride in the quality of work and exceptional level of attention to detail.
  • Thrive in a busy, bustling environment, and have the ability to easily balance being available to staff while staying focused on details that matter.
  • Strong analytical abilities and proven accomplishment in a position requiring independent planning and efficient utilization of resources.
  • Excellent judgment, tact, and diplomacy.
  • Ability to work with a high degree of confidentiality and independent judgment.
  • Ability to work cooperatively and communicate effectively with all levels of the organization, including staff, Boards of Directors, and outside professionals.
  • Demonstrated ability to handle difficult situations.
  • Excellent organizational and project management skills.
  • Demonstrated experience in areas of diversity, equity and inclusion and applying those frames to the administration of an organization.

Technical Skills:

  • Comfort with learning and using computer applications, for example HRIS systems, accounting platforms, constituent management systems, video conferencing, etc.
  • Highly proficient in Microsoft Office 365 Suite, especially Outlook, Word, and Excel.
  • Knowledge of employee relations best practices and labor contract administration.

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 range for this position is $178,809-$208,611 Annually.

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 benefit 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 Not Represented and is Confidential.  

To Apply

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) a resume and (2) a cover letter including why you are interested in this position.  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:

The ACLU NorCal 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 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 NorCal 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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