Democracy and Civic Engagement Fellow

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ACLU of Northern CA

The Opportunity

The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU NorCal) seeks applicants to join the Democracy and Civic Engagement Program for a fulltime fellowship for 12 to 18 months in the San Francisco, Sacramento, or Fresno offices.  The Democracy and Civic Engagement Fellow will be integral in building and strengthening the work of the team. The Fellow will work closely with our staff attorneys on policy advocacy and litigation involving voting rights, open government and accountability, and First Amendment issues. The Fellow will also help develop and implement multi-modal, integrated advocacy strategies to advance the Democracy and Civic Engagement Program’s strategic plans and to protect and defend civil rights and civil liberties for all Californians.

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

The Fellow will spend time directly engaging in substantive policy and legal advocacy.  This work may include developing grassroots campaigns to effect policy changes at the local and regional levels; leading public education efforts to advance programmatic priorities; advocating in coalitions with community partners; and facilitating trainings and leadership development in key issue areas. The Fellow’s work will also focus on litigation, including engaging in the investigation, development and initiation of high-impact cases; working up fact and expert discovery; conducting legal research and writing; and addressing appellate matters. The Democracy and Civic Engagement Fellow position can be based in ACLU NorCal’s San Francisco, Sacramento, or Fresno offices.

The Democracy and Civic Engagement Fellow will be supervised by the Democracy and Civic Engagement Director and will work closely with Democracy and Civic Engagement colleagues on various projects and assignments.  The Fellow will also interact with colleagues across ACLU NorCal’s Legal-Policy Department, as well as with staff members in the Organizing and Communications Departments.

This position is represented by IFTPE Local 20.

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 Fellow 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.

Covid-19 Prevention

The ACLU NorCal physical offices are open. Up to date vaccination against COVID-19 is required as a condition of employment unless an exemption is requested and approved. Masking is required for in person 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.
  • Forge and maintain relationships with community members, coalition groups, experts, government officials, and academics to engage them in our work and implement collaborative projects, including public education and policy advocacy campaigns.
  • Manage, track, and review Public Records Act and Freedom of Information Act requests and responses thereto; craft strategies for addressing responses.
  • Engage in other activities to advance the work of the Democracy and Civic Engagement Team and participate in Team meetings, Department Meetings, and Organizational meetings, as required.


Education / Experience:

  • J.D. [or expected to receive a J.D. by Summer of 2023].
  • The ability to write in a clear and concise manner with an emphasis on legal writing.
  • Well-developed legal research skills.
  • Demonstrated commitment to diversity within the office using a personal approach that values all individuals and respects differences in regard to race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and socio-economic circumstance.
  • Commitment to work collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts.

Required Skills / Competencies:

  • Strong commitment to pursuing public interest advocacy work, particularly the priorities of ACLU NorCal’s Democracy & Civic Engagement program.
  • 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.
  • People with direct personal or professional experience with impacted communities are encouraged to apply for this position.
  • [We also welcome you to include any lived experience you are comfortable sharing in your cover letter or an additional attachment.]

Preferred Skills / Competencies:

  • Fluency in Spanish or other non-English language widely spoken in California, preferred.

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 range for this position is $84,161.40 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.

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) resume, (2) a cover letter, 3) a list of three references, and 4) a writing sample. 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: Job Application for Democracy and Civic Engagement Fellow (San Francisco, Sacramento, or Fresno) at ACLU of Northern California (

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.

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