Racial and Economic Justice Program Director

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ACLU of Northern CA

The Opportunity

The ACLU of Northern California (ACLU NorCal) is hiring a Racial & Economic Justice Program Director to lead a dynamic team that, through integrated litigation and policy advocacy, works to repair the current and historic harms wrought by race-based discrimination, settler colonialism, and deprivation of economic rights and opportunities. 

The Racial and Economic Justice (REJ) program is one of six broad issue-based teams in the ACLU NorCal’s Legal-Policy Department. The REJ team’s main areas of focus are decriminalization/eliminating exploitation of poverty; Indigenous justice; education equity; and challenging government policies and practices that adversely impact Black, Indigenous, and/or other historically oppressed communities. Current multi-year campaigns that span litigation and policy work include protecting the rights of unhoused people and challenging discriminatory fines and fees; honoring land and sacred sites and removing derogatory place names and imagery; removing police from schools and improving discipline and student absenteeism outcomes, particularly for Black, brown, and Indigenous students and students with disabilities.

The REJ Program Director (REJ Director) leads the REJ team in visioning and implementing its work and provides supervision and support to REJ team members. The REJ Director also spends approximately 30% of their time doing substantive REJ legal and/or policy work. As an expert in the field, the REJ Director serves as the primary internal and external spokesperson on REJ issues and collaborates with ACLU colleagues and partner organizations to drive forward large-scale change.

The REJ Director is supervised by the Legal-Policy Co-Director (Policy Director). The position can be based in ACLU NorCal’s San Francisco, Sacramento, or Fresno offices. 

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. As a mission-driven organization, we strive to make the world a better place, but recognize 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 Director is one of six program directors in ACLU NorCal’s Legal-Policy Department, which comprises over 50 attorneys, advocates, and legal-policy professional staff led by the Legal-Policy Directors. The other program teams are: Criminal Justice; Democracy & Civic Engagement; Gender, Sexuality & Reproductive Justice; Immigrants’ Rights; and Technologies and Civil Liberties.

The REJ Director will have a deep understanding of and commitment to racial justice as both a specific and an intersectional issue, building connections across the REJ team’s priority areas and projects to create a powerful and unified portfolio of work.

Leading a team that engages in litigation and policy advocacy, the REJ Director will have the strategic vision to establish long-term goals, the knowledge to build multi-faceted campaigns for maximum impact and to identify the best tactic for a particular problem, and the flexibility to make adjustments to meet new opportunities or address new threats.

The REJ Director will be an inclusive team leader and a collaborator, who appreciates colleagues for their contributions and experience, including lived experience. In addition to supervision of the REJ team, the position requires significant cooperative work with other ACLU NorCal program teams and departments and with the three other ACLU entities in California: ACLU of Southern California, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, and ACLU California Action.

The REJ Director will be a manager and a do-er, successfully combining significant management and leadership responsibilities with direct policy advocacy and/or litigation work to advance the REJ team’s and the organization’s goals.

This position is a supervisory position and is not part of the bargaining unit represented by IFPTE 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 person in this position 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, and 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

  • Lead the REJ program team in setting priorities and designing and implementing an active, cutting-edge REJ docket utilizing an integrated advocacy approach that includes litigation and state and local policy advocacy.
  • Coordinate closely with the ACLU NorCal Communications and Organizing departments as well as with other NorCal Legal-Policy program teams and other ACLU entities in California.
  • Oversee and support the substantive work of the ACLU NorCal REJ program team by providing guidance and thought partnership to team members and by ensuring the work is moving forward in alignment with the team’s vision and values, long-term goals, annual plan, and capacity.
  • Directly supervise four to six members of the REJ program team. This includes but is not limited to managing performance, administering discipline, and recommending personnel actions such as promotions, transfers, and layoffs.
  • Perform direct work on litigation and/or policy advocacy in accordance with REJ team priorities (30% of overall time).
  • Serve as the primary internal and external spokesperson for REJ issues.
  • Forge and maintain relationships with other legal and policy organizations and with grassroots organizations, as well as within academia and government.
  • Set a collaborative, inclusive culture for the REJ Team and model the values ACLU NorCal, including excellence, equity and inclusion, expansion mindset, and emotional intelligence.
  • Perform administrative and leadership functions for the REJ team and organization, including program planning, preparation of a budget, and participation in internal and external meetings and/or events.



  • Significant experience in legal and/or policy work, with a preference for 10 or more years’ experience, in one or more of the following areas required: racial justice, Indigenous justice, economic justice, education equity.

Required Skills / Competencies:

  • Extremely strong project and time 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 skills and ability to inspire collaboration, including success leading teams, projects, and people towards action through persuasion.
  • Ability to effectively communicate, through both writing and public speaking, to various audiences about ACLU NorCal’s vision for REJ work, as well as about complex legal and policy issues.
  • Demonstrated ability to provide support, supervision, and strategic guidance to others.
  • Experience managing complex coalitions with a variety of viewpoints and
  • Commitment to diversity and demonstrated ability to hold and foster difficult and necessary conversations about race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, ability, and other identity-based
  • Commitment to incorporating racial equity principles into all aspects of work.
  • 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.
  • Intersectional analysis and the ability to contextualize REJ issues within other social justice movements.

Preferred Skills / Competencies / Education:

  • J.D. and/or graduate degree in a field such as public policy or political science.
  • Direct personal or professional experience with impacted
  • Experience working directly or in coalition with grassroots and community-based organizations.
  • Familiarity with the current regional and state context for REJ issues; relationships with other REJ advocates and thought leaders in California.

 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 $153,270 - $178,815 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) a resume; (2) a cover letter; (3) a written sample of your work (campaign or strategic plan, advocacy letter, legal brief, etc.) that ideally shows an intersectional analysis. 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: https://boards.greenhouse.io/aclunc/jobs/7094204002

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 mbonilla-recruiting@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 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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