Executive Director

We are currently no longer accepting new applicants for this position.


For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty through its work in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. Today, the work of the ACLU is more critical than ever. After the 2016 election, the not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization experienced tremendous growth with nationwide membership quadrupling from 400,000 to 1,600,000.
The ACLU of Washington (ACLU-WA) is regarded as one of the strongest state offices in the ACLU's nationwide structure. With more than 80,000 members, 40 full-time staff, hundreds of volunteers, and a budget of $7.2 million, the ACLU-WA is a powerful force for protecting and promoting a broad range of civil liberties, including de-incarceration, immigrants’ rights, racial justice, free speech, privacy, reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, and more. The ACLU-WA has a long record of cutting-edge advocacy, leading to many nationwide firsts: one of the first laws legalizing marijuana, the first state ballot initiative to protect marriage equality, one of the first court orders holding that when the military excluded a gay person it violated the law, the first class action challenging under the American with Disabilities Act the refusal to provide medically assisted opioid treatment to people in jail, and the first court rule to reduce implicit racial bias in jury selection.
At this pivotal moment in our nation's history and at this time of dynamic growth in the organization, the ACLU-WA seeks an accomplished leader to serve as its next Executive Director. This is an extraordinary opportunity for a chief executive to lead an established, respected, and growing organization in its mission to defend and advance the civil liberties of individuals and communities in Washington.
The Executive Director will first and foremost provide strategic leadership and manage the ACLU-WA’s operations and advocacy to ensure that the organization uses its litigation, policy, political, and communications tools to the fullest effect. The ideal candidate will have extensive executive leadership experience and a demonstrated ability to manage the operations and finances of a comparable organization, coupled with a genuine commitment to and passion for the ACLU’s mission. The next Executive Director should have a deep substantive knowledge of civil liberties, an exceptional talent for strategic thinking and execution, proven success raising money, superb communication skills, an ability to inspire and mobilize a diverse group of individuals around a shared vision, a demonstrated commitment to racial equity, and experience building a strong workplace culture where all staff are valued and supported.

The next Executive Director will have the opportunity to chart the organization’s strategic direction and lead its efforts to advance a broad and bold advocacy agenda. This will include:
Leadership: In collaboration with the Board of Directors, staff, and community partners, the Executive Director will establish a clear vision for the ACLU-WA’s short- and long-term futures, and then guide and support the daily work necessary to execute that vision. S/he/they will be responsible for managing resources strategically to ensure the organization’s ability to respond to urgent and rapidly developing issues while maintaining its commitment to long-range goals, and will support staff in navigating potential conflicts between various civil liberties issues. Perhaps most critically, the Executive Director will serve as the hub of the organization’s integrated advocacy model, working with staff to develop and implement coordinated, strategic advocacy plans that make the most effective use of litigation, legislative and policy work, community engagement, and public education to effectuate lasting change.
Organizational Management: The new Executive Director will be entrusted with the reins of a strong, successful, and financially sound organization. Continued success will require a leader who can recruit, retain, motivate, supervise, and support a diverse staff of dedicated professionals, effectively delegating work and decision-making authority while maintaining ultimate responsibility to ensure that the organization is achieving its goals. The Executive Director will also be expected to ensure the financial health of the ACLU-WA, including overseeing the organization’s financial operations and creating and managing the annual budget.
Race Equity: The ACLU of Washington recognizes that a genuine commitment to civil rights and civil liberties for all people necessarily includes a commitment to racial equity and the dismantling of long-standing, deeply entrenched systems that benefit white people at the expense of people of color. The new Executive Director will work closely with an active internal Race Equity Team, staff, and Board of Directors to operationalize this commitment in the organization’s daily work and to cultivate and maintain a workplace culture that is anti-racist, culturally competent, and in which all staff are supported, inspired, included, and open to change and growth.
Board Relations: The Executive Director will work closely with the Board of Directors which ensures the organization stays true to its mission and purposes; engages with staff leadership in strategic planning; and approves the annual budget, new directions, and organizational and substantive policies.  The Executive Director will collaborate with the Governance Committee to recruit, cultivate and support a diverse pool of motivated, qualified candidates to serve on the Board of Directors. S/he/they will build strong and meaningful relationships with board members and will leverage their skills and talents for the benefit of the organization.
External Relations: The Executive Director will, personally and through other staff, maintain and develop collaborative relationships with community partners, recognizing that the ACLU-WA works on multiple issues and will need to facilitate productive relationships even through periods of disagreement.  The Executive Director will also maintain and develop effective relationships with policymakers to help advance the organization’s civil rights and civil liberties goals.  The Executive Director will play a leadership role in maintaining a successful development program, including by cultivating meaningful relationships with existing and potential donors. S/he/they will also serve as an engaged and collaborative colleague to the National ACLU and other affiliate executive directors across the country, advocating for the Washington affiliate while also working to increase the strength and influence of the ACLU as a whole.
The new Executive Director will be an inspiring, collaborative, and accomplished leader with a profound commitment to civil rights and civil liberties, and outstanding management, interpersonal, and communication skills. While no one candidate will have all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
  • Demonstrated knowledge of and commitment to a broad array of civil liberties and civil rights issues, and a nuanced understanding of the interplay between them;
  • A track record of leading successful, collaborative efforts to develop and implement strategic plans, as well as accountability and measurement practices to advance an organizational mission and its effectiveness in achieving its goals; proven success translating vision into action and creating and implementing programs;
  • Proven management experience with increasing responsibility; demonstrated success recruiting, inspiring, supporting, and leading highly talented and diverse teams, mentoring senior leaders and mid-level managers, and driving implementation of management best practices;
  • Experience with and demonstrated commitment to using a variety of advocacy strategies (legal, policy, legislative, communications, public education, and organizing) and record of success as an advocate; the ability to develop long-term advocacy plans and to achieve short-term gains without sacrificing long-term progress;
  • A sophisticated understanding of structural racism and its impact on civil liberties; a demonstrated track record of advancing race equity;
  • A high level of sophistication with complicated legal and policy issues and the ability to engage in discussion on these issues with a wide variety of audiences; knowledge of the legislative process and the ability to engage with all levels of state and local government in a nonpartisan manner;
  • Strategic financial management experience in the private, not-for-profit, or public sectors; an aptitude for fundraising and a record of raising money from donors and other sources;
  • Highly developed communication skills, and the ability to articulate a vision of civil rights and civil liberties that is compelling to the public, partners in advocacy, policymakers, and donors;
  • Successful experience working with a Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers of diverse personalities and talents;
  • A leadership style that is collaborative, flexible, and inspires trust, coupled with the ability to guide tough decision making while shouldering ultimate responsibility for the well-being of the organization; A sense of humor, a thick skin, and emotional intelligence.
This search is being conducted with assistance from Katherine Jacobs, Carolyn Ho, and Chris Cannon of Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group (NPAG). The salary range for the position has been set at $165K to $220K and is commensurate with experience. Please send nominations and/or applications including cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, your resume, and where you learned of the position to: ACLU-EDWA@nonprofitprofessionals.com.
The ACLU-WA is an equal opportunity employer that values a diverse workplace and an inclusive culture. We encourage applications from all qualified individuals including people of color, women, persons with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals, and people with arrest and conviction history.
The ACLU of Washington comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Inc. and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Foundation. The two corporations share the same overall mission, office space, and employees. The job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “ACLU of Washington.”
Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group is a national executive search and consulting firm dedicated to serving the mission-driven community. We partner with global mission-driven clients to deliver highly-tailored, innovative, and strategic senior- and executive-level search services.