Director, Racial Justice Program [RJP-01], Racial Justice Program, NY

National Offices, New York, NY
New York
December 6, 2018

Director, Racial Justice Program [RJP-01]

American Civil Liberties Union Foundation

Racial Justice Program

New York, NY


For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Whether it’s ending mass incarceration, achieving full equality for the LGBT community, advancing racial justice, establishing new privacy protections for our digital age, or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties and civil rights cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach. With more than one million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide organization that fights tirelessly in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., for the principle that every individual’s rights must be protected equally under the law, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, national origin, record of arrest or conviction.

The Racial Justice Program of the National office in New York City is seeking applicants for the full-time position of Program Director.



The Racial Justice Program (RJP) is part of the ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality, which works to combat racial discrimination; to ensure that our criminal justice system is effective, fair, and free of racial bias; to advocate for humane and constitutional conditions of confinement; and to abolish the death penalty as a legitimate form of punishment.  The Trone Center for Justice and Equality also includes the Criminal Law Reform Project, Capital Punishment Project, and the National Prison Project.

The RJP in particular challenges racial discrimination and other practices and policies that have a direct or disparate impact on communities of color, including Native American communities.  RJP has had a particular emphasis on education and criminal justice and economic justice issues. RJP has worked to assure that persons of color have access to economic opportunities in the areas of government programs and access to fair credit home and home ownership.

In furtherance of these goals, RJP, often working with the ACLU's 53 affiliates nationwide, has filed lawsuits challenging disparate educational opportunities, pre- and post- 9/11 racial profiling, policies and practices which push children out of the education system into the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems, unfair lending practices and a range of police and criminal justice system practices which have a particularly adverse impact on communities of color. RJP has also engaged in other innovative advocacy and public education efforts including the development of resource materials and web sites addressing a number of racial justice issues.


Roles and Responsibilities

The Director of the Racial Justice Program, reporting directly to the Director of the Trone Center for Justice and Equality, is responsible for leading a program staff based in New York that includes a full-time deputy director, litigators, paralegals, legal assistants, and one or more legal fellows.

Specifically, the responsibilities of the Director, Racial Justice Program include but are not limited to the following:

  • Collaborate with the Center Director to determine the ACLU’s racial justice priorities and ensure that the Program’s resources are used effectively in support of these priorities
  • Establish and implement a national strategy for the ACLU to address the issues related to racial justice, including Native American rights, through an integrated program of advocacy, research, public education and litigation 
  • Develop and manage the Program’s litigation docket, which is primarily focused on trials and direct appeals
  • Coordinate with other parts of the ACLU to develop and implement the ACLU’s non-litigation advocacy relating to racial justice work
  • Work with coalition partners in formulating strategies to combat racial discrimination
  • Supervise Program staff, including staff attorneys
  • Manage the Program’s budget
  • Advise and support ACLU state affiliates working on racial justice issues in their own jurisdictions
  • Act as a public spokesperson for the ACLU on racial justice issues
  • Work with the ACLU’s Development Department to communicate the Program’s goals and successes to foundation and individual donors and prospects
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity within the office; using a personal approach that values all individuals and respects differences in regards to race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability and socio-economic circumstance
  • Commitment to work collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts


Experience and Qualifications

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is seeking an ambitious and dedicated Program Director to lead the Racial Justice Program, with experience challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. The successful candidate will have a strong track record in leadership and driving a vision within a complex and multi-faceted department. This individual will need to be intensely driven, innovative, committed and able to operate in the current environment while identifying and implementing required improvements appropriately, expediently and respectfully. The ideal candidate is a strong leader who can help the organization see around the corner and develop the organization for future success. A strong candidate will have personal experience in organizing and coalition building, as well as a track record of strategic development of long-term policy plans.

This position requires the highest integrity, sound judgment, and strong communication skills.

The successful candidate will also have:

  • A J.D. degree is required. A minimum of ten (10) years of experience is strongly preferred. Individuals with significantly more experience are also encouraged to apply
  • If not currently admitted to the New York Bar, candidate must be admitted to the bar of another state and agree to become admitted to the New York Bar within one year of hire
  • Significant racial justice and racial discrimination litigation experience
  • Ideal candidates will have experience, either through personal connection and history or through work experience, with minority communities harmed by racial discrimination
  • An ability to develop and implement multi-faceted campaigns that include litigation, public education, advocacy, and media outreach
  • Experience managing a team and strong commitment to team-building and positive organizational culture, including commitment to work collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts
  • Excellent legal research, writing, verbal communication, and community outreach skills
  • A demonstrated ability to publicly communicate effectively with diverse audiences, including the general public, national and local media, policy makers and others
  • A demonstrated ability to think creatively and work independently
  • Travel as required for litigation, conferences, speaking engagements, and client development 



The ACLU offers a generous and comprehensive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with experience and within parameters of the ACLU compensation scale.

How to Apply

Please send a cover letter, resume, and list of three references to Reference [Director, Racial Justice Program RJP-01] in the subject line. Please note this is not the general ACLU email address.


Please indicate in your cover letter where you learned of this career opportunity.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.


This job description provides a general but not comprehensive list of the essential responsibilities and qualifications required. It does not represent a contract of employment. The ACLU reserves the right to change the job description and/or posting at any time without advance notice.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status and record of arrest or conviction.   

The ACLU undertakes affirmative action strategies in its recruitment and employment efforts to assure that persons with disabilities have full opportunities for employment in all positions.

We encourage applicants with disabilities who may need accommodations in the application process to contact Correspondence sent to this email address that is not related to requests for accommodations will not be reviewed. Applicants should follow the instructions above regarding how to apply.

The ACLU comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation are national organizations with the same overall mission, and share office space and employees. The ACLU has two separate corporate entities in order to do a broad range of work to protect civil liberties. This job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “ACLU.” 

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