Director of Research [EXEC-12], Executive Department, NY

National Offices, New York, NY
New York
February 2, 2018


Director of Research [EXEC-12]

American Civil Liberties Union

Executive Department, 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 ACLU seeks a Director of Research to develop and lead its policy research program in the national headquarters. The Director of Research will deepen the ACLU’s use of policy and social science research to enhance the ACLU’s advocacy and provide expertise and leadership in organizing, refining, and further developing the organization’s research efforts to advance its civil liberties agenda.

The new Director of Research will report to the Deputy Executive Director, working in close collaboration with the Director of Publications and Editorial, and will be responsible for creating a research program and will help align the legal, policy, and public opinion objectives in all of the ACLU’s research projects. The Director of Research will be tasked with building a collaborative research team to enrich the ACLU’s research capacity.

In addition to leading existing research projects, the Director will pursue new opportunities for evidence-based research to support the ACLU’s top priority policy goals, including immigrants’ rights, ending mass incarceration, voting rights, LGBT equality, reproductive rights, and protecting privacy in the digital age.


The Director of Research will:

  • Design and implement a new organization-wide research structure.
  • Collaborate with legal and advocacy directors to formulate research questions and research criteria that will lead to reports with real impact.
  • Work with the ACLU Center Directors and the Communications Department to develop goals and strategic plans for the reports, whether in state advocacy efforts or other public campaigns.
  • Vet research and report proposals for originality relevancy and potential impact.
  • Determine the project scope, how the research should be conducted, literature review processes and the staffing, time and financial commitment required.
  • Manage, direct, and train staff researchers and fellows for the ACLU’s research and related partner projects.
  • Collaborate with Center Directors to tailor research for maximum impact and congruence with ACLU priority issues.
  • Act as the project manager for all reports, tracking progress and monitoring staff time and resources expended.
  • Work with the Director of Publications and communications strategists on report rollouts to the media, policymakers, state affiliates, and the public.
  • Work with Director of Publications and Communications Department creative team to advise on goals for the number of research projects/reports produced annually and determine all production costs  
  • Coordinate with the Development Department to identify funding opportunities.
  • Establish channels with academic institutions and researchers to forge new relationships to expand the ACLU’s research capacity.
  • 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, record of arrest or conviction.
  • Have a strong commitment to working collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts.


  • Extensive experience in cross-disciplinary research in an academic or advocacy institution with leadership roles.
  • Experience managing a research staff and demonstrated ability to train researchers working on complex issues.
  • Proven ability to identify new research opportunities and build partnerships with other institutions.
  • Outstanding skills in data collection, statistical interpretation, and literature review.
  • Ph.D. in the humanities or social sciences preferred.
  • Experience in legal advocacy is a plus
  • Experience in project management and a record of successful publications.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills. Knowledge of Spanish or other foreign language is a plus.
  • Ability to work with efficiency, enthusiasm, and flexibility in a mission-oriented environment.
  • Passion for the mission and goals of the ACLU and experience in working on one or more of the ACLU priority issues listed above.


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


Please send a letter of interest, a resume and relevant writing sample (links to publications and abstracts encouraged) to - reference [EXEC-12] in the subject line.

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.

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, 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 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.

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