Criminal Justice Project Director

San Francisco, California, United States Full-time

The Opportunity

The ACLU of Northern California seeks an experienced and visionary Criminal Justice Project Director who thrives in a collaborative organization and can skillfully develop and lead the organization’s efforts to reverse the tide of over-criminalization and over-incarceration and end racial inequities in the criminal justice system.


The Criminal Justice Director will be a senior member of the ACLU of Northern California’s Legal-Policy Department based in the San Francisco or Sacramento office. The Criminal Justice Director will manage the ACLU of Northern California’s criminal justice reform work and lead the collaboration of staff from the ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, and the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy on criminal justice matters.


The Approach

You bring deep expertise and a diverse, strategic approach to criminal justice reform work. You are a big picture, creative thinker who can effectively design, manage and leverage a range of legal, policy, organizing, public education and communications strategies to advance proactive, large-scale criminal justice reform goals while balancing immediate responsive work. You are a relationship-builder and willing collaborator with demonstrated success developing and maintaining key relationships internally as well as externally with community groups and leaders in the criminal justice arena. You excel at project, staff, and time management and are able to effectively support your team’s overall success, supervise and support staff, and maintain a focus on both programmatic goals and collaborative process. You have a commitment to racial justice, a deep understanding of the racial inequality embedded in the criminal justice system, and the desire to work in partnership with racial justice organizations.


The Position

You are responsible for identifying criminal justice reform priorities and working with allies to develop and manage complex multi-disciplinary, proactive campaigns to drive forward large-scale change, setting both long and short-term goals. You manage criminal justice and policing work in the ACLU of Northern California, coordinate with litigators working on criminal justice cases, work closely with the organizing and communications departments, and effectively integrate criminal justice reform efforts into other legal-policy work and advocacy occurring in the ACLU of Northern California. You also lead statewide planning and coordination of criminal justice work among the three ACLU affiliates in California and with the ACLU’s Center for Advocacy and Policy on criminal justice legislation. When necessary, the CJ Director will coordinate with other statewide issue teams including: Police Practices, Tech & Civil Liberties, Voting Rights, Education Equity, Immigrant Rights, LGBTQ Rights, and Reproductive Justice & Gender Equity.  Current major statewide projects include bail reform and prosecutorial accountability, which will remain the priorities for the near future.


About the Organization

The ACLU is a nationwide, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the defense and expansion of civil liberties and civil rights. California is home to three, independent ACLU affiliates – the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU of Southern California, and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, all three of which have a separate 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) entity.


For most of the last century, the ACLU in California has been at the heart of many of the most major – and sometimes controversial – struggles for civil liberties in our state. Our mission is to ensure that Constitutional rights don’t just exist on paper, but are protected in practice. As we face dangerous policies that threaten our civil rights and civil liberties, we remain dedicated to confronting these issues and defending the progress we have made. We use our decades of experience in impact litigation, policy reform, legislative advocacy, and fearless organizing to fight these policies and protect our most cherished rights and freedoms.


Duties and Responsibilities

  • Vision, design, build, lead and manage an active, cutting edge criminal justice reform docket utilizing an integrated advocacy approach that includes, but is not limited to the following strategies: legislative, political, and agency advocacy, impact litigation and legal analysis, policy reform, statistical research, coalition development, public education, and strategic communications.
  • Design, manage and implement local and statewide campaigns to defend and promote criminal justice reform and civil rights, including developing legal and policy positions and coordinating civic engagement, public education, and strategic communication efforts.
  • Help to coordinate legislative, agency, and electoral advocacy, including working on local and state legislation and ballot measures, developing new policy models, writing local and state advocacy letters as part of campaigns, and providing expertise to policymakers.
  • Forge and maintain relationships with government officials, community stakeholders, allied organizations and academics to implement collaborative projects, and foster positive working relationships.
  • Supervise criminal justice and police practices staff in Northern California affiliate.
  • Lead the collaboration of criminal justice work by the ACLU affiliates in California, which includes convening staff from all CA affiliates and driving the process to set statewide priorities on criminal justice strategies in consultation with relevant staff and directors.
  • Engage in other activities to advance the work of the Criminal Justice Project.



  • Significant experience in legal or policy work in the criminal justice field required, with a preference for 10 or more years experience.
  • J.D. or graduate degree in a field such as public policy or political science preferred.
  • Demonstrated experience working with and/or on behalf of individuals impacted by the criminal justice system.
  • 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.
  • Experience managing complex coalitions with a variety of viewpoints and goals.
  • Demonstrated experience engaging in creative problem solving and taking initiative, while utilizing a solutions-oriented approach and exhibiting flexibility and good judgement in a complex organizational ecosystem.
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills.
  • Willingness to travel within Northern and Central California, and occasionally to Southern California and other parts of the country for speaking events, meetings, and conferences.
  • A commitment to diversity; a personal approach that values the individual and respects differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socio-economic circumstance.
  • People with personal experience with the criminal justice system, including formerly incarcerated or close family experience with incarceration, are encouraged to apply for this position.



Competitive salary depending on experience. Starting salary range is $109,555 - $167, 934.50. Excellent benefits include four weeks paid vacation in addition to 14 office holidays; medical, vision and dental insurance for staff members, their dependents and spouse/domestic partner; life and long-term disability insurance; and 401(k) plan with employer match.


To Apply:

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on February 28th, 2019.  Applications must include (1) a cover letter explaining why you are interested in this position and the ways in which you satisfy the qualifications specified above, (2) resume, and (3) a list of three references. 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 in PDF format to the attention of Criminal Justice Project Director Search to:


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, arrest or conviction record, 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-NC strives to establish and maintain an equitable and accessible work environment that is supportive and free from discrimination.