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Executive Director

Denver, CO, USA | American Civil Liberties Union

  • Industry:
    Non-Profit / Social Enterprise
  • Position Type:
  • Functions:
    General Management
  • Experience:
    10-12 years
Job Description:
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The Executive Director will serve as the chief executive officer of both corporations.

The Executive Director (ED) will partner with staff to address issues at the forefront of the ACLU of Colorado including but not limited to: Criminal Justice Reform, Immigrants’ Rights, Reproductive Rights, Voting Rights, Economic Justice, and Privacy and Surveillance, as well as future mission-related issues as they arise.


The Executive Director serves as the chief executive officer of the ACLU of Colorado (ACLU-CO) and is responsible for providing direction and leadership toward achieving the organization’s philosophy, mission, strategies, and annual goals and objectives. This includes:

The ED must be a dynamic and empathetic leader who understands and values the use of multi-faceted strategies including advocacy, organizing, strategic communication, and litigation, to achieve social change.

The ED will lead and manage the staff with intention and a mindset that reflects diversity and inclusion and embodies a culture of equity and belonging.

The ED will report to the Board of Directors to set the strategy and direction of the organization. The ED should have experience with board governance and a demonstrated history of communication and relationship-building between a board of directors and staff.

The ED will be an outstanding communicator and remain current on issues that might be of importance to the community and ACLU-CO partners, will engage the Board with consistency and transparency, and serve as the public face of the organization and as a thought leader on emerging issues, amplifying the work of the staff and ACLU-CO community partners.

The ED will ensure the financial health and stability of the organization, evaluate fundraising effectiveness, and create an environment conducive to maximizing the organization’s influence and coalition building capabilities with the public.


The ACLU-CO seeks an experienced, strategic, and visionary leader with a demonstrated commitment to broad community engagement and the issues impacting civil rights and civil liberties, equity, and diversity and inclusion throughout the state of Colorado. The ED will possess strong organizational development, nonprofit acumen, fundraising and interpersonal skills, outstanding judgment, and must be a critical thinker. The ED will determine the strategic direction of the ACLU-CO and lead the development of strategies on the organization’s core priority areas, ensuring that the national office and affiliates together achieve shared performance outcomes. The ED will lead a talented and passionate staff to evaluate initiatives, taking into account the financial demands, on the ground resources required, priorities of individuals and communities served by the ACLU-CO, and the alignment with the national ACLU and the ACLU of Colorado’s organizational interests. The ED must be able to balance many different interests of various constituent groups and individuals, and develop relationships inside and outside the organization.The ED will champion the affiliate’s organization’s vision, mission, and values, have a proven track-record as a leader in racially and ethnically diverse and LGBTQIA friendly nonprofit organizations, and have experience with change management as the ACLU-CO has been undergoing significant changes over the past few years, including but not limited to diversification of strategy and workforce.

Reporting to the ACLU Colorado Board of Directors, the ED should be someone with change leadership experience who is confident in their leadership and adept at balancing internal management with external visibility.


The ED provides the leadership, vision, and strategic planning necessary to address civil liberties, civil rights, and social justice issues in Colorado and to ensure that the affiliate is well positioned to meet the challenges of the future. 


Build consensus around a shared vision of goals and strategies that advance ACLU-CO’s mission, utilizing multi-faceted strategies, including advocacy, organizing, strategic communications, and litigation, to achieve the organization’s mission.

Develop the affiliate’s priorities and positions on key issues in collaboration and consultation with the Board and staff, articulating the organization’s positions and communicating its mission to increase the organization’s visibility and the public’s understanding of the goals and work.

Represent the Colorado ACLU affiliate with strength and vigor. Serve as primary liaison with national organization to ensure a strong relationship and to advocate for resources to support the staff and partners of the Colorado affiliate.

Lead using best nonprofit and governance practices.

Act with clarity of mission and purpose.


Motivate and maintain a cohesive staff, ensuring strong internal communication and collaboration. Foster a supportive team-oriented environment where both independent and innovative thinking and collaboration are encouraged.

Develop strong partnerships and foster coalitions, especially including among non-dominant identity groups, communities of color, indigenous populations, and the disability community.

Drive a culture of accountability with clear program goals (measurable, specific, inclusive, equitable, time-bound) strategies to accomplish and regular feedback, including upward feedback.

Champion and value diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the organization to strive towards a culture of belonging.

Oversee the implementation of existing and new initiatives and workflow to ensure the high-quality delivery of services, as well as manage future program enhancement and growth.

Foster an environment of continuous improvement, learning, and effectiveness.

Protect the organization’s integrity, credibility, and non-partisanship.

Lead collaboratively with a Board of Directors to implement a model of strategic and generative governance.

Utilize on the ground community or grassroots organizing experience and expertise to inform internal and external decisions, campaigns, and strategy.

Evaluate the organization’s current professional development opportunities for staff and implement changes that will positively impact and enhance the organization's operations and retention in a way that will continue to build a diverse organization, as well as individual staff’s skills and understanding


Oversee a robust fundraising program to protect the affiliate’s long-term financial stability, steward key donor relationships, identify new major donor prospects, and solicit major donations. Cultivate donors among non-dominant identity groups, communities of color, and indigenous populations in the state

Proactively and transparently provide financial reports, conduct regular audits, and engage the Board in the budgeting process.

Collaborate with national staff to implement the national fundraising model, participate in nationwide convenings, and ensure that fundraising platforms are used well in the affiliate.

Assure that the development leadership anticipate funding needs and seek out opportunities to meet those needs.

Oversee a deputy director/controller who leads fiscal planning and financial oversight, ensuring transparency and use of best practices that meet the highest standards.

Strive to ensure staff has the resources needed to do their jobs effectively. Plan for various financial scenarios assuring the ACLU-CO is well positioned.


Serve as the chief marketer, communicator, and spokesperson and maintain strong relationships with the media, guide organizational strategy, and work effectively with the national communications staff to maximize nationwide messaging and to amplify local priorities.

Develop strong partnerships and foster coalitions, especially including among non-dominant identity groups, communities of color, indigenous populations, and the disability community.

Create and cultivate a diverse set of voices to represent the organization’s positions on its work in the press, with the legislature, and with coalition partners.

Possess media training and public speaking that demonstrates effective use of story and narrative.

Act as the key spokesperson for the organization at press conferences and at key legislative hearings.

Ensure strong relationships with national staff and key partners across the country and Colorado.

Exhibit courage and clarity when addressing highly controversial and complex issues.

Grow and expand the ACLU-CO’s reputation, developing and maintaining key relationships of influence including decisionmakers, funders, clients, impacted communities, coalition partners, media representatives, and more.


Ten years of professional experience in the nonprofit or public interest sector. Experience in another sector can be considered for an outstanding candidate.

Ten years of professional or lived experience and a Bachelor’s degree (preferred) are minimum requirements.

Demonstrated ability to innovate, adapt when faced with change, and creatively think through complexity.

Proven fundraising and financial management experience with a solid track-record of success.

Proven ability to network and develop relationships amongst diverse partners.

Proven managerial, problem-solving, strategic thinking, and human resource experience in the private, not-for-profit, or public sectors.

Credibility and experience to connect the ACLU to resources and opportunities outside the organization.

Proven and successful track record in creating, implementing, overseeing, and continually improving programs.

Proven and successful track record with change management, particularly with regard to developing cohesive, but distinct programs, that employ multiple strategies.

A history of communicating effectively in writing and verbally, including excellent public speaking skills for both formal and extemporaneous presentations.

A record of success working in partnership with a board and staff of diverse backgrounds, levels of education, personalities, and talents.

Experience supporting nonprofit boards to govern strategically.

Ability to work in a high-pressure environment and to prioritize and deal with competing needs and projects.

Proficiency with computers: Windows and Microsoft Office in particular.

Creative, result-oriented, self-starting, willing to learn, and able to manage an aggressive schedule.

Ability to interact effectively with people from different racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, disability, geographical, and socioeconomic backgrounds.


Personally identifies with and is connected to communities served by the ACLU. History of personal work on issues of equity, inclusion, and diversity and belonging, particularly on issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.

Firm commitment to the mission and principles of the ACLU and to advancing the ACLU-CO’s goals and programs, with an understanding of the range of equity and civil liberties issues, and implications.

Lived experience: Has been directly impacted by the social and civil rights issues addressed by the ACLU.

History of work on civil rights, civil liberties, or social justice on a personal as well as professional level.

Intelligent and inspiring, able to conceptualize and express ideas, and anticipate and act on events which may create opportunities for the ACLU-CO. Someone who understands the value of creating partnerships with other organizations as a way of accomplishing the ACLU-CO’s goals.

Energetic person who can handle and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities; a self-starter and finisher.

Team leader who inspires collaboration and independence, values and seeks out input, and functions decisively.

A leader who shares information in a digestible way, listens as well as gives advice, and respects and enhances the abilities of others.

Possesses the emotional intelligence necessary for effective leadership internally and externally.

Dedicated leader and representative who can translate vision into action. Passionate about networking and representing the organization to critical constituencies including ACLU-CO members, directly impacted communities, the public, government, and the media.

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