Executive Director

American Civil Liberties Union | New Orleans, Louisiana


For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, employing litigation, public policy advocacy, public education and communications to protect and promote a broad range of civil rights and civil liberties. We champion the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, including individual rights and freedoms such as freedom of speech, racial justice, the right to privacy, religious liberty, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and immigrant rights. With more than a million members, activists, and supporters, the ACLU is a nationwide and non-partisan 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 or national origin.

The ACLU has a 50-state network of staffed affiliate offices filing lawsuits in both state and federal courts. The ACLU appears before the United States Supreme Court more than any other organization except the U.S. Department of Justice.

The ACLU is nonprofit and nonpartisan. We do not receive any government funding. Member dues as well as contributions and grants from private foundations and individuals pay for the work we do.

Since 1956, the ACLU of Louisiana (ACLU-LA) has worked to advance and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States and the State of Louisiana.  As part of the nationwide network of ACLU affiliates, the ACLU-LA is one of the state’s premier public advocacy organizations. We are led by a 13-member Board of Directors and a current staff of three. Our mission is timely, our staff is committed, and we are poised for significant growth.

Our office is located in the heart of New Orleans’ Central Business District. New Orleans is in southeastern Louisiana, and occupies both sides of the Mississippi River. Founded by the French, ruled for 40 years by the Spanish, and bought by the United States in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, New Orleans is known for its distinct French and Spanish African Creole architecture, cross-cultural and multilingual heritage, cuisine, music (particularly as the birthplace of jazz), and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. Whether seeking outdoor sports and recreation or modern urban endeavors like world-class restaurants and a myriad of cultural attractions, New Orleans is a wonderful place to call home.

Job Summary

We are seeking a dynamic, experienced, and entrepreneurial leader to grow our staff, our reach, and our impact to build upon our history of successes in the courtroom and the state legislature to advance the cause of civil liberties in the state of Louisiana with an emphasis on criminal justice reform, racial justice, voting rights, and immigrants’ rights.

The Executive Director will serve as the chief executive officer of the ACLU-LA, with primary responsibility for managing the organization’s day-to-day activities and operations, leading the organization’s fundraising and development efforts, directing the work of a professional staff, and serving as the primary spokesperson for the ACLU-LA. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will ensure that the organization is fiscally sound and that its internal and external communications, fundraising and development, and programs are meeting the current and emergent needs and interests of its constituents.

The Executive Director will have a working knowledge of civil liberties issues and policies and be a leader and manager who is adept at balancing internal management with external impact and visibility. The individual must be an outstanding communicator who is able to convey effectively the mission and activities of the ACLU-LA to a variety of constituencies, coalition partners, and the broader public.


Critical responsibilities for the Executive Director include:

 Leadership and Vision 

  • Serve as a visionary leader to raise the profile of the organization throughout the State of Louisiana.
  • Establish a clear vision for the continued growth and expansion of the ACLU-LA.
  • Provide direction to guide programs that align with the organization’s vision.
  • Be an effective and visible spokesperson for the ACLU-LA, representing the organization in the media, community organizations, educational institutions and all other public arenas.
  • Initiate and strengthen relationships and collaborations with organizations and leaders throughout the state of Louisiana who are connected to the ACLU-LA’s mission and purpose.
  • Work in partnership with the Board and staff to carry out policies approved by the Board of Directors.
  • Collaborate with the national ACLU to leverage national resources and insure the affiliate’s compliance with national policy.

General Management, Finance, and Administration and Program 

  • Ensure by effective management and leadership that the day-to-day operations are professionally and efficiently organized and administered.
  • Lead the organization’s major gifts fundraising efforts and maintain a portfolio of the affiliate’s donors.
  • Oversee the organization’s financial operations including ensuring that sound financial controls and accounting procedures are in place, preparing the annual budget for Board approval, and providing regular financial reports for Board review and oversight.
  • Determine staffing needs for the organization in consultation with the Board and develop a growth plan.
  • Lead, coach, develop and retain a cohesive staff, ensuring that there is strong internal communication and coordination.
  • Ensure that staff has the necessary tools to carry out their assigned duties within budgetary limitations.
  • Formally evaluate the performance of staff members and program components at least once a year.
  • Direct and evaluate legal, legislative, and communications programs to ensure ongoing programmatic excellence and successful advocacy.
  • Actively engage and energize the ACLU-LA volunteers, Board members, partner organizations, and donors to help develop, maintain, and support a strong Board of Directors.

Board Relations 

  • Implement policies, programs, goals, and objectives as established by the Board.
  • Work with the Board to identify and help recruit new Board members who will add diversity to the Board and whose talents, interests, and commitment will help to further the ACLU’s mission.
  • Regularly brief the Board on the status of the organization.
  • Engage the Board in meaningful participation to further the organization’s goals.
  • Help to staff Board meetings, executive committee, and other committees as needed to develop and implement organizational goals.
  • Provide needed tools and resources to the Board to implement an annual campaign and other development activities.
  • Implement other duties assigned by the Board of Directors.


The Executive Director should have the following experience and qualifications:

  • Proven managerial, problem-solving, strategic planning, fund development, and financial management experience in the private, not-for-profit, or public sectors.
  • Credibility and experience to connect the ACLU-LA to resources and opportunities outside the organization; a successful track record of raising money from a variety of sources; major donor experience is preferred.
  • Proven and successful track record in creating and implementing programs; experience creating partnerships and collaborations.
  • A history of communicating effectively in writing and verbally, including excellent public speaking skills for both formal and extemporaneous presentations; ability to represent the ACLU-LA to a broad public.
  • A record of success working in partnership with a Board and staff of diverse personalities and talents.
  • At least seven years of professional experience and a Bachelor’s degree are minimum requirements; an advanced degree is preferred.


Ideal Characteristics

The successful candidate will demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • Personal commitment to advancing the ACLU’s values, mission, goals, and programs with an understanding of the range of civil liberties issues and their implications.
  • A dedicated leader and representative who can translate vision into action; someone who is passionate about networking and representing the organization to critical constituencies including ACLU-LA members, the public, government, and the media.
  • A person who is intelligent and inspiring; able to conceptualize, express ideas, and anticipate and act on events which may create opportunities for the ACLU-LA.
  • An entrepreneur who is creative, strategic, resourceful, and politically astute; someone who understands the value of creating partnerships with other organizations as a way of accomplishing the ACLU-LA’s goals.
  • An energetic person who can handle and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities; a self-starter and finisher.
  • A team player who inspires collaboration and functions decisively; flexible and well-organized.
  • Outgoing and straightforward; one who shares information easily; listens as well as gives advice; respects the abilities of others.

How to Apply

Please send a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications for the position and resume to [email protected] Please include your last name in the subject line along with ED Search. (Example: Smith ED Search) All applications will be confidential. Beginning January 8, 2018, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.


This job announcement 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 description and/or posting at any time without advance notice.

The ACLU of Louisiana is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU-LA 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-LA 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 [email protected] 

The ACLU of Louisiana comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana. Both are statewide organizations with the same overall mission, and share office space and employees. The ACLU-LA 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-LA.”

American Civil Liberties Union