Founded in 1923, the ACLU SoCal has been at the forefront of many major efforts to protect civil liberties, civil rights, and equal justice in California. Principled and nonpartisan, ACLU SoCal has offices in Los Angeles, Orange County (Santa Ana), the Inland Empire (San Bernardino), and Kern County (Bakersfield). ACLU SoCal tackles a vast array of issues, including criminal justice, police practices, First Amendment rights, gender equity and reproductive justice, LGBTQ rights, immigrants' rights, education equity, economic justice, and voting rights.


The ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) seeks an experienced, visionary and collaborative Criminal Justice Project Director to lead our work in Southern California to end mass incarceration, over-criminalization, and racial inequities in criminal legal systems; to improve reentry for people who are impacted by the criminal legal system; to create policy and conditions improvements for people who are incarcerated; and to enhance civic participation of people who are currently or formerly incarcerated.

The Criminal Justice Project Director will lead and manage the ACLU SoCal’s interdisciplinary Criminal Justice team of litigators, policy counsels, policy advocates and organizers throughout the Southern California region working to radically transform our criminal legal systems; bring to fruition new, creative approaches to community safety that are community-based, holistic, proportionate, rehabilitative and transformative; increase transparency and accountability of Sheriffs and District Attorneys; expand voting rights for incarcerated people; enhance civic participation of systems-involved people; and improve justice and conditions for incarcerated people in county jails in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

The Criminal Justice Project Director will guide the vision for, lead the direction of, be a primary spokesperson for the Project, as well as manage and implement both long- and short-term complex, multi-disciplinary, proactive and reactive campaigns to drive largescale change. The Criminal Justice Project Director will manage annual planning and budgeting, supervise a team of people across ACLU SoCal’s offices, collaborate with the Communications and Media Advocacy Department to devise and support communications advocacy, collaborate with the Activist Engagement and Development Project to develop and build an activist base and volunteer leaders and collaborate with the Philanthropy Department to support fundraising efforts.

The Criminal Justice Project Director will also directly engage in advocacy and campaigns and collaborate with Project Directors, attorneys, policy advocates and organizers from other ACLU SoCal Projects as needed on intersectional criminal justice related work such as the Education Equity Project’s work to stop the school-to-prison pipeline and law enforcement presence in schools; the Policing Project’s work to reform police practices; the Economic Justice Project’s work to end the criminalization of poverty; the LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project’s work to stop profiling and criminalization of LGBTQ people, gender nonconforming people and sex workers, as well as improve conditions for LGBTQ people, women and pregnant people in incarceration settings; and the Immigrants’ Rights Project’s work to stop the prison-to-deportation pipeline. The Criminal Justice Project Director will also be a part of the ACLU of California statewide Criminal Justice team and will support the ACLU of California’s Sacramento legislative advocacy office on legislative analysis and advocacy.

The Criminal Justice Project Director will be supervised by the Director of Advocacy/ Legal Director within the ACLU SoCal Advocacy Department.


Full-time, Exempt


  • Vision, design, build, lead and manage an active, cutting edge criminal justice program that includes policy advocacy, litigation and legal advocacy, legislative advocacy, administrative advocacy, electoral advocacy, organizing, public education, civic engagement and strategic communications.
  • Serve as primary subject matter expert and spokesperson for ACLU SoCal’s criminal justice work.
  • Lead planning and budgeting processes for the ACLU SoCal Criminal Justice Project’s priorities; participate in intersectional planning with other Projects; and manage the budget.
  • Supervise staff attorneys, policy counsels, policy advocates and organizers, and provide subject-matter supervision and support for other ACLU SoCal staff working on criminal justice related issues.
  • Forge and maintain relationships with people impacted by criminal justice work and people who have been through the legal system, community partners, decision-makers, government officials, allied organizations and academics to implement collaborative projects and foster positive, effective working relationships while focusing on a people power-based theory of change.
  • Meaningfully incorporate people who have been impacted by the legal system into all aspects of your criminal justice work, helping to elevate and center their expertise and leadership whenever possible.
  • Collaborate with and provide support to people in other ACLU affiliates in California and the Sacramento legislative office, as well as colleagues at the national ACLU.
  • Serve as primary contact with the Communications and Media Advocacy Department to collaborate on and implement communications advocacy strategies.
  • Serve as primary contact with the Philanthropy Department to support fundraising efforts, manage grants and interface with donors and boards, as needed.
  • Design, manage and implement advocacy, education, organizing and narrative change campaigns to achieve criminal justice policy change.
  • If an attorney, litigate and serve as senior counsel on criminal justice litigation. If not an attorney, manage legal work by attorneys with support from senior attorneys.
  • Participate in regular meetings of Project Directors and the Advocacy Department and participate in leadership and administrative tasks requested by the Advocacy Director to ensure smooth management and communication throughout the Department.
  • Other duties, as needed and assigned.


The ACLU SoCal anticipates hiring a visionary leader with experience in legal, policy, or organizing work in the criminal justice field – with a preference for 10 or more years of experience – and with a demonstrated commitment to civil and human rights, racial justice and strong advocacy and management skills.


  • Experience developing and leading legal, policy, legislative or organizing campaigns to advance civil liberties and civil rights.
  • Experience managing people or teams developing and implementing advocacy.
  • Experience leading visioning, planning and budgeting processes, and writing plans and budgets.
  • Experience working with system-involved people and communities. People with personal experience with the criminal justice system, including people who are formerly incarcerated or have a close family experience with incarceration, are encouraged to apply for this position.
  • Excellent research, writing, analytic and speaking skills.
  • 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, ability to inspire collaboration and inspire others to action and a demonstrated ability to work well in diverse coalitions.
  • 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.
  • A deep and demonstrated commitment to the cause of civil liberties and civil rights.
  • Willingness to travel regularly within Southern California as well as occasionally to other parts of the state.


  • Familiarity with or experience working on social justice issues in Southern California and connections to Southern California communities affected by mass incarceration and organizations working in those areas.
  • Experience being a spokesperson, engaging with the press or writing opinion pieces.
  • A demonstrated commitment and track record of doing intersectional advocacy and taking an intersectional approach to criminal justice transformation work.
  • Spanish language fluency.


The salary range for this position $105,000-$150,000, depending on an applicant’s experience and if they are a lawyer who will have to take on the additional responsibility of supervising the team’s litigation. Benefits include medical, vision, and dental insurance for staff members and their eligible dependents; life and long- term disability insurance; 401(k) plan with employer match; ample vacation and sick leave and thirteen paid holidays.


Please submit a resume, cover letter, a writing sample, and three references to (NO Phone Calls PLEASE) with the subject title “Criminal Justice Project Director” or mail to:

HR Department — Criminal Justice Project Director
ACLU of Southern California
1313 W. 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017


Open until filled.

ACLU of Southern California is committed to developing a culture of diversity, equity, respect, and inclusion and to strive to maintain a workforce that reflects the communities that we serve. The ACLU SoCal is an equal opportunity employer that does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of any status or condition protected by applicable law.  We encourage all qualified individuals to apply and value people of all races, genders (including gender identity or expression), sexual orientations, disabilities, citizenships, ages, religions, and national origins and who have different marital statuses, family caregiving responsibilities, lived experiences with the criminal justice systems, and genetic information.  ACLU SoCal does not tolerate discrimination or harassment on the basis of any of these characteristics. 


The ACLU SoCal is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual with a disability and need assistance applying online, please e-mail  If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.



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