The ACLU seeks applicants for a full-time position of Senior Federal Policy Counsel in the National Political Advocacy Department of the ACLU’s National office in Washington, DC.  

The National Political Advocacy Department (NPAD) works to strengthen the efforts of the ACLU at the federal, state, and local levels of government. The department harnesses the political power that comes from having more than eleven million members and supporters, as well as affiliates in every state. Through grassroots organizing, lobbying and policy work, and issue campaigns, the ACLU seeks to achieve profound change in the legislative, administrative and electoral arenas. 

The position reports to the Federal Policy Director and Deputy Federal Policy Director, and will be a core member of a federal policy team that works to protect and advance civil liberties and civil rights at the federal policy level through policy development, direct advocacy with Congress and the Executive Branch, and collaboration with campaign-oriented issue divisions of NPAD.  The Senior Federal Policy Counsel has significant federal policy experience and a strong record of success in effecting federal policy change, with deep knowledge of political, legislative, and regulatory systems, able to provide strategic counsel and advocacy on federal policy issues that stretch across the civil liberties and civil rights space, and with the ability and experience to build and maintain relationships across both NPAD and ACLU departments and state affiliates. A core strength is the ability and commitment to engage in a collegial and effective approach to federal advocacy.  


  • Protect and advance civil liberties and civil rights through federal policy development (identifying policy challenges and opportunities, devising a response that addresses the problem through research, analysis, and writing) and direct advocacy focused on Congress and the Executive Branch
  • Although the position may cover the full breadth of ACLU issues, take specific day-to-day responsibility for developing and carrying out strategic federal policy advocacy on national security policies and programs that target or disproportionately impact communities of color, immigrants, and those who dissent against the government
  • Coordinate and convene policy and campaign staff across NPAD divisions on cross-divisional federal policy work, as well as in support of federal policy campaigns of an NPAD division
  • Work collaboratively with Legal Department staff on policy advocacy directed towards Congress or the Executive Branch to align their efforts with federal policy counsel in the Department’s divisions
  • Independently develop novel ideas and approaches to solving problems, in addition to sourcing existing policy ideas and approaches to civil liberties challenges
  • Independently draft bills, administrative rules/regulations, and Executive Orders at the federal level, providing content expertise as well as legislative and regulatory drafting knowledge
  • Prepare, provide guidance on, and/or deliver testimony on pending legislation before Congressional committees or federal regulatory agencies
  • Lobby elected federal officials, their staff, and Executive Branch officials to support of ACLU positions on pending legislation and policy initiatives as appropriate
  • Help support effective relationship management and coordination with key members of Congress and the White House
  • Coordinate and conduct in-depth civil liberties briefings for government officials as pertinent to advancing priority ACLU positions
  • Oversee management of a resource library for use by national and affiliate staff on key federal policy issues
  • Oversee coordination and briefings for national and affiliate staff on key federal policy issues
  • Help leverage relationships held by ACLU affiliates with members of Congress, as relevant, in advocacy efforts in furtherance of policy outcomes
  • Represent the ACLU in coalition meetings focused on federal policy issues with respect the core issues outlined above or on an as needed basis
  • In collaboration with ACLU Communications staff, provide expert commentary to media, participate in media briefings, and write or contribute to op-eds and other publications, as relevant
  • Organize, lead, and work with outside groups to bolster support for ACLU policy goals or to minimize opposition to those goals
  • Provide senior-level guidance to other policy staff, particularly policy staff in NPAD divisions, and interns
  • Engage in special projects and other duties as assigned  
  • Center principles of equity, inclusion, and belonging in all work, embedding the values in program development, policy application, and organizational practices and processes 
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the mission of the ACLU 
  • 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, disability and socioeconomic circumstance 
  • Demonstrate a commitment to work collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts


  • Law degree is strongly preferred
  • Fluency, or the demonstrated capacity to attain fluency, in most or all of the broad substantive areas most directly impacting civil liberties and civil rights, which are also areas in which ACLU expertise is often most influential with Congress or the Executive Branch: constitutional law (in particular, First Amendment, due process, equal protection, privacy, separation of powers/congressional authority), civil rights law and the overall architecture of civil rights protections, criminal law, and technology/science and the law
  • Background in policy development or advocacy related to opposing or dismantling national security policies and programs that target or disproportionately impact communities of color, immigrants, and those who dissent against the government strongly preferred
  • Prior federal lobbying experience, or work as policy staff in a congressional or Executive Branch office strongly preferred 
  • Significant experience working in political, policy, legal, or government settings; high degree of familiarity with public policy and legislative, administrative, and electoral processes
  • Sophisticated judgment; experience giving advice and counsel to a principal  
  • High level, substantive, and extensive experience in federal policy development 
  • Demonstrated expertise in one or more areas or fields of specialty covered by the ACLU 
  • Ability to work independently as well as within a team
  • Experience with media, preferably having served as a spokesperson
  • Excellent interpersonal, relationship building and communication skills, including at the highest levels of government and politics 
  • Excellent research, writing, analytical, and communication skills
  • Ability to communicate complex legal and policy issues to government decision makers, and the general public; expertise in field of policy
  • Ability to work and communicate quickly and accurately, handling multiple projects and deliverables under pressure 


The annual salary for this position is $143,943 (Level E). This salary is reflective of a position based in Washington, DC. This salary will be subject to a locality adjustment (according to a specific city and state), if an authorization is granted to work outside of the location listed in this posting. Note that most of the salaries listed on our job postings reflect New York, NY salaries, where our National offices are headquartered.


The ACLU dares to create a more perfect union – beyond one person, party, or side. Our mission is to realize this promise of the United States Constitution for all and expand the reach of its guarantees.

For over 100 years, the ACLU has worked 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 LGBTQ+ community, 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 cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion are core values of the ACLU and central to our work to advance liberty, equality, and justice for all. We are a community committed to learning and growth, humility and grace, transparency and accountability. We believe in a collective responsibility to create a culture of belonging for all people within our organization – one that respects and embraces difference; treats everyone equitably; and empowers our colleagues to do the best work possible. We are as committed to anti-oppression and anti-racism internally as we are externally. Because whether we’re in the courts or in the office, we believe ‘We the People’ means all of us.

The 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 and record of arrest or conviction, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law. Black people, Indigenous people, people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people; women; people with disabilities, protected veterans, and formerly incarcerated individuals are all strongly encouraged to apply.

The ACLU makes every effort to assure that its recruitment and employment provide all qualified persons, including persons with disabilities, with full opportunities for employment in all positions.

The ACLU 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 email benefits.hrdept@aclu.org. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.

The Department of Education has determined that employment in this position at the ACLU does not qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.


Apply for this Job

* Required
resume chosen  
(File types: pdf, doc, docx, txt, rtf)
cover_letter chosen  
(File types: pdf, doc, docx, txt, rtf)

Voluntary Self-Identification

For government reporting purposes, we ask candidates to respond to the below self-identification survey. Completion of the form is entirely voluntary. Whatever your decision, it will not be considered in the hiring process or thereafter. Any information that you do provide will be recorded and maintained in a confidential file.

As set forth in ACLU - National Office’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy, we do not discriminate on the basis of any protected group status under any applicable law.

Race & Ethnicity Definitions

If you believe you belong to any of the categories of protected veterans listed below, please indicate by making the appropriate selection. As a government contractor subject to the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), we request this information in order to measure the effectiveness of the outreach and positive recruitment efforts we undertake pursuant to VEVRAA. Classification of protected categories is as follows:

A "disabled veteran" is one of the following: a veteran of the U.S. military, ground, naval or air service who is entitled to compensation (or who but for the receipt of military retired pay would be entitled to compensation) under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs; or a person who was discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability.

A "recently separated veteran" means any veteran during the three-year period beginning on the date of such veteran's discharge or release from active duty in the U.S. military, ground, naval, or air service.

An "active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran" means a veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. military, ground, naval or air service during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized under the laws administered by the Department of Defense.

An "Armed forces service medal veteran" means a veteran who, while serving on active duty in the U.S. military, ground, naval or air service, participated in a United States military operation for which an Armed Forces service medal was awarded pursuant to Executive Order 12985.

Form CC-305

OMB Control Number 1250-0005

Expires 05/31/2023

Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability

Why are you being asked to complete this form?

We are a federal contractor or subcontractor required by law to provide equal employment opportunity to qualified people with disabilities. We are also required to measure our progress toward having at least 7% of our workforce be individuals with disabilities. To do this, we must ask applicants and employees if they have a disability or have ever had a disability. Because a person may become disabled at any time, we ask all of our employees to update their information at least every five years.

Identifying yourself as an individual with a disability is voluntary, and we hope that you will choose to do so. Your answer will be maintained confidentially and not be seen by selecting officials or anyone else involved in making personnel decisions. Completing the form will not negatively impact you in any way, regardless of whether you have self-identified in the past. For more information about this form or the equal employment obligations of federal contractors under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) website at www.dol.gov/ofccp.

How do you know if you have a disability?

You are considered to have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment or medical condition that substantially limits a major life activity, or if you have a history or record of such an impairment or medical condition.

Disabilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Autism
  • Autoimmune disorder, for example, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, or HIV/AIDS
  • Blind or low vision
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular or heart disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Deaf or hard of hearing
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, for example, Crohn's Disease, or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Intellectual disability
  • Missing limbs or partially missing limbs
  • Nervous system condition for example, migraine headaches, Parkinson’s disease, or Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Psychiatric condition, for example, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, or major depression

PUBLIC BURDEN STATEMENT: According to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 no persons are required to respond to a collection of information unless such collection displays a valid OMB control number. This survey should take about 5 minutes to complete.