Advocacy and Policy Counsel – Justice-Involved Specialist

Job Description:

 The Advocacy and Policy Counsel – Justice-Involved Specialist will work to advance the ACLU of Illinois’ Justice-Involved (including, not limited to, policing, criminal justice, juvenile justice, corrections and re-entry issues) policy agenda, and will help lead advocacy to advance and implement state and local legislative and policy initiatives. This includes analyzing and drafting state legislation and legislative amendments, preparing advocacy and public education materials, researching legal and policy issues related to state legislation, assessing emerging local, regional, and national trends, and strategizing opportunities to advance civil liberties and civil rights.

The Advocacy and Policy Counsel – Justice-Involved Specialist position is ideal for a person with exceptional analytical and writing abilities who is skilled at lobbying, public speaking, advocacy, and coalition building. The position is full-time with benefits, and based in Chicago, with regular travel to Springfield, and some travel to other parts of the state. The person will report to the Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs Director.


Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitor, research, and analyze opportunities to advance civil rights and civil liberties, with a focus on justice-involved issues, in the Illinois General Assembly, and in localities across the state.
  • Monitor, research, and analyze legislative activity and agency action implicating civil rights and civil liberties, with a focus on justice-involved issues, which includes, but is not limited to policing, criminal justice, juvenile justice, corrections and re-entry issues.
  • Develop and implement the ACLU of Illinois legislative agenda utilizing appropriate strategies and tactics; lobby members of the legislature, the Governor’s office, and agency staff; draft legislation and amendments; prepare and deliver both written and oral testimony; and participate in policy-related workgroups, coalitions, and meetings.
  • Build trusted relationships with lawmakers, agency decision-makers, staff, the Governor’s office, lobbyists, and other stakeholders by providing clear, fact-based analysis and resources; identify opportunities for bipartisan support on ACLU of Illinois issues.
  • Develop and produce advocacy and public education tools, including factsheets, reports and blog posts, as needed.
  • Represent the ACLU of Illinois in coalitions and develop relationships with allies and other organizations to further advocacy goals.
  • Develop strategies and work in partnership with allied organizations, individuals, and diverse coalitions.
  • Work with ACLU of Illinois staff in setting policy goals and developing strategies to defend and advance civil liberties and civil rights.
  • Coordinate and collaborate with staff to plan and implement effective multi-disciplinary and integrated advocacy policy initiatives, involving a combination of policy, legal, communications, and public education strategies.
  • Respond to media requests (TV, print, and radio) on policy issues and represent the ACLU of Illinois at events, forums, and meetings, as needed.


Experience and qualifications

  • At least 4 years of local, state, or national-level legislative, political, or policy advocacy work, preferably in Illinois.
  • At least 3 years of Illinois lobbying experience.
  • Knowledge of the Illinois legislative process.
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment, simultaneously handle many tasks, work efficiently and quickly, and meet deadlines, while remaining composed under pressure.
  • Demonstrated ability to think strategically and problem solve.
  • Ability to work cooperatively on a variety of projects with lawyers, other staff members and diverse community organizations and coalitions.
  • Ability to communicate effectively in legal and non-legal settings with a wide range of individuals, including those touched by the justice system.
  • Ability to follow directions, exercise sound independent judgment, work independently and on a team, meet deadlines, and maintain confidentiality.
  • Excellent written, analytical, and verbal communications skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to speak on public settings on behalf of one’s organization.
  • Strong commitment to team building and to positive organizational culture.
  • Commitment to work collaboratively and respectfully toward resolving obstacles and/or conflicts.
  • A strong commitment to civil liberties and civil rights.
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience.
  • Proficiency with Windows Operating System, especially with Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and other Office programs.
  • Creative and enthusiastic approach to the work.


Salary and benefits:

The salary will be in accordance with the ACLU salary scale. Excellent benefits include four weeks paid vacation after first year; 100% employer-paid medical, vision, and dental insurance for staff and eligible dependents; a 403(b) retirement benefits plan with employer match; life insurance; and long-term disability insurance.


How to apply:

Applicants should email a resume and cover letter describing: 1) your interest in this position, and 2) the ways in which you satisfy the qualifications specified above. Email and use the subject line “Advocacy and Policy Counsel.” No calls please. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.


About the ACLU of Illinois: ­­

With a staff of 40 and over 70,000 members, the ACLU of Illinois is one of the largest state affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union, a nationwide, non-partisan membership organization dedicated to the defense and expansion of civil rights and civil liberties.  The ACLU has been at the forefront of every major battle for civil liberties and social justice in the country and continues to work through integrated advocacy to advance equality, fairness, and freedom, especially for the most vulnerable in our society.