Policy Advocate/Counsel for Immigrants’ Rights & Racial Justice

Policy Advocate/Counsel for Immigrants’ Rights & Racial Justice

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa (ACLU-IA) seeks an experienced advocate to guide a new program to fight for the rights of immigrants and promote racial justice.  In addition, this position would provide assistance on these issues to our legislative director with lobbying and advocacy efforts at the statehouse, as well as assist with legal research and litigation support as appropriate and needed.

Founded in 1935, the ACLU-IA is a not-for profit, nonpartisan organization which uses legal, legislative and public education approaches to protect and promote a broad range of constitutional issues related to individual rights and freedoms, including free speech, racial justice, privacy, religious liberty, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and more. The office in Des Moines has a current staff of six.  The ACLU-IA is an affiliate of the national ACLU, the leading defender of civil liberties guaranteed by our nation’s Bill of Rights. To learn more about the work of the ACLU and the civil liberties principles we uphold, please visit www.aclu-ia.org and www.aclu.org.


The ACLU of Iowa’s new immigrants’ rights initiative is intended to be a coordinated legislative, litigation, advocacy, and public education effort to both advance and protect the rights of all people regardless of immigration status, and to fight back against laws, policies, and practices that harm and discriminate against immigrants.  Issues related to racial justice, particularly in the context of the criminal justice system, are anticipated to also be included in the program.

The Immigrants’ Rights & Racial Justice Policy Advocate/Counsel will work with ACLU of Iowa staff, its coalition partners, and impacted communities to aggressively battle state and local attempts to pass anti-immigrant legislation, as well as to push for positive measures that protect immigrants from discrimination and assist their efforts to integrate into civic life.  The advocate/counsel will work to design multi-faceted advocacy campaigns, focusing on strategic alliance formation, public engagement, coalition building, and mobilization of supporters and impacted communities to advance immigrants’ rights.


  • In conjunction with legislative, litigation, communications, and other advocacy staff, assist with statewide advocacy efforts, including lobbying, developing legislative objectives and strategies, coalition building, and decision-maker engagement to further public policy outcomes.
  • Develop program capacity to carry forth strategic alliance-building efforts with law enforcement, businesses, faith-based groups, labor, and other key allies.
  • Coordinate and facilitate statewide network of immigrant rights advocates.
  • Participate in interdisciplinary planning to achieve policy goals.
  • Monitor and analyze legislation and other state or local policy activity relevant to equality issues.
  • Work cooperatively with national ACLU staff on federal issues, including lobbying efforts targeting members of the Iowa congressional delegation.
  • Draft policy analyses designed to effect change by state and local policymakers.
  • Develop and produce effective advocacy tools.
  • On occasion, speak publicly at state and local forums, conferences and meetings, as well as to print journalists and broadcast media from radio, the internet and television.
  • Assist with a variety of civil liberties litigation efforts as needed.



Degree from an accredited law school strongly preferred. Non-lawyers with extensive, substantive experience with legislation         relating to immigrants’ rights and/or racial justice will be considered.  Admission to the Iowa Bar within one year of hire is the expectation for those with a law degree.

•      Fluency or strong proficiency in spoken and written Spanish strongly preferred.  Translation experience especially valued.

•      Legislative and/or policy experience, ideally including the development and coordination of successful legislative, political,    or organizing campaigns.

•      Experience working with immigrants and communities of color required.

Strong, demonstrated interest in civil liberties and social justice; familiarity with racial justice issues and immigrants’         rights are essential.

•      Superior analytic, writing, and strategic planning skills required.

Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, including ability to speak to the media, are essential.

•      Proficiency in and experience with social media and other internet advocacy preferred.

Experience and relationships in the Iowa legislative arena especially valued.

  •     Ability to synthesize complex issues and communicate them effectively to diverse audiences, including: attorneys, advocates,         impacted communities, supporters and the general public.
  •     Demonstrated ability to take initiative, think creatively, work well under tight deadlines, and manage multiple priorities and         projects effectively.
  •     Ability to work well with fellow staff at all levels in the organization, including willingness and ability to work with     colleagues remotely.
  •     Willingness and ability to drive within the state, as well as fly to conferences out of state.



Salary based on experience. Excellent benefits include paid vacation, medical and dental insurance, pension plan, life and long-term disability insurance, parking, cell phone subsidy, and generous paid holidays. Initial period of employment is probationary.



Send a cover letter, resume, three professional references and a short, two-page legal writing sample to: ACLU of Iowa, ATTN: Human Resources, 505 5th AVE Suite 901, Des Moines, IA 50309 or email to: job@aclu-ia.org.

Please put “Advocacy Counsel” in the subject line.


Applications accepted until position is filled. Please indicate in your cover letter how you became aware of this position. The ACLU of Iowa comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and the ACLU Foundation of Iowa. Both entities have the same overall mission, and share office space and employees.  The ACLU has two separate corporate entities in order to do a broad range of work to protect civil liberties.


The ACLU of Iowa is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and encourages applications from all qualified individuals including women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.