Des Moines, IA



Deadline date

Applications will be reviewed beginning the week of October 26 and will be accepted until the position is filled.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa (ACLU of Iowa) seeks a sophisticated, dynamic team player to fill the position of Policy Counsel. The Policy Counsel works with the ACLU of Iowa’s senior leadership team and is responsible for advancing the ACLU’s broad civil liberties agenda before the state legislature, executive branch, and local governmental bodies.  

The ACLU of Iowa, the statewide affiliate of the national ACLU, is a private, nonprofit, non-partisan organization that defends civil liberties and civil rights through litigation, legislation, and public education, in areas including but not limited to voting rights, racial justice, criminal justice reform, immigrants’ rights, free speech, reproductive freedom, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and privacy rights. Our office is located in downtown Des Moines, near the Iowa Capitol.

The Policy Counsel will work under the supervision of the Executive Director and in close collaboration with other staff, including the Legal and Communications Directors and our Advocacy team. Our office follows an integrated advocacy model, using legislative, legal, and communications strategies to achieve significant statewide civil liberties impact.


  • Implement the ACLU of Iowa’s state legislative agenda utilizing appropriate strategies and tactics, lobby members of the legislature, their staff, and the Governor’s office, analyze and track legislation that affects civil liberties, identify opportunities for support on ACLU issues from across the political spectrum, draft amendments and present the ACLU’s position on legislation at public subcommittee meetings;
  • Implement the ACLU of Iowa’s local policy work at the municipal and county levels with an eye toward statewide impact, cultivate relationships with key elected and appointed officials, staff, policymakers and related governmental bodies and leaders;
  • Coordinate and collaborate with the Legal and Communications Directors and Advocacy staff to plan and implement effective multi‐disciplinary policy initiatives and campaigns;
  • Work with contract lobbyists or other professionals hired to assist with lobbying activities;
  • Work in partnership with staff from associations and other organizations to further the legislative and policy agendas;
  • Represent the ACLU of Iowa at meetings, public events, and forums;
  • Research and draft legislative and policy materials, including briefing papers, issue briefs, talking points, and reports (recent examples of this type of work include drafting internal legal and policy analyses, factsheets and public-facing blog posts on Iowa’s Voter ID law, comments on state agency proposed administrative rules limiting the use of seclusion and restraint on children in schools, city anti-racial profiling ordinances and written testimony for legislative subcommittee meetings and public hearings) as well as action alerts and website updates;
  • Respond to media requests on legislative and policy issues;
  • Work collaboratively with the national ACLU and other ACLU affiliates to advance national ACLU policy campaigns, including work with Iowa’s Congressional delegation;
  • Attend national and regional ACLU training and staff conferences; and
  • Perform other related duties as assigned by the Executive Director.


  • J.D. required, with at least one year of experience in political, legislative or policy related work preferred;
  • Understanding of the range of civil liberties issues and commitment to advancing the ACLU’s values, mission and goals;
  • Exceptional analytical, research, writing and oral advocacy skills, as well as the ability to articulate legal concepts and complex issues and communicate them tactfully and effectively to a variety of audiences;
  • Understanding of the legislative and state agency rulemaking processes in Iowa;
  • Ability to work successfully with a diverse range of state and local stakeholders;
  • Ability to work effectively in and with coalitions;
  • Ability to implement short and long-term integrated legislative and policy strategies;
  • Ability to work independently and keep organized in a fast-paced environment, manage multiple projects simultaneously and adjust strategy to frequently changing demands;
  • Ability to work collaboratively with colleagues across programs and functions;
  • Ability to work effectively with diverse coalitions and community groups, work across the political spectrum, and value differences of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socio‐economic circumstances;
  • Commitment to the highest ethical standards of lobbying and professionalism; and
  • Ability to work long hours during legislative session, full time during interim, and commute to meetings and events throughout the state, as needed.  Personal and public safety will continue to be prioritized by our affiliate until the pandemic is under control.


Starting salary range for this position is: $65,000-75,000, depending on experience. Excellent benefits include health and dental insurance plans, life and long‐term disability insurance; defined retirement contribution plan with employer match; paid sick, vacation and holiday leave.


Submit via email a letter of interest, resume, professional writing sample of no longer than 7 pages, and three professional references (including their email address, phone number, and relationship to you). Combining these materials in one PDF document is strongly preferred. Application materials can be directed to Mark Stringer, at jobs@aclu-ia.org.

Please put “Policy Counsel” in the subject line of your email. Also, please indicate in your letter of interest where you heard about this job.


Applications will be reviewed beginning the week of October 26, 2020 and will be accepted until the position is filled (at which time the job description will be removed from the ACLU of Iowa website).

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, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, and record of arrest or conviction.