Des Moines



Deadline date

Applications will be reviewed beginning the week of August 1, 2022, 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, under the direction of the Policy Director, 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 team follows an integrated advocacy model, using legislative, legal, and communications strategies to achieve significant statewide civil liberties victories.


  • 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, cultivating relationships with key elected and appointed officials, staff, policymakers, and related governmental bodies and leaders;
  • Coordinate and collaborate with the Legal and Communications Directors to plan and implement effective multi‐disciplinary policy initiatives and campaigns as assigned;
  • Work with contractors hired to assist with lobbying or other advocacy 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 newly enacted laws, comments on state agency proposed administrative rules, draft municipal, county and school board recommended policies, 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 Policy Director.


  • J.D. required, with at least one year of experience in political, legislative or policy-related work preferred;
  • Iowa bar admission within six months of start date;
  • Understanding of the range of civil liberties issues and commitment to advancing the ACLU’s values, mission, and goals;
  • Familiarity with Iowa state and federal politics;
  • 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;
  • Familiarity with legal requirements of nonprofit organizations with regard to lobbying and advocacy;
  • Complete commitment to nonpartisan lobbying and advocacy;
  • 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 the 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.

Our office is located in downtown Des Moines, near the Iowa Capitol. Work location is fairly flexible. Currently, this position would have the choice of primarily working remotely or in the office, with the requirement to be available and willing to work or meet in the office or offsite as needed or as assigned, especially during the legislative session. Candidates receiving a job offer will be required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 upon commencing employment. Reasonable accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis for exemptions to this requirement in accordance with applicable law. Applicants should be aware that for external-facing roles, particularly those involving close contact with vulnerable individuals, accommodations that involve remaining unvaccinated against COVID-19 may not be deemed reasonable.


Starting salary range for this position is $65,000-$85,000 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 Pete McRoberts, at policy@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.

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.