Executive, Public Relations, Senior Management, Legal, Fundraising, Politics/Lobbying, Program Admin/Management, Management
Advocacy, Human Rights, Non-profit, Technology, Foundations, Associations, Philanthropy, Government/Politics, Public Policy, Religious/Faith-based, Gay/Lesbian/B/T, Women/Girls, Disabilities, Civil Rights, Diversity, Social Justice

Executive Director

American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa (ACLU of Iowa) seeks a chief executive to lead a civil liberties agenda throughout Iowa. Founded in 1935, the ACLU of Iowa is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization that uses legal, legislative and public education approaches to protect and promote a broad range of constitutional-based individual rights and freedoms, including free speech, racial justice, immigrants’ rights, privacy, religious liberty, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and more. The ACLU of Iowa is an affiliate of the national ACLU, the leading defender of civil liberties guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution.

Based in Des Moines, the ACLU of Iowa is led by a volunteer Board of Directors and currently employs a staff of seven full-time positions. Iowa has a long history of civil rights leadership and becomes the center of national politics in the year leading up to the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. The state capital of Des Moines offers the amenities of a large city but has a lower cost of living. The greater Des Moines metropolitan area consistently ranks in the top ten of national polls for being a great city in which to live, do business or raise a family.

To learn more about the work of the ACLU of Iowa and the civil liberties principles we uphold, please visit To learn more about the American Civil Liberties Union visit To learn more about the greater Des Moines metropolitan area, visit

The Executive Director will serve as the chief executive of the ACLU of Iowa, with primary responsibility for managing the organization’s day-to-day operations, leading the organization’s fund development efforts, directing the work of a professional staff, and serving as the primary spokesperson for the ACLU of Iowa. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director ensures the organization is fiscally sound and that its internal and external communications, fund development, and programs are meeting its mission and goals.

The Executive Director will have a passion for civil liberties issues and have a demonstrable working knowledge of the current legal issues and policies surrounding civil rights and liberties. The individual must be an outstanding communicator who is able to convey effectively the mission and activities of the ACLU of Iowa to a variety of constituencies, as well as to the broader public.

The ACLU of Iowa is financially strong and has doubled its staff in the last few years. This has resulted in increased visibility of the organization and more collaboration with groups focused on immigrants’ rights, LGBT liberties, and fairness within our criminal justice system. The organization’s financial strength warrants further staff and programming additions.

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 of Iowa has two separate corporate entities in order to do a broad range of work to protect civil liberties.


Leadership and Vision
• Serve as an effective and visible spokesperson for the ACLU of Iowa, effectively articulating the organization’s history, programs, and mission. Represent the organization in the media, increase public awareness and broaden the organization’s reputation to strategic constituents.
• Establish a clear vision for the continued growth and expansion of the ACLU of Iowa. Provide direction to guide programs that align with the organization’s vision.
• Lead the organization’s fund development efforts with focus on increasing the number and capacity of major donors.
• Initiate and strengthen relationships and collaborations with organizations and leaders who are connected to the ACLU’s mission and purpose.
• Work in partnership with the board and staff to carry out policies approved by the Board of Directors.

General Management, Finance and Administration and Program
• Ensure day-to-day operations are professionally and efficiently organized and administered.
• Motivate and maintain a cohesive staff, ensuring that there is strong internal communication and coordination; recruit new staff when appropriate and evaluate staff performance.
• Oversee legal, legislative, and communications programs.
• Oversee the organization’s financial operations and ensure that sound financial controls are in place.
• Use technology to facilitate organizational management, fundraising, public education and lobbying.

Board Relations
• Implement policies, programs, goals, and objectives as established by the board.
• Work with the board to identify and help recruit new board members who will add diversity to the board and whose talents, interests and commitment will help to further the ACLU of Iowa’s mission.
• Regularly brief the board on the status of the organization.
• Engage the board in meaningful participation to further the organization’s goals.

The Executive Director should have the following experience and qualifications:
• Proven managerial, problem-solving, strategic planning, fund development and financial management experience in the private, not-for-profit, or public sectors.
• Credibility and experience to connect the ACLU of Iowa to resources and opportunities outside the organization; a successful track record of raising money from a variety of sources; major donor experience is preferred.
• Proven and successful track record in creating and implementing programs; experience in creating partnerships and collaborations.
• A history of communicating effectively in writing and verbally, including excellent public speaking skills for both formal and extemporaneous presentations; ability to represent the ACLU to the public.
• A record of success working in partnership with a board and staff of diverse personalities and talents.
• Ten years of professional experience and a Bachelor’s degree are minimum requirement.

Ideally, the successful candidate will be the following:
• Personally committed to advancing the ACLU’s values, mission, goals and programs, with an understanding of the range of civil liberties issues and their implications.
• A dedicated leader and representative who can translate vision into action; someone who is passionate about networking and representing the organization to critical constituencies including ACLU members, the public, government, and the media.
• A person who is intelligent and inspiring; able to conceptualize, express ideas and anticipate and act on events that create opportunities for the ACLU.
• An energetic person who can handle and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities; a self-starter and finisher.
• A decisive team player who inspires collaboration and is flexible and well-organized.
• Outgoing and straightforward; one who shares information easily; listens as well as gives advice; respects the abilities of others.

Salary based on experience. Excellent benefits include paid vacation, medical and dental insurance, retirement plan, life and long-term disability insurance, and generous paid holidays.

The ACLU 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.

Send a cover letter, resume, three professional references and a short, two-page business writing sample to:
Executive Director Search
ACLU of Iowa
505 Fifth Avenue, Suite 901
Des Moines, IA 50309-2316

Or send the above materials via email to: (Please include “Executive Director Search” in the subject line. )

All applicants’ names shall be kept confidential until semi-finalists have been chosen, at which time references will be contacted. The Executive Director Search Committee expects to contact qualified applicants by October 31, 2014 and to hold phone interviews with semi-finalists and in-person interviews with finalists shortly thereafter. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Please indicate in your cover letter where you found this job listing.

Contact Information

Search Committee
American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa
505 5th Ave.
Ames, Iowa 50010


Reference the job title and when applying for a job in addition to following all application instructions in the posting.

To receive targeted job listings like this one by e-mail please join the Registry.