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State Advocacy Associate

This position presents an exciting opportunity to join NACDL’s expanding state advocacy team and support reform efforts on a wide range of criminal justice issues.

Department: Policy
Location: Washington, D.C.
Schedule: Full-time
Supervisor: Senior Director of Advocacy


This position presents an exciting opportunity to join NACDL’s expanding state advocacy team and support reform efforts on a wide range of criminal justice issues, including public defense, racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system, criminal discovery reform, body cameras and facial recognition technology, the decriminalization of poverty, reducing barriers to reentry, and more. The State Advocacy Associate supports these important efforts through their experience and expertise in research and policy, exceptional communication and collaboration skills, demonstrated effective writing experience, and superior organizational skills.


The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. NACDL envisions a society where all individuals receive fair, rational, and humane treatment within the criminal justice system. The Association’s mission is to serve as a leader, alongside diverse coalitions, in identifying and reforming flaws and inequities in the criminal justice system, and redressing systemic racism, and ensuring that its members and others in the criminal defense bar are fully equipped to serve all accused persons at the highest level.

Essential Functions & Responsibilities:

Working in conjunction with the State Advocacy team this role will:

  • Track state criminal justice legislation, including developing a proficiency in NACDL’s advocacy and legislative tracking software
  • Respond to requests for advocacy assistance from NACDL’s state affiliate and partner organizations
  • Engage state affiliate and partner organizations in assessing their advocacy needs
  • Build and maintain strategic relationships with national, state and local partners
  • Identify new partners and opportunities for community engagement to further NACDL’s policy priorities
  • Support and assist in managing state legislative issue campaigns, under the direction of the Senior Director of Advocacy
  • Draft testimony, written statements, and letters for state legislatures
  • Develop communication strategies to advance NACDL advocacy and state legislative issue campaigns
  • Assist in organizing NACDL’s annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference
  • Coordinate other national convenings, webinars, and events to promote NACDL’s policy priorities

Education, Experience and Competencies:

Qualified candidates will possess a strong commitment to social justice and to NACDL’s mission. Ideal candidates will have a demonstrable interest in criminal or social justice issues either through professional experience, academic studies, or community activities.

The ideal candidate will have:
  • Bachelor’s degree in Communication, Public Policy, or similar field
  • 3-6+ years of professional experience in advocacy, preferably related to social justice or criminal justice, or relevant volunteer/community experience
  • Experience working on issue-based campaigns
  • Exceptional organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Demonstrated capability to manage multiple projects and deadlines simultaneously, including the ability to move projects, tasks, and assignments along to meet important benchmarks and deadlines
  • Some experience with event planning preferred
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office, especially Excel and PowerPoint
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Adept at social media
  • Ability to travel domestically on an occasional basis
This role will be expected to:
  • Work well with NACDL’s leaders, members, staff and allies
  • Cultivate relationships with a broad cross-section of criminal justice system stakeholder groups
  • Share original ideas and take ownership of projects
  • Be adaptable when dealing with unexpected difficulties
  • Work both independently and collaboratively with a national team that is currently primarily a remote team

Benefits and Application Process:

This position is based at NACDL’s Washington, D.C. office, conveniently located near several downtown Metro stations. However, due to the COVID-19 virus, employees are working remotely. This position will be expected to work from the office once it is safe to do so (or once we return to regular operations). The salary range is $45,000 - $50,000, commensurate with experience. NACDL employees enjoy a generous package of employee benefits, including subsidized health, dental and vision insurance, company-paid life and disability insurance, flexible spending accounts, a pre-tax commuting subsidy, a 401(k) plan with generous company contributions, paid time off and paid holidays.

To apply: Send cover letter, resume and writing sample (3-5 pp.) to with “State Advocacy Associate” in the subject line.  Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Position open until filled, and prospective candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

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