The Alliance for Justice

For over forty years, the Alliance for Justice (AFJ) has been the premier organization advocating for a fair and independent judicial system and greater access to justice for all.  Headquartered in Washington, DC, with four satellite offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Houston, AFJ uses a distinct and unique combination of technical and content expertise, well-developed media contacts, a strong network of legal advocates and grassroots supporters to both influence the judicial selection process and empower its 120 organizational members to boldly advocate for the causes and values that will move our country toward a more progressive and participatory democracy.  By pursuing both of these objectives, AFJ champions and seeks to secure a government where all voices, regardless of wealth, power, or privilege, are heard and valued.

In July 2021, AFJ’s President and Founder, Nan Aron, will be stepping down, leaving a rich and enduring legacy.  As AFJ seeks its next leader, it meets the moment as a pillar organization in the progressive movement, equipped with a stellar reputation, undisputed and unique expertise, political muscle, and a vast network of fair court advocates.  AFJ’s next President will have the opportunity to build upon this track record and engage the growing interest in the courts amongst the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors – while harnessing the recent surge of activism from young people, elected officials, and others who support a more diverse judiciary committed to equal justice.

AFJ has two distinct but complementary programs.  Its Justice Program focuses on ensuring that the federal judiciary advances core constitutional values, preserves human rights and unfettered access to the courts, and adheres to the standard of even-handed administration of justice for all.  AFJ’s cutting-edge research, thoughtful analysis, and targeted advocacy efforts make it the “go-to source” for well-qualified nominees, members of Congress, advocates, and the media. 

Its Bolder Advocacy Program provides technical resources and training for nonprofits and foundations to help them navigate federal laws surrounding 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), and PAC regulations so that they can be more forceful advocates.  Across the country, assaults on civil and human rights have illustrated the tremendous importance of civic engagement.  Nonprofits and the philanthropic community are working to safeguard reproductive rights, access to health care, protections for women, immigrants, formerly incarcerated individuals, consumers, workers, and the environment with an unprecedented outpouring of energy and activism.  These groups are also employing a host of advocacy strategies—many for the first time—to protect our democratic principles and institutions.  AFJ’s Bolder Advocacy program serves as an indispensable resource for funders and nonprofits seeking to maximize their advocacy to create change.

AFJ’s companion 501(c)(4) organization, Alliance for Justice Action Campaign (AFJAC), also promotes the national conversation about the importance of the courts and uses advocacy as a tool to serve the public interest. 

AFJ’s staff, board, and member organizations all share one goal: to champion a fair and independent judicial system, and secure a democracy where all voices, regardless of wealth, power, or privilege, are heard and valued. It regards that mission as being more important than ever, after a historic and unprecedented assault on the independence and quality of the federal judiciary.

The Role

As the Alliance for Justice works toward a more just future, it seeks a visionary President who will be a core and prominent leader in the progressive movement. 

The President will amplify the advocacy work of the AFJ on federal judicial nominations to ensure that highly qualified people ascend to the federal bench.  They will prioritize the nominations and confirmations of judges who bring diversity to the federal bench, advancing AFJ’s goal of transforming the justice system to be more reflective of our nation’s greatest strength: our diversity.

The President reports to the AFJ Board of Directors and is responsible for the overall leadership, management, and programming of AFJ and AFJAC.  The President’s job is to energize and activate AFJ’s strategic vision, while advancing its mission and the interests of its member organizations in the external environment.

Specific responsibilities include:

Develop a dynamic organization while providing vision and focus.  The Alliance for Justice represents a highly motivated organization with multiple activities occurring simultaneously and on a variety of issues, with a unique combination of professional staff, allies, board members, donors, and member organizations.  The President must inspire, motivate, delegate, and honor these multiple constituencies to advance the mission of AFJ.  AFJ is committed to building and retaining a diverse and inclusive staff, and to meeting their expectations, and those of the union that represents them, as an exemplary employer. 

Manage through change.  The effectiveness of AFJ’s President will depend on how well they manage opportunities in current and future political environments, and how nimble the President is in responding to external challenges.  The next President will need to embrace and be energized by both internal and external changes, be open and responsive to stakeholder and constituent needs, and continually expand AFJ’s reach, relevance, and base.

Represent, lead, and be the voice of AFJ, enhancing AFJ’s visibility and influencing public opinion.  The President of AFJ reaches decision-makers and influences public opinion on issues vital to AFJ’s mission.  The new President must be able to convey AFJ’s activities effectively and persuasively to thought leaders and the broader public through a wide variety of communication tools.  The new President must be prepared to assume a leadership role influencing judicial appointments in the new administration.

Attract new supporters, allies, strategic partners, advocates, and donors.  AFJ continues to grow and diversify its base of support, which has been and will continue to be essential in expanding its impact.  The new President will be central to AFJ’s resource development efforts.  The President will be AFJ’s key leader in nurturing new partnerships, collaborations, and coalition efforts.  The President of AFJ also must be comfortable working with other social justice and civil rights organizations on legislative and policy matters as they arise, sometimes taking the lead and sometimes as an ally.

Candidate Profile

The President of AFJ will demonstrate capacity for leadership through vision, communication, inspiration, and action.  The ideal candidate will be an experienced and respected leader in the nonprofit, legal, or public sectors.  They will have a track record of accomplishment, have served in complex leadership and management roles, and possess exceptional strategic, advocacy, political, fundraising, organizational, and interpersonal skills. 

The President will be a confident, credible, and motivational leader, capable of energizing AFJ during a time of great change and opportunity.  They must be totally aligned with AFJ’s mission.  The next President will be a relentless and effective force in advocating for the important role that the courts play in our everyday lives. 

Personal competencies required for the position:

Credibility and Experience: The successful candidate will bring credibility and capacity to empower AFJ partners and members to make their case to elected officials and to the public.  They will bring a profound interest in civil and human rights issues and an understanding of the legal and political levers that can be applied to achieve concrete outcomes.  AFJ’s next President will ideally bring significant judicial appointments and progressive advocacy experience and an interest in appellate advocacy and judicial policy that enables them to identify and anticipate issues and develop bold strategies to advance AFJ’s core mission. 

Strategic Vision: The successful candidate will be a strategic thinker who will work with senior staff and the board to establish policies and plans to achieve AFJ’s mission and deliver results.  They will be capable of developing differentiated strategies and creative approaches to address diverse audiences.

Inclusive and Participatory Management: The successful candidate must be an involved and inclusive manager, who will engender trust so that AFJ functions in an orderly and fiscally responsible manner.  AFJ’s staff is its greatest asset.  As such, the next President should have a track record of recruiting and motivating a professional and high performing staff, and possess the emotional intelligence to effectively engage and clearly communicate across both managerial and collegial relationships.  The successful candidate must also embrace AFJ’s recently unionized workforce and work effectively with its representatives.

Leadership: Along with the board and management team, AFJ’s next President will be able to set strategic direction for the organization, prioritize and define clear goals for staff, and delegate implementation to ensure that deliverables are met.  Further, the President will have the executive skills to work effectively with AFJ’s Board and engage them in advancing the goals of the organization.

Communication and Development Skills: The successful candidate will be a persuasive communicator and a strong public speaker who can articulate AFJ’s vision through various media formats.  They must enjoy fundraising and view it as a key priority.  They will have the experience and track record to be the organization’s primary fundraiser with foundations, corporations, and major donors.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: AFJ’s people are its most valuable assets.  Each AFJ employee should experience an organization that is welcoming and one that values the richness of their lives and experience.  To this end, the President will be committed to creating an explicitly egalitarian work environment and will be responsible for translating the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion commitments into specific strategies and tangible acts.  The successful candidate will have a deep and authentic connection to these values.

Integrity and Interpersonal Acumen: The successful candidate will possess a track record of the highest personal and professional integrity.  The successful candidate will also be bold, resilient, compassionate, and motivational.  They must be able to inspire trust, commitment, and optimism, while persevering in the face of challenges and setbacks. 

Judgment: The successful candidate will need to readily master the organizational and political environment and must have the intellectual capacity to think critically and strategically.  They will be able to make timely and wise decisions and take appropriate risks to achieve results.  Likewise, they will be thoughtful about deploying AFJ resources to maximize outcomes aligned with strategic plans and core institutional values.  They will listen to and learn from key stakeholders inside and outside of the organization and will be an inclusive and independent thinker who can manage ambiguity and devise solutions even when a clear path is not evident.

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How to Apply

Russell Reynolds Associates has been exclusively retained for this search and prospective candidates are invited to contact Russell Reynolds Associates directly. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

To apply for the role or submit a nomination, please reach out to: [email protected].