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US Vacancies

- Director, National Affairs, USA

Director, National Affairs




Type:                    Full-Time


Supervisor:          Managing Director, Policy

Department:        Public Policy


Location:             Washington, DC


Last Day to Apply:  Applications will be reviewed immediately and will be accepted until the position is filled.   



About DPA 


The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the leading organization in the U.S. promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. We envision a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights; in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies but only for crimes against others; and in which the fears, prejudices, and punitive prohibitions of today are no more. Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug misuse and drug prohibition, and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies.


The Director of National Affairs will join our passionate, diverse, and creative team at a critical time for the drug policy reform movement in the United States. U.S. leaders are now doubling down on the war on drugs, using it as a tool to stoke fear in society and rally their base, and as an excuse to lock up or deport people of color and immigrants. Tens of thousands of people are dying from opioid overdoses, with little meaningful response by the federal government. At the same time, we are seeing state and local governments taking action, increasingly legalizing marijuana, passing Good Samaritan laws, and even exploring safe consumption sites. Public opinion, too, is increasingly in our favor, with ever larger numbers of people supporting alternatives to current policies of prohibition and criminalization. In this context, DPA’s expertise on drug policy, rigorous analysis, and strong, principled voice stand to make an enormous difference in shaping public opinion and policy, and ultimately making a concrete difference to the lives of millions in the U.S. and beyond.


Over the last 15 years, DPA has expanded from its New York headquarters to a total of eight offices, nearly 80 staff, an annual operating budget of approximately $16 million, 25,000 donors and more than 300,000 online subscribers.  It has a solid track record of success at the local, state, and federal levels and consistent visibility in prominent media and policy circles. For more information, please visit our website at www.drugpolicy.org.


DPA is on the verge of embarking on an organization-wide strategic planning process. This means that the Director of National Affairs will have a key opportunity to contribute to the planning process and help shape the organization’s strategy and priorities for the next few years.


The Position


The Director of National Affairs leads DPA’s work before the US federal government and manages DPA’s Washington, DC-based Office of National Affairs. The Director will develop and implement national strategies for ending the federal war on drugs and manage department staff. Reporting to DPA’s Managing Director, Policy, and working closely with DPA’s Policy Team, Media Department, Digital Department, and state offices, the Director will be broadly responsible for:



Leading, developing and managing DPA’s federal and national policy agenda and strategy;


Developing strong relationships at the federal level with key policymakers in support of DPA’s agenda, and spearheading the organization’s federal legislative and advocacy work.


Managing the Office of National Affairs, including supervising staff;


Engaging intensively with the news media on federal and national issues related to drug policy, including through op-eds and statements;


Developing and implementing national communications strategies in collaboration with DPA Media and Digital Departments, and mobilizing DPA’s members through email action alerts;


Working with other departments to build the Drug Policy Alliance’s email list, membership, and name recognition;


Contributing to DPA management activities, strategic planning, fundraising and coordinating operations for DPA’s affiliated 501(c)(4) organization, Drug Policy Action.




Primary Responsibilities


The Director of National Affairs is responsible for the following: 


Developing and articulating a vision for national drug policy that is consistent with the organization’s overall mission, philosophy, and strategic approach;

Seeking out and identifying opportunities to promote DPA’s core priorities at the national level;

Seeking out and identifying opportunities to push the envelope with drug policy reform at the national level;

Directly supervising two Deputy Directors, including ensuring their responsibilities and job duties are fulfilled, and indirectly supervising a Policy Manager, Policy Associate and volunteer interns participating in the Office of National Affairs Legislative Internship Program;

Supervising and managing the work of contracted lobbyists, consultants, and other contractors hired by the Office of National Affairs;

Leading and overseeing all aspects of the organization’s legislative, advocacy and program activities in Washington, DC, including

meeting, building and maintaining relationships with members of Congress, congressional staff, executive branch employees, and drug policy, public health, criminal justice, harm reduction and other advocates;

forming and participating in legislative coalitions;

organizing policy forums and other educational activities on Capitol Hill;

testifying before congressional committees; and

filing lobbying and campaign finance disclosure reports as necessary to meet federal reporting requirements.

Contributing to DPA management, oversight, quality control and internal communications;

Contributing to DPA fundraising activities, both locally and nationally;

Working with the Management Team and Office of National Affairs staff to design an annual work plan and budget;

Working with the Communications Department on national media strategies, writing press releases and op-eds, and speaking to the press on congressional, national and other issues;

Working with the Digital Program on designing national advocacy campaigns and writing email alerts that build DPA’s email list, membership, and name recognition and raise money;

Writing on DPA issues; reading and keeping up with latest scientific, legal and policy issues and making sure staff for the Office of National Affairs stay abreast too;

Speaking and presenting on drug policy reform issues at conferences, fora, and other events;

Participating in organization-wide activities such as policy issue teams, DPA’s bi-annual conference and strategic planning;

Mentoring professional staff, student interns, and volunteers.


Additional Responsibilities Will Likely Include


Identifying and responding to emerging opportunities at the local or state level in states where DPA doesn’t have offices to advance DPA’s agenda with an eye towards national impact. Determining factors for weighing emerging opportunities at the local or state level include the type of reform, and the extent to which the reform opportunity creates state/federal conflict, galvanizes supporters, garners media attention and builds DPA’s national brand;


Assisting and coordinating with allies and other DPA programs to advance strategic local and non-resident state work and put pressure on members of Congress to support federal change;


In collaboration with other DPA programs, coordinating select non-resident state campaigns and projects, such as state legislation, grassroots mobilization, and events, to maximize state wins to influence national policy makers;


Overseeing, in coordination with other DPA programs, all aspects of the operations of DPA’s affiliated 501(c)(4) organization, Drug Policy Action:


developing Drug Policy Action’s political action agenda and ensuring its consistency with the organization’s mission, vision, and goals;


overseeing political action committees at the federal and state level; and


coordinating with local, state, and national allies and working with DPA’s Communications Team to mobilize supporters and put pressure on candidates;





The ideal candidate will have: 


Demonstrated leadership skills, including 7-10 years’ progressively senior management experience in public policy advocacy, government relations or legislative affairs at the national level;

Track record of success in building support for policy change, including coordinating legislative campaigns at the federal or national level;

Track record of success in building coalitions in pursuit of a shared agenda to achieve concrete results;

Strong leadership abilities and experience managing complex advocacy projects;

Excellent verbal, written, and analytic skills;

Strong management skills and experience;

Ability to be a self-starter and be detail-oriented;

Ability to build and cultivate respectful and positive relationships with people and organizations of various orientations and personal backgrounds;

A strong commitment to DPA’s mission to end the war on drugs, including a commitment to harm reduction, civil and human rights, and racial justice;

Commitment to accuracy and high standards of quality for work;

Commitment to a collegial, constructive work environment, and to the wellbeing and professional development of staff;

US criminal justice reform and/or public health experience strongly preferred;

Familiarity with drug policy highly preferable;

Experience and interest in US foreign policy, immigration policy, and other areas (such as housing or social benefits) impacted by the war on drugs highly desirable;

Experience working with communities or individuals impacted by the war on drugs, including people who use drugs, highly desirable;

Strong interpersonal skills, flexibility, creativity, curiosity and a good sense of humor;

Availability to work occasional evenings and weekends and to travel periodically throughout the region, and nationally; 


Terms of Employment


This position requires the candidate to live in the Washington, D.C. area.  Telecommuting will not be considered.  Some travel required.






The base salary for the job grade of this position is $87,500.00. Any offer of employment will take into account the particular candidate’s skills and experience. DPA offers a competitive benefits package including health, dental, long-term disability, and life insurance; a generous 403(b) plan; and 25 days paid time off.





Applications will be reviewed immediately and will be accepted until the position is filled.




Application Process



Please submit your application with resume, cover letter, and brief writing sample at: https://drugpolicy.bamboohr.com/jobs



No phone calls, please. We will only contact candidates who are under consideration.


The Drug Policy Alliance is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. DPA encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, ethnicity, personal appearance, political affiliation, family responsibility, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status and record of arrest or conviction. We are particularly interested in hiring people who have been adversely affected by the war on drugs.




Job posted on 21st July 2018

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