Miami, Tampa, or Orlando



Deadline date

Complete applications received by April 19, 2022, will be assured full consideration.


Florida is the epicenter of the challenges to inclusive civil liberties and rights in America. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU of Florida) seeks an experienced, dynamic, and visionary chief executive to lead the organization’s statewide advocacy agenda during this important moment when constitutional rights are being degraded, especially for the most vulnerable in our society. The position requires a collaborative and driven leader with a broad range of knowledge and contacts, and a significant commitment to the furtherance of civil liberties/civil rights. The Executive Director is responsible for strategizing with the Board of Directors (Board), obtaining resources, and then executing the organization’s programs that address and resolve current and prospective civil liberties/civil rights issues amidst a difficult political climate.


The ACLU of Florida is one of 53 affiliates of the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization that has served as the preeminent defender of civil liberties/civil rights in this country since 1920. With approximately 40,000 members and a staff of 48, the ACLU of Florida is a dynamic, not-for-profit, non-partisan organization that engages in litigation, lobbying, field organizing, public education, and multi-platform communications to protect and promote civil liberties/civil rights throughout Florida. The ACLU of Florida is headquartered in Miami and has staffed offices in Jacksonville, Orlando, Pensacola, Tallahassee, and Tampa, as well as employees working remotely in other cities throughout the state. Additionally, the organization has ten chapters comprised of volunteers in various parts of the state. The organization’s work focuses on advancing civil liberties and civil rights in Florida, including issues pertaining to the liberties and rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, other provisions of the U.S. Constitution, the Florida Constitution, and/or federal and state laws. Although the ACLU of Florida deals with a wide range of issues, it currently focuses on three priority areas: criminal justice reform, immigrants’ rights, and voting rights. In addition to partnering with staff members from the national ACLU office and other affiliates on specific issues and projects, the ACLU of Florida frequently joins forces with other organizations to maximize its impact in Florida and beyond. For more information about the ACLU of Florida, visit www.aclufl.org.


The Executive Director is the chief executive officer of the ACLU of Florida and is the public face of the organization in all its capacities. The Executive Director provides leadership, direction, vision, and continuity to the organization, and has overall responsibility for the ACLU of Florida’s programs and operations. The Executive Director can be based in the Miami headquarters or in one of the other major offices located in Tampa or Orlando. The Executive Director receives direction from the ACLU of Florida Board of Directors through the President of the Board. The Executive Director works closely with the Board to ensure that the organization’s efforts further the mission and goals of the organization. These goals include programmatic goals set by the Board through its strategic plan, through participation in ACLU National’s Strategic Affiliate Initiative, and through operational plans to ensure the organization’s financial stability and growth.


Organizational Leadership

  • Provide a leadership role in the ACLU of Florida’s relationships with its members, chapters, and major donors to enhance the ACLU’s reputation
  • Implement best practices for effective organizational management, including practices that assess the effectiveness of projects undertaken by the ACLU of Florida, as developed and tested by other ACLU affiliates and similar advocacy organizations
  • Champion and value diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in working relationships with all stakeholders, and actively strive to assure the organization more closely reflects the communities it serves

Fund Development

  • Lead the staff and the Board in furthering a robust fundraising program that will continue to ensure the financial viability of the ACLU of Florida, including serving as a key participant in cultivating and stewarding donors and soliciting major gifts and major grants
  • Play an active role in recruiting and maintaining diversified donors from member categories to include foundations, individuals, corporations, and other giving entities
  • Work closely with development leaders at the ACLU of Florida to secure key donations

Advancing Civil Liberties/Civil Rights

  • Continue and build on the use of integrated advocacy by which civil liberties/civil rights issues are addressed in a cross-disciplinary approach that embraces litigation, lobbying, field organizing, policy analysis/development, non-partisan voter education/electoral engagement, and communications
  • Exhibit courage and clarity when addressing highly controversial and complex issues and lead the Board through thoughtful consideration of conflicting positions on those issues
  • Guard the organization’s integrity, credibility, and non-partisanship by emphasizing these qualities in all aspects of the ACLU of Florida’s work

Staff Leadership

  • Establish an inclusive culture that motivates the staff to come to work each day to provide the best service, growth opportunities, and value for the ACLU of Florida members
  • Recruit, continuously develop, and lead a diverse staff that serves civil liberties/civil rights with enthusiasm and deep understanding of the mission of the ACLU of Florida
  • Ensure the development of greater individual and collective expertise in all areas of the organization by establishing goals for respective departments and encouraging and motivating the staff to focus on the organization’s mission

Stakeholder Relations

  • Work closely with the Board and staff to develop and periodically update civil liberties/civil rights priorities, strategies, and policies, as well as design and implement campaigns that support the successful achievement of strategic goals
  • Liaise closely with staff, chapter leadership, the Board, and the Board’s established committees on issues of strategy, overall direction, governance, advocacy, and resource development to maximize the overall effectiveness of the ACLU of Florida
  • Coordinate with chapters to understand their needs and issues and to ensure consistency of the ACLU of Florida’s mission statement and brand
  • Assume the lead role in reaching out to like-minded peer organizations to develop strategic partnerships that advance the ACLU’s core mission

Affiliate Management

  • Ensure that the ACLU of Florida is recognized as a leading organization in all respects by fostering an environment of continuous improvement and effectiveness on every level, as well as leading and inspiring staff to meet priorities, realize initiatives, and fulfill the mission of the organization
  • Oversee daily administrative functions such as fiscal planning, budgetary oversight, and human resources
  • Directly supervise a senior leadership team that includes a deputy director for operations, chief financial officer, director of philanthropy, legal director, political director, communications director, and field director

Brand Management

  • Formulate and articulate to the membership, Board, staff, and the media a clear and accessible understanding of the ACLU of Florida’s civil liberties/civil rights positions, especially when such positions are unpopular
  • Maintain relationships with and learn from legal and social science scholars, educators, activists, civil liberties/civil rights advocates, and social change advocates in order to train the Board and staff with the expertise and knowledge they need to confront a wide range of policies and challenges
  • Oversee the branding and marketing areas of the ACLU of Florida


The Executive Director will work with the President of the Board of Directors to determine specific measures of success and their respective timetables. The following general metrics for the position are envisioned at this time:

  • Execution of strategic priorities
  • Achievement of fundraising goals
  • Staff satisfaction, retention, and diversity
  • Chapter scorecards that show measured improvement
  • Positive feedback from the ACLU National Office
  • Annual performance evaluation ratings that meet or exceed expectations
  • Progress in improving civil liberties in Florida


The ACLU of Florida’s Executive Director will be a respected and credible leader with a track record of delivering results and an unwavering commitment to the ACLU of Florida’s mission. Strong candidates will have many of the following professional qualifications and personal characteristics:

  • A history of significant and successful leadership experience with decentralized organizations in the nonprofit, government, academic, corporate, or military sectors
  • High emotional intelligence and proven experiences in leading and influencing diverse stakeholder groups — Board of Directors, staff, chapters, National ACLU, and partner organizations, each with their own complexities
  • A deep understanding of, and personal commitment to, the protection and advancement of civil liberties/civil rights
  • Proven success in building inclusive cultures, diverse teams, and equity-infused strategies
  • A record of successful problem-solving, strategic planning, fund development, and financial 4 leadership in the private, not-for-profit, or public sectors
  • Leadership in defining, implementing, and rallying public support for a strategic vision that advances an organization and its effectiveness in achieving its goals, including administering issue campaigns
  • Successful track record raising money from a variety of sources, especially from major donors
  • A history of creating and implementing programs, including partnerships and collaborations
  • Strong decision-making skills and ability to negotiate effectively on behalf of the organization
  • Excellent oral communication, including public speaking skills for both formal and extemporaneous presentations
  • Excellent persuasive writing skills and the ability to effectively communicate with the ACLU of Florida’s constituency and to a diverse audience, both directly and through the news media
  • Familiarity with technology necessary to facilitate organizational management, program development and implementation, and all other activities essential to the ACLU of Florida’s effectiveness
  • Proven track-record identifying, engaging, and cultivating new underserved audiences, markets, and/or demographic groups
  • Demonstrated ability to think creatively and entrepreneurially, employing a strategic and forward-thinking mindset
  • Ability to engage and inspire diverse volunteer groups
  • History of personal work on issues of equity, inclusion, and diversity and belonging, particularly on issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability
  • Successful experience as a collaborative culture-builder and talent champion


A competitive compensation package will be offered to the successful candidate. Benefits include paid vacation, medical and dental insurance, 401K plan, life and long-term disability insurance, and generous paid holidays.


The ACLU of Florida has exclusively retained Spelman Johnson to assist with this search. Review of applications will begin immediately with the goal of announcing the new Executive Director in June 2022. Complete applications received by April 19, 2022, will be assured full consideration. A resume with a cover letter that addresses the responsibilities and requirements outlined in this position specification may be submitted via the Spelman Johnson website at www.spelmanjohnson.com/open-positions.

Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson by phone at 413-529-2895 or email at info@spelmanjohnson.com.

Confidential inquiries and nominations should be directed to:

Jim Norfleet
Practice Leader and Senior Consultant
Email: jmn@spelmanjohnson.com
Direct: 609-577-3051

Roxanna Cruz
Search Consultant
Email: rpc@spelmanjohnson.com
Direct: 305-929-0245

The ACLU of Florida is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to proactively building and sustaining a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU of Florida encourages applications from all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, record of arrest or conviction, and any other characteristic protected by applicable law. The ACLU of Florida undertakes affirmative action strategies in its recruitment and employment efforts to assure that persons with disabilities have full opportunities for employment in all positions.


Spelman Johnson is a woman-owned executive search firm that specializes in recruiting outstanding leaders for higher education, independent schools, advocacy associations, and social impact organizations that change lives and advance the public good. Since the firm’s founding in 1991, Spelman Johnson has recruited and placed nearly 1,800 outstanding leaders. Their strong commitment to diversity has led to 30 percent of their searches resulting in the hiring of people of color and 43 percent in the hiring of women. For more information about Spelman Johnson, visit www.spelmanjohnson.com.