Deadline date

The ACLU of Florida has retained Spelman Johnson to assist with this search. While applications will be accepted until a new Executive Director is selected, interested individuals are encouraged to submit their application materials by January 29, 2024.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida invites inquiries, nominations, and applications for the position of Executive Director. The ACLU of Florida seeks an experienced, strategic, and visionary chief executive to lead the organization’s statewide advocacy agenda during this important moment when civil liberties and civil rights are front and center across the nation and in Florida.

The ACLU of Florida is one of 54 state affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that has served as the preeminent defender of civil liberties/civil rights in this country since 1920. Headquartered in Miami, the ACLU of Florida has 42 employees and four offices throughout the state.


Democracy is in crisis in the state of Florida. The governor and state legislature continue to pass unconstitutional bills and enact devastating policies that assault frontline communities and individuals across the state, stripping Floridians of their civil rights and liberties and turning the state into a testing ground for an anti-democratic agenda.

The attacks have been relentless and on all fronts. In the last year alone, reproductive freedom, LGBTQ+ rights, and First Amendment protections have come under assault. The ACLU of Florida staff has worked vigorously to defend against these attacks and to expand and protect voting rights, protect First Amendment freedoms against censorship of library books and what can be taught in classrooms, reform the deeply flawed criminal justice system, and protect immigrant communities.

This is an extremely important time for the ACLU of Florida that will set its course for the future. It is a moment of great opportunity as the organization is building a new board of directors and positioning the affiliate to resist a wave of unprecedented attacks on the most fundamental civil rights and liberties. While this is a challenging time for the organization, the foundation of work that the ACLU of Florida has built over the past 58 years will enable the affiliate to continue to protect and defend the rights of the people of Florida.

The Position



The Executive Director serves as the chief executive officer of the ACLU of Florida and provides leadership and direction to achieve the organization’s mission, goals, and strategies. The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors and ensures that the organization is dynamic, effective, fiscally sound, and an “employer of choice” in pursuit of the ACLU’s mission. The Executive Director has primary responsibility for managing the organization’s day-to-day operations, leading the organization’s fundraising efforts, directing the work and development of a professional staff, and serving as chief spokesperson for the organization. Click here for the official position description.

Key elements of the role include:

Executive Leadership and Vision

  • Possess a clear understanding of civil rights and liberties and Florida’s landscape.
  • Lead the Florida affiliate’s lay leaders and staff to a shared vision of goals and strategies that advance the National ACLU’s mission and program goals.
  • Bring an entrepreneurial mindset to the work.
  • Serve as the chief marketer, fundraiser, communicator, and spokesperson.
  • Grow and expand the ACLU’s reputation, developing and maintaining key relationships of influence.
  • Exhibit courage and clarity when addressing highly controversial and complex issues.
  • Lead collaboratively with the Board of Directors to implement a model of strategic governance.
  • Guard the organization’s integrity, credibility, and non-partisanship.
  • Champion and value diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the organization to strive towards a culture of belonging.
  • Motivate and maintain a cohesive staff, ensuring strong internal communication and collaboration.
  • Foster a supportive team-oriented environment where independent and innovative thinking is encouraged, staff act with clarity of mission and purpose, and model an environment of continuous improvement, learning, and effectiveness.


  • Drive the organization’s issue priorities with a clear vision and strategies that build organizational power and influence, leveraging past successes and adapting effectively to the external environment.
  • Ensure disciplined prioritization of the work, clear program goals, and strategies that are scaled to the goals.
  • Ensure strong relationships with national program staff that leverage the full weight of the organization.
  • Operate strategically in a political and social environment where success depends on the ability to collaborate effectively with individuals and organizations across the political spectrum.

Strategic Financial Management

  • Lead long-term financial planning activities that balance a future vision with financial and legal risk considerations.
  • Oversee fiscal planning and financial oversight, ensuring use of best practices that meet the highest standards.
  • Lead a robust fundraising program to protect the Florida affiliate’s long-term financial stability, steward key donor relationships, and solicit major donations.
  • Anticipate funding needs and seek out opportunities to meet those needs.
  • Collaborate with national staff to implement the national fundraising model, participate in nationwide convenings, and ensure that fundraising platforms are utilized effectively in the Florida affiliate.
  • Ensure that the board can meet its fiduciary responsibilities by proactively and transparently providing financial reports, conducting regular audits, and engaging the board in the budgeting process.

Cross-Functional Leadership

  • Model collaboration and communication regardless of role or position.
  • Build relationships with stakeholders and foster their participation in cross-functional project work.
  • Inspire and achieve a shared vision—think holistically about the organization and elicit executive-level summaries of capacity, performance, resources, and outcomes from leadership teams.
  • Lead the board and staff with courage and clarity when addressing highly controversial and complex issues.

External Relations and Communications

  • Represent the Florida affiliate’s priorities on key issues, articulating the organization’s positions and communicating its mission to increase its visibility and the public’s understanding of the goals and work.
  • Maintain strong relationships with the media, guiding organizational strategy and working effectively with the national communications staff to maximize nationwide messaging and amplify local priorities.
  • Initiate and strengthen relationships and collaborations with organizations and leaders connected to ACLU’s mission and purpose—including staff at ACLU National when appropriate.
  • Clearly articulate the organization’s positions and work on a broad array of complex issues to a wide variety of audiences.
  • Convey an inspiring vision and communicate with intention and clarity about decisions and rationale.
  • Communicate with a wide range of stakeholders with empathy, emotional intelligence, and respect; work effectively in cross-cultural settings.
  • Value, empower, and support a diverse set of voices to represent the organization’s positions on its work.


The ACLU of Florida seeks a proven leader who is energized by the challenges of the moment and the many others that will emerge. The next Executive Director will have strong leadership and management skills, a track record of exceptional accomplishment, and experience leading change. The position requires emotional intelligence and proven experience building high-performing teams, a deep understanding of and commitment to protecting civil liberties/civil rights, and a record of successful problem-solving, strategic planning, fundraising, and financial leadership.

While no single candidate will likely have all the ideal qualifications and characteristics, candidates should possess many of the following attributes:


  • Ten years of professional experience and a bachelor’s degree; an advanced degree and prior nonprofit experience are preferred
  • Nonprofit leadership experience
  • Deep understanding of civil rights/liberties
  • Familiar with Florida and its civil rights landscape
  • Ability to be primarily located in Miami and travel in the state as needed
  • Proven fundraising and fiscal management experience with a solid track record of success
  • Proven managerial, problem-solving, strategic thinking, and human resource experience in the private, not-for-profit, or public sectors
  • Ability to see opportunity ahead and lead the organization to a shared vision of its future
  • Ability to distinguish between transactional behaviors and transformational leadership behaviors
  • Ability to manage a top-tier group of donors and increase their investment in the Florida affiliate
  • Embody an ‘equity mindset,’ committed to understanding how decisions may reinforce systemic inequities and demonstrate an ability to be a respectful and responsible player in the larger ecosystem
  • Exemplify a “governance and leadership mindset,” committed to creating and maintaining a strong partnership with the Board of Directors
  • Balance a decision-making role with the needs of multiple stakeholders
  • Practice data-informed decision-making
  • Earn trust through authentic and vulnerable leadership practices
  • Ability to see and create financial opportunities that ensure financial stability and growth
  • Possess a proven track record in developing and implementing successful programs, including experience cultivating partnerships and collaboration opportunities
  • Exhibit superior communication ability; excellent written and verbal communication skills with expertise in public speaking skills for both formal and extemporaneous presentations; ability to represent the ACLU to a broad public
  • Possess a record of success working in partnership with a board and staff of diverse personalities and talents
  • Demonstrate a strong work ethic
  • Ability to interact effectively with stakeholders from divergent geographical and socioeconomic backgrounds
  • Experience working with boards and volunteers and strategic planning
  • Ability to work independently and as a member of a team
  • Possess excellent problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • Ability to multitask and work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
  • Exhibit proficiency with computers: Windows, Microsoft Office, Google Suites, Zoom, and Asana (project management tool)
  • Be creative, result-oriented, self-starting, willing to learn, and able to manage an aggressive schedule, working beyond 9 to 5 as needed
  • Possess a firm commitment to the mission, values, and principles of the ACLU

Personal Characteristics

  • Strong personal commitment 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, anticipate, and act on events that may create opportunities for the ACLU
  • A leader who prioritizes honesty, transparency, trust-building, and conflict resolution with a track record of leading a diverse team with care and respect
  • Creative, strategic, resourceful, and politically astute; someone who understands the value of creating partnerships with other organizations as a way of accomplishing the ACLU’s goals
  • An energetic person who can manage and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities; a self-starter and finisher
  • A team player who inspires collaboration and functions decisively; flexible and well-organized
  • Outgoing and straightforward; someone who shares information easily, listens as well as gives advice, and respects and enhances the abilities of others
  • Emotionally mature and self-confident, with a sense of humor in order to maintain balance and perspective


Soon after joining the ACLU of Florida, the Executive Director will work with the Board of Directors to identify specific quantitative and qualitative measures of success and their timetables.

In the short term, the Executive Director’s success will be measured by the degree to which they learn and are able to navigate the complexities of the ACLU of Florida and the state of Florida, serve as a compelling communicator and public voice for the affiliate, build relationships with staff and key constituencies, and earn the trust and respect of staff, board members, and partners across the state, region, and country. In the longer term, the Executive Director’s success will be measured by the development and implementation of a collective vision for the Florida affiliate, the achievement of long-term organizational goals and strategic plans, and demonstrated effectiveness in the cultivation and stewardship of financial resources.

Institution & Location



Chartered in 1965, the ACLU of Florida is one of the largest local affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation’s foremost guardian of liberty. With 42 staff members and an annual operating budget of $8 million, the ACLU of Florida engages in a closely coordinated and integrated approach to advocacy that encompasses litigation, organizing, policy and legislative advocacy, and communications to protect and promote civil liberties and civil rights throughout the state of Florida. The ACLU of Florida comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the ACLU Foundation of Florida, which engage in a broad range of work to protect civil liberties/civil rights.

The ACLU of Florida is headquartered in Miami with four offices across the state. In addition to partnering with staff members from the ACLU national 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. The ACLU of Florida is active in championing a broad range of civil liberties, including freedom of speech, association, press, and religion; the right to privacy; reproductive freedom; LGBTQ+ equality; voting rights; due process of law; freedom from police misconduct; rights in the criminal legal system; the rights of the disabled; and the right to fair and equal treatment under the law for all.


Guiding Principles and Values

Board of Directors

For more information about the ACLU of Florida, visit www.aclufl.org.


Compensation for this position will be between $175,000 and $205,000, commensurate with experience. Benefits include health and dental insurance, 401K retirement plan, life and long-term disability insurance, and generous paid vacation, holidays, and sick leave.

Application & Nomination


The ACLU of Florida has retained Spelman Johnson to assist with this search. While applications will be accepted until a new Executive Director is selected, interested individuals are encouraged to submit their application materials by January 29, 2024, to assure full consideration. A resume with a cover letter that addresses the responsibilities and requirements outlined in the position specification may be submitted via the Spelman Johnson website at www.spelmanjohnson.com/open-positions.

Confidential inquiries and nominations should be directed to Jim Norfleet, practice leader and senior consultant, at jmn@spelmanjohnson.com. 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.

Visit the ACLU of Florida website at www.aclufl.org.

The ACLU is an equal opportunity employer. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The ACLU 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, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law. Black people, Indigenous people, people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex people; women; people with disabilities; protected veterans; and formerly incarcerated individuals are all strongly encouraged to apply.