Director of Policy Advocacy

Reports to the Executive Director

Based in Sacramento Office

About Western Center on Law and Poverty

For over 50 years, Western Center on Law and Poverty (WCLP) has led the fight to end poverty and secure housing, health care, a strong safety net, and racial and economic justice for all low-income Californians. Western Center brings about system-wide change through impact litigation, legislative, policy and administrative advocacy at the state and federal level, and support for legal services and community-based organizations. With offices in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Oakland, we are California’s largest legal services support center. For more information, please visit our website:

Position Summary

As we prepare for the retirement of our longtime Policy Director Mike Herald, Western Center is looking for a dynamic and strategic leader to serve as our new Director of Policy Advocacy. The Policy Director will advance Western Center’s mission and values through policy change, leadership on Western Center’s overall advocacy strategy, and growing partnerships with community, stakeholders, and policy makers. Our Policy Director will advance a strong, coordinated vision for Western Center’s advocacy and lead our policy advocates as they work collaboratively to advocate for and oppose legislation and engage in administrative advocacy.

What You’ll Do

The Policy Director is based in Sacramento, reports to the Executive Director in Los Angeles, and is responsible for the following:

  • Create lobbying and government relations strategy to advance Western Center’s mission and advocacy goals and facilitate cohesion among advocacy team to work toward shared goals.
  • Supervise at least 5-6 policy advocates and an advocacy assistant by providing strategic support and feedback as well as mentorship and oversight of performance and professional development.
  • Assist staff in developing meaningful performance goals and professional development goals and provide regular feedback on their progress.
  • Work with advocates to brainstorm and develop statewide (and possibly some national) policy proposals that address systemic economic and racial injustices, particularly where they intersect between issue areas.
  • Promote and monitor legislation to fight poverty and advance economic and racial justice in Western Center’s issue areas.
  • Seek new opportunities for groundbreaking legislation to address several intersecting Western Center issues at once – identify advocacy opportunities that allow the team to work smarter not harder.
  • Open doors in Sacramento for Western Center advocates to establish, maintain, and grow the political capital of the organization and each advocate’s own political capital and network.
  • Maintain limited individual advocacy portfolio; draft legislative bills and policies; testify and issue letters in support of or opposition to legislation.
  • Leverage experience with budget advocacy, relationships with key budget staff, and working relationships with Department of Finance and key administrative agencies to further Western Center policy priorities.
  • Regularly speak to press and write about Western Center’s legislative priorities and other policy issues relevant to Western Center’s work.
  • Serve on Western Center’s leadership team and identify opportunities for cross-organization collaboration.
  • Work closely with the ED and the development team to secure funding for program activities. Work with policy staff to ensure timely reports to fulfill grant requirements.
  • Manage the logistics of the Sacramento office in conjunction with the Los Angeles-based operations team.

Who You Are and Keys to Success

To be successful in this job, you will excel in these areas:

  • Relationship building:You develop and nurture strong, collaborative relationships with a desire to grow and share access with allies and community partners. You earn trust through long-term connection and support, open and transparent communication and decision-making, and active listening. You have experience building and working in coalitions that center the lived experience of impacted communities. You can explain policy landscapes and need for policy change in an energizing and accessible manner to policymakers, community members, funders, media, and stakeholders.
  • Making a difference:You have a track record of significant policy advocacy that centers racial and economic justice and is informed by community-driven advocacy. You have substantial lobbying and negotiation experience, strong research and analysis skills, and a persuasive oral and written communication style.
  • Contributing to one team: You work across the organization to contribute to the greater good and to exemplify Western Center’s mission and values. You have an inclusive, approachable, focused, and empowering leadership style to train, mentor, and develop Western Center’s policy advocacy team.
  • Commitment to racial equity and social justice: You have an in-depth understanding of the historical context of policies that undergird poverty and systemic racism and use that to frame and prioritize Western Center’s anti-racism and anti-poverty policy goals and advocacy strategies.
  • Understanding the intersection of law, administration, and policy: You have a deep understanding of the interplay between California and federal legislation and how they are implemented in real life, and seek ways to work with Western Center’s litigation team where there are relevant connections.

Additional Qualifications of the Ideal Candidate

While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications listed below, the Policy Director of Western Center will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities and experiences:

  • Experience and expertise in poverty law and knowledge of California and federal programs affecting low-income people is necessary; prior work at or experience with legal services and/or community-based organizations is a plus.
  • Lived experiences that motivate and inform your personal and professional journey; meaningful connection and ability to reflect the experiences, backgrounds, and cultures of those impacted by poverty; and ability to use personal understanding of, and connection to, the issues to serve impacted communities.
  • Courageous leadership modeling integrity, conviction, and clarity; consistently demonstrating the courage to fight injustice and seek restorative action on behalf of impacted communities, and internally to hold space for and effectively address differences, conflicts and conversations typical in organizations that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Demonstrated experience building and leading teams in dynamic environments, mentoring and helping team members navigate goals and urgencies with agility, teamwork, shared accountability, and trust in one another.
  • Flexibility, adaptability, and resilience; possessing a high tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity and exhibiting an entrepreneurial spirit that embraces continuous learning, adaptation, patience, and innovation in service of social justice.
  • A J.D. and California bar membership are preferred but not required.


This full-time, salaried position is located at our Sacramento office. Because Covid-19 persists as a substantial health risk, the Western Center on Law & Poverty team is primarily working virtually until it is safer for workplaces to reopen.

Salary is very competitive and commensurate with experience. The starting salary for the Director of Policy Advocacy begins at $130,000 annually and increases depending upon experience. Western Center provides a comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental and vision coverage, life insurance, retirement plan with employer contributions and a modest match, leave policies, vacation, and December holiday office closure at full pay. We also provide opportunities and support to ensure our staff can grow and develop their professional skills.

Application Process

To promote racial and social justice and achieve our mission, Western Center is committed to maintaining a diverse staff and creating an inclusive and respectful workplace. Western Center strongly encourages applications from persons of color, women LGBTQIA+ individuals, persons with disabilities, and persons from other underrepresented groups whose background may contribute to effectively representing low-income people and underserved communities.

Applications received by September 15, 2022 will be prioritized but applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  In your cover letter, please explain how you think your personal and/or professional experience or background has prepared you to contribute to a work environment with a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Please email a cover letter, resume, writing sample and a list of at least three references to the Search Committee at

Director of Policy Advocacy
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