Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC), a not for profit law firm committed to battling poverty and injustice through individual legal representation, group and class action litigation, community organizing, policy advocacy, and media relations, is seeking nominations and applications for the position of Executive Director. LAJC is a fierce advocate for low-income clients and communities in Central and Northern Virginia, and its work broadly impacts the entire state. The new Executive Director will lead a dedicated team of nearly 50 staff while providing overall strategic direction to the organization in its ambitious agenda to advance social justice throughout the state.
Founded in 1967, LAJC provides services under four key program areas: Civil Rights & Racial Justice, Economic Justice, Just Children, and Immigrant Advocacy. LAJC boldly tackles issues of systemic injustice and aims to raise public and policy-maker awareness of some of the most pressing challenges facing low-income Virginia residents.
Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will lead the organization in its provision of civil legal services and will provide thoughtful leadership of the strategic planning process in order to position the organization for continued success through efforts targeting the state’s most vulnerable communities. S/he will be a seasoned, inclusive leader and an empowering manager, responsible for overseeing staff based in offices in Charlottesville, Falls Church, Petersburg, and Richmond, VA.
The ideal candidate will have significant nonprofit leadership and complex litigation experience, as well as demonstrated experience advancing access to justice and equal access to resources for all members of society. S/he will pursue opportunities for broad impact work and manage all internal finances and growth of a $5.5 million budget. S/he will ensure compliance with legal and funder requirements, ensuring the short and long term fiscal and programmatic health of the organization. S/he will also enhance internal capacity and organizational infrastructure, while cultivating meaningful relationships and collaborations with key decision makers, law firms, philanthropic individuals and organizations, and other key social service and public interest partners.
The Executive Director will have an immovable moral core, exhibit humble, servant leadership, cultivate donors and pursue fundraising opportunities, and have strong ability to leverage staff effectively. S/he will represent LAJC publicly, and will continue to elevate the organization’s image as a critical, impactful agency within the community. S/he will have an underlying commitment to ensuring low-income people can meet their basic needs and be assured equal access to opportunities and justice, bringing to the work a sensitive appreciation for the barriers their communities face. The Executive Director will be based in the Charlottesville, VA office.
The LAJC Search Committee is being supported by Tamar Datan, Nureen Das, and Mira Kline of the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group. Please see application instructions at the end of this document.
HISTORY AND MISSION
Originally formed as the Charlottesville-Albemarle Legal Aid Society, LAJC began providing legal representation for low-income individuals in Virginia in 1967. In the late 1990’s Congress drastically reduced federal funding for legal aid services nation-wide and imposed significant restrictions on services. The organization created a new entity with an overlapping Board known as Piedmont Legal Services to receive all federal funds for cases that fit the new federal guidelines. At the same time, the organization set out to find new sources of revenue to address the legal needs of low income individuals that fell outside of the federal guidelines.
In 2001, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Legal Aid Society merged with another legal aid organization and became known as the Legal Aid Justice Center. In the same year, Piedmont Legal Services merged into Central Virginia Legal Aid Society (CLVAS) creating a single federally-funded organization to serve Charlottesville, Richmond and Petersburg. LAJC expanded to provide the full range of legal needs to low-income individuals, free of federal restrictions, such as class action suits and representation for undocumented immigrants. Today, the two organizations operate as separate entities, still overseen by overlapping Boards.
Legal Aid Justice Center seeks equal justice for all by addressing clients’ legal problems, strengthening the voices of low-income communities, and rooting out the inequities that keep people in poverty. Its work includes individual representation, group and class litigation, community organizing, policy advocacy, and media relations. LAJC continues to be a leader, across the Commonwealth of Virginia and nationwide, in recognizing and addressing systemic problems affecting low-income clients.
LAJC is challenged with a growing demand for services among the communities served and needs that far exceed capacity. The organization is committed to continually enhancing and evolving to address unmet needs, in order to maximize impact and address vital issues facing its clients.
Opportunities and Challenges Facing the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The next Executive Director at Legal Aid Justice Center will have the tremendous privilege and great responsibility of leading a venerable institution that has transformed countless lives over five decades. The new leader will help set the course for the future of the organization.
The new Executive Director will join a team of approximately 50 staff deployed in its four service offices including Charlottesville, Falls Church, Petersburg, and Richmond, VA. The staff share an enduring passion for creating impactful change in the lives of those they are serving.
Specifically, the Executive Director will:
Provide strategic leadership and effective management of the organization including program planning, development, budget and financial oversight.
Prioritize areas in which LAJC can optimize impact for clients and the communities served.
Be responsible for donor stewardship and identifying and pursuing new fundraising opportunities.
In partnership with the Board of Directors and staff, develop, implement, and communicate LAJC’s strategic vision among key partners and stakeholders.
Enhance the capacity of the organization to address and evaluate client needs, service priorities, and emerging issues impacting client needs.
Identify and cultivate strategic and robust relationships with cross-sector partners, key decision makers, and other relevant local and statewide organizations to advance the mission and goals of the organization, and to best serve client needs.
Guide and support community organizing and advocacy initiatives.
Serve as an ambassador for LAJC internally and externally, inspiring others to take bold action to address systemic issues facing low income communities.
Directly supervise and mentor the Development Director and the Leadership Team comprised of 11 individuals servicing the four offices.
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
The ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
A Law Degree, and significant nonprofit management experience in the legal aid or social justice fields.
Minimum of ten years’ experience in public interest law, or closely related field, with relevant courtroom litigation experience.
A breadth and depth of knowledge and experience in cutting edge impact litigation.
An understanding of the importance of advocacy in broader policy and public relations contexts, and a facility for advancing justice, equity and inclusion through such channels.
An inclusive, visionary leader with demonstrated experience effectively inspiring and leveraging staff, board members and partner relationships toward impact.
Deep appreciation of, and success in, community organizing and mobilizing at the local, state, and national levels.
Demonstrated leadership in a large, dynamic organization including fiscal oversight and budget development experience, revenue development, and fundraising experience.
Experience developing or improving organizational capacity, with an eye toward opportunities for process improvement.
Demonstrated success, internally and externally, as a consensus builder and collaborator.
Excellent writing, analytical, and oral communication skills.
Self-starter and change agent with strong ability to manage staff who are geographically dispersed.
An underlying commitment to equity and an understanding of the culture and specific challenges faced by underserved populations.
Ability to represent Legal Aid Justice Center to a variety of stakeholders and intermediaries in a credible and influential way.
An optimistic outlook, and the humor, integrity, patience, and perseverance necessary to support mission-driven staff and advance efforts to ensure underserved populations have greater access to services.
APPLICATIONS AND NOMINATIONS
More information about Legal Aid Justice Center may be found at:
Due to the pace of this search, candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applications including a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, your resume, salary expectations, and where you learned of the position should be sent to: LAJC-ED@nonprofitprofessionals.com. In order to expedite the sorting and reviewing process, please type your name (Last, First) as the only contents in the subject line of your e-mail.
The Legal Aid Justice Center is an equal opportunity employer, committed to inclusive hiring and dedicated to diversity in our work and staff. We strongly encourage candidates of all identities, experiences, and communities to apply.
The Legal Aid Justice Center is committed to strengthening the voices of our low-income clients, working in collaboration with community partners, and rooting out the inequities that keep people in poverty. We strive to take on the issues that have broad impact on our client communities and to be responsive to client input. Recognizing the particular impact of racism on our clients and staff, we devote special attention to dismantling racial injustice.
All applicants must be dedicated to working in and sustaining an environment that enables staff and clients to feel empowered, valued, respected, and safe. In reviewing applications, we look for evidence that applicants have experience and/or thoughtfulness in working with traditionally marginalized populations.