Imagine your next career opportunity

Chief Program Officer

National Women's Law Center

National Women's Law Center

Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Position

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) seeks a seasoned leader to serve as a key thought partner and strategic advisor to the President & CEO and executive and senior leadership teams in a newly created position that supports an integrated approach to strategy setting across the organization’s legal and policy advocacy priorities. This role will ensure that NWLC’s program work is directed toward the most critical areas to advance gender justice and achieve the greatest impact.

The Chief Program Officer (CPO) guides the annual strategy setting process for NWLC’s legal and policy work in consultation with the program VPs, program directors, and other colleagues on the executive and senior teams. The CPO will lead and directly manage a dedicated team of four highly experienced and expert program vice presidents and will inspire and motivate legal and policy staff at all levels, providing direction, vision, and clarity on priorities. The CPO will also build and uphold a team culture of
collaboration, learning, and impact.

As a member of the executive leadership team, the CPO reports directly to the President & CEO, advising on specific issues and bringing a broad perspective on legal and policy opportunities. They will lead efforts to align strategies to ensure that NWLC and the NWLC Action Fund implement high-impact legal, policy, and advocacy strategies to accomplish annual goals and fulfill the organization’s strategic plan.

The ideal candidate brings deep knowledge of and passion for gender justice and advocacy, experience directing legal and policy strategy in a fast-paced environment, a proven track record of leading high-impact legal and policy strategies in support of an organization’s mission, and effectively leveraging the collaborative engagement of diverse internal and external stakeholders.

The Organization

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) fights for gender justice—in the courts, in public policy, and in our society—working across the issues that are central to the lives of women and girls. We use the law in all its forms to change culture and drive solutions to the gender inequity that shapes our society and to break down the barriers that harm all of us—especially women of color, LGBTQ people, and low-income women and families.

The National Women’s Law Center Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) affiliate of NWLC, aiming to drive progressive change in our policies and laws so that all women and girls can live, learn, and work with safety, dignity, and equality. Another affiliate, the National Women’s Law Center Fund LLC, houses and administers the Legal Network for Gender Equity and the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.

The Law Center is entering a new phase as an institution, with a new strategic plan that reflects an updated vision for impact. The organization seeks to enhance and leverage its expertise, multi-issue approach, relationships with movements and influencers, and status within the legal and policy communities to drive a bold gender justice agenda. Working meaningfully at the intersections of race,
gender, LGBTQ+, disability, age, national origin, and income, National Women’s Law Center is recognized and trusted by a broad range of stakeholders.

Please visit: for more information about NWLC’s history, impact and leadership.

Key Responsibilities

The Chief Program Officer’s specific responsibilities include:

  • Serve as a key thought partner for the President & CEO and the executive and senior teams, leading the development and execution of an integrated policy and legal strategy, leveraging all the tools available through NWLC and the NWLC Action Fund;
  • Be the lead champion for an integrated advocacy approach to all the issues on which NWLC and its affiliates works, developing and maintaining a broad and deep knowledge of all issue areas and providing thought partnership to program Vice Presidents and Directors as they craft and execute issue-specific plans, ensuring clarity on priorities across issue areas and consistency and
    integration of policy and litigation goals and supporting connection to broader movement ecosystem strategies including narrative change;
  • Manage and collaborate with Vice Presidents to set ambitious and realistic priorities for their respective initiatives and empower the team to do their best work by providing ongoing guidance, coaching, and feedback on their annual plans, core day-to-day responsibilities, and project management goals;
  • Collaborate with the President and CEO and program VPs to identify relevant legal and policy issues to explore and research, opportunities for filing legal cases and amicus briefs, and follow current and pending litigation and federal and state policy and rule making to seize opportunities for the organization to engage;
  • Partner with the Vice President for Strategy and Policy in setting the agenda for the NWLC Action Fund (c4) to complement and align with NWLC’s C3 strategy;
  • Serve as a leader within the broader organization by helping lead cross-team collaborations and cultivate an inclusive and equitable organizational culture;
  • Serve as a thought partner to the Chief External Affairs Officer to identify and cultivate strong relationships with coalition partners, policy makers and their staffs, pro bono law firms and attorneys, cultural influencers and members of the media, and funders to ensure NWLC’s strategies are aligned with like-minded institutions for maximum impact;
  • Work with the Chief External Affairs Officer to set overall fundraising strategy and goals for NWLC and affiliate legal and policy work; to identify, solicit, and steward donors and own a portfolio of institutional and major individual donors; to ensure that fundraising campaigns and external messaging align with and help drive programmatic impact; and to maximize synergies
    among legal, policy, and narrative change;
  • Work with the Chief of Staff to devise and implement a system for monitoring and evaluating progress of legal and policy work against NWLC’s strategic plan and to maximize strategic engagement of the President and CEO and the Board of Directors in advancing the organization’s advocacy agenda;
  • Represent NWLC and its affiliates in the media, conferences, philanthropic and coalition gatherings, and other external spaces; and
  • Lead other projects for the President and CEO as needed as a member of the executive team, and share perspective on the most critical, cross-organizational decisions.

Skills and Experience

The Law Center recognizes that one candidate will likely not bring the full collection of experiences listed here and is open to candidates with a broad set of experiences and competencies. NWLC seeks a candidate with:

  • Visionary leadership and a proven track record of creating and managing high impact litigation and/or policy programs and strategies to advance gender justice;
  • Significant progressively responsible experience leading legal and policy work in a social justice organization or labor union, with extensive managerial, supervisory, or team leadership experience (either concurrent or not);
  • Exceptional understanding of the legal and political principles underlying gender justice;
  • Demonstrated ability to work across multiple issues while effectively engaging coalition partners, donors, activists, and policy makers and their staffs;
  • A deep and wide network of relationships in the social justice movement space, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector more broadly and successful track record of raising money for social justice issues;
  • Senior-level experience successfully building and managing a collaborative and diverse team; strong interpersonal, problem-solving, and mentoring skills; demonstrated success applying an equity lens to leadership and management;
  • Impeccable integrity and sound judgment, including the ability to exercise appropriate discretion when dealing with sensitive or confidential matters and demonstrated ability to respond rapidly in urgent moments;
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, including significant track record of public speaking and outstanding ability to translate complex information for broader audiences;
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office suite and project management software (Asana or equivalent);
  • and Bachelor’s degree required and law degree strongly preferred.

Key Relationships

The Chief Program Officer reports directly to the President and CEO and works closely with other members of the Executive Team, particularly the Chief External Affairs Officer and the Chief of Staff, and with other members of the Senior Team. This position directly supervises the Vice Presidents for: Education and Workplace Justice, Income Security and Child Care/Early Learning, Reproductive Rights
and Health, and Strategy and Policy.

A minimum salary of $246,636 will be provided to the successful candidate with up to 20 years of experience, consistent with the National Women’s Law Center’s compensation framework. The successful candidate’s salary will be determined by the number of years of relevant experience they bring to the role and their qualifications. Final salary decisions are determined by the President and CEO, subject to review by the Board Executive Committee. As required by the IRS, compensation for this position (salary and benefits combined) is listed on the organization’s 990.

The Law Center offers generous leave and a comprehensive benefits package—including a match of up to 3% of the employee’s compensation to their individual 403(b) retirement plan account along with a non-elective contribution of 6% of the eligible employee’s salary, after they successfully complete their 90-day probation period.

NWLC’s headquarters and staff are based in Washington, D.C. and most are working a hybrid schedule. This role is based in D.C., is eligible for telework, and is expected to work regularly in-person at the organization’s offices at 1350 I Street NW and in other settings.

How to Apply

National Women’s Law Center has retained the executive search firm LeaderFit to manage this search. Applications may be submitted here.