Chief Counsel, State Policy and Advocacy

Job Title: Chief Counsel, State Policy and Advocacy

Department: U.S. Programs

Center Background: The Center for Reproductive Rights (the Center) is the premier global legal organization dedicated to advancing women's reproductive health, self-determination, and dignity. Its mission is straightforward and ambitious: to advance reproductive health and rights as fundamental human rights that all governments around the world are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill. Headquartered in New York City, the Center has regional offices in Bogota, Geneva, Kathmandu, Nairobi, and Washington, D.C. and a diverse staff of more than 150 professionals.  Its annual operating budget is approximately $29 million, the result of an extraordinary growth trajectory. The Center is now poised for a new phase of significant expansion through its current and next Strategic Plan.

The Center's game-changing litigation and advocacy work, combined with its unparalleled expertise in constitutional, comparative, and international human rights law, have transformed how reproductive rights are understood by courts, governments, and human rights bodies worldwide. It has played a key role in securing landmark legal victories in the U.S., Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe on issues including access to life-saving obstetrics care, contraception, safe abortion services, and comprehensive sexuality information, as well as the prevention of forced sterilization and child marriage.  It has brought ground-breaking cases before national courts, U.N. Committees, and regional human rights bodies, has led the development of historic, proactive legislation advancing robust protections for reproductive rights, and has built the legal capacity of women's rights advocates in more than 60 countries.

To learn more about the Center for Reproductive Rights, go to

The Role:

The Chief Counsel, State Policy and Advocacy will be responsible for overseeing the Center’s state and local policy and advocacy program within the United States, which includes developing, implementing, and managing the Center’s multi-faceted reproductive rights policy initiatives and strategies aimed at moving proactive policy strategies forward and fighting against abortion restrictions in the states. This includes providing strategic vision and oversight for our State Leadership Summit, building the capacity of our local partners through the development of coalitions, policy resources and trainings, overseeing our technical assistance to Center clients and state advocates in the field, and overseeing the state components of our Act for Women campaign. 

The Chief Counsel will report directly to the Senior Director, Policy in the U.S. Policy & Advocacy (USPA) Program and will manage a team of seven professionals – four of them direct reports – consisting of two State Legislative Counsels, a State Advocacy Adviser, Senior Manager of Research, a Manager of State Advocacy Initiatives, State Legislative Fellow, and State Policy and Advocacy Assistant. The Chief Counsel will be a senior leader in the USPA program and serve as a member of the Senior Team. She/he will advise the Senior Director on USPA priorities and direction, identify opportunities for professional development and advancement for the State team, and represent the needs of the state team to the Senior Director. He/she will embody the values of transparency, collaboration, and open communication to foster and inspire a positive team environment within and across departments and with external partners.

The Chief Counsel will work closely with the Chief Counsel for Federal Policy and Advocacy, based in Washington, D.C., as well as collaborate with other senior staff across the US Program teams to align and leverage our strategies across state and federal fora, and with the Communications team to create and implement communications and advocacy strategies to achieve Center goals. The Chief Counsel will also provide information and support to the Development team, as needed.

Position placement:  This position can be based in either Washington, D.C. or New York City. 


  • Serve as a mentor, collaborator and thought-leader in the Center’s USPA Program to ensure successful execution of the Strategic Plan, as well as implementation of wider institutional priorities, and to shape new strategies as opportunities and challenges arise. Current priorities include  eradicating TRAP post-Whole Woman’s Health, advancing policies that expand the scope of practice for advance practice clinicians, and defeating emerging abortion restrictions.
  • Work closely with the Senior Director, Policy and in collaboration with other senior USPA and US program staff to provide leadership and direction in the planning, development and implementation of strategic and annual planning, including by effectively supporting the development and monitoring of long-term, mid-term, and annual plans and budgets and aligning the State Policy and Advocacy program behind core Center goals and strategies.
  • Lead, mentor and supervise members of the State Policy and Advocacy team.
  • Oversee the state policy and advocacy team’s bill tracking, analysis, and legal and advocacy strategies to defeat or advance legislation that impacts reproductive health care in the states.
  • Oversee and engage in state and local policy advocacy through Center and coalition-led campaigns and initiatives, including Act for Women, the State Leadership Summit, and new work to implement advocacy strategies to engage state partners around Center litigation. 
  • Coordinate with and oversee collaboration with the Litigation team on state-based legal and advocacy strategies to advance access to comprehensive reproductive health care.
  • Engage collaboratively and effectively with coalition partners in the reproductive rights and justice movements and developing new relationships and alliances across social justice movements and other stakeholders to advocate for policy change at state and local levels.
  • Oversee, contribute to the development of, identify opportunities, and support state partners to use advocacy and public education materials for internal and for external use, such as the annual State of the States report and Evaluating Priorities.
  • Support the Senior Director, Policy to ensure that key state policy advocacy program outcomes are evaluated and leveraged for maximum impact.
  • Represent the Center externally through public speaking, participation in conferences and coalitions, and engaging with the media and with potential and current funders, as well as at events such as mobilization events, and policy-related activities in New York City, D.C. and in various states.
  • Undertaking special projects as requested by Senior Director, Policy or Senior V.P., US Programs.
  • Work closely with the Director of Pro Bono to cultivate and leverage new and existing pro bono partnerships and projects with law firms, law associations, and law schools in order to leverage the Center’s state policy advocacy program.
  • Lead with and help to create an environment and culture that fosters constructive problem-solving, good communication, flexibility, and a “can do/will do” attitude, with honesty, respect, and good humor. 
  • Serve as a senior leader in the USPA program and supporting the operational needs of the Department and the Senior Director as needed.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Experience & Qualifications:

  • Strong commitment to the Center’s mission, purpose, and values.
  • JD required with at least 10 years legal experience.
  • New York or Washington DC Bar membership required or a commitment to obtain membership within 18 months of assuming the position.
  • At least 3 years supervising, training, or mentoring attorneys or individuals with different levels of experience and expertise.
  • Successful experience in developing and implementing policy initiatives in the U.S., including at the state level;
  • Experience working with diverse communities.
  • Political, legislative, and/or administrative advocacy experience is a strong plus, particularly at the state level.
  • Significant experience leading or working effectively and collaboratively in diverse advocacy-based coalitions; the ability to work effectively as part of a team and in partnership with peer organizations, but be proactive and ready to take leadership when needed.
  • Creative and strategic thinker with good judgment and excellent analytical capabilities. 
  • Exceptional communication and advocacy skills, both orally and in writing; ability to communicate complex issues to a lay audience clearly, concisely and powerfully.
  • Capacity to prioritize, and pay close attention to detail while juggling multiple tasks.
  • Ability to give and receive feedback and resolve conflicts constructively.
  • A high level of energy, self-confidence, initiative, and follow-through; ability to recognize and act on opportunities in a fast-paced environment.
  • Principled, ethical, professional, and committed to exceptional work quality and standards, with grace and a sense of humor.
  • English language fluency required. Spanish language fluency a plus.
  • Willingness to travel 30% of the time.
  • Proven track record of building teams and delivering through others, continuous process improvements, and driving change 

Leadership Qualities:

  • Strategic thinker:  Applies big-picture thinking while also focusing on the details of implementation.
  • Decisiveness:  Consistently makes sound decisions in a timely manner supportive of the Center's mission, core values, and strategic objectives.  Blends vision and judgment.
  • Collaborative:  Brings a track record of working effectively with various and diverse individuals and groups, and a willingness to actively listen and invite different views and opinions across all levels of the institution to build alignment in support of a common goal.
  • Transparency:  Consistently applies openness and honesty in communicating decisions and plans to team members.
  • Commitment to learn:  Receives and provides feedback and constructive criticism professionally.  Applies a growth mentality to their own and their team's development.  Promotes a culture of learning by modeling inquisitiveness and an openness to viewing mistakes as an opportunity to learn and improve.
  • Passion for Coaching, and Mentoring Staff:  Empowers and motivates employees and creates opportunities for learning, development, and leadership, with a focus on harnessing skills for the future development of team members.
  • Cross-cultural compentency: ability to communicate and  interact effectively with people from different cultures. 
  • Accountability:  Holds themselves and others accountable.
  • Integrity:  Possesses impeccable integrity and personal and professional values that are consistent with the Center's high standards and mission. 
  • Empathy:  Serves as an empathetic, approachable leader who engenders trust and confidence. 
  • Adaptability/Flexibility:  Demonstrates comfort with ambiguity and calculated risk-taking.

Compensation: The Center offers a competitive salary commensurate with experience and a comprehensive benefits program.

How to Apply: Please click on the link below to apply. A cover letter, resume, writing sample, and contact information for three references must be included in your application in order to be considered for this position. Please include these application materials as attachments.

Deadline for Applications:  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is an equal opportunity employer, committed to inclusive hiring, and dedicated to diversity in our work and staff.  We strongly encourage people from all groups and communities to apply.