The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the country’s leading civil and human rights legal organization. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, who subsequently became the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice, LDF was launched at a time when the nation’s aspirations for equality and due process of law were stifled by widespread state-sponsored racial inequality. From that era to the present, LDF’s mission has been transformative — to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society.

LDF’s litigation, public policy advocacy and public education programs in the substantive areas of criminal justice, economic justice, education and political participation seek to ensure the fundamental and basic human rights of all people to quality education, economic opportunity, the right to vote and fully participate in democracy, and the right to a fair and just judicial system.

LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute (the Institute), a multidisciplinary center within LDF, seeks an experienced strategist, manager, and advocate, preferably an experienced civil rights lawyer, to serve as Deputy Director of the Institute. Reporting to the Director of the Thurgood Marshall Institute (Institute Director), the Deputy Director will be responsible for the Institute’s daily operations and management and will have decision-making capacity across the Institute’s workstreams in consultation with the Institute Director and other LDF senior management as necessary. In partnership with the Institute Director and collaborating with LDF colleagues and key external allies, the Deputy Director will help build the Institute and enhance its work, visibility, reputation, and impact to advance a modern vision of racial justice in the 21st century.


In partnership with the Institute Director, the Deputy Director will:

  • Develop a strategic modern vision for racial justice in the 21st
    • Serve as a thought-partner with the Institute Director and LDF senior management on innovative ways the Institute and LDF can address intersecting and intersectional civil rights issues through research, advocacy, and strategic communications.
  • Supervise the Institute’s daily operations and project management.
    • Oversee and manage the development and execution of all Institute campaigns, programs, and initiatives;
    • Serve as a first-line supervisor/manager for Institute staff;
    • Develop strategic, operational, and tactical plans, including evaluation measures, for advocacy success in Institute campaigns and strategic communications initiatives, including managing and executing the strategic plan for the Institute; and
    • Serve as liaison among LDF’s various departments, including development and finance, in matters involving grants and budgeting.
  • Supervise and continue to develop a multidisciplinary team of advocates.
    • Supervise all Institute staff and ensure strong internal communication and coordination among staff members with diverse professional expertise. Institute projects are staffed by dedicated personnel, which currently includes research and operations associates, senior researchers, archivists, and interns, as well as individuals drawn from LDF’s various practice areas, including lawyers, policy counsel and associates, community organizers, and academic fellows;
    • Conduct weekly operations meetings with the Institute’s operations staff to manage the Institute’s substantial portfolio in addition to facilitating the broader Institute all staff monthly meetings; and
    • Lead hiring and onboarding processes for the Institute in coordination with Human Resources and Institute staff.
  • Oversee new research to advance racial justice.
    • Expand and sharpen LDF’s research and policy capacity by working substantively with the research team to engage a community of researchers, scholars, and colleagues in the fields of social science, demographics, political science, survey research, criminology and other related fields who can research, analyze, and provide context for current issues in their fields of expertise; and
    • Lead the planning of research projects, ranging from facilitating communication with experts to recruiting scholars for in-house fellowships to targeted advocacy projects.
  • Contribute to strategic communications initiatives that support the Institute’s mission.
    • Work with LDF’s Communications Department and Institute Director to develop innovative strategic communications that will make important substantive contributions to the national conversation around issues of social and racial justice;
    • Coordinate with LDF’s Communications Department to test new approaches to LDF’s public communication, messaging, and issue-framing systems, including the use of polls and focus groups, social media, and other communications tools; and
    • Support LDF’s Communications Department and Institute staff in the creation and dissemination of practical, public-friendly reports, briefing papers, infographics, videos and other messaging on pressing civil rights matters.
  • Build partnerships in support of the Institute’s mission.
    • Collaborate and deepen relationships with partner organizations, think tanks, and institutions focusing on complex issues of race, public policy, and law;
    • Cultivate and maintain relationships throughout the civil rights and social justice community, with other advocacy organizations, and with federal, state, and local government partners; and
    • Engage in public speaking and appearances to heighten the Institute’s visibility and promote its interests.
  • Other responsibilities as assigned.

Regular travel to LDF’s NY office. Must be flexible for other travel, as required.


This is an opportunity to contribute as a leader within the nation’s premier civil rights legal advocacy organization. Deputy Director must first and foremost balance being a strong, hands-on operational manager with being a creative and forward-thinking civil rights policy strategist.

  • Ten years or more of experience in successful civil rights legal work, strongly preferred;
  • Bachelor’s degree required; advanced or Juris Doctor degree is strongly preferred;
  • Successful record of using multiple campaign strategies to achieve positive social change, including, for example, advocacy, research, organizing, communications, and litigation;
  • Significant professional experience in non-profit work, government service, or academia;
  • Significant experience working with advocacy coalitions, teams of scholars and experts, grassroots organizers, elected officials and other policy-makers;
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills;
  • Significant writing and editing experience using social science information in a civil rights advocacy context;
  • Experience in building and managing teams effectively;
  • Commitment to LDF’s mission and a record of engagement with issues of racial justice;
  • Capacity to lead and inspire with a vision that attracts others;
  • Collaborative and approachable in style;
  • Self-confident, self-sufficient, and self-directed; and
  • Calm and resilient in the face of conflict and criticism.

This is not an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, skills, efforts or requirements or working conditions associated with the job. While this is intended to be an accurate reflection of the current job, management reserves the right to revise the job or to require that other or different tasks be performed as assigned. This description does not constitute a contract of employment and LDF may exercise its employment-at-will rights at any time.

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The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. We are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to you without regard to race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status, age, veteran status, disability or genetic information.