Director of Policy
at Heartland Alliance

Date Posted: 5/28/2019

Job Description

Grounded in 130 years working to advance social justice, Heartland Alliance informs public policy decisions and advances solutions to improve opportunities and quality of life for people experiencing inequity, living in poverty, and facing danger.  Heartland Alliance’s Research & Policy Division engages in research on social issues and solutions, policy and systems change, and field building nationwide. The division is home to the Social IMPACT Research Center , Heartland Alliance’s Policy & Advocacy team Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Economic Opportunity .

Job Summary: The Director of Policy provides overall direction for the Policy & Advocacy (P&A) team and engages actively in social policy initiatives aligned with Heartland Alliance’s mission and vision. We specifically focus on issues related to poverty, employment and economic security, justice, safety, health care, human services, immigration, financial equity and housing/homelessness. At the state and local level, the team works to draft and advance legislative and administrative solutions across our areas of focus; produces information to inform decision-makers and advance our campaigns; and builds strategic alliances and coalitions to lift up an amplified voice to create systemic change. The team also weighs in strategically on national and local issues to advance the needs of Heartland Alliance programs and participants. Director responsibilities include assessing the landscape for new opportunities, positioning, and partnerships as well as monitoring emerging issues, trends, and innovations. The Director is part of the Research & Policy leadership team. The Director’s management responsibilities include oversight of the P&A team; creating and managing department budget; serving as fundraising lead; and managing reporting to internal and external stakeholders. In addition, the Director is responsible for positioning the department within internal leadership bodies and external settings including serving as a media spokesperson. Individual accountabilities and work volume will be established through the development of annual Success Objectives, within the framework outlined below.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

Strategic Policy Direction

  • Leads strategic direction and planning for Policy & Advocacy, and participates in related organization-wide planning efforts, including annual development of P&A legislative priorities and work and annual review of Heartland Alliance’s policy platform.

  • Nurtures the integration of policy and advocacy throughout Heartland Alliance, including generation of participant- and service-based policy solutions, consultation with program staff and leadership, policy issue education and updates, pathways for participant engagement, and participation in internal committees.  

  • Assesses landscape for new opportunities, positioning, and partnerships.

  • Monitors emerging issues, trends, and innovations in social policy and the political environment.

Policy Leadership

  • Directs Heartland Alliance efforts to achieve policy and systems change goals, including policy-related strategies, work plans, negotiations, and trouble-shooting.

  • Leads and oversees execution and reporting on policy initiatives tied to Heartland Alliance’s strategic vision.

  • Cultivates relationships and communications with elected officials and agency officials, and their staff, through in‐person meetings, briefings, written communications, and phone calls.

  • Provides substantive and strategic analysis on relevant federal, state, and city policies, rules, regulations and government budgets that have implications for Heartland Alliance’s mission, vision, programs, and participants.

  • Leads conceptualization and execution of legislation, policy papers, testimony, statements, comments, analyses, fact sheets, action alerts, and other substantive policy materials as needed. 

External Leadership

  • Cultivates collaborations with organizations, coalitions, and movements whose values and issues intersect.

  • Convenes and facilitates advisory bodies, work groups, etc., in support of policy goals.

  • Acts as agency ambassador and spokesperson.

  • Represents agency in leadership capacity in internal and external leadership bodies.

  • Serves as credible expert for media.

  • Participates with professional organizations and development in areas relevant to work.

Team Leadership

  • Carries out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the organization's policies and applicable laws. Responsibilities include interviewing, hiring, disciplining, and training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work.

  • Trains, evaluates, and develops Research & Policy staff and other Heartland Alliance staff as is relevant in skills needed for policy campaigns, legislative efforts, advocacy, and coalition management.

  • Participates in Research and Policy Management Team planning, processes, and projects.

  • Ensures best practices, ethics, and agency policy protocols are adhered to.

  • Oversees team external communications.


  • Cultivates funding opportunities through relationship development, submission of funding requests, management of projects and budgets, and reporting on outcomes achieved.

  • Supports compliance with lobbying guidelines, registrations, and rules.

  • Creates and manages department budget.

  • Manages monthly, bi-annual, and annual reporting on department progress.

  • Plans and builds infrastructure to facilitate team’s ability to do work more effectively.

Equity Commitments

  • Fosters a commitment to and application of equity, inclusion, and diversity throughout our work.

  • Provides direction for careful equity analysis of potential consequences of local and federal policies and makes strategic recommendations for appropriate substance.

  • Prioritizes engagement of impacted populations throughout our policy and advocacy work from conception to design to action, and is attentive to the diverse perspectives of our stakeholders.

  • Sustains and builds upon P&A’s position as a leading policy change agent by maintaining momentum on critical issues and by laying the groundwork for emerging policy issues.


  • Travel as required.

  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications:  To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Education and/or Experience:  

  • Degree in public policy, law, public administration, social work, urban planning or related field, graduate degree preferred; and a minimum of eight years’ experience in policy analysis, advocacy and lobbying; and/or a combination of relevant life experience, work experience and education. Experience must include:

    • Expertise in policy advocacy in at least two social policy issues.

    • Experience working with coalitions, impacted groups, and non-profit organizations.

    • Prior supervisory, management and fundraising experience.

    • Demonstrated experience working with government agencies and legislative bodies.

  • Deep legislative process knowledge and expertise in working policies through the full process, preferably in Illinois.

  • Demonstrated commitment to understanding and eradicating structural racial inequity;

  • Has a good sense of humor.

Language Skills: Ability to read, analyze, and interpret common scientific and technical journals, financial reports, public policies and legal documents. Ability to respond to common inquiries or complaints from customers, regulatory agencies, members of the business community, or policymakers.  Ability to write speeches and articles for publication that conform to prescribed style and format. Ability to effectively present information to top management, public groups, and/or boards of directors.

Mathematical Skills: Ability to calculate figures and amounts such as discounts, interest, commissions, proportions, percentages, area, circumference, and volume. Ability to apply concepts of basic algebra.

Reasoning Ability: Ability to solve practical problems and deal with a variety of concrete variables in situations where only limited standardization exists. Ability to interpret a variety of instructions furnished in written, oral, diagram, or schedule form.

Other Skills and Abilities: Experience making public presentations and preparing and delivering testimony to committees of the government. Experience creating persuasive written documents for external consumption.  Experience analyzing complex policy issues and political contexts and crafting appropriate responses.

Physical Demands: The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • While performing the duties of this Job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear.

  • The employee is frequently required to use hands to finger, handle, or feel.

  • The employee is occasionally required to stand; walk; sit and reach with hands and arms.

  • This position involves significant travel.

Work Environment: The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Able and available to travel to Springfield, Washington, D.C. or other venues as needed to build relationships, present information, develop or present solutions and to participate with external organizations in pursuit of systemic change.

  • The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

Heartland Alliance makes all hiring and employment decisions without regard to race, creed, color, age, gender, gender identity, marital or parental status, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, sexual identity, immigrant status, political affiliation or belief, ex-offender status (depending on the offense and position to be filled), unfavorable military discharge, membership in an organization whose primary purpose is the protection of civil rights or improvement of living conditions and human relations, height, weight, or HIV infection, in accord with the Organization's AIDS Policy Statement of September, 1987. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodation should contact the Employee Services Office at (312) 660-1431.

Job Snapshot

  • Employee Type: Full-Time
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Job Type: Management
  • Experience: Not Specified
  • Date Posted: 5/28/2019

About Us

It’s more than a job, it’s a purpose.

Heartland Alliance—the leading anti-poverty organization in the Midwest— believes that all of us deserve the opportunity to improve our lives. Each year, we help ensure this opportunity for nearly one million people around the world who are homeless, living in poverty, or seeking safety. Our multicultural staff are passionate about our mission and make Heartland Alliance a dynamic and exciting place to develop your career.

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