The Drug Policy Alliance is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, personal appearance, family responsibility, political affiliation, or any other status protected by applicable law. Women, people of color, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. We are particularly interested in hiring people who have been adversely affected by the war on drugs.
Drug Policy Alliance
The Drug Policy Alliance is the leading organization in the U.S. promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. We envision a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights; in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies but only for crimes against others; and in which the fears, prejudices, and punitive prohibitions of today are no more. Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug misuse and drug prohibition, and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies.
The California State Director will join our passionate, diverse, and creative team at a critical time for the drug policy reform movement in California. Increasing progress on and openness to drug policy, criminal justice, and immigration reform in the state means that we are facing what may be a unique opportunity to put in place a public health-centered approach to problematic drug use, moving away from criminalization. The passage of Prop 64, the RISE Act, and other reforms also open the door to groundbreaking steps to begin undoing some of the worst harms of the war on drugs in the state and their impact on communities of color.
Our work in California directly challenges U.S. leaders who are now doubling down on the war on drugs nationally, using it as a tool to stoke fear in society and rally their base, and as an excuse to lock up or deport people of color and immigrants. Tens of thousands of people are dying from opioid overdoses, with little meaningful response by the federal government. At the same time, we are seeing state and local governments taking action, increasingly legalizing marijuana, passing Good Samaritan laws, and even exploring safe consumption sites. Public opinion, too, is increasingly in our favor, with ever-larger numbers of people supporting alternatives to current policies of prohibition and criminalization. In this context, DPA’s expertise on drug policy, rigorous analysis, and strong, principled voice stand to make an enormous difference in shaping public opinion and policy, and ultimately making a concrete difference to the lives of millions in the U.S. and beyond.
Over the last 15 years, DPA has expanded from its New York headquarters to a total of eight offices, 80 plus staff, an annual operating budget of approximately $17 million, 25,000 dues-paying members and more than 300,000 online subscribers. It has a solid track record of success at the local, state, and federal levels and consistent visibility in prominent media and policy circles. For more information, please visit our website at www.drugpolicy.org.
The California State Director reports to the Senior Director, Resident States and serves as DPA’s primary strategist in California. Based in Los Angeles or Sacramento, the California State Director oversees the work of five employees in two offices. In addition, the California State Director works closely with the agency’s Oakland-based national Office of Legal Affairs and directs the work of the agency’s lobbyists in Sacramento.
A member of DPA’s Policy Team, the California State Director is responsible for providing the vision and leadership for DPA’s statewide legislative agenda, municipal drug strategy work in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and media and grassroots outreach. The California State Director also develops and maintains relationships with journalists, partners, and allies; and supports fundraising work in the state.
• Developing and articulating a vision for DPA in California that is consistent with the organization’s overall mission, philosophy, and strategic approach;
• Identifying opportunities to promote DPA’s core priorities in California, including San Francisco and Los Angeles; implementing strategies to achieve DPA’s goals and objectives throughout the state;
• Seeking out and identifying opportunities to push the envelope with drug policy reform in California with a particular focus on the criminal justice system and the goals of promoting racial equity and stopping and repairing the harms of the war on drugs;
• Responding to emerging issues in drug policy, including resisting attempts to adopt regressive policies, implementing legislative and policy changes, and defending previous victories;
• Creating and maintaining solid relationships with diverse partners, including state agencies, community-based organizations, elected officials, and local DPA members;
• Supervising DPA’s advocacy and program efforts in California, both statewide and in local jurisdictions;
• Serving as DPA’s spokesperson in the media and at community events, conferences, and other forums;
• Contributing to DPA fundraising activities, both locally and nationally; enhancing DPA’s fundraising capacity on the West Coast;
• Supervising and mentoring professional staff, student interns, and volunteers;
• Supervising and managing contracts for lobbyists, consultants, and other contractors;
• Overseeing the administration of the team, including developing and managing work plans and budgets and meeting state lobbying and ethics requirements;
• Contributing to DPA management, oversight, quality control, and internal communications;
• Participating in organization-wide activities such as policy issue teams, DPA’s bi-annual conference, national reform advocacy, and strategic planning.
The ideal candidate will be a collegial, self-motivated advocate who thinks conceptually, creatively, and strategically. This is an entrepreneurial organization that encourages initiative, and the successful candidate must be a self-starter and a risk taker, with a high degree of confidence and energy, combined with a deep commitment to accuracy, rigor, and integrity. Excellent interpersonal skills and a passion for social justice that includes fair and equitable drug policies are essential for success.
Specific qualifications include:
• Demonstrated leadership skills, including 5-7 years progressively senior management experience in public policy, legislative and/or governmental affairs, political campaigns or ballot initiatives;
• Criminal justice reform and/or public health experience preferred; immigration policy experience a plus;
• Experience building and leading coalitions in pursuit of an activist agenda with measurable results;
• Enthusiasm and motivation to lead on cutting-edge issues;
• Demonstrated ability to work with diverse partners, including community-based organizations and community members/constituents from a variety of backgrounds;
• Familiarity with drug policy highly preferable; commitment to harm reduction philosophy and racial justice required;
• Understanding of California politics a plus;
• Demonstrated fundraising success, including cultivation and solicitation of major donors, foundations, and government funders;
• Strong analytic ability and superior communication skills, including writing and public speaking;
• Advanced degree in public policy/administration, public health, law or related field preferred but not required;
• Availability to work evenings and weekends on occasion and to travel throughout the state, region, and nationally;
• Community organizing experience strongly preferred but not required;
• Fluency in Spanish a plus.
Location: Los Angeles or Sacramento. Travel required.
Compensation: The base salary for the job grade of this position is $100,000.00. Any offer of employment will take into account the particular candidate’s skills and experience. DPA offers a competitive benefits package including health, dental, long-term disability, and life insurance; a generous 403(b) plan; and 25 days paid time off.