Legal Aid Chicago, Chicago’s largest legal aid agency, seeks a strategic, collaborative and engaging Executive Director/CEO to lead the organization as it continues to achieve excellent legal outcomes for those living in poverty and those who are otherwise vulnerable.
For over 50 years, Legal Aid Chicago has provided free civil legal assistance to people living in poverty in metropolitan Chicago. Each year our attorneys, volunteers, and staff help resolve civil legal problems, including domestic violence, consumer fraud, and unfair evictions. Legal Aid Chicago was founded on the philosophy that all individuals are entitled to quality civil legal representation, regardless of their income. We work to ensure that poverty is not an impediment to justice by dismantling the legal barriers that perpetuate inequality. Legal Aid Chicago staff live our mission through our core values of equity, excellence, inclusion, kindness, and respect.
Reporting to the Board of Directors and with the support of an exceptional leadership team, the Executive Director will have overall strategic, operational and managerial responsibility for Legal Aid Chicago. They will work proactively with the Board, Chief External Relations Officer and staff to continue to diversify and expand funding streams and revenues, lead and manage teams, promote professional staff development, evaluate programs, understand, prepare and manage budgets, understand and drive strategic plans, steward Legal Aid Chicago’s brand and continue to cultivate relationships with other organizations and leaders in the legal aid community in Chicago and at the regional and national level.
They will spend substantial time on fundraising initiatives and ambassadorship, including spreading the word about the work Legal Aid Chicago does for clients, meeting with and cultivating donors, attending professional and social events to connect with new supporters and being the agency spokesperson at site visits and donor sponsored forums. This work is not limited to interactions with other lawyers or legal aid funders – Legal Aid Chicago’s continued success depends critically on maintaining its connection to civic-minded people who see the value of effective legal aid for the whole community.
The Executive Director will be an inspiring leader who is passionate about fulfilling Legal Aid Chicago’s mission and has a personal commitment to Legal Aid Chicago’s clients. They will have the character, confidence and personality to work successfully in a highly visible role and to interact effectively with a broad range of constituents. The Executive Director will be a strategic leader with a proven track record of leadership and management. They will excel as the external face of Legal Aid Chicago and will have experience with branding and marketing.
The ideal candidate will have the following qualities and characteristics:
The Executive Director will be a strategic and results-oriented leader who, along with the staff and Board of Directors, will faithfully steward Legal Aid Chicago’s current strategic plan and maintain its reputation as a leading organization within the legal aid community. They will motivate others, both internally and externally, to engage in Legal Aid Chicago’s vision and continue to build upon the organization’s stellar reputation and successful results for clients.
Internally, the Executive Director will be a strong manager who engenders trusts in the staff. They will have the ability to strengthen teams, deepen staff engagement, and raise morale. They will be an innovative and energetic individual who encourages staff to take ownership of their work and holds people accountable. The Executive Director will have a strong track record of management and leadership and will understand the importance of that side of the role.
An ‘Ambassador’ for Legal Aid Chicago
The Executive Director will be a high-energy, charismatic leader who will serve as an ‘Ambassador’ for Legal Aid Chicago.
They will be a confident public speaker who inherently enjoys the external side of the role. They will represent Legal Aid Chicago locally and nationally in legal, civic, philanthropic and advocacy arenas and will maintain Legal Aid Chicago’s recognition in the Chicago community and the nationwide legal aid community. The Executive Director will be effective at conveying Legal Aid Chicago’s mission and priorities to a wide range of constituents, including the staff, Board of Directors, donors, clients and community leaders. They will have an inspirational approach to building collaboration and buy-in and generating support from all stakeholders.
Fundraising and Development
The Executive Director will be a demonstrated or emergent leader in the field of development. They will embrace the current funding landscape and work to continue to attract government support for Legal Aid Chicago. Concurrently, they will enthusiastically work to continue the work expand Legal Aid Chicago’s funding streams, in partnership with the Chief External Relations Officer, with a focus on individual and corporate philanthropy. With a business mindset, they will flourish in a mission-driven environment and be energized by the prospect of supporting the culture of philanthropy that has been growing within the organization, founded on the successes of the last 55+ years.
A Passion for the Mission
The Executive Director must be passionate about the clients that Legal Aid Chicago serves and be able to speak to Legal Aid Chicago’s mission from the heart. They will enjoy the engagement of a spirited working environment with deeply committed and passionate colleagues. The Executive Director will be an inspirational and team-focused leader, who treats others with respect. They will be able to listen, evaluate and learn from criticism and maintain an even and optimistic disposition, while remaining calm, but determined in times of difficulty. They will be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.
A J.D. and experience practicing law and senior management experience in a legal services organization is required.
Adherence to Values
The Executive Director will be someone who demonstrably lives the organization’s values of Equity, Excellence, Inclusion, Kindness, and Respect.
Salary and Benefits: Salary is commensurate with experience.
Legal Aid Chicago offers a comprehensive benefits package, including:
- Medical, dental, and vision insurance, effective the first day of employment
- Time Off: 21 vacation days and 18 sick days accrued within the first year of employment
- 14 paid holidays, including one floating holiday
- Six weeks of Paid Parental Leave at 100% of the salary after six months of employment
- 401(a) retirement plan with an employer contribution after 3 months of employment
- $100,000 Basic Life and Accidental Death & Dismemberment insurance, at no cost
- Access to Employee Assistance Program resources, at no cost
- Chicago Bar Association Membership, at no cost
- Monthly internet reimbursement
- Reimbursement of ARDC registration fees
- Legal Aid Chicago is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and is an eligible employer for the federal public service loan forgiveness program
To Apply: Submit a statement of interest (500 words or less), resume, and the contact information of two primary professional references and one alternative professional reference, in the event a primary reference is unresponsive, by September 15, 2023.