Program Director, Civil Rights Policy
Washington D.C.-based Hybrid, DC Service and Justice
Job Type


About the ELCA 

The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 3 million members in more than 8,700 worshipping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region (Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). With a vision to live in a world experiencing the difference God’s grace and love in Christ makes for all people and creation, the ELCA strives to be a welcoming, thriving, and connected church that introduces people to Jesus so they can discover community, justice, and love.

The Lutheran Center (national office) is located in Chicago, Illinois. A staff of 400, under the leadership of the Presiding Bishop, serve as administrators, advisors, conveners, partners, and resource people for the ELCA and its ministries. Staff lead the work of national, domestic, and global ministries and programs including Lutheran Disaster Response, ELCA World Hunger, Service & Justice, Christian Community and Leadership, and Innovation.  We are also home to five of our separately incorporated ministries: The Mission Investment Fund of the ELCA, Women of the ELCA, Lutheran Men in Mission, the ELCA Foundation and the ELCA Federal Credit Union.

About the Position


Through the Service and Justice unit, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Organization shall foster and facilitate this church’s engagement in service with and among communities and promote efforts to call and act for justice. Its work includes engaging in mission, service, and justice in accompaniment with churches and organizations in other countries (serving as the means through which churches in other countries engage in mission to this church and society); engaging with communities, coalitions and networks, congregations, and regional ELCA synods in service and justice work within the territorial jurisdiction of this church; and providing guidance to members of the denomination on matters of social justice. 

Witness in Society (WiS) encompasses some of the work and ministry the ELCA does in the public sphere, advancing justice and shining a light on peace and dignity. Our advocacy activity is coordinated from the ELCA’s federal hub in Washington, D.C. alongside the Lutheran Office for World Community at the United Nations in New York City; Lutheran state public policy offices (SPPOs) in California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (as well as more than 15 additional affiliated state partners serving even more states; and through the ELCA Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. 

The Program Director for Civil Rights Policy will lead and carry out the church’s public witness (both governmental and grassroots advocacy) on issues related to promoting equal rights, justice, and inclusion for all people in U.S. federal policy, especially for members of historically disadvantaged groups, with a particular focus on racial justice. This advocacy will be informed and sustained by time spent in “accompaniment,” the spiritual practice of walking beside and maintaining meaningful relationships with underrepresented people and communities on behalf of whom we advocate. This work also includes supporting colleagues in integrating equity across federal policy areas and working as part of the WiS team in the Service and Justice home area.  


This is a full-time, regular, exempt, Washington D.C.-based, hybrid position. This position has responsibilities that will require being in the office on a weekly basis. This could mean 1-2 days most weeks and possibly more depending on need. 

Candidates for this remote position must reside within the fifty United States or the District of Columbia and be authorized to work lawfully in the United States. In compliance with federal law, all persons hired will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and to complete the required employment eligibility verification document form upon hire.


1.  Policy Advocacy - On behalf of the ELCA, leads civil rights policy advocacy strategy, including development, implementation, and impact evaluation. Policy areas include but are not limited to: racial justice, women’s rights and gender justice, LGBTQ+ equality, labor policy, including voting rights and election law, criminal justice reform, and gun violence, as well as equity dimensions of education and healthcare policy. Works in cooperation with the Director for Strategy and Advocacy, the Witness in Society (WiS) team, and other key stakeholders to establish strategic annual priorities for domestic policy based on the social teaching of the church. Brings to these colleagues’ attention political developments which may suggest modifications in ELCA policy. 

2.  Government Relations - Advocates to legislative and executive branches of the Federal government to advance ELCA policy priorities and strategy on the issues described in (1) above. Cultivates and maintains productive relationships with various congressional offices and federal government agencies, especially the Departments of Labor; Justice; Education; Health and Human Services, and the White House. 

3.  Grassroots Networks – Collaborates actively with Advocacy Engagement staff to build, grow, equip, and maintain vibrant ELCA grassroots advocacy networks. Engages these networks and ELCA members and leaders in advocacy work (such as through facilitating constituent engagement with members of Congress) both to support effective governmental advocacy and to promote the practice of advocacy as Christian discipleship, with a particular focus on the value of accompaniment in faith-based advocacy. Informs grassroots networks about key issues and promotes opportunities for action. Ensures strong relationships and policy alignment between ELCA policy advocacy staff and grassroots networks.

4.  Accompaniment & Equity - Spends time regularly connecting with, listening to, and learning from diverse ministries and congregations across the ELCA and those active in or interested in addressing issues of civil rights and social justice.  As appropriate, builds relevant relationships of accompaniment beyond the membership of the ELCA. Supports colleagues in federal advocacy in thinking about and incorporating equity considerations across policy areas with a particular focus on ensuring racial justice as a cross-cutting advocacy issue. 

5.  Cross-Team Coherence – Participate collaboratively in the Domestic Policy Huddle to develop coherent domestic policy strategy, align with ELCA strategy and leadership priorities, improve team systems, and promote the effectiveness and learning of all participants. Manages the federal policy team’s relationships with the Ministries Among Diverse Cultures and Communities (MADCC) team and the ELCA ethnic and cultural associations and works closely with them, both to understand their work, values, and areas of intersections with federal advocacy and to cultivate ongoing relationships with underrepresented communities. Collaborates, as appropriate, with the Director of Racial Justice and Director of Gender Justice and      Women's Empowerment within the office of the Presiding Bishop. Contributes to the development of and alignment of policy and advocacy engagement strategy across the entire WiS team. 

6.  Coalitions & Partnerships – Represents the ELCA within, and when appropriate, advocates with ecumenical, interfaith and secular coalitions– including civil rights- and racial justice-related committees within the Washington Interreligious Staff Community (WISC)– to create policy outcomes consistent with ELCA social teaching and policy positions. Leads partnerships with key civil rights advocacy partners including Reconciling Works on the issues named in (1). As appropriate, builds relationships and collaborates with policy experts and think tanks to support effective policy advocacy.

7.  Writing & Presenting - Presents and leads trainings internally and externally about advocacy, policy, and ELCA social teaching both to build advocacy capacity and to deepen Lutherans’ understandings of advocacy as a faith practice. Researches, writes, and edits issue-focused resources, including action alerts, policy briefings, position papers, web updates, newsletter      articles and other resources, such as video and social media, for Church leadership, synods, congregations, networks, and everyday ELCA members. Supports and informs ELCA leaders and members about key issues and opportunities for action, including through the ELCA Bishop Ready Bench table. As appropriate, serves as a resource to the Office of the Presiding Bishop. Provides timely and regular policy updates to all relevant stakeholders. 

8.  Social Teaching of the Church - In support of above, establishes, grows, and maintains substantial knowledge of ELCA social teaching; the policy commitments of the ELCA; and the contributions of the Christian faith and Lutheran tradition to public      life. Cultivates an informed appreciation for the value of ecumenical and inter-faith coalitions in shared commitments for social change.

9.  Collaborative Team Member - Supports the work of the WiS team, Service and Justice home area of the ELCA, and the ELCA Churchwide Organization. Actively supports colleagues’ success and promotes effective and sustainable team culture by meeting deadlines, supporting effective and efficient processes, providing timely response to stakeholders, and maintaining good working relations with colleagues, members, leaders, and ministries.

10.  Performs other duties as assigned. 




1.  B.A. (political science, public policy or related degree preferred) and three years’ minimum experience in public policy, government, and/or the federal policy making process, such as work as legislative staff, at a policy advocacy organization, in government relations or a related area or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience; work as a congressional staffer highly preferred. Direct hands-on experience of one or more relevant issues highly preferred.

2.  Strong knowledge of the Federal government and its legislative, regulatory and budget processes; capacity for and experience with political judgment, critical thinking, and strategic decision-making.

3.  Knowledge of grassroots advocacy techniques and promotion.

4.  Values alignment with the social teaching and theology of the ELCA. Informed appreciation of the contributions of the Christian faith to public life and the role of faith-based, ecumenical and inter-faith coalitions in shared commitments for social change. Commitment to building and maintaining substantial knowledge of the social teaching and policy commitments of the ELCA. 

5.  A high standard of professional effectiveness including: organization, efficiency, and follow through; flexibility, skill in time and project management, and the ability to prioritize effectively between competing priorities; initiative, ownership, and the ability to lead in a demanding environment.

6.  Strong interpersonal skills with the ability to relate well to and communicate effectively with politically and demographically diverse groups of people; excellent verbal and written communication skills and the ability to address audiences of various sizes for motivation and coordination around common goals.

7.  Appreciation for the mission, vision and values of the ELCA.

8.  Commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.

9.  Experience using Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, Teams, Outlook, etc.).


Physical Effort

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk and hear, use hands and fingers to operate a computer and telephone. This position requires sitting for long periods of time. Employee will occasionally need to lift boxes or materials up to 15 pounds. Reasonable accommodations can be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Travel Frequency

Some travel required; up to 10%. Position requires some overnight, domestic travel by plane, train or automobile.


Commensurate with qualifications and experience. Minimum: $66,206.40.


The ELCA offers a competitive benefits package for eligible employees, including employer paid health premiums for employees, health and dependent care FSA’s, a health savings account (HSA) with an employer contribution, life insurance, and a substantial employer contribution to 403b retirement plan (no match required). We also offer a generous paid time-off policy including 17 paid holidays. All benefits commence on your start date.


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