Advocacy-Equity & Community Relationships Director

Advocacy-Equity & Community Relationships Director

Columbia Legal Services Website
  • Columbia Legal Services
  • Washington
  • Full Time

Columbia Legal Services is a nonprofit civil legal aid organization that advances social, economic, and racial equity for people living in poverty. We support communities and movements by bringing deep legal expertise that is grounded in – and strongly guided by – an understanding of race equity.

We seek systemic solutions by bringing class action lawsuits, using cutting edge legal theories, engaging in policy advocacy, and supporting communities in building their own power. We have a special responsibility to serve people whose access to free legal services is restricted, due to institutionalized or immigration status.

At CLS we seek a team that reflects our organizational values of community, race equity, and justice. This includes hiring staff with connections to the communities we serve whenever possible, and a commitment to strive for justice and equity in our hiring practices and in our staff culture.

Position Summary

Columbia Legal Services seeks a full-time Advocacy-Equity & Community Relationships Director. The person in this role will hold two main areas of responsibility: leading our efforts to build and strengthen relationships with communities across Washington state, especially with communities most impacted by the immigration and/or criminal legal systems, and ensuring racial equity in our advocacy work (which includes litigation and policy work). This role reports to the Executive Director.

The person in this role will lead efforts to set and assess strategy for centering communities impacted by the immigration and/or criminal legal systems in all aspects of our work. They will supervise and coordinate the work of our Advocacy and Community Engagement Specialists (ACES), who work directly with communities and with our litigation and policy teams. The person in this role will prioritize strategies that continue CLS’ efforts to move from transactional to relational and accountable community engagement, with the aim of building lasting change with and for communities.

The Advocacy-Equity & Community Relationships Director will also work in close collaboration with our Litigation Director and our Policy Director to align advocacy, policy, and community relationships around our values of community, race equity, and justice and our strategic advocacy goals.

The ideal candidate has exceptional relationship building skills and will bring experience in building meaningful relationships with communities, including with immigrants and with people institutionalized in prisons and jails. They should also have experience in applying a micro and macro lens to equity, racial justice, and community relationship building, focusing not only on individual relationships but also identifying trends and making connections at a broader level as part of holistic movement building. The ideal candidate should also have a strong understanding of systems thinking, race equity, and racial hierarchy, along with an understanding of litigation and policy work.

All CLS staff have the ability to complete some work remotely. However, this position will require some physical presence at the office and an ability to attend required meetings at the office and in the community. The person in this role should live in close proximity to one of our offices to facilitate in-office time when needed. This position may be based in any CLS office; CLS office locations include Seattle, Olympia, Kennewick, Yakima, and Wenatchee.

CLS requires that all employees adhere to our COVID-19 vaccine mandate through proof of vaccination or by requesting a medical or religious accommodation. Staff are also required to follow CLS COVID-19 protocols while engaging in in-person work in our offices and in the community.


Lead Community Relationship-Building Efforts

  • Drive and coordinate Community Relationship-Building efforts, including overall Community Relationship-Building strategy.
  • Build and strengthen relationships with community organizations and leaders to support CLS’ Advocacy and Community Relationship-Building efforts, and help foster such relationships held by ACES and others at CLS.
  • Coordinate with the Policy Director, Litigation Director, and other Advocacy Coordination Team (ACT) members, as well as with individual advocacy teams, for planning, alignment, and leadership on community relationship-building efforts and overall strategy.
  • Work with ACES and Litigation/Policy Team Leads on strategies and goals for centering community in individual cases and other advocacy projects, and provide thought partnership related to this work.
  • Supervise ACES, including regular check-ins, planning, and goal support, and professional development.
  • Connect CLS with broader state and national movements around organizing/community engagement and serve as the main point of contact in those relationships.
  • Drive community relationship-building discussions at ACT and Organizational Management Team (OMT) meetings, including regularly assessing CLS’ efforts to center community in our work.
  • Support ACES and other advocates in leading community engagement and relationship-building discussions at table/advocacy meetings.
  • Participate in the OMT to connect community-building efforts across the organization. This includes working closely with the Director of Development and Communications and with the Executive Director.
  • Attend Board meetings as needed to support the Board in its community-centered approach.

Ensure a Racial Justice focus in CLS’s Advocacy Work

  • Drive Advocacy-related racial justice at CLS, including overall strategy for racial justice in Advocacy.
    Work with the ACT to integrate the CLS Race Equity toolkit across the Advocacy department, ensuring CLS litigation and policy work includes a racial justice analysis.
    Provide orientation and onboarding related to racial justice in advocacy for all new staff and occasionally lead training or other meetings on this work for all staff.
    Drive race equity analysis in ACES team meetings, ACT meetings, Community Engagement Team (CET) meetings, and other Advocacy meetings.
    Provide coaching and insight toward stronger race equity analysis for litigation teams and Advocacy staff overall throughout the Advocacy department.
    Establish or strengthen relationships with leaders, key stakeholders, and organizations that support CLS’s commitment to Racial Equity in advocacy.
    Meet occasionally with staff and consultants leading CLS’ internal equity efforts to ensure alignment, including shared efforts to integrate the CLS Race Equity toolkit across the organization.

This job description is not designed to contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee, and others may be assigned.


The ideal candidate will have all or most of the experience below, or have a combination of comparable experience where they have demonstrated similar skills or responsibilities.

  • Experience in community mobilization, coalition building, or other relevant work, with at least one year leading a team or in a supervisory role.
  • Experience managing or leading a team. Note: this can include comparable experience including unofficial supervisory roles that required the use of supervision skills and team leadership.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, cultural competence, and understanding of principles of intersectionality.
  • Lived or other demonstrated meaningful and sustained experience with people living in poverty; people of color, immigrant, or indigenous communities; and/or the criminal legal system.
  • Commitment to confronting, exposing, and dismantling all forms of structural racism, bias and oppression, and an ability to identify issues within communities.
  • Demonstrated understanding of and interest in advancing anti-racist grassroots organizing strategies.
  • Ability to work well on a team, prioritize responsibilities, and meet deadlines.
  • Strong interpersonal, presentation or storytelling, and problem-solving skills.
  • Reasonable flexibility, and the ability to travel and regularly attend evening and weekend events as well as complete other work or attend meetings during standard office hours of 9am to 5pm. Note: this is an exempt position and additional hours may be required.
  • Understanding the importance of self-care, compassion, and empathy, and a willingness to take breaks and vacations.
  • Ability to travel throughout the local community and throughout the state, including to areas with limited public transportation, with or without accommodation.


  • Experience and understanding of structural racism in the United States and the intersectionality of oppression.
  • Experience working in the legal field and/or understanding of the litigation process, including class action litigation.
  • Familiarity with the state legislature and legislative process.
  • Proficiency in Spanish is preferred but not required for this position; other language skills relevant to our client communities are a plus.
  • Experience with transformative or restorative justice principles


This full-time, exempt position is a confidential role and is not eligible for representation by Washington Legal Workers, our in-house labor union.

Columbia Legal Services is committed to providing an equitable work environment, including a commitment to pay equity. As part of this commitment, all employees’ pay is based on years of experience in their role or in previous roles doing substantially similar work and set on a standard pay scale for their position, rather than on negotiations, which have been shown to contribute to pay disparities. The current annual salary range for an experienced Advocacy-Equity & Community Relationships Director with 5-10 years of directly relevant experience is $82,815 – $92,786.

CLS has a 35-hour workweek. We also offer a comprehensive compensation package including the following:

  • Annual cost of living and salary step increases
  • 14 paid holidays annually
  • Winter Break office closure between Christmas and New Year’s
  • 12 sick days annually
  • 15-21 paid vacation days annually (based on years of experience)
  • 3-5 personal days annually (based on years of experience)
  • Paid parental and family medical leave benefits
  • Paid sabbatical every 7 years for up to twelve weeks
  • Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program (for employees with less than 10 years’ experience)

Additionally, we pay 100% of employee premiums for excellent health, vision, and dental benefits plus 50% of the maximum out-of-pocket deductible and offer heavily subsidized family premiums.

We also offer a 403(b)-retirement benefit with employer contribution and a match, disability and life insurance, a subsidized transit pass, and an employee wellness program.

To Apply

To apply, please submit an application with a cover letter and resume in PDF format through our application portal in BambooHR.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning January 22, 2024 and the role will be removed from our website once the position is filled. If you need a reasonable accommodation for the application process, please contact

We are committed to an environment of mutual respect, collaboration, and equal opportunity for all employees, and strongly encourage applications from people of color, immigrants, people who have been affected by mass incarceration, and other underrepresented and historically marginalized groups. We believe in building and sustaining an organization that is reflective of the communities we serve, and is diverse in work background, experience, education, race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry, national origin, or sensory, mental and physical abilities. We believe that the resulting diversity is both a source of program strength and a matter of fundamental human fairness.

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