Director, Federal Legislative Affairs

21 Sep, 2021


Director, Federal Legislative Affairs

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Arlington, VA

What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation’s leading voice on mental health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

Today, we are an alliance of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and a national office who work in communities across the United States to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need. NAMI advocates for all who are affected by mental illness, both the individuals and the people in their lives. In particular, we work to address disparities and injustices and to promote dignity and inclusion for all people with mental illness and their families. In addition to being advocates, we educate, we listen, and we lead as evidenced by our public awareness campaigns, the range of numerous programs we provide, and our strong public policy.

We currently have an opening for a Director, Federal Legislative Affairs. The Director, Federal Legislative Affairs will serve as NAMI’s chief lobbyist with Congress and is responsible for helping shape NAMI’s federal legislative agenda. The Director is responsible for implementing strategies to advance NAMI’s policy objectives with Congress, assisting with effective messaging, identifying opportunities to leverage NAMI’s advocates, and developing relationships with influential members of Congress and staff. The Director also ensures analysis of federal legislation and drives responses to legislative threats and opportunities.

This position is based in Arlington, VA (currently remote due to Covid).


  • Serve as NAMI’s lead lobbyist and a go-to source of knowledge and insight regarding the federal mental health care legislative landscape
  • Help lead the annual process of developing NAMI’s legislative priorities, advising on if/when to adjust during the year
  • Develop and execute legislative strategy to advance NAMI’s policy priorities, including collaboration with partners, coalitions and NAMI’s external lobbying firm
  • Identify opportunities and lead advocacy efforts for addressing inequities for people with mental health conditions through federal legislation and appropriations
  • Build and maintain strong bipartisan relationships with members of Congress and key staff, including members of the House Energy & Commerce, House and Senate Appropriations, Senate Finance and Senate HELP Committees and mental health-related congressional caucuses
  • Collaborate closely with the GRPA team and manage relationship with external consultants, ensuring their expertise is fully utilized
  • Provide guidance to advocacy colleagues to leverage NAMI’s grassroots and grasstops advocates at key inflection points
  • Frame issues and craft messaging on legislation that highlights NAMI’s positions and the voice of peers and families
  • Cultivate both traditional and non-traditional alliances to advance shared goals
  • Play a leadership role in key coalitions and collaborations with partners on legislative issues
  • Provide issue education for GRPA and grassroots advocacy colleagues, including presenting to NAMI audiences and partners on the legislative landscape, when appropriate
  • Oversee timely monitoring and analysis of federal legislation, emerging legislation and activities that will affect NAMI’s members
  • Perform other duties as assigned


  • Minimum 8-10 years’ experience in government affairs and advocacy
  • Experience working in a congressional office or lobbying Congress
  • Patient advocacy health, mental health, or disability-related experience a plus
  • High political acumen and knowledge of federal legislative processes
  • Strong existing relationships with congressional offices preferred
  • Bachelor’s degree required; advance degree preferred
  • Professional demeanor and excellent interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to think strategically and implement tactically
  • Self-starter, yet team-oriented
  • Experience in nonprofit lobbying and affiliate or chapter-based organizations a plus
  • Must pass background check

NAMI is proud to be an equal opportunity employer and is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workforce. NAMI prohibits discrimination and harassment against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, genetic information or any other legally protected group status. We also provide reasonable accommodation for candidates with disability. 

How to Apply

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Job posted: 2021-09-21