Policy Director

10 Nov, 2022


Policy Director

Tzedek DC
Washington, D.C.

About Tzedek DC 

Tzedek DC was founded on the Jewish teaching of “Tzedek, tzedek tirdof,” which is Hebrew for “Justice, justice you shall pursue.” Tzedek DC’s mission is to safeguard the legal rights and financial health of all DC residents with lower incomes dealing with often unjust, abusive, and illegal debt collection practices, as well as other consumer protection problems like credit reporting issues, identity theft, and predatory lending. We carry out that mission with the goal of addressing racial gaps in wealth and equality. We are likewise committed to actively countering bias, prejudice, and racism, and to creating and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion within our own organization.

Tzedek DC advocates for fairer policies nationally and in the District of Columbia, provides direct legal services for DC residents with debt issues, and conducts community-based financial empowerment programs. Tzedek DC’s coalition-based systemic advocacy over the last five-plus years has led to the reinstatement of driver’s licenses for over 65,000 DC residents previously barred from driving in DC due to unpaid fines or fees, and to major systemic reforms in DC’s debt collection, wage garnishment, and credit reform rules, as well as to vital emergency laws to support residents through the 2020-2022 public health emergency. To expand our systemic reform work, Tzedek DC has created a new position and is hiring for our first-ever Policy Director. 

We strongly encourage applications from people of color, people with disabilities, bilingual and bicultural people, people from immigrant communities, people of all genders, veterans, and LGBTQ community members. 

This is a newly created position, and the application deadline is rolling. We will consider applications until the position is filled. 

Position Description 

The Policy Director will lead and coordinate Tzedek DC’s policy work to promote changes to the laws and systems related to debt (including medical debt), debt collection, credit reports, financial abuse, and other consumer issues in DC. Building on Tzedek DC’s prior systemic reform work, the Policy Director will have the opportunity to shape Tzedek DC’s advocacy work going forward. The Policy Director will work with Tzedek DC’s Director and staff to broaden and implement Tzedek DC’s policy agenda, by crafting policy campaigns, supporting and in some cases spearheading coalitions, and building consensus among stakeholders. 

This position requires working strategically and collaboratively with DC Councilmembers and their staff, additional policy makers and officials, DC agencies, and diverse allies and partner organizations to support Tzedek DC’s policy agenda. Candidates should bring a passion for Tzedek DC’s mission.  

Specific areas of focus in the short term may include: 

  • Reforming DC’s “Clean Hands” laws so that people with fines and fees owed to the DC government can maintain their small business and occupational licenses (building on our successful campaign to end DC’s policy of punishing residents with $100 or more in unpaid fines by automatically disqualifying them from obtaining or renewing a driver’s license).
  • Adoption of reforms to prohibit wage garnishment for medical debt held by those who qualify for reduced-cost care and/or charity care, and other measures to address medical debt.
  • Strengthening protections for victims of coerced debt, which is debt incurred through fraud, threat, or violence.
  • Reforms to algorithm discrimination.
  • Reforming DC and national rules governing credit reports.

Tzedek DC is currently working remotely, but we expect the policy work will include both in-person and remote work over time. Tzedek DC’s main office is headquartered at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, with easy public transportation access on the Van Ness stop of the Metro Red line and several bus lines. 

Tasks and Duties 

The position will include the following tasks and duties: 

  • Winning policy campaigns that promote positive social change on debt and consumer issues. 
  • Organizing and communicating with stakeholders, including community members directly impacted, organizations, government entities, clients, and others. 
  • Developing a policy agenda in collaboration with Tzedek DC team members for the 2023 Council period and beyond, and creating and executing a strategic plan to implement the policy goals. 
  • Researching as well as organizing others’ research on issues related to policy goals. 
  • Translating research into policy briefs and other materials for multiple audiences. 
  • Drafting talking points on individual topics to advance the policy goals. 
  • Lobbying during the legislative session. Drafting legislation; preparing and delivering or coordinating the delivery of testimony; attending and advocating in legislative committees, taskforces, and working groups; and identifying opportunities for broad coalition support of Tzedek DC issues. Tracking and analyzing legislation that affects Tzedek DC’s direct service work. Drafting summaries of legislation and presentations about different consumer and debt policy pushes for legislators, community members, and allied organizations.  
  • Developing and implementing awareness campaigns related to local, state, and national laws and policies related to consumer and debt issues. 
  • Serving as a trusted point of contact for partner organizations and community members. 
  • Identifying creative campaign opportunities to mobilize and engage community members in Tzedek DC’s work and advocacy. 
  • Collaborating with Tzedek DC’s communications team to develop press releases and social media content. Responding to media requests on policy issues and speaking at events and webinars. 

Preferred Qualifications 

The ideal candidate will: 

  • Have a track record of successfully advocating for policy change; have strong research and writing skills; be detail-oriented and capable of managing multiple parallel processes. 
  • Bring experience working with diverse stakeholders, including directly impacted people, legislators, community advocates, government agencies, and employers. 
  • Bring some familiarity with the District of Columbia political landscape and with the issues of economic, health, and consumer policy reform. 
  • Have a J.D., public policy, or related degree and/or experience in policy and/or legal work; we are open to a non-attorney for this position, with legislative research and/or drafting skills in a professional environment being a plus factor. 

Additional plus factors include:  

  • 3 or more years of experience in political, legislative and/or policy work. 
  • Knowledge about some of the subject areas on Tzedek DC’s current policy agenda, including: occupational licensing, economic justice, debt as a barrier to health, fines and fees reform, algorithmic discrimination, and credit reporting reform. 
  • A demonstrated commitment to social and racial justice and an understanding of how poverty and race factor into civil legal and financial systems. 
  • Enthusiasm and energy for the difficult and challenging work of reform. 
  • Ability to engage respectfully with diverse groups of stakeholders. 
  • Excellent communication skills. 
  • Ability to effectively manage multiple policy goals. 
  • Ability to work occasional evenings or weekends for special events, speaking engagements and to pursue campaign opportunities. 
  • Experience working collaboratively in coalitions; ability to take a leadership role in coalitions, including developing shared plans, coordinating external and internal communications, and navigating dynamics among partner groups across the political spectrum. 
  • Ability to distill complex issues into accessible language in talking points for legislators, stakeholders, and the public. Ability to organize information persuasively for multiple audiences. 
  • Research and analytical abilities, including the experience and skills to conceptualize, coordinate, and implement policy initiatives. 
  • Public speaking experience to diverse groups of stakeholders. 
  • Demonstrated ability to prioritize multiple assignments and to work both independently and as part of a team. 
  • Experience with Microsoft Office Suite (e.g., PowerPoint, Word). 
  • Familiarity with the legal system. 

Diverse backgrounds and experiences are a strength in conducting outreach to and engaging with client communities. We encourage members of marginalized communities and multi-marginalized individuals to apply for this position. Lived experience as a disabled person or experience as an ally in racial justice and/or disability justice is a plus. Spanish language skills or knowledge and/or lived experience as a member of the DC Latino community are also a plus.  

Salary and Other Support 

The initial salary range for this position is $65,000-$85,000. Tzedek DC also offers competitive benefits including a generous leave package, full payment of health care premiums, dental insurance, long term disability, group life insurance, and a 403b retirement plan, including automatic 3% contributions by Tzedek DC that begin after one year of service.  

Application Instructions 

The application should include: 

  1. Cover letter  
  1. Resume 
  1. Name and contact information for three references 

Application materials and any questions, including application accommodation requests, should be directed by email only to gd@tzedekdc.org.  

Vaccination Requirement: At the time of hiring, candidates will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and to have received a booster shot. As a grantee of the DC government per the Mayor’s Order 2021-099, we are required to confirm the vaccination status of all employees who might at any point work in person in our office or work with the public.  

Prioritizing Access and Inclusion: If you require accommodations or have any access needs that you want to make sure are met during any part of this application and hiring process, please email gd@tzedekdc.org 

TZEDEK DC IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER. It is the policy of Tzedek DC that no employee or applicant for employment or services will be discriminated against because of race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliation, family responsibilities or family status, veteran’s status, or any other basis prohibited by law, including the D.C. Human Rights Act and Language Access Act. 

Job posted: 2022-11-10