Political Director

07 Jun, 2021


Political Director

Common Defense
New York, NY

Position Overview:

The Political Director leads the government affairs and partnerships efforts of Common Defense, with the overall goal of developing an evolving legislative and policy platform, overseeing the process of endorsing a strategic slate of candidates, and steering the organization through a dynamic political landscape in a way that maximizes Common Defense’s impact and embodies our progressive values.

The Political Director will collaborate closely with the Organizing Director and Communications Director to develop and implement strategic campaigns and build sustainable, independent political power for our membership.

The Political Director will be responsible for cultivating existing and establishing new relationships with elected officials and their staffs, labor union political directors, other organization’s leadership and key policymakers.

A strong candidate will have experience managing staff, briefing stakeholders, working with coalitions of ally organizations and candidates for office. They will have extensive knowledge of the federal legislative process, electoral campaigns, military and veterans affairs, and levers for influencing the executive branch.

Supervision and team members: 

  • Reports to the Executive Director.
  • Serves on the Leadership Team of senior level Directors for the purpose of advising the Executive Director on organizational management.
  • Collaborates closely with the Organizing Director and Communications Director on campaigns.
  • Collaborates closely with the Development Director to build partnerships with grantmakers and major donors, attending donor meetings and briefings when needed.
  • Supervises and manages all Political Department staff, consultants, and contractors.
  • Takes a project-based leadership role, supporting staff and members in the context of lobbying and advocacy events (e.g. DC lobby trips), or other specific time-limited events as directed by the Executive Director.

Primary Duties:

Political Leadership:

  • The Political Director holds the primary responsibility advocating for Common Defense’s issue priorities with elected officials and the leadership of other organizations and external stakeholders.
  • Within the scope of issue priorities determined by the board, staff, and membership of Common Defense, the Political Director will flesh out a concrete policy platform for the organization on an ongoing basis, encompassing:
  • Deciding to organizationally support or oppose specific legislative or policy initiatives related to Common Defense’s issue priorities.
  • Crafting positions on current events to inform public statements crafted by the Communications Director and disseminated by Common Defense spokespeople.
  • Determining whether to join multi-organizational letters or coalitions, and when to lead such initiatives ourselves.
  • Provide guidance and direction to the member-led Common Defense electoral committee, stewarding them through a strategic candidate endorsement process, including making recommendations to the membership in line with Common Defense’s overall strategy, partnerships, and issue priorities.
  • Support member political education in collaboration with the Organizing Director and Training Director.


  • The Political Director holds the primary responsibility for building, sustaining, prioritizing, and tracking political partnerships with aligned organizations, policy experts, and elected officials, encompassing:
  • Identifying organizations, individuals, and policymakers who represent the most important potential allies for achieving success in Common Defense campaigns. Assisted by the Government Affairs Coordinator, and other staff as needed, intentionally building and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships of trust and respect between Common Defense and these allies.
  • Identifying key targets for pressure, including elected officials, and seeking to establish and sustain relationships of accountability grounded in Common Defense’s core principle of “power, not patronage” between them and the organization.
  • Ensuring that partnerships held across the team are being prioritized according to the campaign strategy, information is being shared, critical relationships are being intentionally tracked and sustained, and labor is divided in an equitable and efficient fashion.
  • Seek opportunities to connect with veterans within aligned progressive organizations and build a broader progressive veterans movement that “bridges” across issue silos and builds connective tissue between aligned organizations.

Advocacy & Government Affairs:

In parallel with the Political Director determining specific organizational legislation and policy stances, the Organizing Director is responsible for deciding upon, crafting, and prioritizing organizing campaigns based on that platform to give Common Defense members opportunities to win progressive change.

  • Work closely with the Organizing Director to support and advise them on the development and prioritization of organizing campaigns on an ongoing basis.
  • Lead direct lobbying activity by Common Defense as part of those campaigns, supervise the scheduling of meetings with elected officials and their staff, and organize lobbying opportunities for Common Defense members to engage with their own representatives.


  • Contribute to fundraising efforts by participating in meetings with major donors to speak about Common Defense’s work, as requested by the Development Director.
  • Contribute to institutional fundraising efforts by providing narrative components, data and strategy summaries for grant proposals, reports or partnership pitches, and attending meetings with funders to speak about Common Defense’s work.
  • In consultation with the Development Director, oversee digital small-donor fundraising via email, SMS, and digital ads conducted by Common Defense’s digital consulting firm.
  • Supervise staff in developing concepts for, editing, and approving emails, ad copy, petitions, and other content to engage grassroots supporters, ensuring that messaging aligns with Common Defense issue priorities and policy stances.
  • Decide on causes and legislation to mobilize Common Defense supporters to contact their representatives about using mass mobilization tools.

Required Qualifications:

  • Shares the progressive values of Common Defense, our commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion, and supports our theory of change.
  • Commitment to building a multi-racial, multi-generational, working class progressive movement independent from the political establishment.
  • Five years of relevant experience in legislative policy-making, advocacy, coalition-building, and/or electoral campaigns.
  • Past experience in a leadership role in another progressive organization.
  • Experience managing high-level relationships with political and organizational partners.
  • Two years of direct management/supervisory experience in a professional workplace setting.
  • Fluency in the US military and veteran experience, including knowledge of military and veteran culture, idioms, institutions, organizations, ranks, operations, major policies, and recent history.
  • Demonstrated ability to effectively build and sustain durable relationships with a wide variety of allies and stakeholders and navigate the complex political ecosystem.
  • Knowledge of the structure, function, and operations of Congress, the Executive Branch, and the legislative process.
  • Effective communicator of policy, with the ability to translate complex issues into everyday language and compelling calls to action.
  • Strong project management, time management, and planning skills, with a demonstrated ability to take initiative and drive projects forward independently.
  • A strategic mindset that identifies short-term and long-term opportunities, and an ability to balance conducting rapid-response with pursuing long-term objectives simultaneously.
  • Demonstrated ability to operate well collaboratively.
  • Fluency with Google suite, including Docs, Sheets, Calendar, Slides, and Drive.
  • Access to reliable high-speed internet.
  • Excellent writing skills.

Desirable Qualifications (preferred but not required):

  • Past experience in staff or elected leadership within organized labor.
  • Past experience working with constituencies that have experienced significant trauma.
  • Familiarity with data and metrics for analyzing political engagement, voting patterns, demographics, and the impact of civic engagement campaigns
  • Location in Washington D.C., New York City, or a swing state (e.g. Georgia, Arizona, etc) is a plus, but not required. (Regardless of location, occasional travel will be required.)
  • Existing policy knowledge and/or a professional network of relationships in any of the following issue areas:
  • Climate Change
  • Economic Justice
  • Foreign policy
  • Military/Veterans policy
  • Racial Justice
  • Voting rights
  • Experience with any of the following platforms is a plus, though not required (training will be provided):
  • ActionKit
  • CQ Knowledgis

How to Apply

Email resume and cover letter to jobs@commondefense.us

Please include “Political Director” in your subject line

Writing sample/clips optional

Job posted: 2021-06-07