Job Opening: Policy Director

The Policy Director leads ASAN’s policy team and strategically advances ASAN’s policy portfolio. They will work closely with ASAN’s 2 policy analysts and the Executive Director. This job is a full-time, salaried position paying $80,000/year with comprehensive health insurance and other benefits, a retirement plan, commuter benefits, and four weeks of paid time off per year. The Policy Director will work out of ASAN’s Washington, DC office when it is safe to resume in-person work, but can start remotely. 

In this job description, we have attempted to cover both the “what” and the “how” that go into this position–the portfolio that the Policy Director will cover, and the key skills and attributes that will enable them to do the job successfully. We are much more focused on the “how” than the “what.” We will help a potential Policy Director build detailed knowledge as necessary, but they must have the skills to represent our community effectively in policy negotiations. Applicants who have limited specific knowledge on disability policy but extensive experience with the skills described in the “how” section are encouraged to apply.

The “what”

Guide ASAN’s policy team to effectively advocate for ASAN’s priorities

    • Supervise ASAN’s policy analysts and policy interns, support their professional development, and maintain familiarity with their respective policy portfolios and workflows
    • Review materials drafted by the ASAN policy team, including statements, press releases, comments, amicus briefs, white papers, toolkits, memos, and other documents
    • Monitor internal recordkeeping to ensure that knowledge documentation is up to date and comprehensive
    • Lead implementation of the policy-related portions of ASAN’s organizational equity plan

Strategically advance ASAN’s policy portfolio

    • Continually ensure that the entirety of ASAN’s policy portfolio reflects our mission, values, and strategic goals and is coherent, consistent, and streamlined
    • Set ASAN policy priorities and positions, in coordination with the ASAN policy team and Executive Director
    • Identify key strategic opportunities and decision points to advance ASAN’s policy agenda
    • Identify and prioritize ways to advance the rights of autistic people with the highest support needs and autistic people experiencing multiple marginalizations (particularly autistic people of color) throughout ASAN’s policy portfolio 
    • Represent ASAN on the Hill and in meetings with federal government officials as needed
    • Represent ASAN’s strategic interests in disability and civil rights coalitions as needed, and ensure ASAN plays a leadership role where appropriate
    • Proactively build relationships and partnerships with other disability and civil rights organizations to advance ASAN’s priorities
    • Identify areas for effective advancement of ASAN’s policy priorities through legal advocacy, including administrative complaints, amicus work, and/or participation in litigation; manage and oversee ASAN’s involvement in legal advocacy
    • Support local advocates to shape policies impacting the rights of the autistic and disability communities at a state level

Represent ASAN and our policy work effectively to the public, clearly communicating our values and priorities

    • As needed, draft statements and other communications on behalf of ASAN
    • Respond to media inquiries and represent ASAN in interviews on a wide variety of issues
    • Ensure other ASAN staff are prepared and able to represent ASAN to the press with respect to policy issues
    • Present about ASAN’s policy work and priorities through panels, webinars, conferences, and similar media

Shape ASAN’s overall direction as a member of Senior Staff

    • Advise the Executive Director on policy and legal questions
    • Share information regarding policy developments, opportunities, and strategies with senior staff to shape ASAN’s direction
    • Working with senior staff and other members of the management team to develop and implement organization-wide strategies
The “how”
  • Ability to manage (and work as part of) a team: create and manage workplans and timelines for team projects and deliverables; proactively communicate with team members; facilitate good communication/coordination between people involved in a project; proactively collaborate with team members about accommodations and effective work practices; support team members and build skills; embrace administrative work necessary for the effective functioning of the ASAN policy team.
  • Strong time management: track multiple projects and issues simultaneously. Respond to quickly shifting priorities and opportunities for action. Manage a meeting-heavy calendar and stay on top of an active inbox.
  • Attention to detail: continuously monitor and follow up on project details and timelines, ensuring ideas and visions are fully realized; learn issue areas inside-out;  analyze policy details at both a broad and a microscopic level at every opportunity; use a detail-oriented mindset to continuously embed ASAN’s values and vision into all aspects of policy development.
  • Outstanding written and in-person communication skills: effectively communicate about our work in-person and in writing to a wide range of audiences including organizational partners, Congressional offices, government officials, self-advocates,  media, and the general public, ensuring that messaging is strategic, consistent, and in alignment with our goals.
  • Self-directed: proactively and independently identify what needs to be done in order to advance ASAN’s policy priorities, move work forward, or solve problems;  carry out work accordingly. 
  • Coalition building: skillfully navigate relationships with individual and organizational partners; handle disagreement and conflict constructively; represent ASAN’s strategic interests in challenging and nuanced environments; proactively identify and follow up on strategic opportunities; establish ASAN as a trusted partner via consistent follow-through that turns relationships into tangible results.
  • Multiple perspectives: constantly manage and monitor multiple competing perspectives and contexts–in communications, in coalitions, in policy development and negotiations, in developing advocacy strategies, etc.
  • Strategic and critical thinking: identify effective strategies for advocacy; analyze information and legal or legislative proposals to determine whether a policy or course of action has a sound basis; effectively prioritize activities to ensure the broadest and most meaningful impact; proactively identify strategic opportunities for relationships, partnerships, advocacy initiatives, or other actions.
Required experience
  • At least 3 years of leadership experience in policy advocacy 
  • Familiarity with the disability rights, self-advocacy, and neurodiversity movements
  • Experience working in disability policy or related civil rights work
  • Track record of discretion and reliability in work and advocacy environments
  • Preferred but not required: law license and the ability to advise ASAN on legal issues affecting the organization, such as review of prospective contracts and licensing agreements. 

We strongly encourage autistic people of color, AAC users, and members of the LGBTQ community to apply. Interested parties should send their resume, cover letter, and a sample of their policy writing to jbascom@autisticadvocacy.org.