Director of Public Policy and Strategic Advocacy

Position: Director of Public Policy and Strategic Advocacy

Department: Programs, Government Relations and Public Policy

FLSA Status: Full-time, Exempt

Reports to: Chief Program Officer

Direct Reports: 2 staff (to be hired)

Date Issued: March 2018

Date Revised: April 3, 2019

Location: Washington, DC 


About Program

Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris acts as a catalyst to systemically disrupt the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. By working with government leaders, the world's leading technology corporations, and local partners, Polaris equips communities to identify, report, and prevent human trafficking. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what we do – helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate.  Founded in 2002, Polaris is currently in a period of rapid growth in order to achieve a bold vision for an increased global presence and the introduction of new programs aimed at strategic interventions to disrupt human trafficking where it is occurring and to restore freedom to survivors. More details about our programs and history can be found on our web site at


About Opportunity

Polaris is hiring a Director of Public Policy and Strategic Advocacy to lead the organization’s public policy and government relations strategy and department.  The Director will develop and execute comprehensive policy strategies to achieve the organization’s goals on combating human trafficking.In partnership with the Executive team, Senior Leadership Team, program staff and key partners and coalitions, the Director is responsible for co-developing and representing Polaris’ positions on relevant legislation, appropriations and policies directly with national government policymakers (legislative and executive branch) and where strategic, local policymakers and elected officials.  The Director will have the opportunity to structure and build the Public Policy and Strategic Advocacy team to meet the organization’s long-term goals, and their strategy for the PPSA function.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Establish and execute a strategic advocacy agenda for Polaris building on the organization’s brand and reputation and its desire to increase its policy impact in the coming years;
  • Serve as Polaris’s lead policy advocate, leading efforts to directly influence policy on Polaris’s issues at federal, state, and local levels;
  • Develop and execute strategies for advancing authorizing and appropriating legislation through Congress, from conception to final passage;
  • Cultivate and maintain effective relationships with policy makers at different levels across the US to advance Polaris’s policy priorities;
  • Ensure the PPSA team is tracking relevant appropriations and authorization bills and hearings and gathering up-to-the-minute intelligence on key issues/legislation, and brief and advise Polaris’s Executive leadership as needed or requested;
  • Work across the program teams and the Communications team to develop and implement sophisticated advocacy strategies in support of Polaris’s policy priorities including establishing and implementing short- and long-term goals, objectives, policies, and operating procedures, in collaboration with other teams, as necessary;
  • Work across the organization to support broader advocacy, communications, supporter engagement (digital engagement);
  • Represent Polaris’ positions externally with other nonprofits, public interest groups, coalitions, and other organizations;
  • Direct the activities and manage the contracts of consultants providing government relations support, as needed;
  • Liaise with other teams within the organization to advise and support Polaris membership on grassroots and field strategies and actions to advance legislative priorities;
  • Manage, lead, and direct the government relations team, mentoring junior staff to encourage growth
  • Participate in projects, committees, and task forces as assigned;
  • Commitment to the National Human Trafficking Hotline mission and Polaris values;
  • Other duties as assigned by supervisor.


The ideal candidate will have the following personal competencies and characteristics:

  • Passion for and commitment to the mission of Polaris;
  • Experience leading successful campaigns aimed at impacting policy change at a national, state or local level;
  • Demonstrated track record of achieving legislative and policy results through strong existing bipartisan relationships on Capitol Hill on issues of or related to human trafficking, labor rights, domestic violence, immigration, sexual assault, or criminal justice;
  • Ability to build trusted relationships with partner organizations and build consensus across a broad range of actors.  Frequent contact with Congressional leaders, the Administration, agency heads, locally elected leaders, and local government agencies;
  • Significant demonstrated experience successfully leading and managing a bipartisan team with diverse skill sets;
  • Proven motivator and developer of people with a variety of perspectives and backgrounds;
  • Exceptional written and oral communication skills, in particular with broad, diverse audiences;
  • Advanced degree or demonstrated expertise in law, political science, government or related area;
  • Genuine interest and passion for Polaris’s issues and priorities;
  • Team player with superior interpersonal and collaboration skills and an ability to communicate effectively with executives, peers and direct reports;
  • Ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment that requires rapid prioritization of a number of projects;
  • Ability to remain positive and work well under pressure and within tight deadlines;
  • Ability to consistently apply professionalism and good judgment in a fast-paced environment;
  • Ability to maintain the highest degree of confidentiality regarding all aspects of work at all times;
  • Ability to travel domestically, and on occasion, internationally; and
  • Minimum of 7 years of legislative or issue-advocacy experience with federal and/or local government.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience working at senior levels of the US Government



Internal: Ability to communicate effectively with executives, peers, and direct reports; and

External:  Ability to build trusted relationships with partner organizations, build consensus across a broad range of actors, respond quickly and calmly in a variety of situations. Frequent contact with Congressional leaders, the Administration, agency heads, locally elected leaders, and local government agencies.



Working Conditions

  • Typical office setting


Physical Requirements (can change with position)

  • Prolonged sitting, chiefly at a computer terminal;
  • Occasional bending, stooping and stretching;
  • Requires eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity sufficient to operate a computer, telephone, calculator, and other office equipment;
  • Requires normal range of hearing and eyesight to record, prepare, and communicate in writing, in person and by phone;
  • Requires occasional lifting up to 25 pounds.



Values Statement

The work of Polaris is grounded in a set of values and organizational beliefs that provide a common starting point for all of our activities. At Polaris, we look for talented individuals who are passionate about combating all forms of human trafficking and who will strive to embody and model these values within the Polaris community and in the anti-trafficking field. Please take a moment to make yourself familiar with these values and our mission statement before submitting your application. 


Diversity Statement

Polaris designs and implements data-driven strategies to prevent and disrupt human trafficking, and restore freedom to survivors.  Achieving this ambitious goal requires both trafficking-specific systemic interventions and broader cultural and structural shifts that reduce the inequities that lead to human trafficking. While Polaris alone cannot build a more diverse, just, equitable, and inclusive society, both the success of our work and our organizational values require modeling in the workplace the change we want to see in the world.

This means cultivating a workforce, organizational culture, and priorities that respect and celebrate a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team made up of individuals with different identities, lived experiences, and backgrounds. Within both our team and across every part of our work, we strive to integrate and elevate the full range of survivor voices.

This is a living commitment.  Diversity, equity, and inclusion are values to be manifested daily, in the work we do, the decisions we make, and the way that we treat each other and the people we seek to serve.  This means creating space where staff can be included, heard, valued, and set up for success, and where everyone feels empowered to bring their full, best selves to work. We will not check boxes and consider it done. We will push new innovations and different ways of thinking, and treasure the community built and strengthened by each of our contributions.