Institute Director – similar to Executive Director Role

Institute Director – similar to Executive Director Role

Institute Director – similar to Executive Director Role 150 150 NELA
National Institute for Workers' Rights
November 28, 2022
Remote or Hybrid / Washington, DC or Concord, CA
Job Type






Remote or Hybrid / Washington, DC or Concord, CA


Senior Leadership Position

For non-profit, legal, legislative, labor, or other professional advancing to an Executive Director role.

Compensation: Annual Salary $95-105K; Paid Vacation; 13 Paid Holidays; Paid Medical & Family Leave; 100% Employer-Sponsored Medical, Vision & Dental Insurance; Pension

Application Process: Please submit a cover letter explaining your interest in and qualifications for the position and a résumé in PDF format to:

Please include “Institute Director Application” as the subject line.



Founded in 2008, the National Institute for Workers’ Rights (Institute) advances workers’ rights through research, thought leadership, and education for policymakers, advocates, and the public. Working in partnership with the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), the Institute has developed a strong programmatic profile, including initiatives on forced arbitration of employment claims and exploitation of workers in the gig economy. The Institute uses a variety of approaches – research and white papers, blog posts, academic symposia, educational presentations, and more – to offer solutions to challenges working people face every day. We value the power of collaboration and being in coalition with other organizations to pursue our vision for just and equitable workplaces and policies.

Leveraging the strengths of the Institute-NELA partnership, we are poised for growth and increased impact within the wider workers’ rights community while expanding our solid base of donor support.

NOTE:  An increase to 2.5 FTE and programmatic expansion will result in growth of our current annual budget.



The Institute seeks an innovative and highly motivated Director to be part of our leadership team and guide strategic expansion of our impact, initiatives, and resources. You will take our programs to the next level and lead development of a detailed, long-range vision for an expanding body of Institute work.

Similar to the role of an Executive Director, the Institute Director will guide the development of new programs, balancing big picture thinking with nuts-and-bolts implementation of a sustainable growth plan. This is a new position and will make an immediate impact in the strategic direction for the Institute. In addition to expanding the Institute’s programmatic profile, the Institute Director will support relationship-building with funders and donors, and support and supervise our Paul H. Tobias Attorney Fellow – a recent law school graduate committed to advancing the rights of workers. This is an excellent opportunity for nonprofit / advocacy management advancement in cutting-edge workers’ rights issues.

The Institute Director will have the option of working remotely, in-person, or hybrid, and could be based in our Washington, DC office in the AFL-CIO Building, or our Concord, California headquarters. This is a full-time, exempt position.  General hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. local, with a paid lunch hour.

NELA has remote work staff and the Institute can support a similar option.

The Institute Director reports directly to and is supervised by the NELA/Institute Executive Director, and is supported in close partnership with the NELA/Institute Director of Development, the Legislative & Public Policy Director, and the Program Director and Director of Strategy & Operations,



Program Development & Implementation

  • The Institute Director leads all programs, which may include symposia, brown-bag lunches, legislative briefings, coalition roundtables, virtual webinars or town halls, practitioner or law student trainings, etc.
  • In collaboration with the Executive Director and Director of Strategy & Operations, develop the organization’s strategic plan.
  • Develop subjects for Institute thought leadership, which may include Model Employment Laws or harmonization of current statutes, protecting workers from forced arbitration and NDA’s, regulatory improvements, changes in classification of independent contractors or gig workers, modification to summary judgment, changes to AI in employment, etc. The Director may draw on the expertise of NELA’s members countrywide and can collaborate with the Legislative & Public Policy or Program Directors or coalition partners.
  • The Institute Director will guide the Institute’s annual budget projections and requests.
  • Partner with the communications team to publicize and distribute the Institute’s work.
  • Explore co-funded program partnerships with other organizations.


  • Lead the recruitment, hiring, professional development, management, and evaluation of the Paul H. Tobias Attorney Fellow.


  • Partner with the Development Director in funder and donor outreach and relationship-building, including contributing to grant proposals and other donor content, creating program-related communications and reports for donors, funders, and other constituencies; and direct fundraising.


  • Occasional travel (subject to health and safety considerations), including over evenings and weekends to NELA’s Annual Convention, to Boards of Directors meetings, and other events.



This is a new position and will be shaped by the unique attributes you bring to the organization.  We welcome the opportunity to explore the possibilities with you. Please do not exclude yourself from applying if you do not have every skill or experience on this list.

  • Passion for the Institute’s mission and demonstrated experience in workers’ rights are essential.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to write for varying audiences.
  • Superb analytical skills and the ability to incorporate data into strategic decisions and planning.
  • Exceptional organizational skills, including attention to detail, follow-through, producing a high-quality work product, and meeting deadlines.
  • Law degree or experience in a legal environment preferred, active bar membership a plus.
  • Background in public policy, labor or community organizing, and research related to workers’ rights (or in several of these areas) are of interest.
  • Minimum of three years of experience in leadership or management roles; nonprofit experience a plus.
  • Commitment to expanding meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts within an organization.
  • Enthusiasm for and experience with organizational fundraising and fund development are preferred.
  • Proficiency in MS Word, Excel, and Outlook preferred. Familiarity with MS PowerPoint and Google docs desirable.


Hiring Process & Timeline

  • Applications are accepted on a rolling basis with an intention to complete the interview process and bring our new team member on board as soon as practicable.
  • As you advance through the process, steps include: one 30-minute introductory phone conversation; one 75- to 90-minute online interview with the hiring team; and optional follow-up conversations or emails to expand on or clarify topics raised during the interview.
  • Finalists will be asked to provide four professional references and to create a presentation that demonstrates the ability to communicate effectively about workers’ rights issues.
  • Final offers will be sent in writing.


The National Institute for Workers’ Rights (Institute) and National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) are equal opportunity employers. We value a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture. The Institute and NELA encourage applications from all persons without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status and record of arrest or conviction, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law.

The Institute and NELA make every effort to assure that our recruitment and employment practices provide all persons, including persons with disabilities, with full opportunities for employment in all positions. We are committed to providing reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities. If you are a person with a disability and need assistance applying, e-mail or call (415) 296-7629. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information to arrange an accommodation for the interview process.



How To Apply

Application Process: Please submit a cover letter explaining your interest in and qualifications for the position and a résumé in PDF format to:

Please include “Institute Director Application” as the subject line.