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Chief External Relations Officer


For over 50 years, Legal Aid Chicago has resolved critical legal problems that trap people in poverty. Legal Aid Chicago staff prevent unfair evictions from the only decent housing our clients can afford; protect survivors of sexual assault, human trafficking, and domestic violence; secure or preserve desperately needed benefits such as veterans’ benefits, social security or health benefits; assist senior citizens who have been swindled by or robbed of their livelihoods through fraudulent scams; and help children receive the education they need to succeed. As advocates for people living in poverty, Legal Aid Chicago witnesses how structural racism thwarts the health and stability of low-income communities and perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Free legal aid is a tool to fight racism in all its forms. Legal Aid Chicago strengthens the social safety net in our community and ensures that people have a voice in the justice system. Each year we make equal justice a reality for thousands of Cook County families. Legal Action Chicago collaborates closely with Legal Aid Chicago by executing on policy initiatives and engaging in complex litigation that furthers Legal Aid Chicago’s mission to bring justice to people living in poverty and our communities.

POSITION Legal Aid Chicago seeks a Chief External Relations Officer.

OVERVIEW The Chief External Relations Officer (CERO) leads Legal Aid Chicago and Legal Action Chicago’s fundraising and communication efforts, including law firm/corporate giving, fundraising and cultivation/stewardship events, individual and major gifts, donor relations, and government, foundation and corporate grants. This position also oversees communications and marketing plans and strategies, including public relations, media relations, online giving, social media and other digital communications, key messaging, and storytelling – ensuring that communications and fundraising activities complement and amplify each other. Reporting to the CEO/Executive Director, the CERO oversees a team of seven including the Director of Development and Communications; Director of Government and Foundation Grants; Development and Communications Coordinator; Grants and Data Administrator, two AmeriCorps VISTAs, and an Outreach and Engagement volunteer who focuses on law firm and major donor giving. This team is responsible for raising over $11M annually. The CERO serves as a member of the Executive Team and is a key player in the development and execution of organizational priorities, including strategic planning, staffing and budgeting. The position serves as a liaison to Legal Aid Chicago’s Governing Board and is the responsible for the Board’s Development and Marketing Committee and Governance Committee. The CERO attends all Board meetings and all Board committee meetings.


Leadership and Management • Work in strong collaboration with the CEO/ED, the Deputy Director, and other Executive Team members to develop fundraising strategies to support agency activities • Work with Executive Team members to create new programs and initiatives that are attractive to funders and consistent with our mission and organizational goals • Develop and/or maintain systems and structures that provide support and accountability for the department and its activities • Work with the CEO/ED, Deputy Director and Chief Legal Counsel to engage board members as active participants in fundraising • Ensure that External Relations Department functions as a team that is respectful, flexible, creative, mission driven, and successful • Hire, supervise, set goals with and for, and review the performance of External Relations Department staff, and provide strong support and guidance to the team Fundraising/Development • Oversee government and foundation grants • Develop and oversee individual, major, and planned giving • Monitor fundraising trends in the community and region and adapt as necessary • Oversee special events to ensure goals are met for all fundraising events including working with Legal Aid Chicago’s Ambassadors Board • Implement relationship development plans for donors of all giving levels and grow the base of individual giving for the organization • Implement and oversee moves management strategies for major donors • Bring forward ideas for new fundraising strategies, evaluate current plans, campaigns, and events and adjust or discontinue as appropriate Communications • Oversee a comprehensive communications plan that keeps Legal Aid Chicago supporters and partners informed, engaged, and enthused • Oversee brand awareness and marketing strategies • Support strategies to ensure the agency “speaks with one voice” in all communications, engaging program staff where appropriate • Direct communications efforts to ensure that all production, coordination, and implementation of materials for events, program, public relations, and branding are carried out via print, electronic, and social media outlets • Work with Legal Action Chicago staff on communication and media strategies for policy initiatives

SALARY • Salary commensurate with qualifications and experience. Legal Aid Chicago offers generous fringe benefits


The ideal candidate will possess: • A minimum of ten (10) years of experience in institutional fundraising and/or marketing with increasing responsibility in managing others, preferably in the non-profit sector • Demonstrated experience with multiple areas of giving such as annual fund, major gifts, campaigns, events, foundation and corporate support/sponsorship, government grants, planned gifts, marketing and communications • Proven success in securing five- to seven-figure gifts; and building and stewarding relationships with individuals, corporations, foundations and public sector funders. • Evident experience and success in building and/or managing a development staff and budgets to achieve strategic and annual goals • Demonstrated skill of managing multiple fundraising initiatives, including major gifts, events, and grants • Strong verbal and written communication skills with experience in development and marketing related writing • Sound judgement and strong discretion in handling sensitive and personal information • Superior interpersonal skills and ability to project professional competence, leadership capability, and personal maturity • Ability to present in a convincing and professional manner and to inspire and generate enthusiasm among donors, volunteers, staff and stakeholders • Demonstrated capacity to work as a member of an ambitious and successful management team • Appreciation of the importance of civil legal aid and the civil justice system, commitment to Legal Aid Chicago’s mission of equal justice for low-income people. Familiarity with the issues faced by poor people EDUCATION • A Bachelor’s degree required; an advanced degree is preferred

To Apply: 

TO APPLY • Send resume, cover letter, and the names and contact information of two professional references to • Put the phrase “CERO– Legal Aid Chicago” in the subject line of the email. No phone calls, please. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and the position will remain open until filled Legal Aid Chicago is firmly committed to creating a diverse workplace and is proud to provide equal employment opportunities to all applicants and therefore does not discriminate on the basis of creed, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age religion, marital or parental status, alienage, disability, political affiliation or belief, military or military discharge status, or ex-offender status. Applicants who have experiences with our client communities are encouraged to apply.


Submission Deadline: 
May 13, 2020
Organization Information: 
Legal Aid Chicago
United States