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Executive Director


Central Minnesota Legal Services (CMLS) Seeks Executive Director

CMLS seeks an Executive Director to lead this civil legal aid organization as we begin our next chapter. CMLS has a staff of 30 (including 15 attorneys), four offices, and an annual budget of approximately $3.4 million. This is an exciting opportunity for an attorney leader with vision and creativity to build on the solid foundation that exists within CMLS.

The mission of Central Minnesota Legal Services is to increase access to justice by providing high quality legal services to individuals experiencing poverty, empowering community members to participate in our civil legal system, and challenging societal inequities.

CMLS is a four-office program providing free legal representation to low-income clients in 21 counties in central Minnesota. CMLS is funded primarily by federal and state grants, as well as other funding sources to provide civil legal services to specific low-income populations in its service area. CMLS enjoys a good rapport with, and strong support from, the organized bar, and the local judiciary.

Why Central Minnesota Legal Services?
CMLS is a growing organization with both staff and pro bono programs.

CMLS reaches clients through community clinics, both in-person and remote; and collaborates with partners such as law libraries, public libraries, and domestic violence organizations to offer the clinics.
CMLS coordinates with other regional legal aid programs as part of the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition to work on professional development and state funding, support two state-wide websites, for the public and as a resource for staff and pro bono, and work on other technology projects.

CMLS reaches a diverse client population. CMLS has a poverty population of 185,000 which includes immigrants and refugees from Mexico, Somalia, Laos (including Hmong), Vietnam, Ethiopia, Thailand, and other countries. Recently Minnesota has welcomed larger numbers of people fleeing conflicts in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Why Minnesota and the Twin Cities?
Minnesota is home to beautiful natural surroundings including many state and local parks, over 10,000 lakes, and close access to Lake Superior, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Voyageurs National Park.

There is a lively arts, theater, and music scene, from nationally touring Broadway shows at the Orpheum Theatre to diverse arts offerings including the Penumbra Theatre. The Twin Cities is also home to the Guthrie Theater, Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and numerous concert venues, showcasing local and national talent. Art galleries range from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center to smaller galleries and outdoor art fairs.

For sports fans every major sport is represented in Minnesota including the Vikings, Timberwolves, Wild, Twins, Minnesota United, and Lynx plus the University of Minnesota teams and the St. Paul Saints.

Excellent working relationship with Minnesota’s Judicial Branch.

High Priority Roles and Responsibilities for the next Executive Director:
• Serve as an effective ambassador for CMLS, by working with the Legal Services Advisory Committee, nurturing collaborative relationships with funders and grantors, elected officials, private bar and judicial leaders, private donors, and business and civic organizations throughout the service area;
• Maintain a collaborative relationship with other legal aid providers in Minnesota;
• Foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in the program’s delivery of services to clients, with staff and board, and a culture that promotes mutual respect and teamwork;
• Provide regular communications to staff and board, manage board operations, and provide fiscal oversight to the organization; and
• Provide leadership and nurture the values of CMLS, including a holistic view of client services, ease of access for new clients, and prioritization of strategies that treat the cause of legal problems.

Location: This is primarily an on-site position at CMLS’ Minneapolis office. Periodic travel throughout the service area, including CMLS’s St. Cloud, Willmar, and Anoka offices, is required. Some remote work is possible in a hybrid work schedule.
Salary: $105,000 to $135,000 D.O.E. Excellent Fringe Benefits.


Desired Qualifications and Experience of the Successful Executive Director Candidate:

  • Be a licensed attorney in good standing, with at least ten years of legal experience, preferably in the public interest sector, and/or with previous legal aid experience, eligible for admission to the Minnesota Bar in a reasonable period of time;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the laws and issues affecting low-income people and a passion for social, economic, and racial justice;
  • Possess demonstrated and exceptional leadership and administrative skills in managing and supervising in a successful legal services organization, law firm, corporate law department, branch of a court system, relevant government agency, or not-for-profit organization;
  • Have grant writing and/or fundraising experience;
  • Have knowledge of the Legal Services Corporation and state regulatory systems that apply to CMLS;
  • Understand financial matters, including development of budgets, compliance with grant and contract requirements, and financial oversight;
  • Be skilled at managing limited resources and allocating resources appropriately;
  • Have the ability to think strategically and creatively;
  • Appreciate the role of technology in client services and organizational efficiency;
  • Exhibit excellent communication skills and the ability to inspire the trust and confidence of the staff, board members, client communities, and other stakeholders and allies, including the will and ability to engage in difficult conversations as circumstances may dictate;
  • Have experience in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and be culturally informed and sensitive;
  • Have experience in building a team environment, encouraging professional development of staff, and supporting staff in the program’s work;
  • Have experience working with organizations and individuals with diverse perspectives, including clients, staff, board members, the public, and elected and appointed officials;
  • Possess personal attributes including professionalism, integrity, the ability to engender confidence and trust, honesty, a strong work ethic, a sense of humor, empathy, courage, a collaborative spirit, and an openness to diverse voices; and
  • Be willing to relocate or able to commute to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro area.
To Apply: 

Application Process
CMLS is assisted in its search for a new Executive Director by:

Dennis Groenenboom, Consultant
Management Information Exchange

Materials should be submitted electronically to in Microsoft Word or PDF format. Candidates with questions about the position or process are encouraged to contact Dennis at the email address above or at 515-537-4242.

Screening of applicants begins immediately and will continue until the time of selection. To receive full consideration, you are encouraged to submit your application materials by June 29, 2023. Please submit a letter expressing your interest in the position, your qualifications for the job, bar status, and what you believe you will be able to contribute to CMLS’s future. Please include a resume/CV and the names and contact information for three professional references.

CMLS is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

For further information about Central Minnesota Legal Services visit: Central Minnesota Legal Services (


Submission Deadline: 
June 29, 2023
Organization Information: 
Central Minnesota Legal Services
United States