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The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is the leading advocacy organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants and their loved ones. NILC’s mission is grounded in the belief that everyone living in the U.S. - regardless of race, gender/gender identity, immigration, and economic status - should have equal access to justice, resources, and educational and economic opportunities that enable them to achieve their full human potential. Leveraging its 501(c)4 affiliate, the Immigrant Justice Fund (NILC IJF), and with a $22 million annual operating budget and 70 staff members, NILC combines policy advocacy and litigation, movement power building and narrative and culture change strategies to both strengthen the legal protections for immigrants and shift the public debate toward the notion that everyone regardless of their place of birth or socioeconomic status has a stake and constructive role to play in shaping the country’s future.

Founded in 1979 as a project of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, NILC (initially named the National Center for Immigrant Rights) began primarily as a legal services support center. NILC engaged in the litigation of landmark cases throughout the 1980s and played a major role in implementing the 1986 immigration reform law. This marked the beginning of NILC’s evolution from a service provider into a national force in immigrant advocacy.

In 1994, NILC opened a D.C. office and began to burnish its reputation for federal policy advocacy. In 1997 NILC began its state level advocacy in partnership with state immigrants’ rights coalitions to successfully advocate for immigrant access to safety net programs. Since then, NILC has developed strong and healthy partnerships with state and local groups across the nation as they achieve significant victories throughout the last decades.

In 2008, Marielena Hincapié was promoted to Executive Director, becoming NILC’s first immigrant top leader. Over the years, Marielena oversaw a cultural and demographic shift at NILC that resulted in a multi-racial/multi-ethnic organization (at all levels of staff and board) that is more representative of the communities it serves. In 2013, NILC’s board of directors established an affiliate 501(c)4 organization, the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund (NILC IJF) to engage and directly advocate in the political arena.

In response to President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda in 2016, NILC co-led the Protecting Immigrant Families coalition, the No Muslim Ban Ever campaign, and the Defend our Dreams campaign to challenge efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. Internally, NILC and NILC IJF’s boards embarked on a planning process that resulted in 2019 in the Strategic Framework for Transformational Change, a comprehensive roadmap that both summarized NILC’s evolution and presented the three core strategies that NILC would use: 1) promote pro-immigrant policy; 2) consolidate immigrant power; and 3) create narrative and culture change.

Today NILC works to hold the current administration and policymakers accountable, as well as to advance the field as a whole. NILC also integrates other strategic approaches - as illustrated by the #ImmigrantsAreEssential initiative - to humanize the lives of immigrants across our society, and to lead movement building efforts that leverage the collective scale and power of the ecosystem aimed towards justice and a society where everyone, including low-income immigrants, can thrive.


The new President will join an extraordinary organization with a dedicated staff team, two active and committed boards of directors, and supportive institutional funders, as well as a broader thriving community of advocates and leaders working to advance justice for immigrants (with focus on the core issues of racial and economic justice that disproportionately impact the communities that NILC serves). Building on NILC’s strong national reputation and leveraging the skills and talents of its diverse and highly impactful staff, the new leader will set and drive the strategic direction of the organization (with board oversight and input as needed).

Additionally, the President will:

Lead and inspire NILC’s next level success by nurturing strong relationships with board, staff, and stakeholders, aligning NILC’s work serving immigrant populations in the U.S. The President, working collaboratively with the boards, executive leadership team, senior leadership team, and staff, will refine and integrate a vision and strategy for NILC that leverages the approaches articulated in NILC’s 2019-2023 strategic framework: litigation, policy and advocacy, narrative and culture change strategies, and movement/power building. The President will understand the importance of storytelling both in chronicling the impact of NILC’s work on low-income immigrant communities, and in attracting financial resources that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization and its impact.

The President will deeply value the practice of racially just and inclusive leadership and organizational development as a central component of any strategy to increase the impact of NILC’s work and be deeply responsive and relevant to the diverse and dynamic communities NILC serves, and works with and alongside of, across the country. S/He/They will develop robust, trust-filled relationships with both existing and new stakeholders and will cultivate opportunities for funder partners, consultants, and nonprofit leaders to engage and build together toward a new era of more equitable and more systemic change in the immigration justice space.

Manage a highly skilled, diverse, talented, and effective team. NILC has grown rapidly in recent years, as it has worked to keep up with the increasing needs of the communities it serves and to meet the intense assaults on both foundational values and human rights. NILC’s internal infrastructure and high-impact staff, particularly over the last few years, have been stressed by both the robust growth and heightened work demands, and by the trauma inflicted by the last administration on immigrant communities and its defenders. Over the last year, NILC has taken steps to strengthen its leadership structure, establishing more effective processes across the organization as well as a shared understanding of the strategic framework to support staff role clarity and success. With this foundation, the new President will have opportunities to activate, inspire, and guide next level strategy collaboratively with the team.

As a proven manager and facilitator with high emotional intelligence, the President will lead from an inquiry-grounded orientation, one that seeks to engage a wide range of voices and synthesizes these differing perspectives into rich and actionable insights that inform the organization’s decision-making and reflect the values of the communities it works with and alongside of. Recognizing the need to nurture NILC’s wealth of talent, the new leader will commit to developing the staff professionally to build their careers for the future of the movement. The new leader will seek to partner collaboratively with management and the staff union in this work and to inform a sustainable and effective strategy that attracts and retains exceptional and diverse talent.

Represent NILC as a public figure to build aligned community and partnerships with policymakers, funders, movement leaders, the media, and other stakeholders who support shared movement goals. The incoming President will engage with both new and existing stakeholders, movement partners, allies, donors, and the media as an inspiring public figure and spokesperson to advance NILC’s strategic priorities. The new leader will be a natural bridge builder who is able to invite alignment across lines of difference in support of shared concerns for the defense of core values in immigrant justice and the defense and advancement of rights and opportunities for all. The President will invite and align diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences in the co-creation and execution of vision and strategy for NILC’s work. S/He/They will collaborate with mission-aligned organizations, solidifying NILC’s place as a convener and leader in the immigration justice movement and with intersectional justice movements. S/He/They will be a vocal activist and challenger in the movement and of allied and non-allied organizations, to ensure the importance of centering low-income immigrants in the collective work. During this leadership transition, the incoming leader will steward existing relationships held by the Interim Executive Director, looking for opportunities to grow and extend them.

Build and nurture partnerships with individuals, foundations, and other philanthropic organizations to sustain strong financial support for both NILC and the Immigrant Justice movement. The new President will be a passionate, successful, and seasoned fundraiser able to inspire both existing and new dollars toward effective narrative and policy change in support of immigrant communities across the country. NILC enjoys a strong base of philanthropic support, and the new President will ensure, together with the development team, an effective dialogue and feedback loop with funders in order to support both organizational and movement goals are met, and NILC’s operating budget remains strong.


While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:

Strategic Leadership and Core Knowledge of NILC’s work and the Immigrant Justice Movement

  • Broad knowledge of the historical, current, and evolving systems, networks, context, and resources throughout the immigrant justice movement and the nonprofit sector as a whole, as well as the levers utilized to affect change in and across these movements.
  • Demonstrated experience leading people, teams, and major bodies of high impact work through periods of significant change and/or growth, particularly in a senior leadership capacity and for a multifaceted organization.
  • Demonstrated ability to align vision, strategy, and execution.
  • Ability to think across systems, sectors, and movements to identify opportunities for collaboration and shared outcomes; experience advancing legal, policy, narrative, or power-building change as effective levers to advance the immigrants’ justice movement.
  • Demonstrated understanding of legislative advocacy and electoral politics, and a keen understanding of the state and local policy opportunities.

Systems and Management

  • Commitment to creating a strong and healthy workplace that reflects internally the values NILC advocates for externally and that centers diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
  • Experience working in a highly collaborative unionized workplace.
  • Experience mentoring, developing, and providing leadership to high-performing, multi-disciplinary teams and partners that engages staff, members, and sub-recipients/contractors to achieve project/program goals through a collaborative and reflective leadership style.
  • Experience working in partnership with a board of directors and leveraging a board’s resources.
  • Sophistication with programmatic strategies that embed evaluation and learning and a commitment to community-based learning.

Relationship Stewardship and Cultivation

  • Demonstrated experience as a versatile and effective fundraiser with a measurable track record of securing multiple large gifts across both 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 funding, proven ability to establish and manage deep relationships with partners and funders; adept at aligning their work with funders’ strategies and setting achievable expectations; and familiarity with community-centric fundraising.
  • Strong convening and facilitation skills and an authentic interest in listening to and learning from others; ability to establish trust with a diverse set of stakeholders and a commitment to honoring and elevating community expertise and wisdom.
  • Demonstrated ability to have authentic dialogue around sensitive issues including funder expectations, grantee priorities, and community and movement concerns; highly developed emotional intelligence and active listening skills, and the ability to use interpersonal skills in collaborative, diplomatic ways.
  • Demonstrated ability to serve as public spokesperson for the organizations at high-level functions and across media platforms that lift up the work of NILC and NILC IJF.

LOCATION:  Los Angeles, CA or Washington, DC


Salary (minimum of $300,000) will be flexible and commensurate with the experience of the successful candidate.

To Apply: 

For more about the National Immigration Law Center, please visit:

For more about the NILC Immigrant Justice Fund, please visit:

This search is being led by Katherine Jacobs and Sharon Gerstman of NPAG. Candidates may submit their cover letter, outlining their interest and qualifications, along with their resume via NPAG’s website.

NILC is an equal opportunity employer. We strongly encourage applications from women, people of color, and bilingual and bicultural individuals, as well as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, and/or any other individuals with diverse experiences. Applicants shall not be discriminated against because of race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, disability, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, color, marital status, or medical condition including acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and AIDS-related conditions. Applicants with Disabilities: Reasonable accommodation will be made so that qualified disabled applicants may participate in the application process. Please advise in writing of special needs at the time of application.


Submission Deadline: 
February 28, 2023
Organization Information: 
National Immigration Law Center Los Angeles, CA
United States