Senior Manager, Defend Direct Democracy (Flexible US Work Location)

Senior Manager Defend Direct Democracy

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This job description is intended to convey information essential to understand the scope of the position. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of skills, efforts, duties, or responsibilities associated with the position.

The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC) is seeking a full-time Senior Manager to be an integral part of the growing program team and manage national and state coordination and collaboration of the Defend Direct Democracy campaign, led by BISC. The mission of BISC is to strengthen democracy by implementing a national progressive strategy for ballot measures rooted in building state-based power. BISC is the only nationwide organization focused on using ballot measures to build and support multi-racial, multi-issue people-powered movements.

Ballot measures are a vital tool of a thriving democracy and one of the few tools in many states, to pass progressive policies and address systemic inequities. A form of direct democracy, ballot measures have been increasingly used by impacted community members and state leaders, especially those representing Black, Latinx, Native, Asian & Pacific Islander and young people to bring bold structural change to people’s lives.  After passing progressive, people-centered ballot measures, we have seen legislators across the nation pass laws that create barriers to the ballot measure process.  BISC supports partners as they navigate these challenges, and it has become clear that a coordinated nationwide effort to protect this people-powered lever of our democracy is critical.

The Senior Manager for the Defend Direct Democracy campaign will work in partnership with BISC’s program team to build support for and implement a coordinated nationwide effort to defend and strengthen the ballot measure process. The Senior Manager will work with state and national allies to connect the attacks on direct democracy with the attacks on the freedom to vote, right to protest and other attempts to silence the voices of the People.

Under the direct supervision of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Director, the Senior Manager will collaborate with state-based partners on legislative, legal, and campaign strategies, engage national allies to support state-based efforts and work with BISC’s internal program and communications teams to leverage a national narrative that protects and strengthens ballot measures.

BISC is a mission and values-driven organization that recruits and seeks to retain a staff committed to excellence by fostering a work environment that is flexible, fairly compensated, respectful, and fun.

Location: BISC HQ is located in Washington, DC, but the location for this position is flexible in the U.S. and with agreement from BISC’s Executive Team and the Senior Manager’s direct supervisor. This position may require some extended travel when it is safe to do so. This position is part of the Program Team at BISC and reports to the Policy and Legal Advocacy Director.

Job responsibilities may include: 

  • Under the supervision of Policy and Legal Advocacy Director and in close collaboration with the BISC program team, support the development of a coordinated, strategic campaign to connect nationwide attacks on democracy, voter participation and civic engagement to the attacks on the ballot measure process, protect democracy in all forms, and fight these attacks alongside our state partners;
  • Understand and analyze connections between funders and key players attacking the ballot measure process to inform strategy development;
  • Work with the BISC program team to deepen relationships with state partners and national stakeholders and respond to the needs of ballot measure practitioners through one-on-one strategic assistance conversations, convenings and meetings;
  • Provide strategic support and policy development expertise to ballot measure campaigns and coalitions under the supervision of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Director;
  • Support the development and execution of BISC’s program and policy work with a commitment to excellence and appetite to learn new skills;
  • Work to create transformational systems change and continued operationalization of greater alignment amongst and across various ballot measure sectors and issue areas in order to defend and strengthen direct democracy;
  • Work with BISC’s internal program, development, and communications teams to leverage resources and support for coordinated efforts to protect and strengthen the People’s Tool and to amplify a national narrative around the importance of the ballot measure process.
  • Work with the Policy and Legal Advocacy Director to advance and advise on state legislative, legal, field, communications, and other campaign strategies to strengthen and defend direct democracy, always working in partnership and collaboration with state-based partners;
  • Actively engage and brief national allies, stakeholders, and BISC partners on an ongoing basis in the national campaign to defend and strengthen direct democracy;
  • Help to develop and provide BISC’s leaders and partners with the tools and resources needed to run effective, equitable, and culture changing ballot measure campaigns;
  • Supports and provides logistics for BISC events such as trainings, briefings, conferences, and other convenings and provides support to members of the program team; and,
  • Other duties as assigned.

Additional responsibilities:

  • Aid the program team in implementation of BISC’s 5-year strategic plan focused on changing culture, centering directly impacted communities, capacity building, convening, and internal continuity and growth;
  • Represent BISC by attending meetings and convenings of stakeholders and partners;
  • Work with the executive team and program directors to deepen BISC’s racial equity work, both internally and in the field;
  • Support other BISC and BISC Foundation projects and activities as needed; and,
  • Assist with the planning and execution of BISC’s annual conference.

Education, Knowledge and Experience Requirements
Position requires familiarity with advocating for an issues-based agenda with a diverse array of partners and organizations in coalition settings, and five years of related professional experience. Candidates need to have leadership experience with at least 2 cycles of state-based ballot measure campaign work in a state with citizen initiative process; experience with working on national coordinated campaign efforts, rooted in the states; familiarity with citizen initiative process; familiarity with the national progressive ecosystem, stakeholders within that ecosystem, and opponents of progressive causes.

Experience with policy, legislative, and legal advocacy work is a plus.  The Senior Manager must be a team player who can work independently and manage multiple tasks simultaneously. Strong writing skills with an understanding of writing for an organizational voice is highly preferred. Grassroots advocacy, organizing and experience in working with national and state-based coalitions is a must.

Ideal candidate will have the following:

  • Strong analytical skills, detail-oriented, and able to adapt quickly with an understanding of and experience with the ballot measure process;
  • Experience with and understanding all aspects of ballot measure campaigns and coalition work;
  • Experience in grassroots organizing strategies;
  • Experience working with progressive policy issues, national and state-based coalitions, organizations, state tables and issue campaigns;
  • Ability to provide hands-on strategic support to ballot measure leaders and campaigns;
  • Some experience leading and facilitating meetings and trainings/workshops and giving presentations;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, with demonstrated ability to produce a variety of types of written communications including memos, briefings, presentations, and reports;
  • Superior organizational skills and interest and ability to process and synthesize complicated information;
  • Commitment to progressive change and movement building required;
  • An understanding of and/or proficiency in racial equity and inclusion work;
  • Willingness to travel, sometimes on short notice; and,
  • Good-humored, team player a must.

We seek candidates who are:

  • Collaborative: You know that building true partnerships takes time, trust, and transparency. You understand the complexities of coalition work, including the inherent race, power and privilege dynamics often present, and are able to address them. You also are collaborative with your co-workers: willingly sharing information and tasks to get a job done.
  • Results and evaluation driven: You show relentless commitment to meeting a high bar and a history of getting things done even in the face of obstacles. You are receptive to feedback and know that evaluating and re-adjusting is critical to long term learning.
  • Organized and flexible: You have a plan, but you can quickly adapt when needed. And you understand the plan is better when you collaborate with those around you.
  • Effective interpersonal skills: You have a proven ability to communicate effectively with different personalities to move projects forward.
  • Strong time management skills: You can balance many projects at once and prioritize accordingly.
  • Movement focused: You have a demonstrated commitment to social, economic, and racial justice.

Salary & Benefits

  • Salary range $70,000-$80,0000, commensurate with experience
  • 100% Medical insurance for family paid for by employer
  • Dental and vision insurance paid for by employer
  • Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage
  • Generous Vacation leave (office is also closed between Christmas and New Years)
  • Sick leave
  • Generous 401(k) plan with employer matching contribution

About BISC

BISC’s mission is to strengthen democracy by implementing a national progressive strategy for ballot measures rooted in building state-based power.

The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC), a 501(c)(4) organization, is the only progressive organization that works across many policy, organizing, and political organizations, with local, state, and national leaders to analyze and support the ballot measure landscape.

We believe direct democracy can be a tool for liberation. We leverage ballot measures across the United States as part of a larger movement to strengthen democracy, center people of color, queer, low-income, immigrant, indigenous and other marginalized communities, move towards racial equity, build and transform power, and galvanize a new progressive base. In February 2020, we launched our strategic framework to help move towards our vision of building a world where all people are fully liberated, live with dignity and thrive so that equity and justice prevail.

We lead by supporting the use of ballot measures as a tool for transformational impact, not just in a measure’s outcomes, but at every stage of the ballot measure process—from policy development, signature gathering, civic engagement, the campaign itself, implementation and beyond. We believe in movement building and empowerment, bringing communities into the work and leaving lasting infrastructure for continued social change.

We know that success isn’t just defined by getting 50% + 1 of the vote. If we’re serious about building a more equitable world, we also must consider who’s driving the change and whether it will have a transformational impact on the people and communities who have been pushed to the margins for too long.

We achieve impact through training the field and developing leaders, convening state and national leaders and funders in a co-created strategy that results in transformative wins, leading innovative research and providing assistance to support ballot measures as a tool to build long term power.

BISC’s Racial Equity Stance

At the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, we work to transform our country into one that is equitable and just. In our work, we strive to challenge structural racism, and center the people most impacted. BISC works with commitment to racial equity inside our organization in our operations and management processes, and externally through our research, training and organizing work with ballot-measure campaigns, partners and funders.

EEO Policy

BISC follows an Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and employs personnel without regard to race, ethnic or religious background, descent or nationality, sexual orientation, gender (including pregnancy), gender identification, disability, marital status, age, height, weight, or military service. This policy applies to employment, internships, internal promotions, training, opportunities for advancement, terminations, relationships with vendors, use of contractors and consultants and in dealing with the general public.