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Executive Director


George Washington University, Multiracial Democracy Project

Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Monday, June 10, 2024

Founded by the George Washington University Law School and GW Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law Spencer Overton, the Multiracial Democracy Project(“the MDP”) is an initiative of the George Washington University Law School that seeks to produce solutions that facilitate our nation’s transition to a well-functioning democracy that truly represents our increasingly diverse population. Through education, research, and convenings, the MDP seeks to address many of the most urgent problems facing multiracial democracy—disinformation, cultural anxiety, racial polarization, antidemocratic attitudes, vote dilution, voter suppression, and the decline of key voting rights protections.

The MDP enables GW Law faculty and students, as well as voting rights leaders, democracy reform leaders, tech policy leaders, policymakers, and renowned experts, to work and teach across its three pillars by:

  • Educating and building the next generation of democracy problem-solvers
  • Becoming a hub of research, translation, and innovation on multiracial democracy
  • Convening leading experts from academic, civil rights, democracy reform, technology, and policy communities

The MDP will convert actionable research and discoveries into real-world impact through research and teaching. GW’s proximity to federal leaders and strengths at the intersection of education, technology, democracy, and civil rights create the ideal environment to develop innovative solutions to our most pressing challenges. Initially, the MDP will focus on two issues that are critical to the future of representative democracy in our diverse nation: artificial intelligence and alternative election systems.

The core belief of the MDP is that a pluralistic, liberal democracy that protects the political rights of all Americans regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, language, or religion is feasible in the United States. The inaugural Executive Director of the MDP will be an entrepreneurial visionary with deep familiarity with the public policy process, the civil rights community, and the democracy reform and/or tech policy communities. The ideal candidate will have a demonstrated ability to collaborate and coordinate with members of the civil rights community and academic researchers, and an ability to engage with policymakers and the democracy reform and tech policy communities.

The Executive Director will manage two Project Managers and an Administrative Assistant, and will have the discretion to build a team to support the MDP as its needs evolve over time. The Executive Director will administratively report to the GW Law Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and work in close consultation with the MDP’s Founder and Faculty Director, and its advisory boards. The advisory boards will be established and led by the Executive Director in partnership with Professor Overton, and will support the MDP through expertise, philanthropy, passion, and connections.

Responsibilities for the Executive Director include:

Ambassador for the MDP

  • Represent the MDP as an inspiring and credible ambassador with diverse audiences, including voting rights leaders, democracy reform leaders, tech policy leaders, policymakers, community partners, philanthropic leaders, media, funders, and other actors whose partnership will be integral in transitioning the MDP’s research and thought leadership into actionable policy change and practice innovations
  • Develop the MDP’s values and promote a culture and environment that reflects those values and those of GW
  • Develop and foster strategic relationships, including recruiting public and private sector partners

Developing Strategy and Ensuring Implementation of the MDP’s Goals

  • Oversee and steward programmatic priorities and grant obligations on democracy issues (including those on election reform, artificial intelligence, and multiracial democracy theory and policy)

Oversee and lead the MDP’s team in:

  • Developing vision, strategy, and annual goals for the MDP
  • Organizing symposia, conferences, panels, roundtables, and other gatherings of scholars, practitioners, non-profit leaders, philanthropic leaders, private sector leaders, and government officials
  • Making the research of affiliated scholars (including that of the Founder and Faculty Director) accessible, impactful, and useful for civil rights organizations and other stakeholders
  • Drafting and submitting amicus briefs, agency comment letters, legislative testimony, nonpartisan analysis and research, and responses to requests for technical assistance from governmental bodies
  • Preparing the Executive Director, the Founder and Faculty Director, scholars, and other experts for legislative testimony, media appearances, and other public education on democracy issues.

Advisory Board and Partner Management

  • Establish and manage advisory boards for the MDP, including articulating their goals and the roles of the members and developing processes for communications and application of their expertise and guidance
  • Cultivate and maintain deep relationships with relevant staff at organizations working on civil rights and racial justice, tech policy, and democracy reform, and with policymakers and federal agency staff working on the same
  • Manage collaborations with other GW projects, initiatives, centers, institutes, and programs (e.g., GW Equity Institute; GW Center for Law and Technology; GW Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics (IDDP)) on relevant projects
  • Manage collaborations with peer academic centers at other universities (e.g., Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School, Stanford Cyber Policy Center, SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University) on relevant projects
  • Organize networks of organizations, scholars, and policymakers concerning democracy, racial justice, and technology issues.

Administration of the MDP

  • Plan, develop, and direct the day-to-day operations of the MDP, including building the staff team and serving as the primary staff leader
  • Engage with Human Resources, Procurement, Finance, and other essential GW departments
  • Work with the Founder and Faculty Director to hire two Project Managers, Administrative Assistant, and other staff to develop and articulate operational priorities, programming, and benchmark progress
  • Work with the staff to develop cultural principles/values of the MDP, and systems for establishing and tracking objectives and key results
  • Manage the process of establishing the MDP as a chartered center at GW Law School
  • Develop long-term growth initiatives for the MDP
  • In coordination with the GW Office of Communications and Marketing, oversee the development of and execution of a communications plan to disseminate work product, activities, and future plans of the MDP to funders, researchers, policymakers, the public, and other stakeholders
  • Oversee the MDP’s financial position and outlook and steward the MDP’s budget and long-term financial health
  • Create goals and oversee and implement strategies for fundraising and maintaining donor relationships (along with GW’s development office and the Founder and Faculty Director)
  • Work in partnership with GW’s Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research to oversee the development of grant proposals, tracking of grant obligations, allocation of expenditures to grants, grant report submission, and compliance with GW and GW Law policies.

Performs other related responsibilities as assigned. The omission of specific duties does not preclude the supervisor from assigning duties that are logically related to the position.

Minimum Qualifications:

Qualified candidates will hold a BA/BS in a related discipline plus 10 years of relevant professional experience. Degree must be conferred by the start date of the position.

Preferred Qualifications:

Ability to Leverage the MDP’s Unique Structure and Placement in an Academic Setting: The Executive Director’s role is unique in that it is not a teaching or academic position but offers the ability to leverage the weight of GW Law’s expertise, resources, and student body in support of the MDP’s mission. The ideal candidate will have a strong vision for how to best leverage these strengths and assets.

The MDP’s approach is additive to the work of existing democracy programs across other public and private universities, and makes a unique contribution of convening voting rights, democracy reform, and tech policy groups (many of which are based in Washington, DC or have a significant DC presence), federal policymakers, state and local policymakers (many of which are served by professional organizations based in Washington, DC), and scholars and other experts.

The MDP will incorporate and translate knowledge about the intersection of democracy, law, racial equity, and technology, into education and training at GW Law School. One aspect of the MDP’s core mission is to ensure that future generations of diverse multiracial democracy leaders will be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to approach their professional and academic pursuits, and will help create the solutions that will allow a well-functioning democracy for our increasingly diverse population in the future.

Additional skills and experiences preferred include:

  • JD or PhD plus 10 years of relevant experience preferred
  • A deep familiarity with and a robust professional network within the racial justice/civil rights, election law, voting rights, and/or technology policy communities
  • Strong background in managing change through a distributed system of entities (e.g., various civil rights organizations)
  • At least four years of senior leadership/executive level experience within a civil rights, democracy reform, election administration, tech policy, or government setting (e.g., U.S. Senate or House committee or subcommittee staff director, chief counsel, or policy director; congressional personal office chief of staff or legislative director; assistant secretary or deputy assistant secretary; deputy chief or other leadership role within the U.S. Department of Justice or relevant federal agency White House commissioned officer; policy VP of a civil rights organization) is preferred
  • Demonstrated ability to prioritize and manage team members handling multiple projects of varying complexity simultaneously with attention to detail and a high level of excellence and professionalism
  • Ability to execute on both strategic program and program details; team player
  • Demonstrated commitment to racial equity and inclusive democracy
  • Demonstrated positive orientation; leads with inspiration, passion, and a belief in team members’ ability to succeed
  • Strong interpersonal and conflict resolution skills; this includes utilizing cultural competence and emotional intelligence, employing tact and discretion to handle highly confidential and sensitive information, and facilitating meetings that address complex issues
  • Flexibility and tolerance for ambiguity
  • Ability to combine strategic thinking with operational follow-through
  • Experience building and maintaining good working relationships work with diverse constituencies, stakeholders, and community partners.

Passion for the Mission The Executive Director must be passionate and knowledgeable about issues related to democracy in the United States and the overall mission of the MDP. They must appreciate the importance of evidence-based policy, and have an established reputation for supporting policymakers, thought leaders, voting rights organizations, democracy reform organizations, philanthropy, experts, and others in creating an inclusive democracy. The Executive Director will come to the MDP with a deep commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice and will be energized by the opportunity to impact all communities, including those that are currently underrepresented in American democracy.

Executive Experience and Mindset The Executive Director will be a high-energy, charismatic leader who will serve as an ambassador for the MDP. They will have demonstrated experience leading an initiative or organization and be hands-on, agile, and versatile. They will be solutions-oriented with a continuous improvement mindset. They will have a track record of motivating and inspiring others to achieve impact through creativity and teamwork, and of leveraging individual strengths to meet organizational goals. They will have an executive, mission-driven presence and the ability to convey the MDP’s mission and priorities to a range of external stakeholders to inspire action.

Entrepreneurial Ambition

The Executive Director must have an entrepreneurial ambition and approach. They will serve as an advocate to encourage the development of new opportunities, programs, and partnerships for the MDP.

Hiring Range:

Commensurate with Experience.

George Washington University, Multiracial Democracy Project is an equal opportunity employer.