Managing Director of Policy - New York, NY

Title:  Managing Director of Policy                   
Type:  Full-Time
Supervisor:  Executive Director
Location:  New York, NY
Last Day to Apply:  Applications will be reviewed immediately and will be accepted until the position is filled.

The Drug Policy Alliance has an immediate opening for a Managing Director of our Policy Department reporting directly to the Executive Director.

Drug Policy Alliance

The Drug Policy Alliance is the leading organization in the U.S. promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. We envision a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights; in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies but only for crimes against others; and in which the fears, prejudices, and punitive prohibitions of today are no more. Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug misuse and drug prohibition, and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies.

While we address the wide range of social, political, and economic issues touched by the war on drugs, nearly all of our efforts fall under three substantive issue areas: ending the criminalization of people who use, possess, or sell small amounts of drugs; replacing marijuana prohibition with a sensible system of regulation and taxation; and ensuring access to effective, evidence-based health interventions for people struggling with problems related to drug misuse. We approach this work with an emphasis on racial justice and supporting the communities most devastated by the war on drugs.

Over the last 15 years, DPA has expanded from its New York headquarters to a total of eight offices, 80 plus staff, an annual operating budget of approximately $17 million, 25,000 dues-paying members and more than 300,000 online subscribers. It has a solid track record of success at the local, state, and federal levels and consistent visibility in prominent media and policy circles. For more information, please visit our website at

The Position

The Managing Director of Policy reports to the Executive Director. The Managing Director will work with the Executive Director, board, and staff to develop and implement DPA’s vision and strategic direction and ensure that its work is innovative, high-impact, and strategically focused. The Managing Director will be a thoughtful, creative, compassionate, and dynamic leader and manager who excels at leading a talented and engaged team.

The Managing Director of Policy currently supervises seven direct reports, including six Senior Directors (National Affairs, Legal Affairs, Resident States, Criminal Justice Reform Strategy (2) and Grants, Partnerships, and Special Projects) and the Policy Department’s Operations Coordinator. It is anticipated that this position will devote 40% of its time to the supervision of a dedicated and professional staff of 45, 30% to external relations and outreach, and 30% to senior management team responsibilities. The Managing Director will also have oversight of a department budget of $8.3M and will work with the Senior Directors, as well as the Managing Director, Finance and Administration, to prioritize program expenses.


During the first twelve months of employment, the Managing Director of Policy will be expected to:

  • Become thoroughly familiar with DPA – its history, mission, philosophy, programs, structure and operations, finances, constituencies, organizational culture and values, and potential;
  • Establish a solid working partnership with DPA’s Executive Director in order to bring forth their best ideas and efforts, gain their support, and undertake special projects at their behest;
  • Begin to develop and leverage relationships with key opinion leaders – including partner organizations, non-profit leaders, and government and elected officials –  among diverse communities including and beyond drug policy reform supporters; involve DPA colleagues in external relationship building as appropriate;
  • Get to know DPA’s staff, understand their programs thoroughly, work collaboratively with them in order to bring forth their best ideas and efforts; serve as a sounding board and act as a liaison between staff and the Executive Director;
  • Get to know members of the Board of Directors, Honorary Board of Directors and other key DPA stakeholders; use the Board’s talents, resources and ideas to enhance public policy activities; encourage the Board members’ ongoing participation;
  • Provide oversight and continuity for DPA’s current public policy programs;
  • Become an effective spokesperson for DPA, increasing awareness of DPA’s mission and work and broadening the organization’s reputation and visibility among policymakers, media, funders and other constituencies.


The Managing Director of Policy will be expected to:


  • Provide oversight, strategy, and direction for DPA’s public policy program, including the design and implementation of management structures to ensure accountability and collaboration throughout the department;
  • Serve as a strategic partner with and senior advisor to the Executive Director;
  • Serve as a key member of DPA’s senior management team, participating in the development and implementation of policies, strategy, short- and long-term planning, and financial and operational goals and objectives;
  • Lead the public policy program in a fiscally sound manner; develop organizational budgets in tandem with the Managing Director of Finance and Administration; approve and monitor program expenses; ensure that appropriate systems and procedures are in place to support DPA’s goals;
  • Supervise, coach, mentor and evaluate senior public policy managers; work closely with senior managers to ensure the flow of relevant information and encourage effective coordination between and among teams; recruit, train, support and work to retain a diverse, engaged, and talented staff; identify and develop professional growth opportunities for staff;
  • Work closely with the Development department and public policy staff to ensure that staff participate proactively and dynamically in fundraising to support DPA’s public policy work.


  • In partnership with the Executive Director and public policy staff, lead efforts to identify public policy priorities and facilitate decision making;
  • Work with staff to ensure that DPA remains at the cutting edge of drug policy reform work, ensure consistent high-quality and maximum impact for DPA’s work;
  • Oversee content development (overall programming and session curation) for DPA’s biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference, burnishing its role as the premiere gathering of the drug policy reform movement;
  • Develop and plan special/new initiatives and projects; 
  • Work with program directors and the Communications department to plan and coordinate DPA’s participation in public forums, among national coalition partners, at national and international conferences, and in the media; engage consistently with a range of external audiences to promote DPA’s agenda.


The Managing Director of Policy should have the following experience and qualifications:

  • At least 10 years of experience managing and leading people with an emphasis on organizational development; ability to connect to staff, both on an individual level and in groups; capacity to ensure accountability and to develop and empower top-notch leaders; experience in managing change is desirable;
  • Extensive experience at the national or local level in policy development, including leading policy development and advocacy coalitions; demonstrated substantive strength in one or more key areas of DPA’s work is desired;
  • Experience working with state ballot initiatives preferred;
  • Proven ability to lead and engage in strategic planning processes; able to think critically, objectively, analytically, and strategically and to set priorities; a successful track record of initiating and fostering the growth of programs, projects and/or organizations;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills; well-developed public speaking skills are a plus;
  • Credibility and experience to connect DPA to resources and opportunities outside the organization.


Ideally, the Managing Director of Policy will be:

  • Committed to the values that inform DPA’s work; a catalyst with vision who can create excitement and energy around DPA’s programs and encourage others to support the goals of the organization;
  • Persuasive, persistent, and creative in the pursuit of DPA’s goals; strategic and resourceful;
  • An outstanding relationship builder with the integrity, maturity, confidence, wisdom, patience, flexibility, creativity and the problem-solving skills necessary to gain the trust and confidence of DPA’s staff, board, funders, and other constituencies;
  • A team builder; able to delegate and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities; one who inspires collaboration, functions decisively, and treats people fairly; one who understands the subtleties of motivating, directing and working with diverse, strong, independent personalities and work styles;
  • Savvy, and able to help staff advance their goals and maximize their contributions in a challenging organizational climate; able to manage complex decision-making processes and negotiate organizational change; diplomatic;
  • A highly skilled communicator and a keen listener;
  • Emotionally mature and self-confident, with a sense of humor.

Terms of Employment:

Preference is given to NYC candidates, however this position could be located in Oakland, California or Washington, DC.  Extensive travel required; approximately 20% – 25% of their time will be dedicated to meetings in DPA state offices.


DPA offers a competitive salary and benefits package including health, dental, long-term disability and life insurance; a generous 403(b) plan; and 25 days paid time off.


Applications will be reviewed immediately and will be accepted until the position is filled.

Application Process

Please send a cover letter, résumé, and salary requirements to No phone calls, please. We will only contact candidates who are under consideration.

Please include the following in the subject line:  "Last Name, First Name – Managing Director, Policy”

Email submissions are preferred, but may also be submitted by mail to:

Devon Hutchins
Human Resources Manager
Re:  Managing Director of Policy
Drug Policy Alliance
131 West 33th Street
15th Floor
New York, NY 10001

The Drug Policy Alliance is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, personal appearance, family responsibility, political affiliation, or any other status protected by applicable law. Women, people of color, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply. We are particularly interested in hiring people who have been adversely affected by the war on drugs.