Chief Operating Officer

The Opportunity

A newly created position, the Chief Operating Officer has the opportunity to make a transformational impact on the Law Center’s broader work and to grow the power of the gender justice movement by strengthening the financial, operational, human resources, and information technology strategies and systems that support its organizational growth and the implementation of its strategic plan. This is an outstanding opportunity for a strategic and experienced executive leader, with a proven track record of creative problem-solving and people and change management, to join a high-growth, mission-driven organization.

The COO will bring expertise in key areas of finance and administration – including budgeting and accounting, finance and investments, and IT systems and cyber security​ –  to develop a strategy for the organization’s business operations, working closely with other senior leaders and their teams to enable an environment of operational excellence that supports the day-to-day activity of staff. They will lead a team that leverages sophisticated tools and systems to provide critical financial and operational information to the President & Chief Executive Officer, and other senior leaders, and make actionable recommendations on both strategy and operations.

Serving as a member of the Law Center’s Senior Leadership team, the COO reports directly to the President & CEO and leads the vision and direction-setting for the combined Finance, Operations, Human Resources, and Information Technology functions. The current team is made up of more than 20 roles, including individual leads for Finance, IT, Operations, and HR, all of whom will report directly to the COO.

The COO will partner with the finance team to staff the Law Center’s Board of Directors’ Audit & Finance Committees and staff the Board’s Executive Committee in its work on senior staff compensation. They will provide financial reports and advice to NWLC’s affiliate Boards.

Critical to this role and its work is a leader who has knowledge of and passion for gender justice and advocacy, an entrepreneurial and growth approach, and a deep familiarity with and understanding of fiscal stewardship, strategic operations, human resources, and how to create diverse, equitable and inclusive structures, processes, policies, and cultures within visionary, justice-driven organizations.

The Organization

The National Women’s Law Center fights for gender justice—in the courts, in public policy, and in our society—working across the issues that are central to the lives of women and girls. We use the law in all its forms to change culture and drive solutions to the gender inequity that shapes our society and to break down the barriers that harm all of us—especially women of color, LGBTQ people, and low-income women and families.

The National Women’s Law Center Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) affiliate of NWLC, aiming to drive progressive change in our policies and laws so that all women and girls can live, learn, and work with safety, dignity, and equality. Another affiliate, the National Women’s Law Center Fund LLC, houses and administers the Legal Network for Gender Equity and the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.

The Law Center is entering a new phase as an institution, with a new strategic plan that reflects an updated vision for impact and having navigated significant change and growth recently to become a much larger and more complex institution. Having more than tripled its budget in the past six years and more than doubled its staff, and with a first collective bargaining agreement joyfully signed in October 2022 with a staff bargaining unit, NWLC United, affiliated with the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union/IFPTE Local 70, all in the midst of a global pandemic and subsequent shifts in the workplace, there is a tremendous opportunity to further build out the Law Center’s operations to match this growth and boost the infrastructure to what is necessary to fulfill the strategic plan.

Please visit for more information about NWLC’s history, impact and leadership.

Areas of Leadership

Executive & Organizational Leadership: Build relationships and partner with multiple constituents, including senior executives and decision-makers, at all levels and across teams, as well as Board members, in order to be the go-to, trusted advisor on all issues related to and intersecting with finance, operations, human resources, and IT. Ensure efficiencies in policy and process across functions and help to foster an organizational culture of collaboration, communication, and compliance. Represent the organization externally, as necessary, particularly in banking, lease, and similar negotiations. Work with the Vice President for DEI & Belonging to ensure daily operations and people and project management are aligned with the organization’s culture as the Law Center grows and evolves, and with the Vice President & General Counsel to ensure that all fiscal, operational, and people functions comply with relevant laws and regulations. Be accountable for the HR team’s work to ensure compliance with the organization’s collective bargaining agreement with its staff union, NWLC United, in close collaboration with the Office of the Vice President & General Counsel. Work with Program, Communications & Marketing, and Development teams to ensure an integrated financial and operational management approach across the organization.

Key Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree with a major in business or nonprofit management preferred
  • Tenured, senior-level financial and/or operational leader, ideally in a nonprofit legal or policy organization, with significant managerial, supervisory, or team leadership experience (either concurrent or not)
  • Demonstrated entrepreneurial and growth mindset leadership approach
  • Skilled in analytics and translating strategic vision into operational models
  • Experience creating and implementing policies that support financial and legal compliance; experience in a unionized workplace and with implementing a collective bargaining agreement is preferred

Finance & Accounting Leadership: Lead financial oversight that ensures effective systems and internal controls for NWLC and its affiliates; liaise between the external investment portfolio manager and the Law Center’s Board Finance Committee, ensuring alignment with the organization’s investment policy, recommending changes to investment policies, and managing the operating fund, reserves, and endowment funds which total nearly $100M in assets and a consolidated organizational budget of $45M for NWLC and its affiliates; develop and use forward-looking, predictive models and activity-based financial analyses to provide insight into the organization’s operations and business plans and to make projections for sustainability and risk management.

Key Qualifications:

  • Versed in nonprofit finance and accounting regulations and investment and risk strategies, with demonstrated ability to translate complex financial information and concepts for a variety of audiences, especially staff and Board members
  • Experience aligning investment policies and practices with a social justice mission is a plus
  • Experience dealing with both C3 and C4 organizations or complex organization with multiple affiliates

Team Leadership: Continue to build, activate, coach, and develop a diverse, high-performing team using a supportive and collaborative approach. Motivate and inspire while ensuring accountability, setting objectives, establishing priorities, identifying and resourcing gaps, and monitoring and evaluating results, with attention to equity in all aspects of the team’s collective and individual day-to-day work, as well as in relationships with outside vendors and consultants.

Key Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated success building and managing a collaborative and diverse team of finance, HR, operations, and IT professionals with the ability to positively and productively enable and impact broad strategy and detailed tactics
  • Skilled in management, coaching, mentoring, and problem-solving
  • Demonstrated success applying an equity lens to leadership and management

Human Resources Leadership:  Ensure that the functions, policies, and practices to recruit, retain, onboard, manage, and develop high-caliber talent are operating effectively and continuously improving and adapting, including shifts to more automated systems, and that the Law Center is in compliance with applicable Federal, state, and local employment laws and its collective bargaining agreement. Oversee administration of the compensation program, including employee benefits, and ensure that these are regularly benchmarked against peer organizations. Working with the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging, model and champion an intentional focus on advancing the Law Center’s internal diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and creating a culture of belonging, and to ensure effective collaboration on all people and culture efforts.

Key Qualifications:

  • Senior-level experience setting the vision and direction for an organization’s human resources functions, including compensation, benefits and payroll, and collaborating effectively with DEI efforts
  • Experience in a unionized workplace, embracing the opportunity to foster positive labor-management relations, is a plus

Information Technology & Operations Leadership: Guide technology and operations staff in ensuring that the platforms, software, and services in use continue to meet the evolving needs of the staff. Oversee processes related to cybersecurity, maintenance, change management, budgeting, and related risk management assessments and mitigation. Lead strategic development of policies and processes to address IT needs and assure efficient, secure, and productive IT systems and support, including fostering a customer-service-oriented approach among IT and operations staff and vendors. Provide strategic oversight to ensure that routine office operations, including the receptionist function, maintenance of the physical office (e.g. office security, supplies procurement etc.), relationships with partners/vendors and landlords, and all operational and administrative systems work effectively and smoothly to support the rest of the organization, and ongoing efforts to adapt to a hybrid workplace and newly leased office space.

Key Qualifications:

  • Senior-level experience, setting the vision and direction for an organization’s infrastructure functions, including information technology and facilities, ideally including experience with physical and cybersecurity strategies and risk management.

Compensation & Benefits

A minimum salary of $246,636 will be provided to the successful candidate with up to 20 years of experience, consistent with the National Women’s Law Center’s compensation framework. The successful candidate’s salary will be determined by the number of years of relevant experience they bring to the role and their qualifications. Final salary decisions are determined by the President and CEO, subject to review by the Board Executive Committee. As required by the IRS, compensation for this position (salary and benefits combined) is listed on the organization’s 990.

The Law Center offers generous leave and a comprehensive benefits package — including a match of up to 3% of the employee’s compensation to their individual 403(b) retirement plan account along with a non-elective contribution of 6% of the eligible employee’s salary, after they successfully complete their 90-day probation period.

NWLC’s headquarters and staff are based in Washington, D.C. NWLC’s telework policy is currently under review as we prepare to move into our new office at 1350 Eye Street N.W., Washington DC, in March 2023. The assumption is that all roles are based in D.C. and will be required to work in person at least monthly. This role is based in the DMV. We continue to monitor public health guidance and keep safety, science, and flexibility top of mind as we evaluate what reopening looks like for our team.

To Apply

This search is being led by Axis Talent Partners, a consultant and search firm that builds relationships with social impact organizations to help develop their best talent strategies, teams, and leaders. Interested candidates should submit an application, including a resume and responses to the application’s questions, detailing their qualifications for the position and their interest in The National Women’s Law Center’s mission HERE.