Executive Director

Student Press Law Center

Washington, District of Columbia

Date Posted November 08, 2022
Industry Nonprofit
Specialty Not Specified
Telecommute? Yes
Job Status Full-time
Salary Minimum of $160,000 depending on experience
Website http://www.splc.org


The Student Press Law Center promotes, supports and defends the First Amendment and free press rights of student journalists and their advisers.

Founded in 1974, the Student Press Law Center is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, D.C., that works at the intersection of education, journalism and law. The Student Press Law Center envisions a world where all student journalists are respected, know their rights, and are protected by law to express themselves freely as full and essential members of a healthy democratic society.

SPLC has a free legal hotline that serves thousands of student journalists and advisers across the United States. Thanks to a solid endowment, growing philanthropic support and generous individual donors, we also engage in training, advocacy and outreach to empower student journalists, promote the value of journalism education and spotlight the need to ensure legal protections for student press freedom. As an organization, we embrace change, value inclusion and encourage innovation while building a dynamic, diverse and creative workplace.

Over the past five years, SPLC has grown in size, budget and scope. With a new strategic plan in place, a dynamic team and ambitious goals, we are looking for an Executive Director to: 
… elevate visibility, reach and impact through public leadership, outreach and engagement
… shift the legal landscape
… expand partnerships for impact
… lead the organization to evolve and thrive

The Executive Director is a visionary leader, excellent fundraiser, dynamic spokesperson and experienced manager who will shape the organization as it confronts the current challenges for student journalists and advisers. The Executive Director supervises a staff of seven and manages strategy, operations and programs. Other key duties include thought leadership and community outreach, fundraising and development, and coaching the geographically dispersed staff. 

We seek a seasoned and innovative executive with a proven track record who focuses on the big picture and leads the team to achieve — and exceed — objectives. The Executive Director is responsible for generating and responsibly administering the $1.5 million annual budget. The Executive Director should have an entrepreneurial spirit and be as comfortable speaking with high school or college student journalists as with major donors, attorneys and legislative advocates. The Executive Director will drive implementation, integration and evaluation of the strategic plan; build and maintain key external relationships; and support and direct change throughout the organization. This position requires the ability to operate creatively, effectively and independently within a fast-growing, fast-paced, multicultural and multigenerational environment. The ideal candidate is curious and inclusive, and has high standards — someone who thrives in leading a dynamic, evolving organization and team.


Create vision and strategy: The Executive Director understands and is a champion of SPLC’s mission at the intersection of education, journalism and law.

  • Works with board and staff to ensure that the mission is fulfilled through programs, strategic planning and community outreach.
  • Establishes goals and executes the strategic plan, being mindful of the need for adaptation.
  • Analyzes trends, identifies needs and seeks opportunities for program growth.
  • Leads SPLC in a manner that supports and guides the organization’s mission.

Ensure organizational stability and achieve results: Develops, plans and implements programs to advance the organization’s mission.

  • Ensures quality programs through data analysis, program evaluation and continuous improvement.
  • Creates conditions for financial success; develops resources, including grants, contributions and investments, sufficient to support SPLC’s mission and ensure financial health.
  • Organizes campaigns to develop and raise funds.
  • Ensures fiscal integrity of SPLC; collaborates with board treasurer, finance committee and other members to develop and propose annual budget and quarterly financial statements that accurately reflect the financial condition of the organization.
  • Manages and maximizes resources to operate within budget and maintain a positive financial position.
  • Promotes innovation and drives change.

Mobilize, inspire and develop the team: Motivates a hybrid team to excel, while helping individual staff members develop their skills and talents.

  • Demonstrates ability to lead with positive energy, motivating and supporting through inclusive leadership practices and collaborative problem-solving.
  • Recruits, hires, coaches and retains competent, qualified staff.
  • Cultivates a work environment where equity, inclusion and empathy are core values.

Collaborate with partners and stakeholders: Effective ambassador and collaborator with partners and stakeholders.

  • Maintains active and visible profile in the community by working closely with other professional, civic and private organizations.
  • Develops, maintains and supports a strong Board of Directors; serves as ex officio member of each board committee; seeks and builds board involvement with strategic direction for ongoing operations.
  • Engages a wide range of stakeholders and cultures beyond historic relationships.

Communicate with impact: A clear, persuasive and passionate communicator who effectively shares SPLC’s story, elevates its profile and enhances its reputation.

  • Uses SPLC’s external presence and relationships to foster new opportunities.
  • Leverages media relationships and platforms to connect with varied audiences and amplify reach.
  • Communicates effectively with the board and provides timely and accurate information necessary for the board to function properly and to make decisions.
  • Shows excellent interpersonal skills, humility and empathy.


We recognize that not every candidate will possess every qualification on this list. If you have some combination of what we’re looking for — visionary leader, excellent fundraiser, dynamic spokesperson, experienced manager, First Amendment advocate — we want to hear from you.

Minimum qualifications

  • At least 5 years of senior management experience for a nonprofit, governmental or similar organization
  • Demonstrated success cultivating and stewarding major grants from foundations and individual donors
  • Demonstrated record of effectively implementing long-range strategic planning, as well as daily/routine management of programs and operations 
  • Excellent supervision and people-management skills; a proven ability to lead with positive energy, motivate and support to drive team success
  • Strong financial analysis, budget planning and budget management experience
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong marketing, public relations and fundraising experience with the ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders, audiences and cultures
  • Ability to seek, establish and maintain relationships with stakeholders and strategic partners
  • Ability to elevate the profile, mission and reach of a small organization
  • Collaborative, inclusive facilitator with diverse groups of people
  • College or university degree
  • High energy, maturity, integrity, positive attitude, mission-driven and self-directed

Preferred qualifications

  • Graduate or professional degree, especially in law, journalism, education, leadership or management
  • Experience as a nonprofit executive director
  • Familiarity with or experience in high school/collegiate student journalism
  • Familiarity with or experience in media law
  • Experience with First Amendment and freedom of expression issues, particularly free press and free speech
  • Experience leading advocacy teams
  • Experience cultivating relationships with underserved communities
  • Experience managing team members who work remotely from different areas of the country
  • Success leading annual fundraising campaign
  • Success developing programs and projects that took an organization to the next stage of growth
  • Successful working relationship with a Board of Directors and the ability to cultivate existing board member relationships
  • Experience leading a small staff
  • Comfort with technology and software required for remote work and project management
  • Familiarity with website content-management systems, social media platforms and email marketing campaigns
  • Familiarity with Salesforce CRM

Location: Office is currently based in Washington, D.C., but staff is dispersed across the United States. The Executive Director can be based and work outside Washington, D.C., but regular travel to the area would be expected. Additional periodic travel, including some weekends, will be required. 

Reports to: SPLC Board of Directors 

Start date: The start date for the position is negotiable but ideally in the first quarter of 2023.


Salary: Minimum of $160,000 depending on experience


  • Health, vision, and dental insurance (100% coverage for employee / 50% coverage for spouse/domestic partner/dependents)
  • 403(b) plan (up to 3% employer match)
  • Flexible spending plan (for qualifying medical, transportation or dependent care expenses)
  • Long-term and short-term disability insurance
  • Paid family leave 
  • Vacation: Four weeks paid
  • Sick days: Five days
  • Paid holidays: Seven standard holidays, plus one floating holiday; Thanksgiving plus day before and day after; office closed Dec. 24-31


Please submit the following in PDF format:

  • Cover letter that specifies how your experience aligns with our needs and why you are uniquely qualified for this position. Please also describe an initiative you have led and a challenge you have overcome. Applications without a cover letter will not be considered.
  • Updated résumé
  • Two references who know your work well (including phone and email contact information)
  • Links to your work or public speaking online (optional)

Submit all materials via this form.  

Review of applications will begin on Nov. 16 and continue on a rolling basis, so qualified candidates are encouraged to apply early. 

We strive to achieve excellence through a diverse and inclusive workplace that honors the unique talents and lived experiences of each person. We actively seek people who bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives to join us in our work. As an EOE/AA employer, the Student Press Law Center will not discriminate in its employment practices due to an applicant’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin or ancestry, age, sexual orientation, gender identification, genetic information, veteran or disability status or any other factor prohibited by law. 

All offers of employment are contingent upon a background check. 

All employees must comply with SPLC’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements.