Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is dedicated to achieving full LGBT equality within the military and providing free and direct legal assistance to service members affected by discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. SLDN works to ensure that evenhanded policies and regulations, providing equal treatment and opportunity for all, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity are established and effectively implemented in the armed forces, including active duty, National Guard, reserve and officer training programs.
Established in 1993 as a legal aid organization, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), with the support of other advocacy organizations, led the successful struggle to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) in 2011. The repeal of DADT represents one of the most significant achievement in gay & lesbian social justice legislation at the national level in a generation.
SLDN continues to play a critical role in the LGBT fight for equality at the national level, in the provision of free legal services, and as a watchdog and policy organization specifically dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military personnel and veterans affected in the past by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and related forms of intolerance.
About Don't Ask Don't Tell Repeal:
- The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) in 2011 is an important milestone along the journey to achieving LGB equality in America’s military. But it did not achieve full LGBT equality in the military. SLDN will be an outside watch group, monitoring the implementation of the repeal by the Defense Department.
- SLDN has filed landmark litigation on behalf of legally married gay and lesbian service members and veterans, who are denied equal recognition, benefits and family support. The lawsuit challenges the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as well as other statutes which prevent the military from providing these benefits to all service members regardless of sexual orientation.
- SLDN continues to provide pro bono legal and administrative counsel to veterans discharged under DADT and the prior policy to assist them with re-entry to the military if they are qualified, upgrading discharge classifications as well as ensuring that those directly harmed by the discriminatory ban are accorded all benefits and rights previously denied to them by these policies.
- SLDN is urging President Obama to issue an executive order to prohibit discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation. Such an order would provide LGB service members with recourse outside their chain of command if they are experiencing harassment or discrimination.
- SLDN projects a 2012 annual operating budget of $1.7 million and has a restructured professional staff of 12. In addition, SLDN receives an estimated $1-1.5 million in pro bono legal services from distinguished law firms annually. It has a 13 person Board of Directors and a national Advisory Board comprised of accomplished retired senior officers and noncommissioned officers from every branch of the military.
SLDN’s goals include the following:
- Ongoing legislative and political advocacy on Capitol Hill and at the White House to ensure that the hard won victory of repeal is not limited or rolled back by a future Congress or Administration.
- Overseeing the implementation of open military service.
- Advocating in the courts, on Capitol Hill and at the White House for legally married service members to receive the same family recognition, support and benefits as their straight married peers.
- Calling on the White House and the Pentagon to prohibit harassment and discrimination of LGB service members and representing and defending those who may experience such treatment.
- Assisting veterans to correct or upgrade their discharge paperwork and removing barriers to future employment.
- Fighting for full LGBT equality in America’s military.
The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors and is a member of the Board. S/he supervises the COO/CFO and, through him, a staff of 11, including the following positions: the Director of Government Affairs, the Director of the Legal Department, the Director of Development & IT Manager, and the Director of Communications. His/her duties and responsibilities include the following:
Fundraising & Board Relations
- Leading the planning effort for overall fundraising to maximize current opportunities, sustaining and expanding development efforts in a fast changing environment;
- Raising sufficient funds to meet budgeted goals;
- Acting as the primary spokesperson for SLDN in the grant-making community, including foundations, corporations and private donors;
- Working closely with the Board of Directors, the Military Advisory Council and the Development Department to identify, solicit and acquire new sources of funding and to build long-term, sustainable sources of income for the organization;
- Addressing the potential drop-off in funding with the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and developing a strategy to articulate the continuing importance of the organization’s legal and policy work;
- Actively seeking major donor support within the LGBT and veterans’ communities and among friends and allies, encouraging creative, low-cost, high-impact events;
- Participating in the board recruitment and training process with the Nominations and Governance Committees; and
- Participating in all Board activities, including three annual in-person meetings, an annual dinner, as well as meetings of the executive, legislative, finance, nominations, governance and development committees, as necessary.
- Working closely with the Director of Government Affairs to develop organizational strategies for SLDN’s policy goals, priorities for the 2013 Congress and the administration after the 2012 elections;
- Along with leading staff attorneys, acting as public spokesperson on LGBT service members civil rights and legal issues;
- Providing leadership to LGBT veterans, service members currently serving, and other communities on civil rights litigation and policy issues;
- Overseeing SLDN’s public affairs and education program, ensuring a prudent balance of resources between legal work and grassroots community outreach; and
- Integrating communications, development and legal strategies and fostering a sense of active collaboration among departments in furthering SLDN’s mission.
- Working with the Board of Directors to implement a long-term organizational strategy and an operational plan to achieve short-term goals;
- Developing the annual budget, ensuring proper fiscal accounting and controls, as well as legal and fiduciary compliance;
- Ensuring that SLDN has the financial and human resources necessary to implement its strategic plan and operational goals;
- Managing all human resources functions, including overseeing the hiring and evaluation of staff;
- Overseeing and strengthening the organizational infrastructure necessary to support and sustain SLDN’s growth, including IT and financial systems, human resources and administration.
- Serving as SLDN’s liaison and spokesperson to the public, funders, the LGB active duty and LGBT veterans’ communities, the media and other constituents and allies;
- Working with these allies to expand grassroots networks and outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members and veterans;
- Recognizing and appreciating the contributions of LGBT veterans who have defended our freedoms in enforced silence;
- Building and nurturing coalitions and collaborative initiatives with other community and social justice organizations, including Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Human Rights Campaign, the Task Force, the ACLU, People for the American Way and others;
- Continuing to build SLDN’s public presence and identity as a leader in the LGBT civil rights movement among veterans and currently serving service members.
SLDN is seeking a mature professional with a minimum of 10 years of experience, including at least four in a senior management position, either in the not-for-profit sector or in a corporate management role, coupled with significant volunteer experience in the not-for-profit sector. Experience with Congress and the legislative process is essential.
The successful candidate must be a proven fundraiser, ideally in the area of social justice and human rights. S/he must have a solid understanding of board dynamics and governance in a not-for-profit organization.
The Executive Director should be a strong communicator and spokesperson who can represent SLDN effectively to the public. The ability to build coalitions with an expanding network of allies and to sustain collaborative group effort is important.
The candidate must be a proven manager with a demonstrated record of leading and motivating a highly educated and dedicated team of professionals and support staff in a decision-making environment that encourages transparency, openness and collaboration.
An undergraduate degree is required and a graduate degree in management, law, public policy or other professionally related field is strongly preferred. The Executive Director must be sufficiently knowledgeable about the law and its potential to impact public policy and be a credible leader and spokesperson for the organization. Familiarity with the military -- as a member of the Armed Forces, a civilian employee working for or with the Department of Defense or through other experiences -- is highly desirable.
The ideal candidate will be a leader with stature and presence. Wisdom and personal charisma are highly desirable characteristics. The Executive Director should be a good listener, an excellent motivator, and an accomplished communicator. S/he must be respectful of staff and supportive of their dedication and hard work on behalf of the active service, veterans’ and LGBT communities.
The Executive Director must be a “shirtsleeves” manager with an open door policy and the ability to foster an environment of teamwork and collaboration. The ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously and to work effectively under pressure is important.
A passion for civil rights and social justice, along with a collaborative orientation and a gracious personal manner are essential for success.
SLDN is offering a highly competitive salary, appropriate for an organization of its size, along with an excellent benefits package. The client is willing to pay basic relocation expenses for the exceptional individual they are seeking.
Open service is not yet equal service. SLDN enjoys a unique confluence of opportunity, talent and timing over the next several years to build upon the successful repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and to make substantive and long-lasting changes in the daily lives of our nation’s dedicated service men and women. As the nation’s issue leader in this civil rights struggle, SLDN’s work has profound implications for marriage and workplace equality that also impact civil society. The successful candidate will have the satisfaction of guiding a high profile organization through its next phase of development toward its goal and of leading a collaborative group effort of enormous public policy importance and profound humanitarian merit.
Joe McCormack, Managing Partner
McCormack & Associates
1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive Ste. 110-202
Palm Springs, CA 92264
All inquiries or referrals will be held in strict confidence.
Please note that your education, dates of employment, compensation and other information provided will be verified prior to an offer of employment.
McCormack & Associates works only with Equal Employment Opportunity Employers.