Forefront’s mission is to build a vibrant social impact sector for all the people of Illinois. Founded in 1974, we are the nation’s only statewide membership association for nonprofits, philanthropy, public agencies, advisors, and our allies. We provide education, advocacy, thought leadership, and project management to attract investment to the sector, develop top talent, improve systems and policies, and build organizational capacity. Currently, our Members number over 1,100. Our Nonprofit Members work in 26 issue areas across the state.
About the Position
Forefront is the only regional association in the US that represents grantmakers, operating nonprofits, and their allies. Its mission is to build a vibrant social impact sector for all the people of Illinois. Members are its primary customers.
Public Policy & Advocacy are an integral function within Forefront’s mission and critical to the achievement of the organization’s goals and objectives. Advancing sector-wide public policies that promote the ability of Illinois funders and nonprofits to fulfill their missions is a major strategy for the next three years.
General Job Description
The Public Policy & Advocacy Director will work closely with the Vice President, Strategy & Policy to advance Forefront’s policy and advocacy goals, as well as educate policymakers at all levels on issues that impact nonprofit and grantmaking missions. This position is the primary contact with state and federal elected officials and staff and works with Forefront members to strengthen the partnership between the sector and government, as well as work on other systems change in the private and public sector. Advocacy strategies also include delivering advocacy training and building relationships to enhance the capacity and profile of the sector. This position is responsible for leadership on organization-wide initiatives.
Essential Job Duties and Expected Outcomes
Strategic Implementation and Initiatives
- Brief Vice President and leadership team on public policy outcomes, opportunities and potential hazards.
- Lead specific initiatives that advance Forefront’s systems change work, including initiatives that work to create change in local, state, and federal governments, as well as private philanthropy.
- Build and maintain healthy relationships with strategic partners and organizations; occasionally act as proxy for Vice President and/or CEO.
- Assist with proactively identifying opportunities for Forefront to engage collaboratively with other coalitions.
- Represent Forefront at meetings and partner with the Vice President to develop a proactive strategy and approach for engaging prospective and current Forefront members in our policy and advocacy work.
- Ensure alignment between our issues and the broader sector’s interests and concerns.
Government Relations & Legislative Outreach
- Represents Forefront as primary liaison with government officials.
- Working with the Vice-President, identify and cultivate key relationships with elected and appointed officials and staff. Represent Forefront in Springfield as needed during the legislative session.
- Monitor, evaluate, research and respond to local, state and federal policy developments and issues, including legislative and regulatory issues. Relevant activities include project managing annual Foundations on the Hill lobbying day, and assisting with outreach and strategy.
- Advance government relations at state and federal level with the goal of creating an environment conducive to the nonprofit and philanthropic sector and positioning Forefront as a necessary voice at the table.
- Assist with staffing Forefront’s Strategy & Policy Committee; staff the Attorney General’s Charitable Advisory Council (CAC) and its working subcommittees, including assisting the Vice President with keeping both committees appropriately engaged in between meetings and conducting outreach with the CAC and members of the CAC to lawmakers.
Program Development & Outreach
- Work with Forefront staff to develop policy and advocacy.
- Work with the Strategy & Policy team and Forefront’s communications staff to create content for Forefront Policy Update (e-newsletter), Policy Alert, blog and webpage to engage nonprofits, funders and others on policy developments and actions affecting the nonprofit community.
- Maintain required job skills and core professional competencies. Attend and participate in required educational programs, conferences, workshops and internal staff meetings to ensure professional development.
- Performs other duties as assigned.