Southern California Program Director

Website Economic Security Project

An advocacy org working to build economic security for ALL

ESP is an ideas advocacy organization working to build economic security for all. We believe in an America where everyone has the freedom and stability required to thrive. ESP is seeking a Southern California Program Director who will play a central role in building the Economic Security Project in California, including organizing a project in LA County to boost access to tax credits among low-income communities of color. We are looking for an effective communicator and stakeholder organizer who is committed to building economic power for all Californians.

About Economic Security Project

We are strongest when people are the authors of their own lives. But the inequalities in wealth and power created by bad actors, structural racism, and outdated ideas on how the economy should work have left us all more insecure and less resilient. We can make a different set of choices.

The Economic Security Project advocates for ideas that build economic power for all Americans. We legitimize bold ideas by supporting cutting edge research and elevating champions, win concrete policy victories for the communities that need to see change now, and provoke the conventional wisdom to shift what’s considered possible. Our team of academics, organizers, practitioners and culture makers disburses grants, runs issue campaigns, develops creative interventions and research products, and convenes to encourage investment and action from others.

We pick our fights based on our analysis of where strategic mobilization of people and resources could turn emerging trends into concrete policies. Our current efforts include putting cash into people’s pockets with a guaranteed income and policies like the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit; and keeping corporations out of them by checking the unprecedented concentration of economic power with antimonopoly action. We believe these fights will get us closer to a world where families can pay the heating bills and make the rent, where consumers have choices and small businesses, a fighting chance. A future where we all have a chance not to just survive, but thrive with dignity.

Our Track Record 

We’ve convened thousands in briefings, workshops, and marquee events to strategize and set the agenda for a more just political economy. We passed policies in over seven states to modernize the tax code, won over $1 trillion in checks for families in response to the pandemic, and spearheaded the federal fight for a guaranteed income for kids in the form of the expanded Child Tax Credit. These cash-based policies reduced poverty in the middle of a recession, in the words of one observer, “defying gravity.”

And we’ve built the field by investing over $25 million directly into groundbreaking research; pilots and task forces; coalitions and campaigns; new initiatives and organizations; and trend-setting narrative and cultural interventions to advance racial and economic justice and reset the conversation. As a result, ideas that were once considered impossible are now at the center of a vision for an economy where people are the authors of their own lives.

We’ve worked alongside thousands across the country exercising political muscle, moral imagination, and on-the-ground experimentation. It’ll take this and so much more in the years ahead; we are in a broader fight for a multiracial democracy and an economy that works for all. Our task is to deliver and we’re looking for talent to join us in the fight. Learn more about ESP.

Position summary

The Southern California Program Director will play a central role in building the Economic Security Project in California. This new role will take on significant responsibility for strategy and execution on our two core fights: strengthening antimonopoly policies to blunt the impact of corporate concentration, and expanding cash policies, including both guaranteed income and refundable tax credits like the CalEITC and Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC). The focus is California, but we also work to advance federal campaigns on our issues.

We are expanding our team in California, and building a stronger state organization, establishing our footing in southern California. You will enjoy this role if you are someone with an enterprising spirit who is committed to building economic power for all Californians. The ideal candidate is both an effective organizer who can build strong partner relationships and a detail-oriented project manager who can execute a tight plan.

The first  responsibility of the Southern California Program Director will be to launch a public-private pilot program that increases access to the refundable state and federal tax credits (CalEITC, YCTC and their federal counterparts) among low-income families. This project, which will put thousands of dollars into people’s pockets, has been named by LA County as one of its top poverty-fighting priorities.

The past few years have shown that the tax system is one of the best ways to deliver unrestricted cash payments. Yet, tax credits only work if eligible people actually receive them. Many who are already connected to the safety net in some way miss out on valuable tax credits for which they are eligible. In LA County alone, 28 percent of children enrolled in a social services program were at risk of missing out on the expanded federal Child Tax Credit (CTC). Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, it is predominantly communities of color that are left behind. Our pilot, in the planning stages for the past year, is ready to help such families overcome the obstacles to claiming valuable tax credits, bringing an important racial equity boost to the administration of the social safety net.

The Southern California Program Director will assist in finalizing the plan with government and community-based partners, and ultimately overseeing the execution of the LA Tax Credit Pilot Program.

In addition, the Southern California Program Director will also help to build ESP and ESP/A (Economic Security Project Action – our advocacy arm) in the region, including developing and deepening partnerships with allied organizations, and engaging with policy makers, media and funders to build public support for our campaigns.

In the first six months, you might:

Strategize with community-based organizations that help low-income families claim tax credits to develop and execute a plan to expand free tax preparation capacity in LA county;
Help develop and implement a communications plan about the pilot and tax credits more broadly, including working with partners on press materials and talking points, engaging stakeholders in social media amplification, and preparing community members to speak to the press;
Coordinate with LA County agency staff on a text-messaging campaign to promote the pilot and tax filing;
Organize a community meeting with stakeholders and other members of the community to assess and evaluate the pilot’s effectiveness;
Represent Economic Security Project in developing and deepening community relationships to support our policies;
Meet with local, state and federal policymakers to develop and strengthen support for our advocacy priorities, including renewing the federal Child Tax Credit,
expanding and modernizing state tax credits and reining in corporate concentration;
Support our fundraising efforts, including assisting with grant proposals and reports, monitoring completion of deliverables and engaging with funders; and
Support our California policy and advocacy agenda to expand cash policies (guaranteed income and tax credits) and curb corporate concentration and monopoly power, including identifying opportunities for advancing policy, assessing research needs, and building a diverse coalition.
A successful Southern California Program Director will be a consummate problem-solver, someone who has discerning judgment and prioritization skills, and a knack for communicating but a gift for listening.You should be well-organized but undaunted by the inherent messiness of group projects. You should enjoy organizing stakeholders toward a clear shared goal and keeping all the moving pieces in order and on timeline. You come with ideas, handle challenges and ambiguity with grace, and thrive in a fast-paced work environment that prizes creative thinking, low ego, and an all-hands-on-deck approach. Beyond the management of the project itself, the ideal Southern California Program Director will see and pursue ways to actively engage in the broader campaign to improve access and equity, and to tie this project to our broader vision of people getting the support they need to achieve economic security.

This is a 18-month position tied to grant funding, which is expected to be extended depending upon anticipated future funding. The person in this role will report to the California Campaign Director.

Job Responsibilities

Launch and support the the implementation of the LA Tax Credit Pilot to ensure its success, including: working with partners to finalize and execute the pilot plan; maintaining and developing relationships with stakeholders to ensure support for the pilot and its success; engaging with local policy makers and leaders to promote the pilot and build champions in LA and beyond; and overseeing and managing the pilot’s evaluation process, including advising on scope, progress and outcomes.
Develop and lead the strategy to connect the pilot to broader goals of simplified and automatic tax filing and expanding access and equity, including touting its potential as a model for replication and scale in California and beyond with policymakers,media and funders.
Assist with development and execution of a communications plan to support the pilot and our broader campaign for simplified and automatic tax filing including writing public facing content (social media, fact sheets, talking points).
Support ESP’s work in California by representing ESP in LA in a variety of settings, including ad hoc and formal coalitions, convenings and community events, developing relationships with local leaders and policy makers, and participating in engaging with media.
Identify and pursue opportunities to amplify, elevate and advocate for ESP’s broader cash and antimonopoly policy and advocacy agenda in various contexts in southern California, including with stakeholders, policymakers, local leaders, media and funders.
Participate and support broader ESP and ESP/A activities and campaigns, including contributing to multi-state and federal legislative efforts as well as organizational and team development.

Experience and Qualifications 

7 plus years of experience in program management, stakeholder organizing and/or organizing coalitions in California
Success running a large, complex project with lots of stakeholders, community engagement, and demonstrated ability to meet outcomes and deliverables.
Strategically prioritize tasks and work effectively in a fast-paced virtual environment, and to develop and implement tactical plans to achieve outcomes.
Ability to work on deadlines, adapt to changing situations and priorities, handle confidential information, and manage multiple projects simultaneously.
Experience in leading communications strategies and supporting press and media relationships is preferred.
Led on issue based campaigns, electoral campaigns, and/or community campaigns
A deep understanding and experience working in Los Angeles coalitions and advocacy spaces is nice to have.
Proven experience integrating racial equity into strategy, outreach and communications, as well as ability to build relationships with diverse stakeholders while using diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices.
Demonstrated commitment to building and growing strong organizations.
Ability to facilitate conversations in both small and large groups, and comfortable with public speaking.
Expert project management skills and an ability to manage up and laterally.

Who You Are

You are a savvy tracker and expert project manager, able to handle multiple workflows, projects and pivots in the work and goals, especially in a workplace that operates remotely.
You are self reliant and results oriented and hold excellent judgment and creative problem solving skills.
You are able to operate as an effective tactical and strategic thinker who can make decisions in a changing environment and anticipate future needs.
You are a persuasive communicator, with strong written, oral, interpersonal, and presentation skills for both insider and public audiences
You have the ability to quickly develop expertise but not only to be an expert: your primary job is to make things happen, not to know things; you understand how to wield outside power to win.
You have a deep understanding of how to work in partnership with California’s low-income and BIPOC communities with the goal of making societal and political change.
You are committed to ESP’s work and mission, and can apply a diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism lens to your work.
You deftly navigate existing and new networks, especially with progressive policy advocates and legislative staff.
You are able to communicate across language, access and cultural barriers.


Salary and Benefits

The salary range for this position is $102k-$123k. The final salary will depend on years of experience and location.

ESP provides a robust benefits package which includes the following:

Medical, vision, dental insurance with premiums fully covered for employees and their dependents
Worker’s Compensation
Long and short term disability insurance
Basic Life Insurance with a 50K maximum
401K with up to a 3% match
Full office closures for Summer & Winter breaks
PTO – 136 vacation hours, 80 sick leave hours, 9 standard holidays, 2 floating holidays, and 20 hours of volunteer leave
16-weeks of Parental Leave
6-week paid sabbatical after 5 years of full-time service
Connectivity and home office stipends, and wellness bonuses (taxable)
Annual professional development budget
Access to commuter and flexible spending accounts


Work Environment

The Economic Security Project is a virtual office with staff across the country. You must be based in Southern California (preferably in Los Angeles) and travel periodically around the state and city for in-person meetings. There will be occasional travel outside California.

Our Team and Culture

Our successes are due in large part to the diverse team we’ve assembled from a wide range of fields – from campaigners to policymakers to activists to academics. We have built an organization that encourages and resources our staff to drive forward work that they are passionate about, and bring together the cross-functional teams needed to make it a reality.

We are committed to creating a best-in-class staff experience that promotes growth and well-being. As a fully remote organization, ESP staff are trusted to structure their schedules in a way that supports their best work. We actively support people taking time away from work, including two weeks of full office closures and a six-week sabbatical at 5 years of service, in addition to our standard PTO offerings. You can find more information on our full benefits offerings below.

Our internal work is deeply rooted in our values around diversity, equity and inclusion, ensuring that our policies and processes are equitable and informed by a wide range of lived experiences. We invest in our people’s professional development, and promote regular conversations about career goals and growth opportunities. We provide regular opportunities to come together in-person for both strategic planning and relationship-building, and we’re always up to take a game of trivia a little too seriously.

Because the Economic Security Project values a diverse and representative workplace, people who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and people of all gender identities are strongly encouraged to apply. ESP is committed to attracting, developing and retaining exceptional people, and to creating a work environment that is dynamic, rewarding, and enables each of us to realize our potential. Our work environment is safe and open to all employees and partners, respecting the full spectrum of race, color, religious creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, and all other classifications protected by law in the locality and/or state in which you are working.

How to Apply
In lieu of a cover letter, we’re asking applicants to answer these three questions on their application here.

Why are you interested in working with ESP? (200 words max)
What is your experience with launching public pilot programs or campaigns? Can you talk about your successes on complex, multi-stakeholder programs or campaigns that you’ve managed or overseen? (200 words max)
How do you incorporate equity and inclusion in your policy or advocacy work? (200 words max)