Associate Director, Foundation Relations

  • New York, NY
  • Full Time
  • Mid Level

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice. We work to hold our political institutions and laws accountable to the twin American ideals of democracy and equal justice for all. Among our core priorities, we fight to protect voting rights, end mass incarceration, strengthen checks and balances, and preserve Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism. Part think tank, part advocacy group, part cutting-edge communications hub, we start with rigorous research. We craft innovative policies. And we fight for them — in Congress and the states, the courts, and in the court of public opinion.


Position Overview 

We are seeking an Associate Director, Foundation Relations to serve in a vital position to advance the Brennan Center’s mission. You will join a high-performing Development team charged with raising $35+ million annually from a diverse base of supporters: major donors, family/personal foundations, national and regional foundations, direct response contributors, corporations and law firms, and via our annual gala event.

This new position fills a senior role within the Development Department, which is growing from a team of 11 to 15. Besides a primary role securing major grants from institutional foundations and philanthropies, you also will guide and collaborate with the Center’s leaders and staff, who are among the nation’s preeminent democracy and justice policy reformers.

This position requires deft abilities to discuss and describe the Brennan Center’s policy and legal goals, and the activities and strategies employed to reach them. A successful candidate will have excellent interpersonal, written, and verbal communications skills that enable effective philanthropic relationships. Another key qualification: an appetite for juggling multiple tasks in a fast-paced environment that often operates in “campaign” mode.

This role reports to and closely collaborates with the Director, Foundation Relations and will be part of a three-person team (including a dedicated grant writer/grants manager, over whom the Associate Director will share supervisory duties). The position also will collaborate regularly with the VP for Development, and other members of the Development team.


Key Responsibilities

Along with the Director, Foundation Relations, the Associate Director, Foundation Relations will serve a critical role in raising funding from institutional foundations and philanthropies. The full foundations portfolio brings in approximately $8 million annually and consists of more than 40 active grants, around 70 percent of which are at the six or seven-figure level. This represents 25 percent of the organization’s overall annual revenues.

To reach these revenue goals, the Associate Director will work closely with the Director to develop and implement strategies aimed at securing renewed or increased support from existing funders. Another focus is to identify and cultivate prospects to raise new funding. Key responsibilities include:

  • Manage a subset of the foundation portfolio, with a focus on deepening partnerships to secure renewed and expanded support.
  • Identify prospects and implement approaches to secure new funding for the Center. Stay abreast of philanthropic trends and foundation giving.
  • Project manage and guide the Center’s program leaders and staff who participate in foundation relations and proposal pitches.
  • Write and edit strategy memos, regular programmatic updates, and other donor communications – all strategically framed for each foundation’s specific interests.
  • Oversee and edit full packages of grant proposals and reports, including budgets and financial narratives and other specific institutional information – fostering accurate, high quality presentations.
    • Serve as primary writer and producer for select proposal and report packages, and as needed.
  • Lead the planning and execution of meetings with foundation leaders/staff, and donor advisors. This includes overseeing or conducting donor research and preparing written and in-person briefings for the Center’s program leaders.
    • Advise and guide the Center’s leaders on all aspects of engagement with foundation staff.  
    • Represent the Brennan Center at meetings, both alone and alongside the Center’s leaders.
    • Make funding asks – both in person and written.  
  • Help manage day-to-day operations of the Foundations team, ensuring all deadlines and grant submission requirements are met, and that the systems and databases supporting operations are maintained and up-to-date.
  • Monitor performance toward meeting revenue projections, meet fundraising goals, and work plans. 


Key Qualifications 

  • Bachelor’s degree required, advanced degree or training in law, public policy, or journalism (on policy issues) is a plus. 
  • Demonstrable track record (at least five years of experience) in foundation and institutional fundraising, other nonprofit development, and/or building similar partnerships or sponsorships; experience related to public policy or public interest law is preferred. 
  • Deft ability to understand and discuss the Brennan Center’s policy and legal goals, the activities and strategies employed to reach them, and the political and societal landscape in which we work.
  • Excellent writing and analytical skills, with talent at translating complex, detailed legal and policy work into clear and compelling language suitable for funder audiences.
  • Appetite to work in a fast-paced, high-energy environment, with corresponding abilities, i.e. strong skills juggling tight timelines and competing deadlines with longer-term tasks. 
  • A team player with highly mature interpersonal skills – including ability to respond productively to direction and feedback, and facility working with staff and leadership at all levels.
  • Generosity, flexibility, and kindness to nurture a highly collaborative environment. 
  • Outstanding attention to detail and accuracy – commitment to work product that is thorough, complete, and polished. 
  • Comfort with using foundation/grant submission technology platforms and portals, as well as Salesforce and other essential office technology.
  • Demonstrable commitment to the Brennan Center’s mission and goals.

The Brennan Center is committed to advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace.  We continuously work with our staff to find new ways to increase diversity and to build and cultivate an inclusive and equitable work environment, where everyone can be their true-self and feel a strong sense of belonging.   As such, we seek to hire employees who have a commitment to and/or experience with diversity, equity, and inclusion.  In addition, we expect employees to participate/contribute with DEI initiatives or activities with recruitment, retention, and workplace culture.

Salary: The salary is highly competitive in the field and commensurate with experience, set according to a published scale. A generous benefits package is provided as well. 

Applications: Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, with the position to be filled as soon as an appropriate candidate is identified. To apply, please visit and upload (as a pdf and as one document preferably) the following application materials: cover letter; resume; and contact information for three references. If you have difficulty with the online system, you may send your application by e-mail to: with “Associate Director, Foundation Relations” in the subject line, after registering in the online system.

Note: The Brennan Center is committed to public health and to the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and visitors.  As such, we have adopted a policy requiring all employees working in the New York and Washington, DC offices to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or to meet the legal guidelines for an exemption.

The Brennan Center for Justice is committed to a workplace based on equal opportunity and a strong belief in the increased effectiveness that comes from a diverse workforce. To this end, Brennan Center

  • Welcomes and hires applicants of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, socioeconomic identities and sexual orientations, including people who have been previously incarcerated;
  • Creates a workplace where true diversity is fostered and different perspectives are valued and freely exchanged;
  • Ensures that all members of the Brennan Center community feel welcome and respected, and have equal opportunities to thrive and advance within the institution; and 

  • Is committed to supporting low-income communities and communities of color particularly affected by social inequities.
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