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General Counsel

ABOUT US

Democracy Fund is a foundation working to defend American democracy and challenge it to be more open and just. Created by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar, Democracy Fund has made more than $200 million in grants to support free and fair elections, a vibrant and diverse public square, effective and accountable government, and a just and inclusive society. In addition to grantmaking, Democracy Fund advocates for better solutions and works with partners to grow philanthropic support for our democracy. To learn more, visit www.democracyfund.org and www.democracyfundvoice.org.

POSITION SUMMARY

Democracy Fund champions leaders and organizations who defend democracy and challenge our political system to be more open and just. We believe that experimentation, learning, and adaptation are key to the health and resilience of any system, whether it is our organization or the American political system.  As grantmakers we focus on listening and being of service to our grantees, who are visionaries and our collaborators. We are seeking a General Counsel to lead legal affairs and strategy for the foundation and its affiliated 501(c)(4), Democracy Fund Voice. The General Counsel is a member of the Executive team and serves as a close advisor to the organization’s President.  The Legal Team prioritizes innovative and creative solutions to complex legal questions facing our grantees, Program teams, extended network, and partners within our Operations and People Team to ensure an overall ‘best in class’ experience, and continued support of our ethos of “getting to yes” on all that we do.   

The Legal team is part of the Operations and People team, and the General Counsel reports to the Chief Operating Officer.

The General Counsel (GC) serves as the Secretary for the Boards of Directors of Democracy Fund and Democracy Fund Voice. The GC is a close partner to each of our program teams in developing strategy and addressing complex risks. The successful candidate will guide Democracy Fund’s approach to ensure we achieve our mission while remaining compliant with relevant laws and regulations. The GC will set the vision for the Legal team, oversee two direct reports, and partner with outside counsel to advance the organization’s goals.

WHO WE ARE LOOKING FOR

Democracy Fund is looking for a strategic, thoughtful, and inspiring leader who will work across all levels of the organization to contribute to our mission. Qualified candidates will share our commitment to creating a more equitable democracy for all, and possess a demonstrated track record of partnership supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as organizational and personal values. 

The GC will help the organization navigate some of the nation’s most complex problems — which involves smart risk taking — to promote a just democracy for our nation. This requires constant vigilance and adaptation of policies and processes to ensure compliance while maintaining space for innovation. The GC must have the utmost sensitivity and knowledge of the cultural and political environments where we work and possess a strong commitment to teamwork and accountability.

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES

RISK MANAGEMENT AND COMPLIANCE

  • Maintain the highest level of professional and ethical standards, acting in compliance with both the letter and spirit of applicable laws and regulations.
  • Serve as the board secretary, advising the Board of Directors’ activities as they pertain to governance, regulations, minutes, bylaws, oversight and conduct, and IRS compliance.
  • Lead Enterprise Risk Management processes, engaging board and staff leadership on how to manage risk, and implementing risk management projects and strategies.
  • Advise on emerging trends and provide insight on the regulatory and legal climate by tracking the development of issues that impact tax-exempt organizations.
  • Oversee litigation and dispute resolution.
  • Ensure legal services and advice to Human Resources separation of employment, conflict of interest, and general employment and labor law compliance.
  • Oversee protection of Democracy Fund’s intellectual property rights.
  • Advise and negotiate commercial contracts and other operational agreements.

STRATEGY

  • Provide guidance to the Board of Directors, Executive Team, and senior team members on legal matters related to all aspects of organizational operations. 
  • Serve on the organization’s Executive Team, shaping the direction of the organization and weighing in on critical programmatic and operational decisions. 
  • Serve as organizational representative and spokesperson at public meetings, formal and informal briefings, and workshops on complex legal issues related to our work.

OPERATIONS

  • Support and foster a culture of innovation while facilitating legally complex innovations, partnerships, grants, and contracts.
  • Serve on the organization’s Grants Committee to review, offer feedback, and approve the organization’s largest grants. 
  • Collaborate with the Senior Counsel, Law Clerk, and other colleagues across the Operations and People team to provide training and legal guidance to staff on a range of topics related to 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) activities.
  • Collaborate with the Senior Counsel and Law Clerk to maintain the legal repository and record for legal opinions and decisions.
  • Direct the Senior Counsel and Law Clerk in researching legal issues and reviewing legal documents.
  • Oversee the selection and management of outside counsels and advisors; engage outside counsel to provide legal analysis where needed. 
  • Maintain a strong internal culture of compliance with IRS non-profit laws and governance best practices.

TEAM LEADER AND MEMBER

  • Collaborate with the Legal team to set ambitious, motivating, and realistic priorities to foster smart risk taking across the organization while maintaining a strong culture of compliance. 
  • Empower direct reports by providing ongoing guidance and feedback on their tasks, projects, and overall professional development.
  • Develop and manage annual budgets for the legal team.
  • Help shape goals and actively work to support the success of colleagues across the organization.
  • Cultivate an organizational culture that is highly collaborative, positive, productive, and that drives impact through continuous improvement and learning.
  • Be an active and visible sponsor of our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE, AND SKILLS REQUIREMENTS

  • Deep passion for strengthening American democracy.
  • Juris Doctorate from an accredited law school, and license to practice in the District of Columbia or willingness to waive into the DC Bar.
  • At least 7-10 years of experience, strongly preferred as a philanthropic/tax exempt organizations attorney including experience at a law firm, a private foundation, or family office.
  • Experience managing legal issues facing tax-exempt organizations, such as 501(c)(4)s, in an affiliated organization structure is a major plus.
  • Strong proficiency with grantmaking; experience in program-related investments, mission-related investments, and other impact investments is a plus.
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills, including the ability to clearly present legal concerns and recommendations to a non-legal audience.
  • A self-starter with the ability to exercise independent judgment and focus on effective resolution of legal issues.
  • The flexibility and adaptability needed to thrive in a fast-paced environment.
  • Detailed knowledge of the rules and regulations governing private foundations, public charities, and social welfare organizations.
  • Demonstrated track record of providing a positive, creative, and problem-solving approach to address challenging legal issues.
  • A professional demeanor with demonstrated ability to maintain discretion in dealing with highly confidential information.
  • An effective builder of relationships and networks, gaining trust and achieving results in a collaborative environment.
  • A curious, solutions-oriented mindset when working with principals, foundation team members, and partners.
  • Highly organized, with exceptional time management skills, and a dedication to excellence and integrity.
  • Ability to judge which stakeholders to incorporate into different projects and when to bring in outside counsel.
  • Excellent judgment, especially when it comes to managing and mitigating risk.
  • Being a superior communicator who treats everyone with respect and dignity.
  • Possessing unquestionable ethics and personal integrity.
  • The position is be based in Washington, D.C. but will begin remotely due to the ongoing pandemic.

HOW TO APPLY

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume. Applications submitted without a cover letter or lacking the desired number of years of experience will not be considered. Take this as a chance to tell us about yourself and why you're interested in joining our team. No calls please.

Democracy Fund is committed to a diverse workplace, seeking voices and expertise from people from across the political spectrum. Our board, staff, advisors, and grantees include Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.  Democracy Fund is an Equal Opportunity Employer, where we encourage candidates of all ages, color, ethnic background, country of origin, religion, disability status, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity to apply.

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