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Deputy Director of Public Affairs

Harris Rand Lusk

This is a Full-time position in New York, NY posted April 2, 2021.

The National Harm Reduction Coalition has retained the services of Harris Rand Lusk to conduct this search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed in confidence to:

Elly Kirschner, Senior Director
Harris Rand Lusk
122 E. 42nd Street, Suite 3605
New York, NY 10168

Please write “Harm Reduction Coalition” in the subject line of your email

Do you want to join a dynamic and growing organization working to advance harm reduction policies and practices across the United States? Do you have an understanding and vested interest in how the nation’s history of racialized drug policies have caused egregious harm to people most vulnerable to structural violence? Do you have the knowledge and skills to support local advocates at the state level and influence federal policies that lead to equity, wellbeing, and liberation for people who use drugs and their communities? The National Harm Reduction Coalition is seeking a dynamic, committed and strategic Deputy Director of Public Affairs to join their leadership team.

The Deputy Director of Public Affairs (DDPA) joins the National Harm Reduction Coalition at a critical and exciting moment. Over the past 25 years, the organization has emerged as the leader of a growing movement that aims to increase understanding and awareness of the structural violence, social inequities, and health disparities caused by the US drug war. The transition to a new presidential administration provides a vital opportunity to shape drug policy and public health strategies designed to improve the health and wellbeing of people who use drugs and their communities. Given its history, expertise, and extensive network, the National Harm Reduction Coalition is well-positioned to bring effective and compassionate harm reduction strategies to scale through community mobilization and strategic local, state, and federal advocacy.

The DDPA will serve in a key leadership role as a member of NHRC’s executive team. This position is more than public policy: the DDPA’s work combines community partnerships and government relations, media communications, social responsibility, information dissemination, and strategic communications advice. As a thought-partner and mentor, the DDPA will build a cohesive team that synchronizes similar work across several functional areas, including organizational strategy, policy and advocacy, communications, and faith-based initiatives. The ideal candidate has a significant track record of supportive, collaborative leadership, strong supervision, and commitment to staff development.

A central focus of the DDPA will be to work collaboratively with a broad range of community stakeholders and NHRC staff to build strong coalitions that use effective policy, advocacy, and communication tactics to bring harm reduction strategies to scale. This position will create new partnerships with an eye toward building strategy alongside people working in aligned movements. An early goal will be to co-create a National Harm Reduction Strategy that guides federal policymaking and can subsequently be tailored to state and local needs, including concrete, measurable goals that aim to end overdose and scale up evidence-based strategies that promote the health of people who use drugs.

This position can be located anywhere in the US and requires a self-starter who is comfortable with change and emerging strategy, excited to mobilize resources for transformation, can work both collaboratively and independently, and can prioritize and manage multiple projects. In addition, they must be passionate about and able to effectively communicate the organization’s programs and mission.

  • Hold the public policy, advocacy, and messaging strategies that aim to shift power and resources to people most vulnerable to structural violence and racialized drug policies
  • Build and support a cohesive team across similar functional areas of the organization that align mission-critical initiatives, effective community engagement, and core messaging designed to change public policy and the narrative about people who use drugs
  • Develop and maintain strong relationships and partnerships, including users unions, harm reduction, drug policy, intersectional stakeholders, key government officials, and policymakers
  • Lead NHRC’s contributions to the creation of a National Harm Reduction Strategy
  • Provide internal forecasts of the likely effect of public policy changes and trends
  • Provide thought partnership to teams developing core messaging that effectively and consistently communicates NHRC’s policy platform through white papers, fact sheets, organizational statements, social media, press releases, etc.
  • Manage the organization’s public relations, press, media relations and crisis communications strategies
  • Track relevant legislation and policy developments and provide statistical and factual information to assist policy makers and advocates to change laws and policies that harm vulnerable communities
  • Partner with Development department on effective fundraising strategies and hold key relationships with policy and advocacy funders
  • Create systems that support ongoing internal education and awareness of policy issues that may cause shifts in NHRC’s approach


  • Serve on the organization’s Executive team which guides vision and strategy for the organization, ensuring resources and strategies are mission-driven, responsive to the harm reduction community, and grounded in a racial equity and inclusion framework
  • Serve as a thought partner while providing consistent, supportive supervision and mentorship to direct reports
  • Maintain the creation of clear and realistic department, team, and individual work plans that support team goals, priorities, and work/life balance
  • Active participation in Exec team meetings and collaborative work
  • Collaborate closely with cross-department leadership to center equity and inclusion, ensure alignment between respective portfolios, and promote transparent decision making


  • In collaboration with Executive team, set development priorities that financially support department and organizational vision
  • Develop and manage department budgets
  • Share NHRC’s vision, strategies, and values in requested speaking engagements
  • Attend staff and board meetings
  • Ensure timely submission of reports, budgets, required documents, etc.


  • Demonstrated senior level leadership in policy and advocacy, stakeholder engagement, and strategic communications
  • Commitment to harm reduction principles and meaningful inclusion of people with lived experience, including people who use drugs and people who trade sex
  • Significant understanding of intersectional issues that impact people who use drugs along with a strong racial justice analysis
  • Experience with and ability to coach staff and community partners on most effective ways to integrate policy analysis into their work
  • Strong writing, communication, and public speaking skills
  • Proficiency with technology including Microsoft Office or Google Suite, CRM systems and engagement platforms such as EveryAction, Salesforce, or equivalent system preferred
  • Knowledge of harm reduction and/or US drug policy a plus
  • Ability to mentor and support a growing team

This is a full-time, remote-working position offering a competitive salary plus a comprehensive benefits package.

People with lived or ongoing experience with substance use, incarceration, homelessness, and/or sex work; people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQIA+ communities; people with disabilities, and people living with HIV/AIDS and/or hepatitis C are strongly encouraged to apply. The National Harm Reduction Coalition sees the experiences associated with these identities as assets in this role and within our organization.

For more information, visit:

122 East 42nd Street, Suite 3605, New York, NY 10168