Director, Public Policy, NAMI

Location: This position is based in Arlington, VA (hybrid)
Department: Government Relations, Policy & Advocacy
Wage Category: $150,000 - $154,000

What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation’s leading voice on mental health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

Today, we are an alliance of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and a national office who work in communities across the United States to raise awareness, provide support and education, and advocate to address systemic barriers impacting people with mental health conditions. NAMI’s Government Relations, Policy and Advocacy team fights discrimination that keeps people from accessing the mental health care they need to get well and stay well. In particular, we work to address inequities and injustices and to promote dignity and inclusion for all people with mental illness and their families. NAMI’s policy work spans a wide range of key issues, from fighting for quality of care and insurance coverage to diverting from criminal justice system involvement and addressing social determinants of health.

We currently have an opening for a Director, Public Policy. The Director of Public Policy will be responsible for developing NAMI’s policy positions on issues that impact people with mental health conditions and their families, leading analysis of proposed federal policies relative to those positions and driving NAMI’s strategic response to federal regulatory activity. The ideal candidate has a background in health policy and knowledge of federal agency processes. They will play a strategic role in NAMI’s government relations strategy and advancing our policy priorities.

Principal Duties And Responsibilities

  • Develops and leads strategy for engagement of federal agencies on regulatory actions and to advance NAMI policy priorities
  • Leads analysis of and response to federal regulatory activities across Departments such as Health and Human Services (including CMS and SAMHSA), Justice, Education, Agriculture, Veteran Affairs as well as FCC, and other relevant federal agencies and offices
  • Leads research, development, and approval process for NAMI public policy positions for the NAMI Alliance on leading issues ranging from health care coverage to crisis response to criminal justice diversion to health equity
  • Works closely with NAMI Board of Directors for approval of NAMI public policy positions, with input from the NAMI advisory councils and NAMI’s clinical team
  • Articulates policy positions in briefs, fact sheets, talking points, op-eds, media statements and at internal and external meetings
  • Develops strong relationships and works collaboratively with stakeholders, including leading national partner organizations and coalitions
  • Provides subject matter expertise on policy positions to key partner organizations as well as NAMI State Organizations and Affiliates to advance shared policy goals
  • Develops effective strategies and tactics in response to time-sensitive policy issues and opportunities and collaborates with the Director of Congressional Affairs to advance NAMI’s public policy priorities from legislation through implementation
  • Serves as an expert consultant to media and elected officials on leading policy issues
  • Staffs the Board Public Policy Committee as a content expert
  • Represents NAMI and presents on policy issues at state, regional and national meetings and with federal agency leadership and staff
  • Communicates and partners across the organization to ensure collaboration and cohesive messaging regarding policy issues
  • Reviews litigation and amicus opportunities presented to NAMI National, providing recommendation for action to NAMI leadership
  • Assists with funding proposals and grant reports, including meeting with key funders and donors
  • Leads and manages direct reports, including facilitating their professional growth and development
  • Performs other duties as assigned


  • 8 – 10 years’ experience, preferably with a focus on health care policy, and minimum 5 years’ supervisory experience
  • Experience working with a nonprofit or federal agency
  • Advanced degree required, JD preferred
  • Knowledge of key federal agencies, especially CMS, SAMHSA and NIMH, preferred
  • Expertise with federal legislative and regulatory processes
  • Professional demeanor and excellent interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to engage effectively with national mental health advocacy groups
  • Experience with a federated organizational structure a plus
  • Proven ability to effectively manage budgets and program goals and outcomes
  • Ability to respond quickly and effectively to challenges
  • Ability to both plan for and respond strategically to threats and opportunities
  • Strong project management and leadership skills
  • Ability to work collaboratively within a team environment and across teams
  • Ability to work independently, take initiative, and exercise decision-making authority
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office suite; ability to conduct internet research, familiarity with and ability to learn other online programs
  • Must pass background check

More Information

Your salary is only one component of the total compensation package. NAMI offers a range of standard and unique benefits that are reviewed annually:

  • Generous and comprehensive Health, Dental, and Vision Plans
  • Paid Time Off: Vacation, Personal, and Sick Leave
  • Paid Parental Leave
  • 403(b) retirement plan
  • Flexible Spending Accounts for health care, dependent care and commuter expenses
  • Life Insurance and Disability coverage paid by NAMI
  • Flexible Work and Telework programs
  • Professional Development Reimbursement program
  • A variety of wellness offerings to support team members
  • Employee Referral Program
  • The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which provides support for personal and family problems common in contemporary life

NAMI is proud to be an equal opportunity employer and is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workforce. NAMI prohibits discrimination and harassment against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, genetic information or any other legally protected group status. We also provide reasonable accommodation for candidates with disability.

Apply here – Director, Public Policy