Policy / Program Specialist - International Program

National Conference of State Legislatures
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Early Career
  • Apply by
  • Posted
    Dec 20

Position description

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is a nonpartisan organization that serves the legislators and legislative staff of the nation's 50 states, its commonwealths and territories. NCSL provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues.  Our mission is to serve state legislatures by providing support, promoting fresh ideas, connecting legislators and staff with experts and each other, and provide a strong, cohesive voice in the federal system.   

Since its founding in 1975, NCSL's staff has grown from 15 employees to over 150 employees in its offices in Denver, CO and Washington, D.C. Our growth has been due to the increasing activity and responsibility of the nation's state legislatures and the complexity and diversity of issues that legislators face.  Employees work in a challenging, often fast-paced environment where they assist legislators and legislative staff in their work to promote the common good of the citizens of the states.  


The NCSL is seeking a Policy Specialist to provide research, analysis and complex planning for our International Programs Department. The position requires professional work and demonstrated competence to handle a diverse range of tasks involving international relations, governance, legislative structures and processes. The work may require the employee to make presentations to other groups and to represent NCSL in the assigned area. Work is performed semi-independently under the direction of the Director of the department within established program guidelines or project specifications. Major work products, which may include writing grant proposals, compiling research and budget information for proposals and reports, designing programs, drafting schedules and agendas for study tours and workshops, are reviewed by more senior professionals for quality, policy considerations, form and substance.

This position is partially grant-funded and is subject to reduction in percentage of time covered or elimination if grant funding becomes unavailable.   



  1. Collects information, monitors and analyzes legislative actions and trends with international implications.
  2. Organizes research projects including identifying and developing grant proposals or fundraising initiatives and instructing less experienced professionals on methods and resources.
  1. Conducts integrative technical projects across related subjects that require expertise in legislative activities or practices, governance issues, international affairs, and U.S. government foreign policy.
  1. Conveys detailed and complex information determining the most effective format and using a variety of methods, e.g. verbal presentations, publications, technical assistance workshops, letters, memos, newsletters, and articles.
  2. Writes clearly and concisely for a variety of purposes including program reports or deliverables, proposals, web summaries, press releases, and presentations.
  3. Plans, organizes and conducts study tours and technical assistance programs, workshops, and seminars, covering multiple topics or analyzing complex issues.
  4. Makes presentations to legislators, legislative staff, or international delegates requiring knowledge of organizational issues and information and respond to questions.
  5. Performs key responsibilities related to the recruitment and programming for international participants at NCSL's annual Legislative Summit.
  6. Provides program support to NCSL International Relations Task Force and coordinates work with other NCSL committees, task forces, staff sections, or subcommittees as appropriate.
  7. Maintains effective relations with key legislators and legislative staff.
  8. Identifies opportunities for new projects in assigned subject areas, develops concept papers, and writes grant applications/proposals.
  9. Maintains relations with current funding agencies and critical constituencies and negotiates with funders on project schedules and deliverables on continuing projects, under the direction of supervisor.
  10. Represents NCSL services and activities before NCSL constituencies, international delegates, and other groups.



May oversee one or two professional staff or interns on an ongoing basis or serve as coordinator of a team of other professionals on a short-term project.  



This job operates in a professional office environment. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as laptop computers, copy machines, scanners and smartphones.


Experience and Education

  • Bachelor's degree plus five years of relevant and progressive work experience or three years of experience and post-baccalaureate / graduate degree (i.e. master's degree, advanced professional degree or doctoral degree). 
  • The following work experience or some equivalent combination is preferred: at least one year of professional experience with NCSL or with a state legislature or government, two years of professional public policy experience. 
  • Subject-specific knowledge or experience may be required. 
  • Experience with association or membership organization preferred, or a combination of education and experience that provides the required knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Knowledge of the legislative process and state government. 
  • Competence in writing and basic policy research skills.
  • Skill and competence in oral communication and interpersonal skills to deal effectively with legislators, legislative staff, funders and international delegates. 
  • Skill in analyzing and organizing information and solving problems. 
  • Skill in applicable conference software applications. 
  • Skill and competence in working independently and under pressure on multiple projects or tasks.
  • Skill, competence, and proficiency in a foreign language is desirable.
  • Ability to coordinate and lead others, including interns and junior staff.
  • Able to maintain confidentiality and handle politically sensitive work.
  • Ability to work independently. 
  • Ability to work on tasks requiring meticulous attention to detail. 
  • Ability to work effectively on a team, both as a leader and as a member. 
  • Proficiency in foreign language is desirable.
  • Ability to work under deadline pressure and adapt to changes in workload. 
  • Ability to maintain professional appearance and demeanor. 
  • Ability to maintain regular and punctual attendance. 


NCSL offers an outstanding benefits package including low cost health, dental and vision coverage, a 401(a)-retirement plan with 10% contribution after 6 months and full vesting, life & disability insurance, 3-weeks paid vacation with 5+ years of paid full-time work experience, paid leave, 35-hour work weeks, telework, pet insurance, and more!

Application instructions

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