Systems Advocate

About the Position

Developing and guiding the Harlem Independent Living Center (HILC) public policy and advocacy agenda with the goal of reducing barriers to independence for people with disabilities. This includes assessing community needs; engaging in activities to increase community capacity to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities; organizing federal, state, and local, non-partisan civic engagement initiatives; and providing civic education to staff, consumers, and the community on local, state and federal policy issues that impact people with disabilities.

This position is very involved with all HILC staff and the community. This position generates working closely and collaboratively with the Executive Director on projects and priorities. As such, you will need to be a team-oriented, quality-focused individual with strong presentation and relationship-building skills. The individual in this position will serve as a role model and mentor for people with disabilities within the community and maintain positive and effective relationships with HILC staff and partner agencies.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Assess the needs of people with disabilities in HILC’s service area (Northern Manhattan) to provide input on grassroots organizing of public policy and systems advocacy.
  • Coordinate and conduct activities to increase the capacity of communities to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities.
  • Outreach to unserved and underserved disability communities to determine needs; survey current consumers based on satisfaction with services and unmet needs.
  • Educate and organize consumers on legislative issues and involve consumers in testifying to relevant groups. Teach systems advocacy.
  • Build support among allies and community partners for HILC’s policy and advocacy priorities.
  • Serve as HILC’s representative on state, city, and local boards and committees.
  • Educate consumers, staff, and the public on HILC’s services within the IL philosophy to cultivate awareness of what we do and why.
  • Educate the communities through presentations on disability awareness and etiquette, federal laws, and other IL matters.
  • As directed, work with the Executive Director to develop materials on issues of concern to the disability community to support advocacy, education, and organizing efforts (talking points, fact sheets, etc.).
  • Develop materials and strategies and conduct training on systems advocacy and civics one-on-one, internally and externally.
  • Keep staff and consumers informed on national, state, and local issues that impact people with disabilities.
  • Develop and build a base of citizen support for initiatives and legislation at the local, state, and national levels.
  • Coordinate HILC’s civic engagement efforts by actively engaging community members, consumers, staff, and board members in various initiatives.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with key public figures relevant to civic engagement and community organizing.
  • Develop and conduct an annual community needs assessment and customer satisfaction survey, with reports submitted to the Executive Director.
  • Submit monthly reports of activities and outcomes that indicate the removal of barriers for individuals with disabilities in the community.
  • Participate in HILC staff meetings, program meetings, and staff training activities.
  • Complete other assignments as assigned and delegated by the Executive Director.


  • BA or BS in a relevant field or an appropriate combination of education, skills, and at least three (3) or more years of experience.
  • Have excellent speaking, written communication, and interpersonal skills.
  • Proficiency with MS Windows, MS Office, Google Suite, and other common computer programs.
  • Demonstrate the ability to learn quickly, assess situations, anticipate needs, work in teams as well as individually, take initiative, advocate, organize, prioritize, meet deadlines, and handle stress.
  • Commitment to co-creating a culture that fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Able to positively represent HILC and outreach to the community and public professionals creating liaisons that result in outcomes.
  • Perform all other job-related duties as requested.

It is desirable for the person to be an individual with a significant disability.

The Harlem Living Independent Center is a community-based, private nonprofit organization. It is designated by the Rehabilitation Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Education as a Center for Independent Living. Established in 1990, the Center actively advocates for inclusion in the community for disabled minorities of all ages.

HILC values a diverse workplace and strongly encourages women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, people with physical disabilities, and veterans to apply.

Applicants will not be discriminated against because of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, religion, national origin, citizenship status, disability, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, medical condition, or any protected category prohibited by local, state or federal laws.

The chosen candidate must show proof of the ability to work lawfully in the United States of America and is subject to a comprehensive background check and drug screening.

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