Req Number: CL335
Location: Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Posted: 9/10/2020
Category: Government/Not-For-Profit : Not-For-Profit
Job Type: Permanent


Position-- Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Organization -- Polaris
Location-- Washington, DC
Reporting Relationship -- The CEO reports to the Board of Directors
Website --



For almost two decades, Polaris has been a leader in the North American fight to eradicate modern slavery. With a global reach in the anti-human trafficking ecosystem, Polaris has led the movement toward innovative, data-driven, survivor-centered solutions that recognize the scale of the problem: 25 million people worldwide robbed of the freedom to choose how they live and work. Polaris works on both sex and labor trafficking, recognizing that the same underlying inequities and resulting power dynamics drive all forms of trafficking and exploitation. We believe that with the leadership of survivors, and in partnership with government, business, social services and communities, we can change the way all forms of human trafficking are identified, how victims and survivors are assisted, and how we can prevent this abuse. Polaris has been in a period of rapid growth and change and is in the midst of launching an exciting vision for the next decade of work that has been carefully crafted over the last year and vetted with donors, partners and survivor leaders.

The Board seeks a dynamic and visionary leader to drive an exciting new vision and evolve the organization in this next chapter. The new CEO will have the opportunity to creatively implement a recently developed strategic plan and build upon the expertise and skillset of a strong team to take the organization to the next level.

Inheriting one of the preeminent anti-trafficking organizations in the U.S., the incoming CEO will bring extensive experience, influence, and credibility in the human trafficking field and/or in adjacent human rights causes. Skilled in leading social change movements, the leader will be a compelling spokesperson, networker, and fundraiser with an ability to clearly articulate, inspire, advocate and mobilize on behalf of the mission. 

The next CEO will bring deep passion for the mission of Polaris, particularly the importance of its victim-centric focus on serving vulnerable populations, and the need to understand the intersectionality of underlying issues and address systems that enable trafficking. This individual will be steadfastly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and will bring a social and racial justice lens to the work.

Polaris’ next leader will demonstrate agility and the ability to navigate change, both in implementing the organization’s new strategic vision and its future identity, and in response to evolution in the field. The executive will be effective in collaborating with a large number of stakeholders across a diverse range of issues, constituents, and perspectives. 

This is an exciting and important opportunity for a strong leader to build on Polaris’ identity and strategic position in the field while elevating the impact of a maturing movement.



Polaris is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that systemically disrupts the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. Since its founding in 2002, Polaris has been guided by a singular vision: a world without slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad in the U.S., and founded with the belief that everyday people can come together to do extraordinary things, Polaris represents a similar spirit of hope, courage and community.

Its comprehensive model puts victims at the center of its work – helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate.

Polaris is spearheading a reimagined approach to confronting, and ultimately, to ending sex and labor trafficking in North America. Its work is driven by data, shaped by the expertise of survivors, and focused on dismantling the underlying systems that make it possible to rob 25 million people around the world of the freedom to choose how they live and work.

For more than a decade, Polaris has operated the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, connecting more than 50,000 victims and survivors to help and support. That experience underlies the organization’s deep expertise, and informs research and analysis, advocacy and outreach, and innovative pilot projects and partnerships that serve as a laboratory and knowledge base for the anti-trafficking movement as a whole.

Today, Polaris continues to fill in the roadmap for that journey, lighting the path ahead to help victims navigate their way to freedom.


Polaris carries out its mission by serving victims and survivors through the National Human Trafficking Hotline, building a dataset that illuminates how human trafficking really works in real time, and turning knowledge into targeted systems-level strategies to disrupt and prevent human trafficking.


Since 2007, Polaris has operated the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, which provides 24/7 support and a variety of options for survivors of human trafficking to get connected to help and stay safe. Through a network of nearly 4,000 partner service providers and trusted law enforcement, trained hotline advocates take tips of suspected human trafficking from community members and help survivors build plans so they can safely leave their situations or get the help they need to rebuild their lives. The Trafficking Hotline can communicate via phone in more than 200 languages through a translation service, as well as text, webchat, email, and webform in English and Spanish. The Trafficking Hotline is operated by Polaris and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other donors.


Polaris holds the largest known data set on human trafficking in North America and serves as a knowledge hub for the anti-human trafficking field, providing key data to hundreds of researchers, academics, law enforcement officers and others seeking to deepen understanding and sharpen response. Polaris’s data set, gleaned from more than a decade of operating the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, is used to identify patterns that form the underpinning of its long-term strategies and policy positions. It also serves as the basis for the annual release of carefully analyzed data from the Trafficking Hotline that reveals the number of reported likely cases of trafficking each year.


Human trafficking does not exist in a vacuum but rather is enabled by underlying systems – both tangible and intangible. These include economic, legal, social, political and other systems as well as sexism, racism and discrimination. For example, current systems of business registration make it easy for traffickers to hide their financial interests while certain dimensions of the immigration system in the United States creates an extremely vulnerable class of legal, temporary workers. Businesses ranging from hotels to banks to social media platforms are all part of what makes human trafficking possible, and profitable. Understanding how these systems enable violence and abuse and perpetuate vulnerabilities is the first step toward ending trafficking.

Polaris works with allies to shape, support and share innovative federal, state and local laws and policies that are driven by data, based on survivor experience and focused on expanding accountability for sex and labor trafficking.State and local governments also play a key role in preventing trafficking, dismantling the infrastructure that makes trafficking possible and directing resources to support and empower survivors.Since human trafficking remains a bipartisan issue, Polaris works closely with allies and with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on legislation to reduce victimization and provide support to survivors.

VALUES:Polaris is grounded in a set of values and organizational beliefs and strives to model and embody these values in all that it does.  

  • We work with humility and a spirit of service. We serve a mission that is bigger than ourselves, and we recognize that we cannot do this work alone. We foster a caring community of mutual support, and we actively pursue collaborations and partnerships to expand our reach.
  • Victims’ and survivors’ experiences ground our efforts. We honor the dignity, agency, and resilience of victims and survivors of slavery, both past and present. We serve, work alongside, and stand in solidarity with those who have been most affected by modern slavery.
  • We strive for inclusion and equity. We engage different perspectives to inform our decisions, actions, and positions. We create opportunities that empower individuals of diverse backgrounds and circumstances. We acknowledge the structural inequities that lead to human trafficking and modern slavery, which drives us to create just and equitable solutions.
  • We approach our work with courage. We promote a culture of inquiry, innovation, risk-taking, and continuous learning. We are resilient and evolve when faced with obstacles or failure. We recognize that what is typical or traditional is not always optimal.
  • We create positive impact and achieve results. We leverage and cultivate the strengths of our staff, and we work with discipline, integrity, and a commitment to excellence. We embrace a measurement culture to track our progress. We view impact holistically, considering multiple sectors and the effects on individuals’ lives, as we pursue systemic and social change to eradicate modern slavery.


Polaris designs and implements data-driven strategies to prevent and disrupt human trafficking, and to restore freedom to survivors. Achieving this ambitious goal requires both trafficking-specific systemic interventions and broader cultural and structural shifts that reduce the inequities that lead to human trafficking. While Polaris alone cannot build a more diverse, just, equitable, and inclusive society, both the success of its work and its organizational values require modeling in the workplace the change we want to see in the world. This means cultivating a workforce, organizational culture, and priorities that respect and celebrate a dynamic, multi-disciplinary team made up of individuals with different identities, lived experiences, and backgrounds. Within both its team and across every part of its work, Polaris strives to integrate and elevate the full range of survivor voices. This is a living commitment. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are values to be manifested daily, in the work Polaris does, the decisions it makes, and the way staff treat each other and the people they seek to serve. This means creating space where staff can be included, heard, valued, and set up for success, and where everyone feels empowered to bring their full, best selves to work. Polaris will not check boxes and consider it done. The organization will push new innovations and different ways of thinking, and treasure the community built and strengthened by each individual contribution.



In partnership with the Board of Directors, the CEO is responsible for providing vision and strategic leadership to Polaris, the Executive Team, and its employees. The CEO inspires and motivates internal and external audiences, leads with clarity and purpose, expands the organization’s partners and supporters, engenders a positive, engaged, and inclusive culture, and demonstrates a strong commitment towards the Polaris mission.

Specific responsibilities include:


  • Serve as a national/global leader, promoting anti-trafficking through advocacy, thought leadership, research and innovative partnerships.
  • Cultivate relationships with like-minded organizations to advocate, set standards and continue to advance the field.
  • Strengthen Polaris’ continued position as a pioneer and thought leader in the anti-trafficking field.

Organizational Management

  • Partner with the Board and executive team to refine and implement Polaris’ strategy.
  • Recruit, lead, develop, and empower a diverse staff to operationalize and execute the organization’s strategic plan in support of advancing Polaris’ goals and its work.
  • Promote a culture of cohesion and meaningful collaboration, transparency, accountability, and strong integrity; champion racial and gender equity within Polaris and provide vocal and supportive leadership for ongoing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work.
  • Enhance a data-driven, accountable culture committed to high performance, continuous improvement and impact through appropriate performance management systems.
  • Oversee the planning and budgeting process to maintain a sound financial basis for the organization, supporting both short-term and long-term needs and objectives.   

Communications and Fundraising

  • Serve as the chief spokesperson for Polaris, and assure proper representation and visibility of the organization in the media, at high-level forums and conferences, and across diverse audiences, including but not limited to key stakeholders in the anti-trafficking space, government and policymakers across party lines, donors, NGO and corporate partners, and the general public. 
  • Serve as the organization’s chief fundraiser and creative connector by cultivating and maintaining relationships with key funders and partners and by forging new and innovative strategic partnerships and alliances.
  • Develop a sound strategy for diversifying and expanding the organization’s funding base across governmental grants, foundation grants, corporate sponsorships, and major gifts.
  • Ensure that Polaris maintains its reputation as a pioneering leader in the human trafficking field and remains the “entity of choice” amongst potential donors and partners.

Board Development and Governance

  • Maintain a productive relationship with the Board and work with Board members to set the organization’s strategic direction and policies, enabling Polaris to adapt to a challenging external environment.
  • Ensure transparency and regular communication with the Board around all key governance issues, including strategic planning, financial oversight, staff accountability and performance metrics, and board recruitment and development.


The successful candidate will bring steady, sophisticated leadership and strategic vision to evolve the organization without disruption, while retaining talent and moving the team forward. The leader will bring a fresh perspective to re-energize organizational culture, inspire the board and staff, and creatively lead a maturing organization into its next chapter. 

The individual will be skilled in external affairs and will be a compelling communicator and dynamic public speaker, bringing influence and credibility to mobilize and advance the anti-trafficking cause. 

This person could come directly from the sex or labor trafficking field, as well as an adjacent space rooted in broader human rights, including but not limited to: immigration/refugees, women’s rights, domestic violence and sexual assault, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, criminal justice reform, poverty/humanitarian efforts, and international development, amongst other interrelated issues critical to ending human trafficking.

Additional experience and qualifications will include:

  • Experience advocating for in the human trafficking field and/or, or in an adjacent human rights causes, and on behalf of victims, survivors and vulnerable populations.
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity, social/racial justice, equity, and inclusion.
  • Passion for the mission to confront labor/sex trafficking; strong connection to serving victims and vulnerable populations; ability to connect purpose to day-to-day work.  
  • Experience executing a strategic plan and enhancing an organization’s capacity/impact.  
  • A track record or acumen to suggest the ability to fundraise, generate and mobilize significant resources in support of a vision from a variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, government, and corporations.  
  • Experience building broad partnerships and meaningful coalitions; ability to foster innovative collaborations with key players across/beyond the field that can increase visibility, guide public awareness to mobilize prevention, and impact policy change.
  • Strong networking skills, gravitas, and political savvy to build and sustain relationships; ability to manage complex stakeholder engagement, serve as a collaborator and bridge builder across diverse perspectives, and navigate Capitol Hill in a bi-partisan manner.
  • Servant leader who can empower a strong team to manage internal operations and programs, and is comfortable trusting staff expertise and delegating autonomy.
  • Experience with a diverse workforce; ability to connect across multiple generations of workers.
  • Experience working with and developing a diverse Board of Directors.

 Ideal personal and leadership characteristics include:

  • An excellent listener, a dynamic communicator, and a charismatic storyteller who can inspire and motivate, both one-on-one and as a compelling public speaker.
  • A systems-thinker who understands the intersectionality of underlying issues and need to address structures creating discrimination/social imbalances that enable trafficking.
  • Data-driven, and leverages technology to inform decision-making and measure impact. 
  • Problem-solver; can listen to all sides of an issue and make strong decisions to move quickly without analysis paralysis; able to say no and ask hard questions.
  • Strong culture-builder; establishes stability and strengthens talent retention.
  • High tolerance for ambiguity and risk-taking; innovative; can operate without a playbook.
  • High EQ with strong soft skills; calm; low ego; humble; approachable; understated.
  • Impeccable character and integrity; embodies organization’s values; role model for staff.
  • Great personality and sense of humor.
  • Steady leadership presence and wisdom in a controversial space.



An undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university is required. An advanced degree and/or pertinent experience is preferred.


** To apply, please submit attachments including a current resume and customized letter of interest. Interest and recommendations may also be sent to the Korn Ferry team at



Korn/Ferry shall provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified candidates, and will refer candidates without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis.





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