The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

NAELA logo

Executive Director

The Opportunity

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) is conducting a search for its next Executive Director. Established in 1987, NAELA is a nonprofit association that serves attorneys, bar associations, and those who are trained to address the legal problems faced by older citizens and individuals of all ages with disabilities. With a mission to educate, inspire, serve, and provide community to attorneys with practices in elder and special needs law, NAELA currently has members in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

In addition to overseeing administrative, financial, and operational functions of the society, the Executive Director will play a lead role in raising the visibility of NAELA and advocate for issues that impact the mission and its membership. The Executive Director will report to the Board of Directors.

This position is based at the organization’s headquarters in Vienna, VA. The Executive Director will represent NAELA at events and board meetings. Some travel is required.

NAELA: An Overview

NAELA is the leading professional organization that serves attorneys, bar associations, and legal professionals who are experienced with or specialize in the legal issues faced by older citizens and individuals of all ages with disabilities. These legal issues include helping people and their families plan for incapacity and long-term care; addressing Medicaid and Medicare issues including coverage of nursing home and home care; health and long-term care insurance; and healthcare decision-making. They also include drafting supplemental needs and other trusts, selecting long-term care providers, problem-solving home care or nursing home issues, managing retiree health and income benefits, finding retirement housing, and providing fiduciary services or representation.

A 501(c)6 organization with a $3.1 million budget, a 22-member Board of Directors, and a staff of 15, NAELA has 28 state and regional chapters nationwide and $4 million in assets. NAELA offers its members continuing education, networking programs and events, publications, and an online knowledge base with over 4,000 articles, webinars, and educational tools. Publications include NAELA’s twice-yearly journal, NAELA Journal, as well as the quarterly NAELA News, weekly eBulletin and Eye on Elder and Special Needs Issues and Advocacy Update periodic publications.

NAELA offers members opportunities to further their levels of expertise in a number of elder and disability law topics through its Council of Advanced Practitioners (CAP) program and fellowship program. Its members are asked to pledge support to NAELA’s Aspirational Standards for the practice of elder and disability law. NAELA holds a conference each spring for members and promotes its members to the public through a referral database.

The Executive Director Role

The Executive Director receives oversight and supervision from the Board of Directors, manages NAELA’s programs and business and has complete authority in the implementation of NAELA Board policies and the interpretation of those policies to NAELA personnel. The Executive Director serves as an ex officio, non-voting member of the NAELA Board and other committees.

Strategic Priorities for the Executive Director

The Executive Director is tasked with addressing the following priorities:

Promote the Mission

  • Enhance the visibility of NAELA within the legal profession.
  • Maintain NAELA’s reputation as a well-respected leader and education provider in the legal specialties of elder and disability law.
  • Advocate for issues that impact the profession and its members.

Contribute to Member and Organizational Success

  • With the Board of Directors, develop a strategic plan consistent with the objectives of the Academy, and which takes full advantage of the Academy’s long-range potential.
  • Identify and secure new and continued funding sources and revenue streams for NAELA.
  • Provide value and engagement for members.
  • Explore, develop, and maximize partnerships that support the mission.

Maintain and Strengthen Trust

  • Advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and be respectful of a wide range of cultures, belief systems, and experiences.
  • Establish and maintain strong professional relationships within the legal community, professional organizations, Board members, Academy members, and staff.
  • Integrate a personal understanding of, respect for, and commitment to the history, ethics, and values of the Academy, acting in the best interests of NAELA at all times.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Administrative Management

  • Plan, lead and oversee day-to-day activities and programs of the organization and foundation in accordance with the strategic plan.
  • Ensure the organization is in full compliance with all local, state, and federal rules governing program activities.
  • Manage risk, including assuring compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and governing documents.
  • Authorize and execute contracts and commitments in accordance with NAELA bylaws and policies established by the Board.
  • Ensures all funds, physical assets, and other property of NAELA are properly safeguarded and administered.
  • Ensure NAELA has established objectives and standards of performance for all major key result areas, including marketing, fund raising, human resources, operating efficiency, innovation, physical and financial resources, public responsibility, ethical behavior, profitability, pricing strategies, and quality of member services.
  • Approve performance standards for operations and ensure corrective action is taken when deviation from standards occurs.
  • Maintains relationship with organization’s legal counsel.

Staff and Volunteer Leadership

  • Ensure a sound plan for NAELA Board and volunteer selection, recruitment and training is established and maintained.
  • Ensure NAELA’s Board is kept informed of the conditions of the Association’s programs and activities, and all important factors that influence them.
  • Serve as staff to the Officers and members of the NAELA Board, anticipating and meeting their needs for materials, information, and the support they might need to fully manage their roles and responsibilities.
  • Ensure the NAELA Board is appropriately represented to members, staff, and other constituency groups.
  • Execute the decisions of the NAELA Board and its established committees in a timely manner, and in accordance with Bylaws.
  • With the Board, determine goals and ensure NAELA’s staff and consultants establish objectives that support the Academy’s goals.
  • Provide for the optimum use of personnel and ensure the organization is staffed with competent personnel who are delegated appropriate authority and compensated commensurately.
  • Ensure managers are continuously developed professionally so that qualified successors are available for major positions.
  • Execute full and exclusive authority to hire, compensate, and terminate NAELA staff and consultants within the framework of the approved Academy budget and in accordance with established NAELA personnel policies.
  • As necessary and helpful, and in consultation with the NAELA Executive Committee and/or Board of Directors, appoint consultants to the Academy.
  • Ensure appropriate compensation structures are developed and maintained for the Academy.

Strategic and Financial Leadership

  • Ensures that the Academy maintains sound organizational plans and that major additions or alterations to NAELA’s operating departments are properly controlled.
  • Work with the executive committee to formulate a strategic plan that will further the mission of the organization.
  • Develop, oversee, and monitor the annual budget for NAELA.
  • Invest the organization’s reserves with the advice and consent of the executive committee and in accordance with established policy.
  • Oversee all financial management responsibilities.
  • Develop and enhance NAELA’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity at all associational levels.
  • Works with the Finance Committee to ensure that a consolidated annual operating budget is recommended to the NAELA Board.
  • Works with the Finance Committee to assure that all NAELA assets are soundly administered, based on an intensive and comprehensive understanding of all aspects of fiscal management for a professional organization of this size and scope.

Member Services

  • Oversee live and virtual programming, academic and professional resources, administrative support, internal communications, publications, and other direct member services.
  • Develop relationships with peer organizations to keep abreast of emerging issues of significance to NAELA.

Communications and Marketing

  • Oversee efforts related to media and public programming.
  • Oversee all communication and outreach efforts including publications, journals, educational materials, website content, and social media.
  • Serve as a spokesperson in public and represent the public face of the organization at events and meetings.
  • Maintain and develop positive, effective relationships with staff, the Board of Directors, and members.

Candidate Profile

Required Skills, Experience, and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree is required: an advanced degree, MBA, or equivalent experience is preferred.
  • Five to seven years of progressive management experience at the senior level in an association.
  • CAE preferred.
  • Exceptional written and oral communication skills.
  • Experience with budgeting and financial management of budgets of $1 million or more preferred.
  • Exceptional budget development and management skills including budget forecasting, preparation, analysis, decision-making, monitoring, and reporting.
  • Strong organizational abilities including planning, program development, and facilitation.
  • Strong collaborative team building and strategic management skills.
  • Command of association-related IT tools and management software.
  • Ability to travel to the annual conference, Board meetings, and other events and programs as needed.
  • Ability to work a flexible schedule with periodic evening and weekend hours to participate in events, committee and Board meetings, and other functions.

Personal Qualities

In addition to the qualifications listed above, the Executive Director must have these characteristics:

  • A visionary leader who brings new ideas to organization.
  • Thinks strategically and takes an innovative approach to managing resources and developing opportunities.
  • Passion for and long-term commitment to excellence in elder and disability law.
  • Committed to the long-term success and progress of the field.
  • Dependable, responsive, emotionally intelligent, and self-aware.
  • Open-minded, collaborative, and inclusive, seeking and encouraging idea-sharing and engagement from stakeholders before making decisions.
  • Member-focused service ethic with a commitment to teamwork.
  • Resilient, adaptable, and able to respond and problem-solve in a rapidly changing environment.
  • Demonstrates commitment to continued professional growth and development.
  • Able to handle complex challenges in an effective, professional manner.


A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract an outstanding candidate.

To Apply

To apply, please send a cover letter and current résumé (Microsoft Word® format preferred) to Sterling Martin Associates. The cover letter should outline how your experience fits the requirements of the position as this will be an important factor in considering your candidacy.

NAELA is an equal opportunity / affirmative action employer committed to inclusion and cultural diversity in the workplace. Employment selection and related decisions are made without regard to sex, race, color, age, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, genetic information, or any other protected class.

Additional Information

For more information, contact:

Sterling Martin Associates
1025 Connecticut Avenue | Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036

David S. Martin | Managing Partner
[email protected] (202) 257-1627

Sharon Beatty| Senior Executive Recruiter
[email protected] | (971) 322-7658