Want to use your product skills for good? Empower is hiring a head of product.

Empower is a non-profit that works to dramatically increase civic engagement and voting by helping groups organize their communities with friend-to-friend outreach.

In 2020, we facilitated outreach to over half a million people in swing states that ended up accounting for ~5% of the vote gap in the presidential election! In this work we gave our training and product to over 200 organizations (especially organizations that work in youth, Black, and Latinx communities). Our donors include the Rockefeller family, the Ford Foundation, and many others.

In 2021, we're working on grassroots economic recovery from COVID, vaccine adoption, and state+local elections, eventually ramping up into the 2022 midterm elections.

If you're a generalist product manager looking to make a difference, this is an extremely high-leverage opportunity.

How does Empower increase civic engagement and voting?

We train volunteers to reach out to friends and family and share personal stories about the issues that matter most to them.

When people ask their close friends and family to get involved or vote, those friends and family members become much more likely to actually do it. Empower is a product and course of training that helps community groups scale up this kind of direct personal outreach. (For a concrete example, see the FAQ.)

It’s effective. Empower has been studied in nine different independently-run, randomly controlled trials which all found that its usage led to large and statistically significant increases in voter turnout — far more effective than phone-banking or text-banking.

It’s growing fast. From 2016 to 2018, the number of conversations Empower facilitated grew by a factor of 30x, reaching a scale of ~50,000 people. In 2020, we grew by another 10x, reaching ~500,000 people.

Tell me more about the role!

This would be a great role for someone who wants to work across the the whole product — from helping plan strategic direction to getting into the weeds on exactly how features should work.

You'd have the goal of improving Empower's product for friend-to-friend outreach. You'd be the sole product person at Empower, operating with support from our organizing training staff, our engineering team, former product leaders, and the organizations we work with.

For example, you would be responsible for:

  • Synthesizing: Building a deep understanding of the organizations we support by talking with them, our internal organizing trainers, and former product leaders.
  • Strategy & prioritization: Building out the product strategy and owning product prioritization, working with the managing director.
  • Saying no: Making hard tradeoffs about which use cases to support.
  • Designing: Translating feedback/needs into changes, and designing clear user interfaces (Empower doesn't have a separate designer, so product has historically made UI mocks).
  • Handing off: Closely working with engineers implementing the changes, and participating in technical discussions over which things are easy/hard (adapting the feature if needed).
  • Communication: Owning the delivery and communication of completed projects, building trust internally and externally around product decisions.
  • Simplicity: Keeping the product simple.

What's the organization like?

There are two main teams: product/engineering, and organizing/training. We're spread out all across the country, with some clustering in the Bay Area and in Madison, WI (you could be anywhere). The product/engineering team has one short stand-up each day.

Here's the product/engineering team:

  • You (Head of Product)
  • Sam King (Head of Engineering) - Stanford CS where he started Code the Change; Google; then was part of the Bay Area team that helped save healthcare.gov
  • Alex Mattoni - Previously built a container orchestration platform

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to our organization. Organizing Empowerment is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on age, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual preference. Women, persons of color, and individuals from the LGBTQ+ community are strongly encouraged to apply. (We're currently 50% female and 30% non-white.)

What's the compensation like?

We've made a deliberate decision to gather great product and engineering people by paying more than non-profits typically pay for these roles:

  • $175,000/yr
  • Full health care
  • 15 vacation days, 9 paid holidays, 7 paid personal days, in addition to sick leave.

What's great about working here?

  • Empower combines Bay Area style talent and approach to designing and building products with the prowess of highly experienced organizing trainers. Both sides of the organization are critical and learn a lot from each other.
  • A strong technical stack means we can iterate quickly — we use modern tech like React and React Native.
  • People are nice! You might get cheese from Wisconsin as a holiday present.
  • It's very bubble-bursting — you get to interact with a much larger cross-section of society than in most roles in tech
  • You get to have a huge impact on civic engagement and the future of democracy in our country


Concretely, how does Empower increase civic engagement and voting?

Here’s an example. In 2018, a group used Empower to help organize Latinx restaurant workers who wanted a minimum wage, rather than $2 + tips, in Michigan. Those workers talked about the issue with their friends and family — who were often low-propensity voters — and just before the election, asked them something like, "I need this minimum wage. Will you vote on my behalf?"

As you might imagine, this kind of direct personal ask is immensely powerful for increasing engagement and getting people to vote — and our positive results are backed up by multiple, independent, large random controlled studies of Empower. Empower has been shown to be much more effective than e.g. a stranger calling or knocking on a door. This project is one of the most cost-effective methods of increasing turnout.

Is Empower aligned with a particular candidate?

Empower is working to increase turnout among likely democratic voters, which is helpful no matter who the local/state/federal candidates are.

How do I get in touch?

Glad you asked. Just press this nice purple button: