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Senior Policy Associate

Essie Justice Group

Essie Justice Group

Software Engineering
Pasadena, CA, USA
Posted on Monday, May 29, 2023

The Opportunity

Essie Justice Group (Essie) is building grassroots power to dismantle the US incarceration system, the most egregious creator of racial and gender injustice of our time. We are a loving and powerful community of women with incarcerated loved ones. Our community includes cisgender women, transgender women, formerly incarcerated women, gender nonconforming (GNC) people, elders, and young people.

After eight years of building an active membership across California and beyond, Essie is deepening its base-building and leadership development strategies with the 1 in 4 women with incarcerated loved ones to propel bold decarceration agendas across the nation. We seek to transform the criminal legal system and create a Black feminist future rooted in care, equity, community safety, and liberation. As the opportunities to build upon our advocacy work continue to grow, we are seeking a Senior Policy Associate to provide the collaborative leadership and nuanced policy insight necessary to develop exciting people-powered campaigns that divest from the carceral state and invest in the care infrastructure our communities need.

The Senior Policy Associate is a powerful analytical thinker and compelling communicator who is passionate about justice, has a deep understanding and empathy for how policy impacts real people, and is excited to work in collaboration with directly impacted members, organizers, and movement partners. The Senior Policy Associate is a strategist who brings abolitionist ambition and pragmatism grounded in the knowledge of the legislative process and what's politically possible. This person will serve as the primary trainer and translator of policy for members—working in ways that recognize and uplift the expertise and potential that exists within our members to be leaders of criminal legal system change.

Start date: July 24, 2023

Core Responsibilities

Policy Research, Analysis, & Advocacy - Ensure that Essie’s understanding of the field is accurate, nuanced, and up to date, our policy-related writing is sharp, and our relationships with advocacy partners and electeds are strong.

  • Monitor and track state and local legislation and regulatory policy impacting Essie’s membership and campaigns, and communicate relevance and possible opportunities to key internal stakeholders.
  • Conduct research and make policy recommendations that help build or strengthen decarceration campaigns rooted in Essie’s abolitionist, race and gender justice perspective.
  • Draft powerful and precise bill language and contribute to the development of strategic campaigns to advance Essie-sponsored bills.
  • Prepare high-quality deliverables such as policy reports, white papers, policy position letters, fact sheets, presentations, and other materials to develop and communicate policy positions, amplify the impact on women with incarcerated loved ones, and/or further campaign demands.
  • Cultivate relationships with electeds and advocacy partners, and represent Essie in coalitions within our field that drive our policy work forward.

Member Engagement & Training: Train, collaborate with, and advance the leadership and expertise of Essie members in California policy advocacy.

  • Work closely with organizers and member leaders to train and activate members in lobby visits and other legislative advocacy-related tactics.
  • Help Essie members to navigate policy for the sake of their lives - not 1:1, but in situations that will affect a group or all of our members through preparing and implementing regular policy reports, presentations, agendas, materials, and activities that resonate, are deeply relevant, and engaging.
  • Lead on special projects related to member education and advocacy.

Team Leadership - Manage and evaluate team members and processes for success.

  • Manage staff and contractors who are carrying out core functions of the policy research, analysis, and advocacy process to achieve set organizational goals together.
  • Provide input on Campaigns & Advocacy departmental process improvements, and work with teammates to refine collaborative systems as necessary.

Who We’re Looking For

Ideal Qualifications

  • 5+ years of public policy experience at either federal, state, or local level, preferable for progressive organizations and/or related to decarceration, criminal justice, or issues of racial equity.
  • Excellent analytical skills with the ability to understand and explain complex topics and issues to people impacted.
  • Impeccable, advanced, and detail-oriented reading, writing, editing, and verbal communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to make accurate and clear assessments about policy and with foresight, make determinations, produce insightful ideas, and lead a team toward impactful next steps.
  • Experience in facilitating meetings, workshops, and/or popular education training to deepen participants' understanding of policy analysis and goals.
  • A well-developed interpersonal skill set—especially active listening, empathy, patience, and relationship building.
  • Track record as a collaborative teammate who can also thrive in independent projects.
  • ​​Adept at computer programs including Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, and Google Suite.
  • Experience supervising people in a way that acknowledges differentials in privilege and power, recognizes their gifts, encourages their confidence, supports their growth, and holds them accountable to standards and achieving collective goals.
  • Commitment to the beliefs and values of Essie with a demonstrated passion for progressive politics, specifically in gender justice, race justice and ending mass incarceration.


  • An excellent and empathetic translator of coded information. You love language and the tricks it can play and you have an uncanny ability to share what is in and behind policy with people in such a way to help them become experts themselves. Building this capacity in others inspires you.
  • Policy expert who believes in the people. You demonstrate humility about your policy expertise that reflects a deep belief in centering those most impacted as the best policy leaders.
  • Committed to evolution. You are committed to continuously deepening and evolving your own understanding of systems of oppression through study, openness, and humility. And you easily recognize your own relationship to privilege and power, examining and shifting your behaviors as appropriate.
  • Discernment and honesty we can trust. You are a thoughtful team member who acts in alignment with your integrity and are unfailingly trustworthy. You earn rather than demand the trust of people by listening and making decisions thoughtfully.
  • Uplifting and additive. You see mistakes as opportunities for growth; problems as catalysts for solutions, and inspire others along the journey. You carry a positive approach, can-do attitude, a sense of humor, and authentic kindness wherever you go.

The Position

The Senior Policy Associate is a full-time exempt position. This position is supervised by the Director of Campaigns & Advocacy. The salary for this position is between $85,000-$95,000 depending on experience with full medical, dental and vision benefits, optional 401(k), a substantial vacation package, and a monthly personal wellness stipend. The position will be based in either Los Angeles or Oakland. All Essie staff are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with limited exceptions for medical or religious reasons.

To Apply

Please prepare (1) a personal, specific, and thoughtful cover letter to the “Essie Hiring Committee” addressing why you would like to work for Essie and (2) a resume. Submit both items through our hiring portal (https://essiejusticegroup.bamboohr.com/jobs).

Essie Justice Group provides equal employment and advancement opportunities to all staff members. Employment decisions are based on merit, qualifications, and skills. Essie does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, immigration status, socioeconomic status, ancestry, age, size, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, familial status, veteran status, disability, AIDS/HIV status, medical condition, prior conviction, arrest history, traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Essie values and specifically seeks applicants who are people with incarcerated loved ones; formerly incarcerated people; people of color; women; queer, transgender, gender non-conforming (GNC), and gender fluid people.

This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, performance assessment, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

About Essie Justice Group

Essie Justice Group is a non profit organization of women with incarcerated loved ones taking on the rampant injustices created by mass incarceration. Our award-winning Healing to Advocacy Model brings women together to heal, build collective power, and drive social change. Essie is Great Place to Work-Certified™ by Great Place to Work.

Learn more at www.essiejusticegroup.org.