Associate Director, Vera California
Vera Institute of Justice
Who we are:
The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, is a nonprofit criminal justice organization that strives to build just government institutions and safe communities free from the scourge of racism, white supremacy, profit, and inequity that is pervasive in this country’s legal systems. We are an “inside” lane organization that drives change at scale with ambitious public sector leaders who share our commitment to building anti-racist, reparative systems that deliver justice. We leverage our access to government to transform these systems and work collaboratively with stakeholders across many movements—including advocacy, grassroots, and grasstop organizations. Our role is to pilot solutions that are transformative and achievable, harness the power of evidence to drive effective policy and practice, and use advocacy and communications to change narratives and norms.
Vera has a staff of 300 people and offices in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. We are an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace. We expect our staff to embody respect, independence, collaboration, commitment, anti-racism, and equity—both in our outward-facing work and the internal culture of our workplace. We value a range of experiences in people’s educational backgrounds and encourage people who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system to apply.
Vera California is a portfolio of work focused exclusively on making change in the state of California. We aim to spark momentum for decarceration and investments in the long-underfunded community-based systems of care that promote safety and wellness. We use data and policy analysis to drive concrete change and center racial equity. We bring expertise on best practices from around the country to local conversations in California. We collaborate with government leaders and community partners on policy development and implementation, working together toward a new vision of safety, wellness, and racial justice for all Californians.
The Associate Director will manage and support policy development and advocacy aimed at ending mass incarceration and securing investments in community-based systems of care in California. Internally, that entails assisting the program director in developing policy and advocacy strategy and implementation, particularly around statewide legislative strategy; managing advocacy and policy team members performing related work, including research and writing; exploring opportunities for partnership with government and community leaders and organizations; writing policy reports and memos; and drafting op-eds and other strategic communications. Externally, the Associate Director helps the Program Director build and maintain relationships with elected officials, government bodies, advocates, and activists across the state to enact criminal legal reforms—including everything from pretrial and budget justice to alternatives to incarceration.
The ideal candidate has an understanding of the criminal legal system and legislative system in California and wants to work towards a vision of community safety that shifts away from incarceration as the default response and instead is rooted in public health and care. They are passionate about social and racial justice, motivated to drive change, and unafraid to challenge the status quo. The idea of working on a team of people who come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives inspires them. This is a full-time position based in California; must be able to be in Sacramento regularly for state legislative advocacy.
Who you are:
Policy and strategic advocacy design and implementation
- Help develop and implement Vera California’s legislative strategy.
- Advise the Program Director on overall policy and advocacy strategy and serve on the Vera California leadership team.
- Strategize with the Program Director and policy/advocacy staff, and facilitate internal discussions on our team’s approach to enacting criminal legal reforms in California, both at the state and local level.
- Liaise with other teams, projects, and departments across Vera in moving our advocacy strategy forward.
Manage and supervise Vera California staff
- Assign, review, and provide feedback on work to Senior Program Associates, Program Associates, Analysts, and Interns.
- Collaborate with Vera California’s research team to efficiently integrate the team’s data and research into Vera California’s policy and advocacy strategy and deliverables.
- Meet regularly with staff to review work and support professional development.
- Lead regular policy/advocacy team meetings, strategy sessions, and debriefs to help the team work together seamlessly and effectively.
- Develop and run trainings for staff to help them develop advocacy tools and writing skills.
Produce excellent writing that achieves policy goals
- Writing, editing, and supervising team members’ drafting of various written deliverables, from longer reports to briefing memos and external messaging.
- Edit team members’ writing, both on the policy/advocacy and research side of the Vera California team
Community outreach and public engagement
- Create and lead presentations about criminal legal reforms in California
- Communicate regularly and collaborate with advocacy partners to build momentum for reform
Advise and work with policy makers, government staff, and elected officials to enact reforms
- Build relationships and communicate regularly with policy makers to support reforms
- Attend meetings and present on criminal legal policy and practice reform
What qualifications do you need?
Education and Experience:
- Bachelor's degree in public policy, social work, political science, criminal justice, or related field; or equivalent work experience; or relevant work or educational background and lived experience as a person directly impacted by the criminal legal system.
- Deep understanding of the criminal legal system, especially in California.
- Ability to discuss race equity issues within the criminal legal system.
- Demonstrated ability to manage a project, including assigned staff, from start to finish
- Experience designing and running advocacy projects.
- Empathetic approach to the work that values all team members.
- Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively, both externally and internally with team members.
- Excellent writing skills across diverse media and audiences.
- Excellent written and oral communication skills and an ability to articulate a compelling concept and vision to government and community partners and others.
- Juris doctor or graduate degree in public policy, social work, political science, criminal justice, or related field; or equivalent work experience; or relevant work or educational background and lived experience as a person directly impacted by the criminal legal system.
- Lived experience as a person directly impacted by the criminal legal system.
- Experience managing, supervising, or leading a team.
- Experience designing and implementing advocacy campaigns.
- Demonstrated ability to work with advocates, government officials, criminal legal system personnel, practitioners, and people who are directly impacted by the criminal legal system.
- Teaching or facilitation experience.
Required Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:
- Effective public speaker
- Strong writing skills across media and audiences
- Microsoft Office proficiency
- Comfort interpreting criminal justice data sets and social science or legal research
- Ability to travel periodically across the state
Compensation and Benefits:
The compensation range for this position is $127,000– $132,000. Actual salaries will vary depending on factors including but not limited to experience and performance. The salary range listed is just one component of Vera Institute’s total compensation package for employees. As an employer of choice in our field, supporting Vera staff—both personally and professionally—is a priority. To do this, we invest in the well-being of our staff through other rewards including merit pay, generous paid time off, a comprehensive health insurance plan, student loan repayment benefits, professional development training opportunities and up to $2,000 annual for education costs and fees relevant to Vera work, employer-funded retirement plan, and flexible time and remote work schedules. Please note this is a hybrid schedule where you will work in the office two days with a third alternating day. To learn more about Vera’s benefits offerings, click here.
Applications may also be faxed to:
ATTN: People Resources / Associate Director, Vera CA
Vera Institute of Justice
34 35th St, Suite 4-2-A, Brooklyn, NY 11232
Fax: (212) 941-9407
Please use only one method (online, mail or fax) of submission.
No phone calls, please. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted.
In order to ensure a healthy and safe work environment, Vera Institute of Justice is requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccine before their start date. Employees who cannot receive the vaccine because of a disability/medical contraindication or sincerely-held religious belief may request an accommodation (e.g., an exemption) to this requirement.
Vera is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, prior record of arrest or conviction, citizenship status, current employment status, or caregiver status.
Vera works to advance justice, particularly racial justice, in an increasingly multicultural country and globally connected world. We value diverse experiences, including with regard to educational background and justice system contact, and depend on a diverse staff to carry out our mission.
For more information about Vera, please visit www.vera.org
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