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Managing Director, Place-Based Initiatives, Advocacy & Partnerships

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

Sales & Business Development, Operations
Brooklyn, NY, USA · Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Tuesday, April 25, 2023

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’s Place-Based Initiatives (PBIs) exist to harness the organization’s institutional strengths and assets locally in three states—California, Louisiana, and New York—and win transformative policy change to dismantle systems that punish and harm and build institutions that deliver safety and justice. The place-based initiatives set their priorities by identifying the justice issues important to local partners and the communities most impacted by the legal system, and bring to bear the data, evidence, and solutions to solve those problems. The place-based initiatives use institutional relationships and access to government leaders and elected officials and work in informal alliance and formal coalitions with community partners to help build a broad base of power and support for priority issues.

The Managing Director of Place-Based Initiatives will be a member of Vera’s Leadership Team and supervise the work of the Vera California, Louisiana, and Greater Justice New York teams. You will be responsible for helping the place-based initiatives set clear goals and priorities from year to year and support the initiative staff to execute strategies and tactics in service of those goals and priorities. The Managing Director will also play a key role in coordinating the work of the place-based initiatives across our departments and teams at Vera, including with the Vice President of Initiatives and other Managing Director of Initiatives (national).

Who you are:

You are passionate about social and racial justice; you are motivated to drive change and unafraid to challenge the status quo. You are a strong leader, enthusiastic, collaborative, curious, and kind in your approach, and you value working with and bringing out the best in others. You have an extensive and nuanced understanding of the criminal and immigration legal systems, the role of data-driven advocacy in winning policy change, and you have strong mentoring and coaching skills to help develop other senior leaders who manage the place-based initiatives. You believe in the value of doing “inside” lane work to build champions for our issues within government, and in an “outside” lane approach of working in partnership with advocates, organizers, and grassroots and grasstops allies.

What you'll do:

Leadership, Staff Management, and PBI Strategy

  • Serve as a core member of Vera’s Leadership Team in the management, stewardship, and supervision of the organization at an enterprise level.
  • Provide thought partnership and guidance on troubleshooting PBI and team challenges. Establish annual program, departmental, and staff goals and objectives, and track results using accountability protocols.
  • Deploy resources efficiently and effectively toward organizational goals – working with staff to balance workload and effort – and provide regular feedback so that key staff can continuously improve supervision and mentoring skills.
  • Create and support a high-performing culture among the PBIs, aligned with Vera’s mission and values. Develop a team-based environment to motivate and inspire staff to work collaboratively by clearly communicating the Institute’s vision, implementing yearly staff development plans, and mentoring.
  • Collaborate with PBI directors to develop goals, strategies, and annual plans for the PBIs, attend weekly leadership team meetings, engage in efforts to set and manage institutional policy and practice, and track results using accountability protocols.
  • Draft and edit program reports, proposals, presentations, and blog posts.

External Relationships

  • Engage in fundraising to support the work of the place-based initiatives and Vera overall.
  • Represent Vera and the Vice President, Initiatives, on relevant committees and task forces, as well as at speaking engagements, conference panels and trainings.
  • Be aware of issues, trends, and opportunities in the external environment that impact the ability of Vera’s initiatives to operate effectively and achieve success.
  • Present on Vera’s work at conferences, on webinars, and other external events.

Budgetary Responsibility

  • Manage multiple and significant budgets through regular contact with the fiscal department.
  • Work closely with the finance department to budget and monitor PBI operations to ensure sound fiscal and system management.
  • Develop, track, and manage grant deadlines working closely with development.

Other Duties as Assigned

What qualifications are we looking for?

  • Advanced degree in public policy or law, or related field
  • 12 - 15 years of significant professional experience in experience in the criminal legal and/or immigration fields. Experience supervising multi-disciplinary teams of researchers, policy experts, and advocates is a strong plus.
  • A degree, or the equivalent work experience. In lieu of the degree requirement, applicable work or life experience may be considered.
  • You are committed to Vera’s mission to end the overcriminalization and mass incarceration of people of color, immigrants, and people experiencing poverty
  • Ability to travel up to 15% of the time

Preferred - You:

  • Enjoy problem-solving and approach problems with a solutions-oriented attitude
  • Have a deep commitment to racial equity. In a system built on racism and inequality, we are working to ensure equity both in our workplace and in the world. You incorporate this value and share it with others.
  • Demonstrate / safeguard ethics and integrity
  • Demonstrate institutional knowledge and sound judgment
  • Enable self-development and are initiative-taking
  • Act as a collaborator and facilitating teamwork
  • Facilitate and encourage open communication on the team, always leading to communicating effectively
  • Create synergies across the organization
  • Manage conflict
  • Learn and share knowledge and encourage the learning of others

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities you'll bring:

  • You hold credible, deep relationships with government partners, leaders, advocates, and organizers who work on the same array of criminal and immigration legal issues that Vera focuses on.
  • You are comfortable with the authority and decision-making responsibilities that accompany a leadership role in the organization. That means you must truly enjoy—not just tolerate—working with others, both external to Vera and inside the organization, to shape Vera’s advocacy and approach to policy change.
  • You are flexible and able to multi-task, prioritize, and manage multiple activities in a fast-paced environment.
  • Model informed and transparent decision making
  • Understand the main processes and methods of work regarding to the position
  • Possess basic knowledge of organizational policies and procedures relating to the position and apply them consistently in work tasks

Technical knowledge we need you prepared to use:

  • Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite, SharePoint, and Adaptive


Please note this role can report to any of our Vera locations, including Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; Washington, DC; Brooklyn, NY. Vera employees adhere to a hybrid schedule and are in-office on an alternating schedule that generally amounts to 10 days per month.

Compensation and Benefits:

The compensation range for this position is $225,000 - 230,000. 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. To learn more about Vera’s benefits offerings, click here.

Applications may also be faxed to:

ATTN: People Resources / Managing Director, Place-Based Initiatives, Advocacy & Partnerships
Vera Institute of Justice
34 35th St, Suite 4-2A, 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.