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Associate Director of Research, Vera California

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

Los Angeles, CA, USA
Posted on Saturday, May 6, 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 California:

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.

Who you are:

The Associate Director of Research (ADR) is a new position in Vera’s California office. The ADR will work with an interdisciplinary team to develop and lead Vera California’s growing body of research in support of ending mass incarceration and securing investments in community-based systems of care in California. The ADR will lead the development, staffing, and performance of Vera California’s small mixed-methods research team and be responsible for all of the program’s research products and publications, including serving as a principal investigator as needed and approving all IRB materials, publication, and research plans. They will collaborate with other associate directors of research from across the institute on Vera’s research leadership team.

Vera’s associate directors of research are recognized externally as subject matter experts, with substantial management experience, advanced methodological skills, strong research communication skills, and experience building and leading research agendas and teams. The ideal candidate will:

  • Have an understanding of the criminal legal system and policy landscape in California and be excited to work toward a vision of community safety that shifts away from incarceration as the default response and instead is rooted in public health and care.
  • Ensure Vera’s race equity and inclusion priorities are a core aspect of Vera California’s research, including in methodological approaches, publications, hiring and staffing, partnerships, and external and internal research communications.
  • Bring a strategic, “big-picture” perspective that helps bridge research, advocacy, and communications strategies in support of Vera California’s broader goals and makes connections between initiatives within Vera.
  • Have experience in applied research settings, building the evidence needed to address a problem or gap as part of a broader theory of change.
  • Be excited to collaborate with and supervise research staff, providing training, mentoring, and technical assistance to more junior colleagues.

What you'll do:

Research leadership:

Develop and lead Vera California’s research strategies and budgets:

  • Develop, manage, and oversee all aspects of Vera California research, coordinating with the initiative director and institute’s director of research
  • Work with Vera California director and associate director on annual planning and program development, staffing plans, and fundraising
  • Serve as a member of the Vera Research Leadership Team, along with other associate directors of research, setting research department priorities and policy
  • Supervise, support, and mentor Vera California research team staff
  • Cultivate relationships with organizations in the field, including acting as a primary point of contact for peer research organizations

Data collection and analysis:

  • Lead/train/supervise on data collection and analysis, overseeing all aspects of mixed methods research and data management and analysis for Vera California
  • Coordinate with central data science support team to ensure appropriate data analytics workflow
  • Participate in hands-on data collection and analysis

Presentation / Publication of research:

  • Sign off on evidence-based messaging and research for Vera California; oversee development, writing, and editing of research publications and evidence-based messaging and products in support of Vera California’s goals, including rapid response work
  • Act as an internal and external spokesperson/representative of Vera California’s work to a range of audiences
  • Serve as Principal Investigator on research projects, developing and presenting IRB applications and ensuring that research is conducted to the highest ethical standards.
  • Mentor early career researchers in human subjects/ IRB protocols.

Hiring / Supervision:

  • Partner with the Vera California director and Vera research leadership to develop staffing plans and lead recruitment and hiring for research staff
  • Manage research and/or data science teams, including hiring and recruiting through the principal associate level, coordinating with the research director to ensure internal consistency and collaboration
  • Provide training, mentoring, and technical assistance to researchers within and across teams as needed, supporting earlier career researchers in their professional development goals

Internal collaboration and support:

  • Partner with advocacy and communications staff to develop coordinated strategies that leverage research
  • Work as part of the research leadership team to ensure that researchers across the organization receive appropriate support

What qualifications are we looking for?

  • ADRs typically have advanced graduate training, such as a Ph.D. or equivalent, as well as 6+ years of work experience or equivalent applied experience over 8+ years. Additionally, ADRs will have several years of experience supervising interdisciplinary research teams.
  • Experience supervising and working with mixed methods research and/or researchers; ability to supervise and advise on sophisticated quantitative analyses
  • Experience conducting applied policy research; subject matter expertise including understanding of current criminal legal and immigration systems and policy in the state of California
  • Ability to support and build advocacy efforts and external stakeholder relationships
  • Advanced technical, methodological, analytic, and project leadership skills
  • Commitment to race equity is required


  • Direct experience with and/or impact by the criminal legal or immigration system

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities you'll bring:

  • ADRs are subject matter experts, experienced researchers, managers, mentors, and project leaders with advanced research design and analytic skills.
  • Advanced data analytical and project management skills, and an extensive track record using research or data science approaches as a tool for applied justice reform.

Technical knowledge we need you prepared to use:

  • Advanced knowledge of R or other statistical software, ability to work in/ learn GitHub and Python; familiarity with qualitative research methods and tools.
  • Microsoft Office suite


While it is our preference that this position is rooted out of our Los Angeles, CA office, we are open to hearing from candidates who are outside of the Los Angeles area. If this applies to you, please highlight that in your application, as well as how / why you're prepared to take on this Los Angeles-focused role. 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 $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. To learn more about Vera’s benefits offerings, click here.

Applications may also be faxed to:

ATTN: People Resources / Associate Director of Research, Vera California
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