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Associate Director, Advocacy, Advancing Universal Representation

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

Posted on Thursday, May 18, 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.

Who you are:

In 2022, the Vera Institute of Justice and the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) have launched the Fairness to Freedom Campaign to push for federal legislation that establishes a universal right to federally funded legal representation for anyone facing deportation.

Our vision is for all people whose life, liberty, or ties to the community are at risk in the immigration system to have access to high-quality and independent legal representation. By establishing federally-funded universal representation, we will not only help bring fairness to our immigration system, but also advance a future in which people can fight their deportations with the support of their families and loved ones, free of detention or surveillance. How will we make this a reality? Leveraging the 15 years of Vera’s work on advancing universal representation over a long-term campaign will be key! Additionally, we will continue to execute an integrated federal, state, and local advocacy strategy that builds momentum in the field.

Reporting to the Initiative Director, the Associate Director will lead advocacy and campaign strategies in all aspects of the Advancing Universal Representation Initiative. The Associate Director will play an integral role in driving and executing campaign strategy to build the movement for universal representation nationally. You will work closely with the Advancing Universal Representation and NPNA’s teams to execute the goals of the Fairness to Freedom Campaign. Additionally, you will supervise an advocacy team and provide expert support to other initiative team members, such as SAFE Network (Safety & Fairness for Everyone) site leads in their advocacy efforts.

What you'll do:

Advocacy & Campaign Strategy

  • Lead all advocacy strategy for the UREP initiative and Fairness to Freedom: The Campaign for Universal Representation
  • Drive and execute campaign strategy and ensure an integrated local, state, and federal advocacy strategy to build the movement for national universal representation
  • Liaise and work in coordination with the Advocacy & Partnership and Communications & External Affairs departments at Vera to advance the advocacy strategy and campaigns
  • In conjunction with the Director of Federal Policy, formulate legislative and advocacy strategy with Congress and the administration
  • Cultivate a coalition infrastructure, outreach strategy, and coalition engagement to build relationships with advocacy partners in the immigration field to advance universal representation
  • Represent and advance campaigns in other coalition spaces, working to advance universal representation at the intersection of other immigration reform campaigns


  • Act as a member of the Advancing Universal Representation’s leadership team in all aspects of the work, including internal and external operations.
  • Motivate, lead, and provide direct supervision to an advocacy team within the UREP initiative
  • Manage the Fairness to Freedom Campaign across Vera and the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), working closely with the Field Manager at NPNA to develop and execute field strategy.

Strategic Advocacy Assistance

  • Work with advocacy team to serve as an expert resource and senior consultant to SAFE Site leads and other leaders on the team on legislation, direct lobbying, and overall advocacy strategy on local and state campaigns.
  • Liaise with additional local and state universal representation campaigns, other Vera campaigns and advocacy efforts, and additional national allies.

Publication & Other Outreach Efforts

  • Develop and author publications; present at conferences, convenings, external meetings, and webinars to advance the initiative’s advocacy, partnership, and policy goals.

Community Partnership Program

  • Manage and develop UREP’s Community Partnerships, where Vera partners with community-based organizations advocating for universal representation in SAFE Network Sites, and to support active campaigns at the state and federal level.

What qualifications are we looking for?

  • Bachelors degree + 9-12 years of relevant experience. In lieu of a bachelors degree, applicable work or life experience may be considered.
  • 6-9 years of experience in the social justice space, including the immigration reform space, building coalitions, allies and national strategy.
  • Experience with grass tops advocacy, lobbying, campaigns, and communications strategy
  • Experience managing coalitions
  • Experience advocating for policy change
  • Understanding of the immigrants’ rights space
  • Commitment to the mission of the UREP initiative and the Fairness to Freedom Campaign
  • 2+ years of management experience


  • Experience advocating for policy change at the state and federal level
  • Experience working in both government and the non-profit spheres
  • Experience building national advocacy strategy
  • Experience running a federal campaign with local and state strategies
  • Organizing experience

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities you'll bring:

  • Excellent writing and communication skills
  • Experience in public advocacy campaigns
  • Legislative drafting research and tracking
  • Ability to work collaboratively with a national, remote team
  • Ability to identify needs and gaps in initiative and to proactively and creatively develop solutions and resources, as appropriate

Technical knowledge we need you prepared to use:

  • Microsoft Office Suite, Zoom, Slack, and other Cloud-based project management programs used at Vera

Additional eligibility requirements:

  • Driver's License
  • Ability to travel up to 10% of the time


Please note this role will report to either our Brooklyn, NY or Washington, D.C. office. 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, Advocacy, Advancing Universal Representation
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