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Senior Program Associate, Vera Louisiana

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

New Orleans, LA, USA
Posted on Saturday, June 17, 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:

The Senior Program Associate will implement Vera Louisiana’s advocacy strategy by leading efforts to effect policy change and programmatic investment at the parish and state-wide levels. Campaigns will prioritize eliminating mass incarceration in Louisiana, advancing prosecution reform, and increasing investments in thriving communities. The Senior Program Associate will work collaboratively with Vera Louisiana leadership, Vera’s Advocacy and Partnerships department, and the Program Director of Vera’s Louisiana Office to develop and maintain advocacy plans that execute on the office’s strategic priorities throughout Louisiana.

What you'll do:

Lead Vera’s Advocacy Campaigns

  • In collaboration with Vera Louisiana leadership and Vera’s Advocacy and Partnerships department, plan and implement Vera Louisiana’s advocacy strategy.

  • Develop and manage campaign processes to ensure that aligned organizations execute on timely advocacy actions (such as developing and maintaining stakeholder databases and listservs and routinely drafting and sharing campaign information, materials and calls to action, managing projects etc.)

  • Represent Vera Louisiana’s priorities within relevant coalitions and partnerships.

  • Cultivate, maintain, and grow relationships with statewide organizations, stakeholders, and elected officials and their staff, including working collaboratively with Vera Louisiana’s current partners.

  • Educate, build strong relationships, and advocate directly with elected officials and other government officials, such as Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

  • Collaborate with Vera Louisiana leadership on statewide technical assistance and advocacy efforts, including travel to Baton Rouge or other parishes in Louisiana as needed for engagement with state officials or statewide coalition work.

  • Collaborate with lobbyists as needed to execute on Vera Louisiana’s campaign priorities and legislative agenda.

Writing and Editing Campaign Materials

  • Draft fact sheets, talking points, testimony, model policies, legislative instrument language and other campaign education and outreach materials, in collaboration with Vera Louisiana leadership and Vera’s Advocacy and Partnerships department.

  • Review and edit documents created by associate-level Vera Louisiana staff.

  • Collaborate with Vera Louisiana research staff to gather relevant data and sourcing.

  • Collaborate with Vera Communications department to produce relevant communications materials to influence campaigns (blog posts, social media content, op-eds etc.)

Policy Research

  • Monitor and analyze legislation, regulatory change, and associated news that impacts Vera Louisiana’s advocacy and strategic priorities.

  • Monitor budgets developments relevant to Vera Louisiana’s advocacy and strategic priorities.

  • Provide relevant updates to the team based on research and escalate strategic opportunities or potential threats to Vera Louisiana’s progress.

  • Propose strategies to influence government and elected officials.

  • Collaborate with Vera team members, in the Louisiana office and on other teams throughout Vera, to develop model policies and legislative instruments.

Leadership within Vera

  • Promote team’s overall impact by building team leadership and knowledge (including hosting brown bags on relevant topics like campaign management, policy development, legislative advocacy strategies etc.)

  • Join with Vera’s advocacy practice and learning community to share and workshop strategies and tactics for legislative campaigns.

  • Contribute to the professional development of colleagues (such as providing guidance to associate-level staff)

What qualifications are we looking for?


  • Proven track record developing and executing effective legislative campaigns on criminal legal system reform or similar issues.

  • Bachelor’s degree plus 4 – 7 years of legal, government, or policy work experience; in lieu of a bachelor’s degree, applicable work or lived experience may be considered.

  • Ability and willingness to travel (up to 30% of the time) to, and within, Louisiana’s 64 parishes with dedicated time in Baton Rouge during the legislative session.


  • Master’s or law degree. In lieu of a master’s or law degree, applicable work or life experience may be considered.

  • Experience with the Louisiana Legislature.

  • Experience engaging local and/or state governments and broad coalitions to build consensus on policy reform issues.

  • Understanding of the Louisiana criminal legal system and reform landscape, existing relationships with criminal legal system reform advocates, and government partners.

  • We value diverse experience in people’s educational backgrounds and encourage people who have lived experience with the criminal legal and immigration systems to apply.

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities you'll bring:

  • Strong communication and advocacy skills.

  • Strong campaign and project management skills.

  • Strong writing and policy research skills.

  • Ability to multitask and manage multiple projects and priorities simultaneously, as well as balance travel responsibilities with office-based responsibilities.

  • Ability to read and communicate effectively in Spanish or another language (preferred but not required)

  • Ability to work collaboratively with a national, remote team.

  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite.

  • Ability to identify needs and gaps in network 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 Asana (can learn on job)


Please note this role will report to our New Orleans, LA, 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 $91,500 - 96,500. 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 / Senior Program Associate, Vera Louisiana
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.