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Senior Program Associate, Opening Doors

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

Brooklyn, NY, USA · Brooklyn, NY, USA · New York, NY, USA · Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Sunday, September 10, 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 advocacy/program associate on the Opening Doors initiative leads state-based portfolios and national work to advance housing access for people with conviction histories.

What you'll do:


  • Lead state-based campaigns to advance policies that increase housing access for people with conviction histories;
  • Develop advocacy strategies for state-based advocacy campaigns that increase housing access for people with conviction histories;
  • Build new and strengthen existing partnerships with local, state, and national organizations (including those led by system-impacted people) in the criminal justice and housing sectors to build a unified coalition to advance policy changes;
  • Build relationships with state and federal policymakers and government partners to educate them on this issue;
  • Lead coalition and education meetings in states, and serve as main point of contact for partners in states;
  • Collaborate with Vera’s Advocacy and Partnerships, Communications, and Research teams on the components of active and forthcoming state campaigns, troubleshooting as issues arise;
  • Collaborate within Vera and with external stakeholders to generate new ideas for policy change targets in states and nationally;
  • Devise advocacy strategies and plans for implementation in states and nationally in collaboration with the Initiative Director; and
  • Track and monitor relevant state and federal policies.

State housing finance agency technical assistance

  • Devise and implement state-specific and national strategies for effective technical assistance to housing finance agencies to increase housing access for people with conviction histories;
  • Independently cultivate new relationships with housing and criminal justice stakeholders to advance policy change within the state housing finance agency;
  • Identify states and housing finance agencies for new technical assistance engagements;
  • Act as a thought partner to the Initiative Director to identify and develop upstream targets and strategies to increase housing access; and
  • Generate attention on this issue through webinars, issue briefs, and op-eds with partner state housing finance agencies.

Share knowledge through reports and presentations

  • Co-author and co-develop content such as program reports, fundraising proposals, presentations, and blog posts; and
  • Present on Vera’s work at conferences, on webinars, and other external events.


  • Monitor relevant news coverage of this work to stay informed about trends in the field
  • Other duties as assigned

What qualifications are we looking for?

  • A law degree or graduate degree in political science, criminal justice, public policy, or other related field with several years of work experience; professional experience with no graduate degree will also be considered.
  • Experience with affordable housing, reentry housing, or homeless services.

Knowledge, skills, and abilities you'll bring:

  • Demonstrated interest in and/or knowledge of policy development, government, criminal justice and social justice for underserved populations;
  • Strong research and writing skills;
  • Excellent strategic, problem-solving, and analytic skills;
  • Knowledge of policy change processes is a plus;
  • Knowledge of housing finance is a plus;
  • Ability to work under time pressure and other stresses that make collegiality of critical importance;
  • Ability to manage work on multiple projects effectively and efficiently;
  • Experience managing projects, committees, or work groups;
  • Strong interpersonal and communications skills;
  • Ability to work with people of diverse experiences and backgrounds;
  • Willingness and ability to work independently as well as with a team; and
  • Willingness and ability to travel around the country.


Please note this role will report to our Brooklyn, NY, 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, Opening Doors
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