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Associate Director of Research, Beyond Jails Initiative

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

Los Angeles, CA, USA
Posted on Saturday, November 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.

Beyond Jails:

To reduce the nation’s dependence on jails, Vera’s Beyond Jails team is working in jurisdictions across the country to shift resources to community-driven solutions to help people thrive. The Initiative Director will lead Vera’s Beyond Jails work which has three core strategies: statewide advocacy campaigns and coalition building to create lasting policy change; pilot and build evidence around decarceration strategies; and building will for change in jurisdictions. The team works with local government and community partners to develop plans for jail decarceration, prevent the construction of new jails, and design reinvestment strategies.

Who you are:

The associate director of research works in close partnership with other associate directors on the team under the initiative director’s leadership to support the initiative’s overall success. They are the most senior researcher on the team, supervising the initiative research and data science team, reporting to the initiative director with a “dotted line” to the organization’s research director for initiatives. Associate directors of research are also part of the institute’s research leadership team, working collaboratively to make connections between different bodies of work, develop policies, advise staff across the organization on research methods, and implement approaches to ensure the quality of Vera’s research.

The ADR is responsible for the management, staffing, and performance of an interdisciplinary research team, developing and overseeing strategies, engaging in hands-on research as needed, and managing the team’s entire research portfolio. ADRs should have fluency in advocacy and communications strategies and draw on their substantial expertise in the field to oversee evidence-based messaging and policy in support of big goals. They are responsible for all research designs, publications, IRB plans, and other deliverables produced by their teams. They serve as principal investigators as needed.

Associate directors of research lead efforts to ensure Vera’s race equity and inclusion priorities are a core aspect of Vera’s research, including in methodological approaches, publications, hiring and staffing, and external and internal research communications.

ADRs are generally recognized externally as subject matter experts, with substantial management experience, advanced methodological skills, strong research communication skills, and experience building and leading a research team. This is a senior-level position for experienced researchers with extensive technical expertise and substantive knowledge and experience.

What you'll do:

Research leadership

Develop and lead initiative research strategies and budgets.

  • Develop, manage, and oversee all aspects of research within initiatives, in coordination with the research director for initiatives and initiative director and associate director for advocacy.
  • Represent research on BJI leadership team.
  • Work with other members of BJI leadership team to develop strategies that incorporate research, participating in theory of change planning, Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning, and other activities related to initiative strategy.
  • Work with initiative leadership in support of annual planning and budget development, staffing plans, and fundraising.
  • Serve as a member of the Vera Research Leadership Team, providing mentorship and support across the department and aligning research supports and culture with Vera’s mission and values.
  • Supervise, support and mentor the BJI research and data science team, including developing staffing plans and leading recruitment and hiring.
  • Cultivate and maintain relationships with partner organizations.
  • Work with BJI leadership to support overall and targeted fundraising.

Mentorship and Supervision

  • Provide training, mentoring, and methodological guidance to researchers on the BJI team and other teams as needed
  • Mentor early career researchers in human subjects /IRB protocols
  • Oversee and own the overall development of research and data science staff on the team, including professional development, goal setting, and elements of accountability aligned with Vera’s commitment to anti-racism and REI efforts.

Research design and implementation

  • Review IRB applications: develop and present IRB applications and ensure that research is conducted to the highest ethical standards, serving as Principal Investigator on research projects as appropriate.
  • Lead the initiative’s data collection and analysis.

Presentation and dissemination of research

  • Oversee development, writing, and editing of research publications and evidence-based messaging and products in support of initiative goals, including rapid response work.
  • Act as an internal and external spokesperson/ representative of the research to a range of audiences
  • Partner with advocacy and communications staff to develop coordinated strategies that leverage research.

What qualifications are we looking for?

Education and Experience:

  • 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.
  • 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:

Required Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:

  • ADRs are generally subject matter experts, with substantial management experience, advanced methodological skills, strong research communication skills, and experience building and leading a research team. The ADR for the Beyond Jails Initiative should be fluent in research on mass incarceration and related areas and understand the evidence base that is needed to achieve the team’s long-term goal of jail decarcerating.
  • Advanced social science, analytical and project management skills, and an extensive track record using research approaches as a tool for applied justice reform. Familiarity with administrative criminal legal system data is especially welcome.
  • Ability to supervise mixed methods research.

Technical knowledge we need you prepared to use:

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


Please note this role will report to our Brooklyn, NY; Washington, DC; Los Angeles, CA or 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 $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, Beyond Jails Initiative
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