Hiring partners are below, but we're here to help!

First, submit your resume to us directly so we can help make personal intros. We'll be able to vouch for your candidacy and can encourage partners to review your profile! From there, share this with any mission-driven job-seekers in your network; we'd be glad to support them, too.

Initiative Director, Advancing Universal Representation

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

Brooklyn, NY, USA · Brooklyn, NY, USA · New York, NY, USA · Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Saturday, February 10, 2024

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:

Vera’s Advancing Universal Representation initiative (UREP) is dedicated to establishing a universal right to representation for immigrants facing deportation, with a North Star of a federal statutory right. While people accused of crimes are entitled to government-funded counsel to assist in their defense, immigrants facing deportation are not. As a result, most immigrants criminalized by the criminal legal and immigration systems go unrepresented and face detention and the prospects of deportation alone.

By establishing 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 do this? Through partnership, program implementation, research, and integrated federal and state campaigns that build on over 15 years of Vera’s work.

The Initiative Director will lead the UREP team’s strategic planning, stakeholder relations, policy and advocacy agenda, communications, staff management and development, funder engagement, and budget management. Additionally, the Initiative Director will identify and implement solutions to challenges facing the initiative; engage in critical lobbying activities at the state and federal level affecting immigration policy and services; devise and promote Initiative-wide policies and activities that create opportunities for growth, collaboration across programs, and a strong supportive culture; and lead in the landscaping and idea development of Vera’s overall immigration portfolio.

What you'll do:

Strategic Management

  • Serve as the UREP initiative lead to refine, define, and execute strategy and a holistic vision that elevates the work at a national level, continuously aligning the initiative’s theory of change.
  • Manage and operationalize various components of the team’s strategy - including guiding state and federal advocacy campaigns, connecting research to the initiative’s goals, engaging government partners, and supporting the SAFE Network sites - and ensure cohesion of workstreams.
  • In partnership with Vera’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning unit, support in the development and measurement of metrics to discern impact of the established strategy and near-term milestones.
  • Work closely with Vera’s Research, Communications, and Advocacy capacity teams to support the development and execution of UREP’s strategy.

Communication Deliverables

  • Lead the day-to-day messaging and narrative strategies around universal representation for immigrants and related topics, working closely with Vera’s Communications department.
  • Draft and edit program reports, proposals, presentations, and internal / external blog posts to communicate updates on UREP’s work over time.
  • Present Vera’s work at conferences, on webinars, and other external events.
  • Serve as a spokesperson for Vera to the media on issues related to UREP and the organization’s immigration portfolio.

Operations Leadership

  • Partner with the Development department to accomplish fundraising goals and to support funder relationship management, proposal creation, and reporting deadlines.
  • Manage all elements of the team’s operations, including budget, deadlines, staff deployment, and team performance.
  • Maintain regular contact with the fiscal department to develop, track, and manage budgets.

Team Building, Mentorship, and Supervision

  • Oversee and own the overall development of the staff, including professional development, goal setting, and elements of accountability, aligned with Vera’s competencies and commitment to anti-racism and REI efforts.
  • Supervise leaders on the team across operations, site work and communications or campaign elements, ensuring that they execute efficiently with a propensity for learning.

Other Duties as Required

What qualifications are we looking for?

  • 12 – 15 years of relevant experience in public policy, law, justice, or social impact
  • Strong advocacy experience: demonstrable knowledge of how to run campaigns that use a combination of advocacy, strategic communications, research, and technical assistance to drive change in complex ecosystems
  • At least 3+ years of management experience, guiding a team composed of direct reports and their staff
  • Commitment to Vera’s mission to end the overcriminalization and mass incarceration of people of color, immigrants, and people experiencing poverty


  • Advanced degree in public policy, law, justice, or social impact
  • Direct experience in justice reform and applied research
  • Administrative experience in budget development and management
  • Experience working with funders and important partners
  • An understanding of different forms of research and how data and evidence influences policymakers

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities you'll bring:

  • Comprehensive knowledge of the U.S. immigration detention and removal system
  • You hold credible, deep relationships with policy makers, leaders, advocates, and organizers who work on immigration
  • Excellent research and communication skills, both written and oral
  • Ability to work independently and as a member of several different project teams
  • Ability and willingness to travel – up to 15% of the time
  • Demonstrated commitment to race equity and immigrant justice
  • Excellent strategic, program-solving, and analytic skills
  • Experience and comfort with social science, legal research, and critical race theory


Please note this role will report to 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 $154,000 - $160,000. 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 / Initiative Director, 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.