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Director of Federal Policy, Advocacy & Partnerships

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

Sales & Business Development
Washington, DC, USA
Posted on Saturday, March 16, 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.

About Advocacy & Partnerships:

Vera’s Advocacy & Partnerships (A & P) department serves as the organization’s “center of gravity” for Vera’s initiatives and projects as we work in greater alignment with others in the movement ecosystem to win real, transformative criminal legal and immigration policy change. In addition to being substantive experts in criminal legal and immigration reform, Advocacy & Partnerships staff have expertise in leading or supporting campaigns, navigating political environments and executing on movement strategies, and creating data and evidence for policy change.

Advocacy & Partnerships is responsible for coordinating the vision, strategy, and staff development across Vera’s initiatives on advocacy and to foster strong relationships and alignment with others so that we win policy change on our core issues. We bring to bear our strongest advocacy assets, including producing the data, evidence, and solutions that advance an advocacy or policy goal; leading or supporting the development of advocacy and campaign strategy, in coalition with other national and local organizations, or independently but in alignment; researching and drafting policy, including legislation, directives, and regulations; and influencing elected officials and those in power to adopt and champion our criminal legal and immigration policy solutions.

Four core functions exist under the Advocacy & Partnerships umbrella:

  • Vera Action, a newly established, independent (c)(4) entity that is aligned with Vera and will support strategic priorities through lobbying efforts and strategic campaigns
  • Vera Insights, a rapid response data and evidence team responsible for developing and producing data and knowledge to key partners and audiences
  • A federal policy team that will lead Vera’s advocacy strategies in D.C.
  • A state and local policy team to develop, lead, and execute an advocacy strategy in statehouses and local governments across the country

Who you are:

You are passionate about social and racial justice, motivated to drive change, and unafraid to challenge the status quo. You are enthusiastic, collaborative, curious, and kind, and you value working with and helping others develop their advocacy skills. You have an extensive and nuanced understanding of the criminal and immigration legal systems, the inner workings of federal policy, and demonstrated experience in leading campaigns to win policy change. You believe in the value of doing “inside” lane work to build champions for our issues within government with an “outside” lane approach of working in partnership with advocates, organizers, and grassroots and grasstops allies.

What you'll do:

  • Develop Vera’s strategy to shape federal legislation and Executive Branch policy for the organization’s justice reform and immigration priorities in partnership with Vera’s initiatives and steward the execution of those strategies.
  • Work with Vera’s director of advocacy and partnerships and other members of the Advocacy and Partnerships department to set an agenda for and deliver on the organization’s most pressing advocacy campaigns.
  • Serve as a strategist to initiatives and projects across Vera to develop a federal angle, where it exists, to their overall advocacy agendas, and facilitate partnerships with advocates, organizers, government and elected officials.
  • Serve as a liaison to Congress, federal agencies, and national advocacy groups.
  • Manage a team who work closely with Vera’s initiatives on specific aspects of campaigns, including meetings with legislative and executive staff, drafting testimony, creating materials to share with legislators and federal agencies, organizing congressional briefings, advising Congress on legislation, lobbying on federal appropriations, and collaborating with other justice reform and immigration organizations.
  • Serve as a public face for Vera’s advocacy efforts, including with community partners, government and elected officials

What qualifications are we looking for?

  • Most of all, you must be committed to transformational change and share the belief that for Vera’s advocacy work to be effective, it must be rooted in anti-racism and aligned with the priorities of people and communities most impacted by this country’s criminal and immigration legal systems.
  • You have deep, substantive knowledge of the federal landscape, Washington, D.C.’s players, and its politics, and you have a track record of working effectively to move federal legislation, policy, or public sentiment on social justice issues.
  • Ideally, you have 10+ years of working on federal policy, legislative advocacy, or political activity.
  • You are an expert in navigating federal policy opportunities and threats, with knowledge of the Administration, the Hill, and relevant Congressional Committees, including the Senate and House Judiciary and Appropriations Committees.
  • You are a skilled communicator and understand how to navigate the complexities of working within coalitions and partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders and organizations.
  • You are excited about working collaboratively within and outside of Vera to turn shared priorities into actual wins.
  • You are flexible and able to multi-task, prioritize, and manage multiple activities in a fast-paced environment.
  • You have experience with the justice system—either you were yourself in the system, have a family member who is/was in the system, you worked in the system, or you worked to change the system.
  • There is no minimum educational requirement for this position
  • You are able to travel up to 15% of the time

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities you'll bring:

  • You hold credible, deep relationships with government partners, leaders, advocates, and organizers who work on the same array of criminal and immigration legal issues that Vera focuses on.
  • You are comfortable with the authority and decision-making responsibilities that accompany a manager's role in the organization. That means you must truly enjoy—not just tolerate—working with others, both external to Vera and inside the organization, to shape Vera’s advocacy and approach to policy change.
  • You are flexible and able to multi-task, prioritize, and manage multiple activities in a fast-paced environment.
  • Most of all, you must be committed to transformational change and share the belief that for Vera’s advocacy work to be effective, it must be rooted in anti-racism and aligned with the priorities of people and communities most impacted by this country’s criminal and immigration legal systems.


This role will report to our 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 $168,000 - $175,000. 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 / Director of Federal Policy, Advocacy & Partnerships
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