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Program Associate, Vera CA

Vera Institute of Justice

Vera Institute of Justice

Los Angeles, CA, USA
Posted on Tuesday, April 2, 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:

The Program Associate will work closely with the Senior Program Associate, Associate Director, and Director of Vera California to advance local and state campaigns to shape policy and practice around jail decarceration, pretrial reform, justice reinvestment, and more. They will build and maintain relationships with advocacy partners, take and distribute notes from meetings with external partners, strategize about Vera’s presence for key committees in the Capitol, conduct landscape analyses of legislators and advocates in key jurisdictions, complete first drafts of certain program materials, and coordinate important advocacy and communications work. The work will include building and maintaining relationships with local advocacy partners, particularly in Los Angeles County (both virtually and in-person), Kern County (mainly virtually), and in the Capitol (mainly virtually). Ideally, the Program Associate has experience with and a basic understanding of the criminal legal and/or immigration systems in California.

What you'll do:

Community Outreach & Partnerships

  • Build and maintain relationships with advocacy partners in Kern County, LA County, and other counties, including attending, facilitating, and/or note-taking at virtual meetings.
  • Pull and summarize topline data points and policy proposals for meetings with external partners in California.
  • Connect external partners to our data resources and internal experts to support with key campaigns.

Communications Support & Coordination

  • Coordinate rapid response communications efforts with partners in the field, including setting up group meetings; developing agendas; facilitating and/or taking notes; drafting and sending outreach emails; and doing email follow-up to partners and media.
  • Develop and maintain outreach organization systems.
  • Support Vera California’s coordinator in any drafting needs for the bimonthly newsletter, which gets distributed externally to highlight the team’s work.
  • Help draft social media posts, talking points, or summary reports from our data analyses/dashboards for internal review and share final versions with internal and external partners as needed.

Support for Policy Development

  • Conduct quick landscape analyses or searches to provide background information and/or context to internal team about government officials, advocates, jurisdictions, implementation/practices, and/or policies.
  • Develop and maintain policy tracking systems for local and state initiatives/legislation.
  • Assist in developing accessible materials for advocacy partners and/or presenting materials to grassroots partners and community members.
  • Draft memos, fact sheets, PowerPoint presentations, letters of opposition or support, public comment, etc., that focus on issues related to alternatives to incarceration, decarceration, and investing in community-based systems of care.

Project Management

  • Drive several projects at once and be able to multitask or shift priorities.
  • Connect with Communications, People Resources, Research, IT, and/or any other internal team to push projects forward.
  • Assist in the review, editing, and development of other program materials, as necessary.

Internal Community Building

  • Offer suggestions for team building activities and ways of increasing cross stream engagement/team building.

What qualifications are we looking for?

At least 2-5 years of relevant work experience.


  • Lived experience as a person directly impacted by the criminal-legal and/or immigration systems
  • A basic understanding of the criminal legal and/or immigration systems and policy landscapes in California.
  • A deep commitment to racial equity and advancing anti-racism, both in our workplace and in the world. You incorporate this value, share it with others, and lead with these principles.
  • Knowledge of project tracking software, like SmartSheet, Asana, etc.

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities you'll bring:

  • Ability to build partnerships with grassroots and grasstops collaborators, working across lines of identity and power;
  • Exceptional attention to detail and task-management skills
  • Ability to manage multiple projects and effective time management skills
  • Exhibited ability to take initiative to organize, prioritize and follow through on work assignments
  • Ability to create and edit charts, tables, graphs and presentations, using PowerPoint, Word and Excel software with minimal assistance
  • Works effectively in a team environment and independently
  • Excellent communication, writing, and interpersonal skills

Technical knowledge helpful for this role:

Zoom, PowerPoint, Microsoft Office Suite, Google, etc.


Please note this role will report to our Los Angeles, CA, 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 $75,000 - $80,000. 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 / Program Associate
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.