Vera Institute of Justice,

Associate Director, Vera California

16 days ago
Employment type
Closing date

About this organization

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.

Vera California:

Vera California is a portfolio of work focused exclusively on making change in the state of California. We aim to spark momentum for decarceration and investments in the long-underfunded community-based systems of care that promote safety and wellness. We use data and policy analysis to drive concrete change and center racial equity. We bring expertise on best practices from around the country to local conversations in California. We collaborate with government leaders and community partners on policy development and implementation, working together toward a new vision of safety, wellness, and racial justice for all Californians.

About this job

The Associate Director will manage and support policy development and advocacy aimed at ending mass incarceration and securing investments in community-based systems of care in California. Internally, that entails assisting the program director in developing policy and advocacy strategy and implementation, particularly around statewide legislative strategy; managing advocacy and policy team members performing related work, including research and writing; exploring opportunities for partnership with government and community leaders and organizations; writing policy reports and memos; and drafting op-eds and other strategic communications. Externally, the Associate Director helps the Program Director build and maintain relationships with elected officials, government bodies, advocates, and activists across the state to enact criminal legal reforms—including everything from pretrial and budget justice to alternatives to incarceration.

The ideal candidate has an understanding of the criminal legal system and legislative system in California and wants to work towards a vision of community safety that shifts away from incarceration as the default response and instead is rooted in public health and care. They are passionate about social and racial justice, motivated to drive change, and unafraid to challenge the status quo. The idea of working on a team of people who come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives inspires them. This is a full-time position based in California; must be able to be in Sacramento regularly for state legislative advocacy.

Roles & responsibilities

Policy and strategic advocacy design and implementation

Help develop and implement Vera California’s legislative strategy.

Advise the Program Director on overall policy and advocacy strategy and serve on the Vera California leadership team.

Strategize with the Program Director and policy/advocacy staff, and facilitate internal discussions on our team’s approach to enacting criminal legal reforms in California, both at the state and local level.

Liaise with other teams, projects, and departments across Vera in moving our advocacy strategy forward.

Manage and supervise Vera California staff

Assign, review, and provide feedback on work to Senior Program Associates, Program Associates, Analysts, and Interns.

Collaborate with Vera California’s research team to efficiently integrate the team’s data and research into Vera California’s policy and advocacy strategy and deliverables.

Meet regularly with staff to review work and support professional development.

Lead regular policy/advocacy team meetings, strategy sessions, and debriefs to help the team work together seamlessly and effectively.

Develop and run trainings for staff to help them develop advocacy tools and writing skills.

Produce excellent writing that achieves policy goals

Writing, editing, and supervising team members’ drafting of various written deliverables, from longer reports to briefing memos and external messaging.

Edit team members’ writing, both on the policy/advocacy and research side of the Vera California team

Community outreach and public engagement

Create and lead presentations about criminal legal reforms in California

Communicate regularly and collaborate with advocacy partners to build momentum for reform

Advise and work with policy makers, government staff, and elected officials to enact reforms

Build relationships and communicate regularly with policy makers to support reforms

Attend meetings and present on criminal legal policy and practice reform


Education and Experience:


Bachelor's degree in public policy, social work, political science, criminal justice, or related field; or equivalent work experience; or relevant work or educational background and lived experience as a person directly impacted by the criminal legal system.

Deep understanding of the criminal legal system, especially in California.

Ability to discuss race equity issues within the criminal legal system.

Demonstrated ability to manage a project, including assigned staff, from start to finish

Experience designing and running advocacy projects.

Empathetic approach to the work that values all team members.

Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively, both externally and internally with team members.

Excellent writing skills across diverse media and audiences.

Excellent written and oral communication skills and an ability to articulate a compelling concept and vision to government and community partners and others.


Juris doctor or graduate degree in public policy, social work, political science, criminal justice, or related field; or equivalent work experience; or relevant work or educational background and lived experience as a person directly impacted by the criminal legal system.

Lived experience as a person directly impacted by the criminal legal system.

Experience managing, supervising, or leading a team.

Experience designing and implementing advocacy campaigns.

Demonstrated ability to work with advocates, government officials, criminal legal system personnel, practitioners, and people who are directly impacted by the criminal legal system.

Teaching or facilitation experience.

Required Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:

Effective public speaker

Strong writing skills across media and audiences

Microsoft Office proficiency

Comfort interpreting criminal justice data sets and social science or legal research

Ability to travel periodically across the state

To apply

Please submit your resume and cover letter via the job post link.

Applications may also be faxed to:

ATTN: People Resources / Associate Director of Research, Vera CA

Vera Institute of Justice

34 35th St, Suite 4-2-A, 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.

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