Research Associate SUMH

Location: New York, NY

Department: Substance Use and Mental Health Program

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Mid Level

The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, is an independent, non-partisan, nonprofit organization that combines expertise in research, technical assistance, and demonstration projects to build and improve justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety, and strengthen communities. We work with others who share our vision to tackle the most pressing injustices of our day—from mass incarceration, racial disparities, and the loss of public trust in law enforcement to the unmet needs of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and those harmed by crime and violence. Vera has offices in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. Its projects and reform initiatives, typically conducted in partnership with local, state, or national officials, are located across the United States and around the world. Vera is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace.

Substance Use and Mental Health Program

Vera’s Substance Use and Mental Health program (SUMH) conducts applied research and provides technical assistance to help government and community partners develop empirically driven responses to the substance use and mental health needs of people involved in justice systems. Our current work includes projects focused on supporting jails in their response to incidents of suicide and self-harm in their facilities, improving law enforcement responses to people with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities, enhancing criminal justice responses to the opioid epidemic, and increasing information sharing across public health and criminal justice systems. See Vera’s website for more information on SUMH’s projects.

Vera is hiring a Research Associate to support SUMH’s various projects and contribute to the program’s growing portfolio of work. We seek an enthusiastic and self-motivated individual who is passionate about social justice and public health and willing to join a small team working on multiple projects.

This is a full-time position based in New York City.


The Research Associate will initially work with research and program staff on a range of mixed methods research projects, with a strong emphasis on qualitative research projects at first but with opportunities to use quantitative research methods. Specific areas of responsibility will be determined at the time of appointment and/or during the interview process, but may generally include:

  • Serving as project manager, ensuring the coordination and completion of research projects;
  • Collecting qualitative data, including conducting interviews and focus groups;
  • Coding and analyzing qualitative data;
  • Designing and administering surveys;
  • Writing final reports, memoranda, proposals and policy briefs;
  • Working with program staff on programmatic strategic planning;
  • Contributing to grant proposal development; and
  • Additional duties, as needed.


The ideal candidate will have a broad interest in and knowledge of public health, social sciences, social work, and/or public policy. An interest in working on issues related to substance use, mental illness, and the criminal justice system are essential, and previous relevant experience is ideal. In addition, Vera is looking for applicants with the following:

  • A Master’s degree in the social sciences, social work, public policy or related fields
  • Two years of work experience, or other relevant work/education experience;
  • Exceptional writing skills required;
  • Project management skills, including strong attention to detail, time-management, verbal communication, and multitasking skills;
  • Experience managing client relations;
  • Demonstrated experience and skill in collecting qualitative data, including interviews, focus groups, surveys, and structured observations;
  • Experience coding and analyzing qualitative data in Dedoose or Atlas;
  • Experience collecting and analyzing survey data (familiarity with statistical applications such as Stata and R is desirable but not required);
  • Ability to show initiative, flexibility, and willingness to work on a variety of tasks and adapt to changing priorities;
  • Aptitude for, and openness to learning new research methods and analytic tools;
  • Willingness to travel; and
  • Commitment to Vera’s mission and demonstrated interest in and knowledge of current criminal justice issues.


$60-70k commensurate with experience, plus excellent benefits.

How to apply

Please submit cover letter, resume, and a professional writing sample. Online submission in PDF format is preferred.

If necessary, materials may be mailed or faxed to:

ATTN: Human Resources / SUMH Research Associate Recruitment

Vera Institute of Justice

233 Broadway, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10279

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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