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Senior Program Associate, Vera California (Los Angeles)

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 grassroots 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 almost 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 Senior Program Associate (SPA) will help Vera California implement our growing portfolio of county and statewide reform work incorporating policy development and supporting narrative change. The SPA will support the programmatic needs of campaigns related to jail decarceration, pretrial reform, justice reinvestment, and more. This will entail summarizing data and research for different audiences; building and managing relationships; contributing to working groups, trainings, and presentations; and writing policy reports, fact sheets, talking points, and memos.

In this role, you will:

  1. Policy Development & Technical Assistance
  • Work with the Vera California Program Director and team to research, develop, and draft model policies, fact sheets, and educational materials on decarceration, justice reinvestment, and bail reform to be used by Vera and external partners. 
  • Assist in training and technical assistance for our partners and external stakeholders on best practices and policy analysis. Appear in convenings, webinars, etc. on Vera California’s behalf. 
  1. Communications
  • In partnership with the communications team, draft content that builds and influences the public narrative about decarceration and justice reinvestment (e.g., op-eds, blogs, backgrounders, fact sheets, talking points, letters to the editor, etc.).
  • Liaise with Vera’s communications department about Vera California’s communications strategy and deliverables.
  1. Research and Publications
  • Develop and expand Vera’s California’s expertise by researching and contributing to publications, connecting with other experts, and engaging in local and national discussions.
  1. Fostering Relationships & Leadership
  • Develop and maintain relationships with government actors, elected officials, community groups, and advocates. 
  • Provide leadership, support, and guidance to a growing team, as needed.

What qualifications do you need?


  • A minimum of 5 years of professional experience involving the criminal legal system, with a preference for work in California.  
  • A commitment to racial justice advocacy.  
  • You can quickly produce excellent writing for a variety of audiences, from longer reports, briefing memos, to media opinions and editorials.    
  • Microsoft Office proficiency.  
  • Ability to work effectively with a diverse array of people and positions, including advocates, government officials, criminal legal system personnel, practitioners, and people who are directly impacted by the criminal system.  
  • Ability to present to diverse audiences from judges, defense attorneys, and prosecutors, to community groups, including people who may be hostile to your point of view.    
  • Collaborative, rigorous thinker and problem solver with sound judgement.  
  • Detail-oriented but cognizant of big picture goals, with an ability to maintain multiple projects with competing deadlines and priorities.  
  • You must be curious and willing to research, read, learn continuously, and be energized by the idea of translating that knowledge into strategic implementation and concrete outcomes. If it excites you to spend time on the ground (or virtually), observing bail hearings and arraignments, talking to people in the field, researching things like legislative history, and developing and rolling out new ideas, this job is for you.    


  • Lived experience as a person directly impacted by the criminal legal system.
  • Experience developing and managing issue area campaigns and building diverse coalitions.
  • Experience drafting legislation and with legislative lobbying. 
  • Communications acumen, including experience as a spokesperson and/or experience developing media strategy to support campaign efforts. 
  • Familiarity and comfort with data a plus. 

List of Required Software applications:

  • Microsoft Office proficiency

Applications may also be faxed to:

ATTN: Human Resources / Senior Program Associate, Vera California
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.

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


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