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Associate Director, Policy and Advocacy - In Our Backyards Initiative (Brooklyn, NY; Washington DC; New Orleans, LA; Los Angeles, CA or Remote)

Who we are

The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, envisions a society that respects the dignity of every person and safeguards justice for everyone. Vera is committed to securing equal justice, ending mass incarceration, and strengthening families and communities. 

  • We study problems that impede human dignity and justice. 
  • We pilot solutions that are at once transformative and achievable. 
  • We engage diverse communities in informed debate. 
  • And we harness the power of evidence to drive effective policy and practice. 

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 people who are vulnerable, marginalized, and harmed by crime and violence. Vera has offices in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. Vera is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace. We hire employees that reflect our values: respect, independence, collaboration, commitment, and race equity. If you want to learn more about life at Vera click here.

What you’ll do

The Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy for the In Our Backyards Initiative will lead the development and implementation IOB’s state policy and advocacy strategy in partnership with the Initiative Director, advancing campaigns that decriminalize poverty, reduce small city and rural incarceration, and shift resources into communities. They will also be tapped to provide strategic advice and analysis and policy guidance to IOB’s state and local partners, including the IOB Community Grantee network, and support the ongoing development of policy principles informed by the unique experiences and context of rural America. 

The Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy will also support IOB’s federal policy work, alongside the Initiative Director and Vera’s Federal Government Affairs team, and coordinate closely with communications staff, IOB researchers, and community partners.

The Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy's responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Work with Initiative Director to develop and implement IOB’s statewide campaigns, to include policy development, legislative lobbying, and coalition building. Manage lobbying contracts in each priority state.
  • Advise and train IOB’s Community Partners, including through the development of local policy frameworks and advocacy strategy.
  • Support federal policy change, including federal legislation supporting rural decarceration and divestment from the federal detention network.
  • Manage communications strategies that support state campaign efforts and national narrative shift in partnership with the Initiative Director, working with the Vera communications team and IOB consultants to identify spokespeople, messaging, and tactics.
  • Develop and author publications and policy briefs; appear in convenings, webinars, etc. on Vera’s behalf.

What qualifications you will need

The Associate Director of Policy and Advocacy will have the following qualifications: 

  • 7+ years of policy and advocacy experience in the justice reform space, building coalitions, allies and national strategy. Experience with grasstops and grassroots advocacy, lobbying, and campaigns.
  • B.A. degree, or the equivalent work and life experience
  • A personal and professional dedication to issues of race, equity, and fairness, and a commitment to grappling with creative and concrete ways to use data to shift power and advance equity and inclusion.
  • Experience working in or a connection to rural communities.
  • Excellent writing and communication skills;
  • 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 experience developing media strategy to support campaign efforts;
  • Ability to build partnerships with grassroots and grasstops collaborators, working across lines of identity and power;
  • Ability to work collaboratively with a national, remote team;
  • Proficiency with Microsoft OfficeSuite;
  • Familiarity and comfort with data, a plus.

The Nitty – Gritty

  • This is a full-time position available immediately
  • This position can be based in any of our office locations in Brooklyn, NY, Washington DC, New Orleans, LA or Los Angeles, CA or remotely
  • Salary is competitive plus excellent benefits

How to apply

Please submit a cover letter and resume. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Online submission in PDF format (through Vera’s career page) is preferred.  No phone calls, please. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted.  


ATTN: Human Resources / In Our Backyards, Associate Director
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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