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Director of Operations-Communications & External Affairs

Who We Are:

At the Vera Institute of Justice, our vision is a society that respects the dignity of every person and safeguards justice for all. At a propitious moment, we are standing up and driving change on a variety of fronts — ending cash bail, ending mass incarceration, vastly improving life behind bars, ensuring that immigrants get due process, and centering all our work in race equity. Convincing people to change the way they think and act in order to serve justice is in our DNA. One of the ways we change hearts and minds is through strategic communications campaigns. We have a growing communications team that advocates for our vision with colleagues as well as stakeholder and public audiences. Are you interested in helping lead a super-smart and productive team using best-in-class communications strategies and tactics to drive change?

What you'll do:

Long known for our research and technical assistance, communications is now one of the core pillars of Vera’s work. We are expanding our communications team and continuing to devote unrestricted dollars to our work over the next five years. Importantly, we embed communications in our program and project work from the start. Our efforts have paid off with an award-winning rebranding and website, significant media attention, dramatic growth in social media followers, and new partnerships — elements needed to drive change in the criminal legal system.

But more can be done, and the need is urgent. We need to leverage increasing calls for systemic change, using communications to connect our advocacy, program, research, and development work to external audiences. We are seeking a Director of Operations for the Communications & External Affairs to join our growing team.

The communications team works closely with all units at Vera. The Director of Operations for the Communications & External Affairs works closely with the Vice President of Communications, partners with the Communications Leads to implement strategic campaigns, and oversees team goal setting, coordination, and production. The Director of Operations for the Communications & External Affairs is responsible for:

  1. Project Management. Managing cross-team Communications projects; coordinating projects and communications deliverables with Vera initiatives and regional offices; and managing the work of consultants.
  2. Thought Partnership and Support. Providing thought partnership and support for the Vice President and Communications Leads for implementing new work and processes with our team.
  3. Team Coaching. Developing our growing team, honing the skills they need to run effective strategic campaigns, and creating a learning agenda for the team and the Institute. Developing an onboarding plan for new members of the Communications team, and coordinating the agenda for team meetings, monthly kickoffs and debriefs, and Leads meetings.
  4. Special Projects. Developing and executing 2-3 special projects per year.

The Director of Operations for the Communications & External Affairs reports to Vice President of Communications & External Affairs and serves as the operational manager of our team, supervising the communications coordinator, internal communications manager, and strategic communications campaign director. They manage team workloads in order to meet goals and deadlines. They are responsible for leading — or delegating when appropriate — central functions, including coordinating with program teams, triaging and managing incoming requests, and coordinating team planning and performance against goals.

Candidates must be excellent communicators and negotiators, expert at strategic communications campaign architecture and project management, caring mentors, adept in racial equity, and have a high EQ.

What We Need in You

  • Knowledge and interest in social justice. You don’t have to be an expert in the criminal legal system, but you need to be paying attention and to have worked in some area of social justice communications.
  • A strategic and tactical tilt. You can see the tactics needed to execute communications campaigns and finished products and get excited about the Smartsheet (and other tools) that us there. You pay attention to deadlines and ensure that those delivering content do too. And you’re a budget master — we need projects to come in on budget as well as on time.
  • A diplomat. You know that creating good products takes negotiation. Cuts may happen, tears may be shed. You’re able to be a shoulder and be a champion — and help us cross the finish line on time and shining.
  • A deep commitment to racial equity. In a system built on racism and inequity, we’re working to ensure equity both in our workplace and in the world. You incorporate this value and share it with others.
  • A collaborator. Collaboration is a Vera value — we thrive when we learn and build on each other’s ideas, and are open to giving and receiving feedback — in our team and across the Institute. You’ll help ensure that the Communications & External Affairs team staff are all working toward the same strategies and goals while helping them grow in their roles.
  • A doer. You’ll own and execute 2-3 special projects each year, designed to build aspects of Vera’s mission, brand, and strategic vision (e.g. 60th-anniversary celebrations, a communications learning plan for the Institute)

Additional Qualifications

  • At least 6 - 10 years of progressive strategic communications experience, including in a senior management role in a complex non-profit
  • Exceptional writing, editing and communication skills
  • Experience establishing organizational policies, procedures and guidelines that govern and provide quality control for the communications function and ensure message alignment and integration across the organization
  • Ability to develop and track quantitative and qualitative metrics and key milestones that demonstrate the performance and effectiveness of the communications efforts.
  • Experience liaising with organizational leaders, as well as internal stakeholders and partners to identify and effectively address communications challenges, opportunities, potential solutions and execute appropriate strategies to support them
  • Commitment to ensuring alignment with the organization’s strategy, programmatic functions, and cross-program teams
  • Regarded as a mentor who can develop staff using a supportive and collaborative approach
  • Ability to manage and integrate associated projects, staff, and consultant

ATTN: Human Resources / 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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