Vera Institute of Justice

Senior Program Associate, Advancing Universal Representation (NYC, D.C., or Los Angeles)

Advancing Universal Representation - Brooklyn, NY - Full Time

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.

Who you are:

The Senior Program Associate (SPA) will work with the entire Advancing Universal Representation Initiative team - including program, research, advocacy, and comms staff - to advance universal representation programs at the state and local level. The SPA will serve as a site lead for certain SAFE Initiative programs and the primary liaison with local partners, including government leaders, legal services providers, and community partners and advocates. They will help support the launch, continuity, and expansion of local or state-funded universal representation programs. The SPA will leverage the site-based work to identify and share best practices with the network, identify technical assistance opportunities, and inform and support Vera’s Campaign for Universal Representation at the federal level.

In this role, you will:

Site Implementation

  • Serve as the lead liaison for several SAFE sites (cities, counties and/or collaboration of jurisdictions) and work with our local stakeholders (government partners, legal service providers, and advocates) to support launch, sustainability, and growth of programs.
  • Drawing on institutional and/or personal expertise, advise on best practices in program design and implementation for universal representation programs
  • Manage relationship with SAFE grantees and partners, including contracting and communicating about program impact and needs, participating in coalition meetings, etc.
  • Conduct site visits to meet with local stakeholders.

Policy and Budget Advocacy

  • Advocate through budget and legislative advocacy for universal representation programs, including serving as the Initiative representative in local and statewide coalitions and developing written and oral testimony in support of SAFE’s state and local legislative and policy agenda.
  • Support local policy and advocacy efforts that advance access to counsel as a policy tool, and ,where applicable, policies that reduce the pipeline between the criminal legal and immigration systems and end immigration detention.

Communications and Reporting

  • Work with Research and Communications colleagues to use program data and analysis and the stories of people impacted by detention and deportation to develop reports and generate earned media on program impact.

Technical Assistance

  • Leverage site-based work to identify best practices to inform technical assistance. Work closely with peers leading our technical assistance portfolio to support programming for SAFE network members and the field, including helping plan in-person or virtual trainings, convenings, or webinars, as appropriate

Other responsibilities as needed and assigned

What qualifications do you need?


  • A bachelor’s degree.
  • At least four years of legal, government, advocacy, or policy work experience.
  • Strong familiarity with the immigration legal system and/or immigration policy through lived or work experience.
  • Strong writing skills.
  • Strong inter-relational skills and experience working effectively in a large organization with multiple stakeholders
  • Diplomacy.
  • Flexibility, adaptability, and productivity in a changing political environment.
  • Ability to consider multiple perspectives, think critically, provide an analysis, evaluate risk, and implement solutions to complex problems.
  • An uncompromising commitment to immigrants’ rights and racial equity.
  • Attention to detail, excellent organizational skills, and the ability to manage work on multiple projects independently and efficiently.


  • A graduate degree in public policy or another relevant field
  • Experience representing immigrants in removal proceedings, or people impacted by the criminal legal or juvenile system.
  • Experience engaging local governments and broad coalitions to build consensus on policy reform issues is a strong plus

List of required software applications:

  • Highly proficient with Microsoft Office Suite

Compensation and Benefits:

The compensation range for this position is $90,600 – $94,800. Actual salaries will vary depending on factors including but not limited to experience and performance. The salary range listed is just one component of Vera Institute’s total compensation package for employees. As an employer of choice in our field, supporting Vera staff—both personally and professionally—is a priority. To do this, we invest in the well-being of our staff through other rewards including merit pay, generous paid time off, a comprehensive health insurance plan, student loan repayment benefits, professional development training opportunities and up to $2,000 annual for education costs and fees relevant to Vera work, employer-funded retirement plan, and flexible time and remote work schedules. To learn more about Vera’s benefits offerings,  click here.

Applications may also be faxed to:

ATTN: People Resources / Senior Program Associate, Advancing Universal Representation
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


Apply: Senior Program Associate, Advancing Universal Representation (NYC, D.C., or Los Angeles)
* Required fields
First name*
Last name*
Email address*
Phone number*

Attach resume as .pdf, .doc, .docx, .odt, .txt, or .rtf (limit 5MB) or paste resume

Paste your resume here or attach resume file

Please attach cover letter.*
What is your target salary range?
The following questions are entirely optional.
To comply with government Equal Employment Opportunity and/or Affirmative Action reporting regulations, we are requesting (but NOT requiring) that you enter this personal data. This information will not be used in connection with any employment decisions, and will be used solely as permitted by state and federal law. Your voluntary cooperation would be appreciated. Learn more.

Invitation for Job Applicants to Self-Identify as a U.S. Veteran
  • A “disabled veteran” is one of the following:
    • a veteran of the U.S. military, ground, naval or air service who is entitled to compensation (or who but for the receipt of military retired pay would be entitled to compensation) under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs; or
    • a person who was discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability.
  • A “recently separated veteran” means any veteran during the three-year period beginning on the date of such veteran's discharge or release from active duty in the U.S. military, ground, naval, or air service.
  • An “active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran” means a veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. military, ground, naval or air service during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized under the laws administered by the Department of Defense.
  • An “Armed forces service medal veteran” means a veteran who, while serving on active duty in the U.S. military, ground, naval or air service, participated in a United States military operation for which an Armed Forces service medal was awarded pursuant to Executive Order 12985.
Veteran status

Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability
Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Form CC-305
OMB Control Number 1250-0005
Expires 5/31/2023
Why are you being asked to complete this form?

We are a federal contractor or subcontractor required by law to provide equal employment opportunity to qualified people with disabilities. We are also required to measure our progress toward having at least 7% of our workforce be individuals with disabilities. To do this, we must ask applicants and employees if they have a disability or have ever had a disability. Because a person may become disabled at any time, we ask all of our employees to update their information at least every five years.

Identifying yourself as an individual with a disability is voluntary, and we hope that you will choose to do so. Your answer will be maintained confidentially and not be seen by selecting officials or anyone else involved in making personnel decisions. Completing the form will not negatively impact you in any way, regardless of whether you have self-identified in the past. For more information about this form or the equal employment obligations of federal contractors under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) website at

How do you know if you have a disability?

You are considered to have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment or medical condition that substantially limits a major life activity, or if you have a history or record of such an impairment or medical condition. Disabilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Autism
  • Autoimmune disorder, for example, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, or HIV/AIDS
  • Blind or low vision
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular or heart disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Deaf or hard of hearing
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, for example, Crohn's Disease, or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Intellectual disability
  • Missing limbs or partially missing limbs
  • Nervous system condition for example, migraine headaches, Parkinson's disease, or Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Psychiatric condition, for example, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, PTSD, or major depression
Please check one of the boxes below:

PUBLIC BURDEN STATEMENT: According to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 no persons are required to respond to a collection of information unless such collection displays a valid OMB control number. This survey should take about 5 minutes to complete.

Your Name Today's Date