Interim/Executive Director, Acacia Center for Justice - Vera & CAIR Coalition (NY/Remote)

  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Full Time
  • Executive

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.


The Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition is the only non-profit organization in the Washington, D.C. area focused exclusively on providing legal assistance to adult and child immigrants detained by the government in the Capital Region. We adhere to the fundamental belief that all people – no matter their story – deserve to be free, safe, supported, and have access to a just legal system. CAIR Coalition is working with the Vera Institute of Justice to form a new non-profit organization to bid for federal prime contracts issued by Department of Justice for legal orientation and representation services for immigrants, critical work that Vera has built, managed, and expanded over the last 16 years.


The new entity is called the Acacia Center for Justice. We chose the Acacia flower for two reasons. First, it is a species of plant found almost everywhere in the world. Second, the Acacia flower historically represents regeneration, perseverance, and integrity. We believe that much of our work with immigrants and refugees builds on these principals of shared humanity and our endless pursuit with them for justice in the American immigration legal system.


The Opportunity

The Executive Director will be responsible for formulating the strategy and direction of this new organization and leading a team responsible for its execution. Directs the allocation of staff and resources within the organization to achieve its goals and has primary accountability for the performance and progress of the organization.  Has oversight of program direction, research, policies, organizational design, fundraising, and budget.

Among the priorities within the first six months for this inaugural Executive Director is working closely with CAIR Coalition and the Vera Institute of Justice to design and build out this new entity (501(c)(3)) in order to bid on the upcoming Request(s) for Quotation (RFQ) from the Department of Justice for the following EOIR-funded programs: Legal Orientation Program (LOP), National Qualified Representative Program (NQRP), Immigration Court Helpdesk (ICH), Family Group Legal Orientation Program (FGLOP) and Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC). The Executive Director will work to ensure that critical knowledge, skills, and capacities from both Vera and CAIR Coalition are established at the new entity.

An Interim Executive Director will be responsible for starting and developing the various responsibilities detailed below, including hiring and onboarding staff and establishing a process and schedule for development of a strategic plan. The permanent Executive Director will ultimately take responsibility for finalizing and managing all of these things.

In this role, you will be responsible for:

  1. Strategic Planning and Execution
  • Partners with CAIR Coalition and Vera leaders to interpret and execute on the organization’s mission, providing guidance and direction to leaders on key deliverables.
  • Develop a process and schedule for a strategic plan for the new organization that includes consideration of the breadth of work for the organization (e.g., rigorous independent research and analytics, policy, advocacy, etc.), as well as future growth and organizational structure/capacity.
  • Develop proposal in response to RFQ (in coordination with CAIR Coalition and Vera staff)
  • Directs coordination of program management with EOIR: monthly, weekly, and ad hoc meetings/calls with EOIR regarding approach to site-specific programmatic issues, billing, reporting, policy changes, legal developments impacting the program, and other related matters
  • Work closely with the leadership team to ensure the organization’s program impact, integrity, and ability to effectively respond to changing environments and community needs.
  1. Program Rigor, New Initiatives & Research
    In the absence of Deputy/Associate Director staff otherwise hired for this purpose, incumbent is responsible for:
  • planning and overseeing annual contracting and budgeting processes for programmatic work and ensure compliance;
  • negotiations of contractual terms with EOIR;
  • managing relationships and troubleshooting challenges with legal directors and executive directors across a network of legal service providers;
  • collaborating with research on submission of contractually required reporting and general reporting needs;
  • development of technical assistance designed to strengthen protections and advocacy for immigrants;
  • providing overarching guidance around staffing assignments, training, technical assistance plan and execution, and overall holistic functioning of team
  • ensuring compliance with data/reporting requirements for the programmatic work and consider the ways that data and qualitative information can be used to improve the programs and support the mission/vision of the organization;
  • Working closely with senior research staff to support and ensure rigorous independent research and analytics
  1. Culture and People Management
  • Organizational design and staffing for start-up, in response to the RFQ and on an ongoing basis
  • Responsible for determining appropriate staffing needs for the organization and the hiring thereof (in coordination with CAIR Coalition and Vera staff; Vera to train)
  • Create, communicate, and maintain a culture of transparency, accountability, equity and inclusion for the organization to ensure adherence to mission/vision.
  • Provide strategic support and supervision to 4-6 manager-level staff members (programs, policy, finance, research, operations, communications)
  • Monitors employee engagement, retention, and turnover and guides leaders on maintaining motivated teams.
  1. Fundraising & External Relations
  • In the absence of Deputy/Associate Director staff otherwise hired for this purpose, develops appropriate messaging and communications strategies, both internal and external, to support the work of the organization
  • Manage high level government relationships
  • Represent the organization at external meetings and build and maintain positive working relationships with partner organizations, governmental bodies, businesses, and media.
  • Drives the fundraising strategy and execution, managing and growing relationships with major donors and foundations.
  1. Advocacy & Partnerships
  • In the absence of Deputy/Associate Director staff otherwise hired for this purpose, incumbent develops and drives strategic advocacy agenda aligned with mission/vision, incorporating programmatic knowledge/development/best practices. Lobbies for appropriations to support programs.
  1. Financial Operations, Governance & Legal
  • Responsible for annual development and management of the program budget(s), resource allocation, and financial health of the organization.
  • Ensures operational and fiscal compliance with government contracts.
  • Partners with Finance and other internal departments to ensure required reporting and audits are performed accurately and in a compliant manner.

What qualifications do you need?


  • Juris Doctor (law) degree, or the equivalent work experience;
  • 7 - 10 years of relevant immigration representation, government, or policy work experience, with 3 years managing federal contract work
    • Comparable work and educational experience will also be considered, particularly where the candidate has direct experience with the immigration legal system and has been personally impacted by it.
  • Experience communicating with federal government agencies
  • Experience managing large multi-disciplinary teams
  • Experience at immigration legal services provider organization
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite
  • Ability to acquire and maintain federal clearance requirements in order to view protected program data


  • Experience standing up a new entity or federal contract program (e.g., systems, policies, procedures, etc.)


Applications may also be faxed to:

ATTN: Human Resources / Executive Director, CAIR Coalition
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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