Outreach Strategist, In Our Backyards Campaign

Location: New York, NY

Department: Communications and Public Affairs

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Mid Level

 Please note that we will be moving our headquarters to Industry City in Brooklyn, NY next year.

Outreach Strategist, In Our Backyards Campaign

The Vera Institute of Justice is working to build truly national momentum toward reversing mass incarceration everywhere in America. It’s a lofty, ambitious goal—so we’re also building an audacious, creative team of reformers who like big ideas and big challenges. Does that sound like you?

If so, read on.

Over the past several decades, the geography of mass incarceration underwent a quiet, dramatic, shift. As incarceration rates in America’s biggest cities leveled out and then declined, rates in small cities and rural America continued to rise. Today, thousands of (often overlooked) smaller cities, towns, and rural areas have the highest rates of incarceration and, increasingly, the most outsized jails. This untold story calls for ending mass incarceration where it begins—in all of our backyards.

To spark reform, Vera’s In Our Backyards project is advancing an ambitious research and communications agenda to inform the public dialogue and guide change to justice policy and practice. Our work is driven by the realization that if we do not respond to the shifting geography of incarceration, the apparent national gains—driven by prison and jail population declines in large metropolitan areas—will be eroded by deepening problems in the small and rural communities across the country that actually comprise most of the population.


The In Our Backyards Outreach Strategist will report to, and work collaboratively with, the Director of Outreach to (1) support public education efforts to transform research into action, (2) manage and build relationships at the state and local level, and (3) be part of a national mobilization around local incarceration.

This position will join an interdisciplinary, cross-functional team that includes data scientists, policy experts, ethnographers, and writers that span the research, policy, and communications functions at Vera. They will also be accountable to the project team lead and the Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs.

What we need in you:

  • A Strategic Mind. The notion of power-mapping should provoke excitement, not dread. Ideally you’ll have 3+ years of experience in organizing, advocacy, political, electoral, and/or issue campaigns.
  • Range and diplomacy. The unique challenge of reversing our national overreliance incarceration requires building coalitions, relationships and consensus with a broad range of actors in a broad range of places. You should be equally comfortable in an organizing meeting and a legislator’s office, and have a knack for speaking to people’s values.
  • A deep commitment to empowerment and equity. This work is not only about equipping justice system stakeholders to make change, but also about educating and engaging communities in the work to reverse mass incarceration and address racial disparities in the justice system.
  • You’re self-motivated, collaborative and look for how you can help without being told. 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. What’s more, it’s absolutely essential for the fast-working In Our Backyards team, which is taking on big challenges, and delving into an area of reform where so much is still unknown.

What will strengthen your application?

  • Experience Beyond Big Cities. Whether it’s where you’re rooted, or where you’ve worked, studied or lived—we want you to have some grounding outside of our nation’s biggest cities.
  • Knowledge of the Justice System. Each community’s carceral landscape in unique, but we need you to come to the table with an understanding of the different players, policies, and practices that animate or curtail change.

Additional Qualifications:

  • Three or more years of experience in organizing, advocacy, political, electoral, and/or issue campaigns, preferably outside of large cities (e.g., New York, Chicago, Houston).
  • Willingness to travel.
  • Bachelor’s degree.
  • Strong writing and communications skills.

To Apply

Please submit cover letter and resume.

No phone calls, please. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted.

Online submission in PDF format is strongly preferred.

However, if necessary, materials may be mailed or faxed to

ATTN: People and Culture

Vera Institute of Justice

233 Broadway, 12th Fl.

New York, NY 10279

Fax: (212) 941-9407

Please use only one method of submission (online, mail, or fax).

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, or current employment 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 www.vera.org.

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