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 is Vera Action?
Vera Action, launched in 2021, is an independent but aligned 501(c)(4) organization to the Vera Institute of Justice 501(c)(3). At Vera Action, we harness the power of advocacy, lobbying, and political strategy to end mass incarceration, protect immigrants’ rights, restore dignity to people behind bars, and build safe and thriving communities. Alongside organizers and advocates, government leaders, and elected officials across the political aisle, we work to enact transformative policy change for safety and justice at the local, state, and federal levels.
Until now, Vera Action’s activities have been conducted by Vera staff lending their time to the 501(c)(4). The Deputy Director of Vera Action is a new position for the organization and one of the first dedicated staff. In partnership with and under the supervision of the Vice President of Vera’s Advocacy & Partnerships and Vera Action, the Deputy Director’s responsibilities will range from planning and executing organizational strategy and priorities, managing the day-to-day operations of the organization and interactions with the Vera Action board, supervising dedicated Vera Action staff and Vera staff lending their time to the c4, and maintaining close communication and collaboration with colleagues at Vera and external allies and partners in the field.
You are passionate about social and racial justice, motivated to drive change, and unafraid to challenge the status quo. You are a strong leader, enthusiastic, collaborative, curious, and kind in your approach, and you value working with and bringing out the best in others. You have an extensive and nuanced understanding of the criminal and immigration legal systems, the role of data-driven advocacy in winning political and policy change, and you have strong muscle of partnership and collaboration. You believe in the value of doing “inside” lane work to build champions for our issues within government, and in an “outside” lane approach of working in partnership with advocates, organizers, and grassroots and grasstops allies.
What you'll do:
Strategy and Management
- Serve on the leadership team of Vera Action, and in partnership with the VP of Advocacy & Partnerships and Vera Action, support cross-institute culture and practices.
- Set and manage the key goals, priorities, and activities of Vera Action, ranging from traditional issue advocacy and lobbying, to leading Vera Action’s work on messaging and narrative change on safety, accountability, and justice.
- Develop and lead the execution of Vera Action’s overall strategic plan.
- Serve as one of the public faces for Vera Action’s advocacy efforts with organizers, community partners, board members, government leaders, and elected officials.
- Lead the day-to-day of the messaging and narrative change project’s political strategy and activities, including developing public opinion research, steering Vera Action’s overall trajectory and strategy on narrative change, and leading / attending meetings and briefings with candidates and elected officials, campaigns and caucuses, and allies in the field.
- Serve as the connective tissue and main liaison between Vera Action and Vera.
- Develop opportunities to engage with Vera staff through monthly Brown Bags and other meetings to update and collaborate on the work on messaging and narrative change.
- Identify ongoing opportunities to engage all staff as collaborators in the mission and to promote learning across Vera and Vera Action.
Team Building, Mentorship, and Supervision
- Mentor and supervise Vera Action staff, including professional development, goal setting, and accountability
- Supervise Vera staff lending their time to Vera Action, providing meaningful feedback to support their ongoing professional development.
- Support learning and growth opportunities for the team, especially related to advocacy, lobbying, and political strategy to move the lever on justice reform, anti-racism, and public safety
What qualifications are we looking for?
- An advanced degree in public policy or law, or the equivalent work experience.
- You have 12+ years of experience in the criminal legal and/or immigration fields.
- Experience supervising staff – doing so in an early stage of development is a plus.
- You are committed to Vera and Vera Action’s mission to end the overcriminalization and mass incarceration of people of color, immigrants, and people experiencing poverty.
Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities you'll bring:
- You hold credible, deep relationships with government partners, leaders, advocates, and organizers who work on the same array of criminal and immigration legal issues that Vera Action focuses on.
- You are comfortable with the authority and decision-making responsibilities that accompany a leadership role in the organization. That means you must truly enjoy—not just tolerate—working with others, both external to Vera Action and inside the organization, to shape our advocacy and approach to policy change.
- You are flexible and able to multi-task, prioritize, and manage multiple activities in a fast-paced environment.
- You enjoy problem-solving and approach problems with a solutions-oriented attitude.
- You are able to travel up to 15% of the time
Please note this role will report to our Brooklyn, NY, office. Vera employees adhere to a hybrid schedule and are in-office on an alternating schedule that generally amounts to 10 days per month.
Compensation and Benefits:
The compensation range for this position is $145,000 - $150,000. 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. To learn more about Vera’s benefits offerings, click here.
Applications may also be faxed to:
ATTN: People Resources / Deputy Director, Vera Action
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.
In order to ensure a healthy and safe work environment, Vera Institute of Justice is requiring all employees to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccine before their start date. Employees who cannot receive the vaccine because of a disability/medical contraindication or sincerely-held religious belief may request an accommodation (e.g., an exemption) to this requirement.
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 www.vera.org.