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- Senior Program Associate, CYJ, USA

Senior Program Associate, CYJ

Vera Institute of Justice

Please note that our Manhattan office will be relocating to Industry City in Brooklyn, NY this year.

Vera is hiring two Senior Program Associates to join a diverse and growing team and to manage site work in partnership with the people most impacted by our work—corrections staff and incarcerated people—as part of the Restoring Promise initiative.


Who We Are

Do you know what wakes us up in the morning? Justice. (We literally have that phrase plastered on our coffee mugs. That's how zealous we are). We envision a society that respects the dignity of every single person, and are fighting to realize this every day. To tackle the most pressing injustices of our day. To explicitly, pointedly and effectively reduce the burdens of the justice system on people of color. To secure equal justice, end mass incarceration, and strengthen families and communities around the country.

What that means is that:

    We study problems that impede human dignity and justice.
    We pilot solutions that are at once transformative and achievable.
    We engage diverse communities in informed debate.
    And we harness the power of evidence to drive effective policy and practice.
    We are driven by a vision rooted in cultural healing and racial equity for all.


The Restoring Promise initiative is a partnership between the Vera Institute of Justice and the MILPA Collective. Together, we identify forward thinking corrections agencies and collaborate to transform living conditions for incarcerated young adults (ages 18-25) and working conditions for staff in jails and prisons across the country. Two core values, rooted in the name, guide the initiative:

    Restoring calls for truth telling and healing, a process by which people most impacted by the justice system are partners in reform; and
    Promise acknowledges the failed promise to generations of young people, demands commitment to supporting them in realizing their full potential, and asks us to look forward toward a vision of ending the prison model of justice.


Our team is culturally and generationally diverse, tenacious and dedicated. We rely on each other, and you’ll be able to rely on us. We’re dynamic and creative – out-side the box thinking is encouraged, supported, and celebrated. And so is balance - healing and wellness are values in the initiative, and they are values we are committed to for our team. We are lifelong learners and are committed to pushing our individual and interconnected growth and development.

Restoring Promise focuses on prison conditions and young adults for four important reasons:

    Ending Mass Incarceration - Young adults are disproportionately represented at every stage in the justice system, driving mass incarceration.
    Advancing Race Equity - The racial disparities that plague the justice system are more acute for young men of color.
    Eliminating Violence in Corrections - People under the age of 25 are the most at risk of experiencing violence in prison and have the highest rate of homicide in prison.
    Ensuring Success - Young adults return to prison at higher rates compared to any other age group.  


What You’ll Do

As a Senior Program Associate you will manage sites (state prison systems) throughout their participation in the Restoring Promise initiative and report to the Project Director. You’ll help the team deepen and expand the initiative through your role in existing and new work.

In particular, you will:

    Manage a team of program and research staff in collaboration with MILPA staff working in at least one Restoring Promise site;
    Provide technical assistance to a corrections agency new to the Restoring Promise initiative to create a pilot housing unit in one or more of their prisons:
        conducting a conditions of confinement assessment;
        writing up a policy and practice analysis;
        planning and conducting monthly site visits;
        facilitating work group meetings with corrections officials, facility staff, and incarcerated people;
        supporting research staff in interpreting and presenting data analysis and findings;
        synthesizing recommendations from incarcerated people and staff
        presenting findings and recommendations to prison and agency leadership;
        trouble shooting and addressing rapidly changing dynamics with prison staff and administration; and
        working with corrections leadership, staff, and incarcerated people to implement recommendations.
    Lead the design and facilitate trainings for front line staff, leadership, and mentors (incarcerated people) in collaboration with program and research staff and MILPA;
    Develop proposals to funders and grant writing;
    Support the design, organization, and production of the annual Restoring Promise convening where all Restoring Promise jurisdictions and community partners come together to learn, grow, and connect as part of the movement;
    Support initiative leadership in expanding the reach of the initiative.


This is a growing initiative at Vera, which means your work will evolve over time. If you were here right now though you might be working on projects like the following:

    Working with the team to select the next corrections agency to join the Restoring Promise initiative;
    Managing the components necessary for a kick-off meeting with the new agency: prison tours, scheduling research data collection, and working with the Director of the agency to assemble a work group;
    Hosting an upcoming event at a Restoring Promise site at a women’s prison to celebrate the one year anniversary;
    Putting together a presentation to directors of corrections agencies for a national conference;
    Reviewing policy recommendations for prisons with a race equity and inclusion lens;
    Drafting performance metrics reports for Vera’s leadership team and board.


Who You Are

You have experience with the justice system—either you were yourself in the system, have a family member who is/was in the system, you worked in the system, or you worked to change the system.

You are deeply committed to the missions of racial justice and ending mass incarceration. You are knowledgeable about and fluent in discussing and advancing both racial justice and ending mass incarceration.

To be successful in this job, you will excel in the following core areas:

    Management and leadership: You are detail-oriented but can see the big picture and navigate the on the spot innovation. You keep track of multiple competing deadlines/priorities across a range of topic areas (for example: site work, communications, grant writing). You center race equity and inclusion with a healing informed lens in your approach and decision making as a manager and leader. You’re skilled in the art of motivating a group of people to move towards a common goal linked with the ability to plan and organize complex projects from start to finish. You excel working independently but are able to balance roles on a team: leading but also serving as a member of work teams.
    Exceptional problem solving and rigorous thinking: You have strong social emotional awareness within yourself, towards your team and external partners coupled with an awareness and openness of your opportunities to learn and grow. You quickly pick up on, adapt to, and take action to address issues. You exercise good judgement and problem solving by pausing before allowing urgency to trump inclusion or relationship. You have expertise in specific areas of justice reform, such as culture change in correctional settings, restorative justice, young adult development, the historical legacy of slavery and the genocide of indigenous people; and cross-generational and inter-generational mentorship. You understand how to leverage data/data analysis in (quantitative and qualitative) in service of technical assistance and coaching.
    Cultural humility and commitment to racial equity: We are committed to making our organization one where people from all races and backgrounds thrive, you have experience working in and creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments. You bring real commitment to those values and a thoughtful perspective on how best to advance them. You are quick on your feet and willing to hold clear, direct, and courageous conversations. You bring an intersectional lens and are a skilled facilitator with a sensitivity to navigating power dynamics across race, class, and position (i.e. people who are incarcerated, people who are formerly incarcerated, family and community members impacted by incarceration, stakeholders, agency leadership, line staff).
    Prior experience: You have 6 – 8 years of experience in the prison reform movement including facilitating meetings and/or workshops, coordinating projects, writing grants, holding leadership roles, and working with people directly impacted by the justice system (formerly incarcerated people and line staff). You have experience working inside prisons and jails either in a research, programmatic, or community building capacity.


Last, but not least! You love to travel and can do so frequently.



Based on experience, and including excellent benefits, Vera believes in compensating its staff members at or above market. The salary range for this position is $80,000 – 95,000.


How to apply

Please submit a cover letter and your resume. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until position is filled. Online submission in PDF format (through Vera’s careers page) is preferred.


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

ATTN: Human Resources / Senior Program Associate, Restoring Promise

Vera Institute of Justice

233 Broadway, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10279

Fax: (212) 941-9407


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’s work, please visit www.vera.org.

Job posted on 5th June 2019
Please mention Human Rights Jobs when applying to this position