Innovation Associate, Innovation Team (Brooklyn)

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Published 7 days ago

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.

Who you are:

Vera generates ideas to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems and takes them to national scale. Following the completion of our strategic plan, we are expanding and formalizing our infrastructure for this multistage ideation and scaling process—which we call the Impact Pipeline. This staged process helps Vera staff generate ideas with potential for national impact, pilot those ideas, adapt, and improve them, and evaluate their effectiveness.

In this new position, the Innovation Team is seeking an Innovation Associate, who has experience working in service/advocacy and/or program design in a social sector. They will work closely with the Innovation Director and Innovation Senior Associate to run ideation sessions and design sprints for ideas in the early stages of the pipeline. The Associate will conduct stakeholder and landscape analyses to better understand the problem space and the solution opportunities for new ideas through desk research, and internal and external interviews with both subject matter and context experts. They will synthesize the research and draft stakeholder/power/user journey maps, other relevant artifacts, and summaries of the findings. They will conduct analyses of the learnings and takeaways to co-design prototypes with teams on the Pipeline, as well as test and iterate those prototypes with relevant stakeholders. The Innovation Associate will work with the Impact Pipeline team to ensure that research, analyses and prototyping advance Race Equity and Inclusion.

In this role, you will:

Primary and secondary landscape research

  • Conduct desk research/literature reviews on ideas to better understand the context, opportunities, and stakeholders.
  • Co-develop questionnaires with initiative teams and the Innovation team for internal and external context and subject matter expert interviews.
  • Conduct interviews with relevant context and subject matter experts to better understand opportunities for the ideas.
  • Synthesize the outputs of the primary and secondary research into landscape analyses and other relevant artifacts including stakeholder maps, user journey maps, power maps, user personas, initial theories of change etc.

Workshop preparation and facilitation

  • Support the Senior Innovation Associate and Director of Innovation to prepare for ideation workshops to help teams generate new ideas that can be submitted to the Impact Pipeline. 
  • Work with relevant initiative teams to co-lead and prepare for workshops and design sprints with key stakeholders. Stakeholders may include Vera staff, partner organizations, members of the community, and technical experts. Preparations may include: drafting agendas, setting up Miro boards, preparing instructions and designing decks. 
  • With the innovation team, synthesize insights from the workshops and summarize next steps.

Prototype creation and design

  • Support teams to develop testable ideas based on design research, literature reviews, landscape analysis, and stakeholder interviews. Prototypes may include sample messages, mockups of service experience, role plays, and user journeys; and the designer will work closely with relevant advocacy, communications, research and technical teams to align on needs and goals for the prototypes. 
  • Support Stage One teams to test these prototypes and make refinements based on the learnings.

Other duties as assigned

What qualifications do you need?


  • Experience designing services, programs, or advocacy campaigns of 3 + years
  • Qualitative research/human-centered design research with diverse populations of 2+ years
  • Experience conducting desk reviews/literature reviews 
  • Experience prototyping/testing interventions with diverse populations, including subject matter experts and context experts such as grassroots and community partners. 
  • Experience facilitating workshops on designing services, programs, or advocacy campaigns.
  • Proven commitment to racial equity and its intersections and experience engaging in conversations about race, equity, and inclusion
  • Strong facilitation and communication for running workshops and sharing out learnings and results. 
  • Excellent qualitative research analysis skills, able to summarize learnings clearly and succinctly, and effectively share with different audiences
  • Ability to proactively seek out, graciously receive and quickly adapt processes and outputs based on feedback
  • Excellent organizational skills and ability to work on multiple projects effectively and efficiently, both independently and collaboratively with a team
  • Knowledge of or lived experience with criminal and immigration legal systems


  • BA in social sciences, qualitative research, policy, law/legal studies, or relevant degree 
  • Experience designing for social impact/justice systems 
  • Experience working with people who have been impacted by the US criminal legal or immigration system
  • Proficient with Miro/Mural or other virtual whiteboards

List of Required Software applications:

  • Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite

Applications may also be faxed to:

ATTN: Human Resources / Innovation Associate, Innovation Team 

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

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…

Details at a Glance

  • Time Commitment
    Full Time Schedule
  • Professional Level


Temporarily Remote
Work may be performed anywhere in United States
Associated Location
34 35th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232, United States

How to Apply

Please apply through our career cite:

Please apply through our career cite:

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