Established over two decades ago by Alan V. and Amy Lowenstein,
the Institute undertakes dynamic and independent advocacy aimed at
toppling load-bearing walls of structural racial inequality to
create just, vibrant and healthy urban communities of color.
The Institute employs a broad range of advocacy tools to advance
our ambitious racial and social justice agenda, including research,
analysis and writing, public education, grassroots organizing,
communications, development of pilot programs, legislative
strategies and litigation.
As was the case at our founding, this moment calls for racial
and social justice advocacy inspired by the fierce urgency of now.
In recent years, Jim Crow-like voter suppression has swept across
America. The time is now for not only meaningful voting reform, but
to also evaluate how we can transform civic engagement and
expand democracy in New Jersey.
We continue to serve as a leading voice in designing, advocating
for and implementing solutions to the systemic racism that has
pervaded the Garden State and our nation.
To answer this mighty charge, the Institute advocates for
unapologetically progressive and reparative systems that build
wealth in urban communities, transform youth justice and build
Using a holistic approach to address the unique and critical
issues facing New Jersey’s urban communities of color, the
Institute advocates for systemic reform that is at once
transformative, achievable in the state and replicable in
communities across the nation.
The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (“Institute”) seeks
a dedicated, creative, social and racial justice-minded person to
serve as the Director of the Democracy & Justice Pillar. This
is a unique position that combines rigorous research, policy
analysis, litigation and carrying out community-driven advocacy
campaigns to help advance our mission and innovative agenda.
This is an exciting opportunity, at a critical time in our
history, to advance racial and social justice on behalf of New
Jersey’s urban communities through the Institute’s Democracy and
The Institute’s Democracy & Justice Pillar advocates to
build a progressive, policy-driven agenda to protect and expand
democracy particularly for people of color in New Jersey; to
provide a space for robust discussions with policy makers and
elected officials, focused on social justice issues; and prepare
voters to realize maximum participation in the next several
election cycles and collecting and analyzing data from those
elections to identify and offer policy recommendations to address
voting barriers. In the last few years, the Institute built
coalitions and advocated for various voting reforms in the state,
including voting rights restoration, ending prison-based
gerrymandering, Census outreach, online voter registration, ballot
access during COVID-19, racial equity in redistricting, same-day
registration, early voting, and limiting police presence at voting
Over the coming years, the pillar will work on many initiatives
to expand democracy in New Jersey, including but not limited
to: restore the vote to incarcerated people; institute same
day registration, including on election day; restore the right to
serve on a jury for people with criminal convictions and explore
methods to incorporate voting rights into state law as the federal
Voting Rights Act is under attack.
The Director of the Democracy and Justice Program will report to
the Institute’s Law & Policy Director. The position, housed in
Newark, New Jersey, will require travel throughout the state and
occasional travel to national conferences, seminars and events. The
position may also require some speaking engagements outside of
normal office hours (including on weekends). The Institute has a
hybrid work schedule.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Director of the Democracy and Justice Program, working with
the President & CEO and reporting directly to the Law and
Policy Director, is responsible for leading a program staff that
includes two Associate Counsels, a Policy Analyst, a program
associate and legal interns.
The responsibilities of the Director of the Democracy
and Justice Program include but are not limited to
- Work in partnership with the Law & Policy Director to (1)
implement and manage the Institute’s strategic vision for democracy
and justice programs, (2) cast a vision for democracy and justice
in New Jersey, (3) set goals for the Program, (4) monitor progress
and (5) evaluate outcomes to ensure that objectives are met and in
line with the needs and mission of the organization.
- Help execute programmatic functions and supervise and monitor
implementation of the Institute’s strategic vision for democracy
and justice programs—including the integration of advocacy,
legislative initiatives, policy goals, public education, targeted
campaigns and litigation.
- Act as a public spokesperson for the Institute on racial and
social justice issues, engage in public speaking, and participate
in public education activities to articulate the Institute’s views
on a broad range of racial and social justice issues to the public
and various stakeholder constituencies.
- Build strategic alliances with organizations and individuals to
advance the Institute’s mission, engage on shared priorities, and
exchange knowledge and information in support of the Institute’s
programs and initiatives.
- In partnership with the Law & Policy Director, coordinate
with the Chief Operating Officer and staff team to develop and stay
abreast of democracy and justice operations, planning, budget,
spending and funder compliance.
- In partnership with the Law & Policy Director, collaborate
and coordinate with the Director of Development to advance the
Institute’s fundraising priorities.
- Write and edit legal and policy briefs, as well as program
descriptions, in furtherance of program goals and funder
- Form and maintain relationships with Institute partners,
including other legal service agencies, law firms, the cooperating
attorney network, law students, community-based organizations,
policy institutions, et al.
- Assist the Law & Policy Director and others on the senior
management team in fostering internal collaboration, creating
professional growth opportunities at the Institute, and promoting a
work environment that encourages independent judgment and values
- In partnership with the Law & Policy Director, work with
the Director of Communications to integrate policy and legal
advocacy with communications, including through public education
materials, policy reports, white papers, talking points, op-eds and
- In partnership with the Law & Policy Director, work with
community engagement staff to incorporate community outreach and
field organizing into program campaigns.
- Develop and manage special projects and initiatives, including
litigation, when appropriate.
- Act as a thought partner and collaborative teammate with other
Institute Staff and model values of an inclusive and respectful
workplace, fostering the same in the staff.
The Institute is seeking an ambitious and dedicated Director,
with experience challenging systemic racial discrimination through
advocacy, to lead the Democracy and Justice Program. The successful
candidate will have a strong track record in leadership and driving
a vision within a complex and multi-faceted program. An ideal
candidate will have personal experience in organizing and coalition
building, as well as a track record of strategic development of
long-term policy plans.
This position requires the highest integrity, sound judgment and
strong communication skills. Given the interconnected nature of the
Institute’s work, an ideal candidate must also be able to
effectively work in a highly collaborative team environment.
The successful candidate will also have:
- J.D. required
- Significant racial justice and voting rights advocacy
- Ideal candidates will have significant racial justice
experience, either through personal connection and history or
through work experience, with people harmed by structural racial
- An ability to develop and implement multi-faceted campaigns
that include litigation, public education, advocacy, and media
- Ability to work effectively with diverse coalitions and
community groups, particularly of color, and to work across
political ideology, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic circumstances,
religion, gender, sexual orientation, and religion.
- Passion for, and knowledge of, racial and social justice, and a
familiarity with the work and mission of the Institute.
- Experience supervising staff and leading teams. Ability to
listen, coach, shepherd, and support people to achieve shared
- Excellent research, writing and communication skills; superior
attention to detail; ability to work on multiple projects
simultaneously; good problem-solving skills; and a positive,
professional attitude with excellent judgment, flexibility,
determination, and grace in a sometimes high-pressure office.
- Integrity, honesty and a balanced, non-partisan approach.
- The ability to work effectively in a collaborative context,
both internally and externally.
- Sophistication about public policy and an intellectual
This is a full-time, at-will position. Salary is commensurate
with experience and includes excellent benefits, including health,
dental/vision, a 401(k) plan with an employer contribution, Medical
Expense Reimbursement Program, life insurance, and generous
vacation, sick, and holiday leave.
How to Apply:
Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and will be
accepted until the position is filled. Please email your cover
letter, resume, two professional writing samples on which you are
the primary author, and three professional references to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Please submit your application materials via
Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF. Include all attachments in a single
email stating, in the subject line, “Director of Democracy and
The Institute is committed to providing access, equal
opportunity and reasonable accommodation for individuals with
disabilities in employment, its programs, and operations. As part
of this commitment, the Institute will ensure that persons with
disabilities are provided reasonable accommodations. If a
reasonable accommodation is needed to participate in the job
application process, please contact email@example.com or call
The Institute is an equal opportunity employer and values a
diverse workforce and an inclusive culture.