Associate Director/Director, Criminal Justice Reform

Washington, DC, USA
Posted on  

Job Description

Reports to: Senior Director, Criminal Justice Reform

Staff reporting to this position: None

Department: Rights and Justice

Position classification: Exempt, full time

Minimum compensation: $75,000/$90,000

Work site: Hybrid (on-site two days per week, Washington, D.C., office)


American Progress is seeking an Associate Director or Director to join its Criminal Justice Reform team. American Progress is dedicated to improving community safety and justice by developing, advancing, and amplifying progressive policies that create safer, healthier, and more equitable communities and provide second chances to people exiting incarceration; pushing back against punitive criminal legal system policies that cause disproportionate harms to people of color; ensuring that federal policies, programs, and dollars are implemented effectively, equitably, and in ways that create openings for more ambitious policies; and shaping and driving the narrative that progressive policies and reforms are good for community safety as well as the economy, public health, and overall well-being of the country. The work of the Criminal Justice Reform team—which is situated within American Progress’ Rights and Justice department—aims to reduce the footprint of the criminal legal system, reduce barriers to reentry for people returning to the community from incarceration, and create meaningful alternatives to the criminal legal system that improve community safety and public health.

The Associate Director or Director will help lead American Progress’ efforts to further these goals by developing and seeking to advance smart, focused strategies through research, strategic communications, and working in coalition with stakeholders at the federal, state, and local levels. The Associate Director or Director will be driven by American Progress’ mission to improve the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action, with the aim of not only changing the conversation, but changing the country. This work will require a focus on identifying points of connectivity between criminal justice reform issues and American Progress’ five crosscutting priorities:

  • Strengthening health and ending the pandemic
  • Building an economy for all
  • Tackling climate change and environmental injustice
  • Advancing racial equity and justice
  • Restoring social trust in democracy

The Associate Director or Director for Criminal Justice Reform will help lead American Progress’ criminal justice policy, research, and analysis efforts. This position requires developing, communicating, and moving toward implementing research-driven policy ideas. The ideal candidate will have a strong command and understanding of criminal justice research and policy; facility with local, state, or federal government institutions—particularly those that are part of the broader justice system; and relationships with key stakeholders in the field, including individuals directly affected by the justice system.


  • Work collaboratively to develop a policy research, advocacy, and communications agenda and actively participate in connecting criminal justice reform work with American Progress’ crosscutting priorities.
  • Research, draft, and manage the production and distribution of a variety of written products, such as reports, issue briefs, articles, and op-eds, that advance criminal justice reform work and translate research findings for a broader audience.
  • Analyze federal and state legislative proposals, administrative policies, and regulatory changes.
  • Conduct quantitative and qualitative research.
  • Translate current developments in criminal justice research into practical guidance and recommendations for policymakers.
  • Participate in efforts to craft timely and effective policy reports and rapid-response documents to ensure relevant participation in policy debates.
  • Represent American Progress with the public, media, policymakers, and other outside groups and individuals.
  • Build and maintain key relationships across the criminal justice reform field, including with allied organizations, policymakers, and directly affected individuals.
  • Promote criminal justice reform priorities and work products both inside and outside the organization.
  • Keep American Progress staff updated on research developments, news, and events related to relevant policy debates.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Requirements and qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience; an advanced degree is a plus.
  • At least six years of relevant experience for the Associate Director role; 7 to 10 years of experience for the Director role.
  • Knowledge of criminal justice research and policymaking at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • Established relationships with research institutions, policymakers, advocates, and community leaders inside Washington, D.C., and in the states are a plus.
  • Excellent presentation and written and oral communication skills.
  • Strong analytical skills; quantitative skills are a plus.
  • Proven team player who works well and effectively with colleagues.
  • Strong political instincts and experience working with coalitions and diverse stakeholders.
  • Ability to prioritize, multitask, and meet deadlines in a fast-paced environment.
  • Commitment to American Progress’ mission and goals.

American Progress provides a competitive compensation and benefits package. This position is not represented by a union. Candidates from diverse backgrounds, including candidates who have been affected by the justice system, are strongly encouraged to apply. The minimum salary for the Associate Director position is $75,000, and the minimum salary for the Director position is $90,000.

We will continue to monitor COVID-19 and the levels of community spread and adjust plans as needed for in-office work. Any changes to our current hybrid work policy will be communicated at the time of hire. Updates will be posted on American Progress’ Jobs page.