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Senior Director, Criminal Justice Reform

  • Reports to: Senior Vice President, Rights and Justice. In the interim, this position reports to Executive Vice President, Policy
  • Staff reporting to this position: Criminal Justice Reform team
  • Department: Criminal Justice
  • Position classification: Exempt, full time; Nonunion - Level 8
  • Minimum compensation: $110,000


American Progress is dedicated to developing policies that (1) shrink the footprint of the criminal justice system while improving public health and safety; (2) promote equity and accountability within the justice system; and (3) provide opportunities for people directly impacted by a criminal conviction. The Criminal Justice Reform team’s work stems from principles of fair laws and enforcement of laws, just and proportional responses to crime, comprehensive investments in safety outside of the justice system; and data- and evidence-driven solutions. The Senior Director for Criminal Justice Reform will 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 Senior Director’s role 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 also focus on identifying and executing on points of connectivity between criminal justice reform issues and American Progress’ five cross-cutting priorities:

  • Strengthening public health and ending the pandemic
  • Building an economy for all
  • Securing a sustainable climate
  • Advancing racial equity and justice
  • Restoring social trust and strengthening democracy

This position requires developing, communicating, and moving toward implementing policy ideas that provide a new way forward for a range of equity challenges in an increasingly diverse America, with a particular focus on shrinking the footprint of the justice system and ensuring safe communities for everyone. The Senior Director will create a work plan for the Criminal Justice Reform team that focuses on the most urgent and relevant justice reform issues, identify opportunities to engage with American Progress’ cross-cutting priorities, and develop clear annual objectives with measurable outcomes. The position requires coordinating policy analyses and substantial research and writing for the team, while also working regularly on relevant and timely ideas and issues with other teams. The Senior Director will also manage the team’s relationships with outside stakeholders, including ally organizations, policymakers, and the media.

This leader will have the opportunity to further build and manage a dynamic, high-performing team. They will think strategically about turning ideas into action, collaborating with other teams at American Progress within their department and across the organization, as well as in coalition with other organizations and stakeholders in this space. This leader will be expected to help raise funds commensurate with the team’s strategy and build-out plan and to support the Rights and Justice Department within American Progress. The ideal candidate will have a strong command and understanding of criminal justice 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 impacted by the justice system.


  • Provide day-to-day management for the Criminal Justice Reform team, develop its policy research and communications agenda, and actively participate in connecting the team’s work with American Progress’ cross-cutting priorities.
  • Work with the department Senior Vice President and the Executive Vice President for Policy to set the strategic direction for American Progress’ priorities related to criminal justice reform, including the development of cross-cutting efforts.
  • Play a leading role in managing the team’s budget, assist with fundraising to meet the team’s policy work plan, and support American Progress’ cross-cutting work.
  • Represent the Criminal Justice Reform team with the public, media, and other outside groups and individuals.
  • Build and maintain key relationships across the criminal justice reform field, including allied organizations, policymakers, and directly impacted individuals.
  • Promote team priorities and work products both inside and outside the organization.
  • Assist colleagues and guide the team in crafting timely policy reports and rapid-response documents to ensure relevant participation in policy debates.
  • Keep American Progress staff updated on news and events related to relevant policy debates.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Requirements and qualifications:

  • Commitment to the American Progress’ mission and goals.
  • Bachelor’s degree is required; advanced degree is preferred.
  • Knowledge and experiential expertise as well as a proven track record.
  • Deep knowledge of criminal justice policymaking and programmatic efforts at the local, state, and federal level.
  • Must have established relationships with policymakers, advocates, and community leaders in Washington, D.C., and in the states.
  • Excellent presentation and written and oral communication skills.
  • Strong analytical skills; quantitative skills are a plus.
  • Experience with fundraising and managing budgets.
  • Skills and experience in managing a team and actively participating in cross-team and cross-organizational efforts.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop strategic, long-term plans and implement them successfully.
  • Strong political instincts and experience working with coalitions.
  • Ability to prioritize, multitask, and meet deadlines in a fast-paced environment.

American Progress offers full and competitive benefit packages. This position is not represented by a union and has an approximate threshold salary of $125,000. Candidates from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

To Apply

Please follow the link below to the online application. When completing the application, be sure to combine your cover letter and resume/CV into one Word or PDF file and upload this combined document. The system does not allow for multiple files.

This announcement will remain posted until the position is filled. No phone calls, please.
Please note that only those individuals whose qualifications match the current needs of this position will be considered applicants and will receive responses from American Progress.
Thank you for your interest in American Progress.

Additional information

American Progress operates two separate nonprofit organizations to maximize the progressive agenda: the Center for American Progress and the Center for American Progress Action Fund. This job posting refers collectively to the two organizations under the name “American Progress.” The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) tax-exempt research and educational institute. It undertakes research, public education and a limited amount of lobbying. The Center for American Progress Action Fund is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization dedicated to achieving progress through action. It works to transform progressive ideas into policy through rapid-response communications, legislative action, grassroots organizing, political advocacy, and partnerships with other progressive leaders. The organizations share office space and employees.

American Progress is dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Diversity is more than a commitment at American Progress—it is the foundation of what we do. American Progress recruits, employs, trains, compensates, and promotes regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, disability, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, color, marital status, veteran status, medical condition, and all the other characteristics that make us unique.

For more information on the Center for American Progress, please go to For more information on the Center for American Progress Action Fund, please go to