VOCAL-NY (Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders) Seeks Community Justice Organizer (Brooklyn, NY)

Organizational Background

VOCAL-NY is a grassroots membership organization dedicated to building the power of low-income people affected by the drug war, mass incarceration, HIV/AIDS and homelessness to create healthy and just communities. We accomplish this through community organizing, advocacy, direct services, and strategic communications. You can learn more about our work through our website and Facebook and Twitter pages.

Position Description

The Community Justice Organizer will be responsible for building and coordinating two new and innovative VOCAL-NY projects that promote community-led approaches to criminal justice reform.

The first is coordinating VOCAL-NY’s Participatory Defense group – a community organizing project that brings together New Yorkers with open court cases (or their loved ones) to share knowledge, resources, and strategies on how to impact the outcome of cases and alter the dynamics of power in the court system. We hope to build a culture of agency among people directly impacted by the criminal justice system in order to affect meaningful change on both individual cases and on how the public, in general, interacts with the court process.

The second project is Court Watch NYC – a project that trains New Yorkers to watch and report on what’s happening in courtrooms to promote transparency, accountability, and justice. The aim of Court Watch NYC is three-fold: (1) hold prosecutors accountable to their promises to reduce inequality and unnecessary incarceration; (2) sustain community presence and pressure to shift court practices and culture; (3) build a base of New Yorkers that are engaged in criminal justice reform. Note: VOCAL-NY works closely with a peer organization to manage this project, and splits the workload accordingly.

Although distinct projects, the hope is for the successful candidate to build synergy between the two projects and find ways for both directly impacted individuals and allies to play meaningful roles in achieving criminal justice reform.

Job Responsibilities

For Participatory Defense the Community Justice Organizer will be responsible for:

  • Community Organizing– recruit individuals with open court cases and their loved ones to take part in participatory defense meetings; convene and facilitate regular participatory defense meetings; train participatory defense alumni to become facilitators and stay involved in the program; engage individuals to stay involved with ongoing VOCAL-NY campaigns related to criminal justice reform.
  • Court Support – escort individuals to their court dates, or organize others to do so. 
  • Research Support – help individuals with research related to their case.
  • Resource Sharing – connect individuals to resources as needed (i.e. legal services, housing support)

For Court Watch NYC the Community Justice Organizer will be responsible for:                       

  • Volunteer Coordination – recruit volunteers; schedule court watch shifts & reminders; respond to the day-to-day needs of volunteers; organize regular debrief events.
  • Training & Education– create accessible and engaging trainings for court watch volunteers; organize and co-facilitate regular training sessions (at least monthly); develop educational tools and materials as needed.
  • Communications & Media – manage the Court Watch NYC email, website, Facebook & Twitter; respond to press inquiries as needed.
  • Project Design & Evaluation – develop and implement new ideas as the court watch program grows, create tools to evaluate success, and make modifications as needed.
  • Overall Project Management – work closely with our core organizational partners on overall project management, and be ready to take on unexpected tasks.

Requirements / Qualifications

The ideal candidate will be an energetic, self-motivated individual who has strong inter-personal, public speaking, writing, and problem solving skills. Candidates must have a demonstrated commitment to criminal justice reform and a willingness to approach these issues through a racial justice analysis.

The ideal candidate will have:

  • A deep commitment to ending mass incarceration.
  • A deep commitment to working with and promoting the leadership of people directly impacted by mass incarceration.
  • At least 2 years of full-time community organizing (or related) experience.
  • Familiarity with the New York City criminal legal system – including key players, processes, and practices – and an understanding of why the system is in need of reform. 
  • A willingness to work in a fast-paced environment, with changing assignments.
  • An ability to lead their own projects, and take initiative.
  • Excellent ability to facilitate meetings and trainings, coordinate coalitions, and develop partnerships among a wide and diverse array of stakeholders.
  • Excellent written communication skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Proficiency with common business software (e.g. MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Gmail).

This is a full-time position. The position will require occasional attendance at evening and weekend meetings.


VOCAL-NY offers a generous benefits package of twenty days of paid vacation, monthly metro card, full cell phone coverage, a 100% employer-covered health and dental insurance plan, and 403(b) retirement plan.

 Level of Language Proficiency: Conversational Spanish preferred.

Professional Level: Professional

Minimum Education Required: No requirement

How To Apply


Please send a cover letter and resume to jobs [at] vocal-ny.org . In the subject line, please write “Community Justice Organizer [Your Name]”. No phone calls, please.

VOCAL-NY is an equal opportunity employer. People of color, people who are formerly incarcerated, people living with HIV or Hepatitis C, women, LGBT people, and those who have been adversely affected by the criminal justice system and the war on drugs are strongly encouraged to apply.