Associate Director of Programs

Membership & Organizing · Oakland/Los Angeles, California
Department Membership & Organizing
Employment Type Full-Time
Compensation $100,000 - $110,000

The Opportunity

Essie Justice Group (Essie) is building grassroots power to dismantle the US incarceration system, the most egregious creator of racial and gender injustice of our time. We are a loving and powerful community of women with incarcerated loved onesand include cisgender women, transgender women, formerly incarcerated women, gender non-conforming (gnc) people, elders, and young people. 

Building a sustainable grassroots institution that can be leveraged in the fight for a Black Feminist future is a priority at Essie. Through the development of thoughtful organizing models, a vibrant organizational culture, and scalable structure our aim is to break the isolation of the 1 in 4 women who have loved ones behind bars and sustain bold decarceration advocacy through the leadership of women with loved ones behind bars. After seven years building an active membership across California, Essie is waging ever more ambitious campaigns to divest from state-sponsored punitive control and invest in structures that support the self-determination, freedom, and dignity of Black women and gender non-conforming (gnc) people. Ready to scale our organizing program to build the first national community of women with incarcerated loved ones in the United States, we are seeking a motivated, strategic and mission-driven Associate Director of Programs to lead the team that brings this vision to life. 

The Associate Director of Programs knows how to leverage people and resources to accomplish significant goals. As an integral member of the senior management team for Essie’s Membership & Organizing  Team, the Associate Director will lead a team to run leadership development programs including Essie’s signature organizing mode -- our Healing to Advocacy program,  and our Campaign School. The Associate Director of Programs oversees all program implementation, supervision, coaching and development of staff to ensure our programs are thriving, innovative, and impactful. 

Essie’s Healing to Advocacy organizing model and programs have graduated 29 cohorts of women and gnc people with incarcerated loved ones into our membership. Program graduates make up the core of our member leadership structure across California. We are excited to expand our membership of women with incarcerated loved ones across the country while sustaining the model as a key pillar in our movement-building strategy. The Associate Director of Programs will drive this initiative and manage the team who executes it. 

The ideal candidate is a seasoned program director who thrives when designing and running programs and also has the organizing instincts to understand how to leverage programs to build people power and drive movement-building work at scale. This person is an innovator who can take a program from ideation to implementation to scale, and can coach and inspire their team to engage in continuous learning to improve the program over time and as it grows. 

Start date: January 10, 2022. 

Core Responsibilities

Team Leadership - Develop and manage our program staff, which includes our Program Manager for our flagship Healing to Advocacy program and is projected to expand to include additional facilitators and curriculum designers. 

  • Ensure programs are well-resourced and supported and aligned with departmental and organizational strategic priorities.
  • Recruit, onboard, and support new Program staff. 
  • Observe and provide feedback to facilitators, as needed.
  • Manage department systems and reporting to key stakeholders.
  • Support the development and monitoring of program budgets and spending.
  • Write reports and program updates for internal coordination and for external audiences such as for funders, grant proposals, for marketing and communications purposes such as the website and public-facing organizational materials. 

Program Innovation - Oversee program evaluation including the design and collection of participant feedback and outcomes tracking; use insights gathered from data to improve and enhance programs.   

  • Work hand-in-hand with the Healing to Advocacy Program Manager to scale, iterate and enhance the program.
  • Co-facilitate convenings and trainings to drive programmatic work.   
  • Ensure Program curriculum and materials remain relevant and are enhanced through regular refresh sessions. 
  • Stay abreast of best practices, particularly in popular education and adult learning to improve program delivery. 
  • Co-develop new programs and conduct research, as needed, to inform the design of upcoming projects, training, or any other beneficial activities relevant to the program staff’s needs.

Who We’re Looking For 

Ideal Qualifications

  • 7+ years experience in adult learning and program management (design, implementation and/or evaluation) preferably in community organizing contexts with a leadership development focus and a minimum of 2 years serving in management role(s) within the nonprofit sector.
  • Meaningful experience supervising multiple full time staff and experience supporting colleagues with direct experience of incarceration.
  • Significant experience supervising people in a way that acknowledges differentials in privilege and power, recognizes their gifts, encourages their confidence, supports their growth, and holds them accountable to standards.
  • Advanced experience in facilitating retreats, workshops, and/or popular education trainings.
  • Impeccable attention to detail and effective writing, editing, and verbal communication skills.
  • Track record as a collaborative leader who excels in managing multiple projects, and is comfortable working in a fast-paced and non-traditional work environment. 
  • Adept with Mac operating systems, Google Suite, and MS Office Suite (especially Excel, Powerpoint and Word).
  • Commitment to the beliefs and values of Essie with a demonstrated passion for progressive politics, specifically in gender justice, race justice and ending mass incarceration.


  • Big picture planner. You find great joy in running smooth and efficient programs and leading a high-functioning team. With ease and grounded purpose,  you regularly look ahead and see how your near-term efforts collectively build up to create a powerful movement to end systems of oppression.
  • A sophisticated builder. You love helping people learn and grow, try new things, and think more deeply about their own potential for impact. In this way, you build the confidence of others and you build strong teams. But you are not satisfied with that alone, you care deeply about the tangibles of what those teams create. You are good at coming up with new models, programs, and structures and managing participatory creative processes. You employ numbers, SMART goals, and evaluative data because you connect to their pragmatic value, rather than an empty “best practice.” 
  • Discernment and honesty we can trust. You are a thoughtful team member who acts in alignment with your integrity and are unfailingly trustworthy. 
  • Sees #Woke as a verb. You are committed to continuously deepening and evolving your own understanding of systems of oppression through study, openness, and humility. And you easily recognize your own relationship to privilege and power, examining and shifting your behaviors as appropriate.
  • Uplifting and additive. You see mistakes as opportunities for growth; problems as catalysts for solutions, and inspire others along the journey. You carry a positive approach, can-do attitude, a sense of humor, and authentic kindness wherever you go.

The Position

The Associate Director of Programs is a full-time, salaried, exempt position. This position is supervised by the National Organizing Director. The salary for this position is between $100,000 - $110,000 depending on experience with full medical, dental, and vision benefits, optional 401(k), a substantial vacation package, and a monthly personal wellness stipend. The position is based in one of Essie’s offices in Oakland or Los Angeles, California. Essie has a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy.

To Apply

Please address a thoughtful cover letter to the “Essie Hiring Committee” and submit along with a resume through our hiring portal (

Essie Justice Group provides equal employment and advancement opportunities to all staff members. Employment decisions are based on merit, qualifications, and skills. Essie does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, immigration status, socioeconomic status, ancestry, age, size, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, familial status, veteran status, disability, AIDS/HIV status, medical condition, prior conviction, arrest history, traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Essie values and specifically seeks applicants who are people with incarcerated loved ones; formerly incarcerated people; people of color; women; queer, transgender, gender non-conforming (gnc), and gender fluid people. 

This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, performance assessment, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

About Essie Justice Group

Essie Justice Group is a non profit organization of women with incarcerated loved ones taking on the rampant injustices created by mass incarceration. Our award-winning Healing to Advocacy Model brings women together to heal, build collective power, and drive social change. Essie is Great Place to Work-Certified™ by Great Place to Work.

Learn more at

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  • Location
    Oakland/Los Angeles, California
  • Department
    Membership & Organizing
  • Employment Type
  • Compensation
    $100,000 - $110,000