Policy Associate

Campaigns & Advocacy · Oakland/Los Angeles, California
Department Campaigns & Advocacy
Employment Type Full-Time
Compensation $75,000-$80,000

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 ones—and include cisgender women, transgender women, formerly incarcerated women, gender nonconforming (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 to sustain bold decarceration advocacy through the leadership of women with loved ones behind bars. For the past seven years, we have been building an active membership across California and at the national level. Last year, Essie led in the development of transformative policy solutions including the Movement for Black Lives's BREATHE Act. Now, 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 GNC people.

As we continue and build upon our focused advocacy work, we are seeking a Policy Associate to aid the Director of Campaigns & Advocacy in developing campaigns that leverage our collective power and transform systems of control and confinement.The Policy Associate is a powerful analytical thinker and writer who is passionate about campaigns, believes deeply in a people-based power theory of change, and has a deep understanding and empathy for how policy impacts people. 

As a member of the Campaigns & Advocacy Team, the Policy Associate will lead on the policy research, analysis, and outreach that supports the development of member-led local and statewide campaign work. The Policy Associate will have the strategic skill of a campaigner and the orientation of an organizer, serving as a trainer and translator of policy for members—working in a way that recognizes and hones the expertise and potential that exists within our members to be leaders of criminal justice policy change. 

Start date: January 10, 2022. 

Core Responsibilities

Policy Research, Analysis, & Advocacy - Drive Essie’s policy and advocacy work forward by tracking legislation, conducting research, recommending strategies, coordinating campaigns, and preparing impact reports.

  • Monitor and track state and local legislation and regulatory policy impacting Essie’s membership and communicate relevance to key internal stakeholders.
  • Conduct research and make policy recommendations that help build or strengthen decarceration campaigns rooted in Essie’s abolitionist, race, and gender justice perspective.
  • Conduct research, make policy recommendations, and advise on organizational strategy relating to campaigns/initiatives external to Essie that impact our membership.
  • Coordinate the advancement of Essie-sponsored proposed policy through the appropriate channels of government from ideation to making it law.
  • Prepare high-quality deliverables such as policy reports, white papers, policy position letters, fact sheets, presentations, and other materials to develop and communicate policy positions and/or further campaign demands (subject areas could include pretrial conditions, sentencing, visiting regulations, conditions in women’s prisons, reentry, corrections budgets, policing, etc.).
  • Hold relationships with partners and represent Essie in coalitions within our field that drive our policy work forward.

Member Engagement & Training - Inform, train, and support Essie members to navigate policy and develop advocacy skills.

  • Train and coach members on lobby visits and other legislative advocacy-related skills.
  • Help Essie members to navigate policy for the sake of their lives - not 1:1, but in situations that will affect a group or all of our members through preparing and implementing presentations, agendas, materials, and activities that resonate, are deeply relevant, and engaging.
  • Issue regular policy updates to members (e.g. develop a 1-pager on new policies that require members to take affirmative steps in order to access a benefit/ opportunity, present information on member calls about the status of any policy or proposed bill, etc.).
  • Coordinate the participation of subject matter experts in member calls or trainings on policy. 
  • Lead on special projects related to member education and advocacy.

 Ideal Qualifications

  • A minimum of 3 to 5 years of public policy experience at either federal, state, or local level.
  • Excellent analytical skills.
  • Impeccable, advanced, and detail-oriented reading, writing, editing, and verbal communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to make accurate and clear assessments about policy and with foresight, make determinations, produce insightful ideas, and align with a team on impactful next steps.
  • Experience in facilitating meetings, workshops, and/or popular education training.
  • A well-developed interpersonal skill set—especially active listening, empathy, patience, and relationship building.
  • Track record as a collaborative teammate who can also thrive in independent projects.


  • An excellent and empathetic translator of coded information. You love language and the tricks it can play and you have an uncanny ability to share what is in and behind policy with people in such a way to help them become experts themselves. Building this capacity in others inspires you. 
  • Policy expert who believes in the people. You demonstrate humility about your policy expertise that reflects a deep belief in centering those most impacted as the best policy leaders.
  • 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.
  • Values people, process, and results. You are an exceptionally hard worker. You have an uncanny ability to create an inspiring environment in which stuff gets done with speed, great impact, and focus.
  • Discernment and honesty we can trust. You are a thoughtful team member who acts in alignment with your integrity and are unfailingly trustworthy. You earn rather than demand the trust of people by listening and making decisions thoughtfully.
  • 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 Policy Associate is a full-time exempt position. This position is supervised by the Director of Campaigns & Advocacy. The salary for this position is between $75,000-$80,000 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 will be based in either Los Angeles or Oakland. 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 (https://essiejusticegroup.bamboohr.com/jobs).

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 www.essiejusticegroup.org

Thank You

Your application was submitted successfully.

  • Location
    Oakland/Los Angeles, California
  • Department
    Campaigns & Advocacy
  • Employment Type
  • Compensation