Executive Director, Focus Forward Project

New York City, New York
Mar 15, 2021
Apr 14, 2021
Position Type
Part Time
Experience Level



“I gained a sense of hope for my future— my life isn’t over; it has now begun. 

I gained the belief that I can make a difference in this world.”

— Jarh, Focus Forward Project Graduate


The Focus Forward Project empowers individuals charged with federal crimes to move beyond the stigmas of arrest and conviction by providing programs designed to foster a successful future within an innovative and supportive community.

Our 12-week program is specifically tailored for people in federal jails and for people out on bail under pretrial supervision. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are over 52,000 people incarcerated in federal pretrial detention facilities and over 22,000 people under pretrial supervision with limited access to educational opportunities or programming. In New York, a person arrested on a federal charge spends an average of 18 months (and often much longer) awaiting trial or sentencing. Unlike in state cases, in federal cases, the sentence is not finalized until the sentencing date. Our participants have described the period of time of awaiting sentencing or trial as "being in limbo," where it feels difficult to move forward. 

Focus Forward's classes provide participants with the space and tools to better utilize this period of uncertainty by focusing on the future and creating a plan for reentry. Regardless of whether a graduate receives an incarceratory sentence, the stigma of being charged with a crime, and the stressful and overwhelming process of navigating through the criminal legal system, are challenges that we fundamentally believe should not be faced alone. 

Our small class size fosters a trusting and supportive environment where participants are encouraged to engage in honest discussion, express ideas, and share their feelings. By creating a safe and unique community, participants work through challenges together, learn from shared experiences, and support one another in their paths forward. Our curriculum also focuses on skills-based training that our participants can use to further their education or careers. The combination of practical training presented in a unique support group model has made Focus Forward an invaluable experience for hundreds of participants.

Focus Forward Project classes are facilitated by a dedicated group of volunteers of varied backgrounds including attorneys, social workers, psychologists, students, and advocates. The Focus Forward Project has earned an exceptional reputation in the criminal justice community, and the trust of judges, correctional staff, and the community the organization serves. Since its inception, nearly 500 participants have graduated from the program.



The Focus Forward Project is seeking a visionary Executive Director who is passionate about its mission to lead the organization through its next stage of growth.


Leadership and Development

Reporting to, working closely with, and helping to lead the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will have ultimate responsibility for articulating and implementing The Focus Forward Project’s vision and mission, and will advance the organization’s commitment to the successful future of the individuals they serve. The Executive Director will lead efforts to define strategic priorities, grow the fundraising base, and motivate, empower, and collaborate with the board and key stakeholders in setting FFP’s course for sustained growth.



The Executive Director will serve as the public face of the Focus Forward Project and will lead an engaged community of facilitators and participants. The Executive Director will be a critical voice in setting the tone and developing FFP’s culture as a welcoming and safe learning and communal environment. This will include liaising with courts, attorneys, the Bureau of Prisons, missioned-aligned nonprofits, and other stakeholders.



The Executive Director is FFP’s sole employee and will oversee and lead all operations, including recruitment, training and supervision of the program’s volunteer facilitators, oversight of organizational finances, organizational fundraising, advancement of resource development, and participant retention and enrollment. In addition, the Executive Director will be responsible for program development and oversight, and curriculum refinement.


The role allows for a flexible work schedule and is a unique opportunity for a data-driven leader with a passion for getting people back on their feet. The Executive Director will have the opportunity to capitalize on FFP’s established presence in the community and excellent reputation to expand its model to other geographic areas, serve more people in the traditional reentry space, and make a broader, deeper impact on the field.


This is a part-time position with the potential to evolve into a full-time role as the organization grows.



FFP seeks an innovative and resourceful leader to grow the organization and expand its offerings responsibly and systematically. This position requires a results-oriented organizational leader with a high EQ who engenders confidence and approaches the work with warmth and conviction. The successful Executive Director will also possess many of the following:

  • An appreciation for the lived experiences of program participants; a commitment to those impacted by the criminal legal system, racial equity, and societal reentry

  • Experience as an organizational or program leader or administrator with demonstrated persistence and problem-solving skills; ability to persevere in the face of administrative “red-tape”

  • Ability to interact and engage comfortably with a wide variety of key constituents including program participants, board members, correctional staff, donors, and community partners

  • Fundraising skills; experience with grant applications and management and the cultivation, stewardship, and securing of gifts from individual donors and/or foundations

  • Financial acumen: able to design and prepare budgets and set financial priorities

  • Excellent public speaking, written and verbal communication skills 

  • Fluency with social media to raise the profile of the organization and its work

  • Management experience: ability to build, train, and support a diverse team of volunteers

  • Open and collaborative management and leadership style. Comfort with soliciting input from others while still being decisive and independent in the decision-making process

  • Comfort in utilizing technology to track and collect data and work and meet remotely

  • Familiarity with the criminal legal system a plus



This position description is based upon material provided by The Focus Forward Project, an equal opportunity employer.


Debbie Katz, Search Specialist

Ami Abramson, Chief Strategy Officer

Similar jobs

Similar jobs