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 people (GNC), 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 eight 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 nonconforming (GNC) people. Ready to scale our organizing model to build the first national community of women with incarcerated loved ones in the United States, we are seeking a seasoned and bold leader to envision and drive this effort as our National Organizing Director.
The National Organizing Director has an organizer’s heart and a visionary’s brain, with the ability to envision and implement a model that scales up and fully leverages the power and passion of our members. This senior-level role will lead Essie’s Membership & Organizing Team to carry out two vital strategic directions: deepen the impact of our existing programming and grow our membership beyond California. Our programming includes our signature Healing to Advocacy organizing model, which has graduated over 34 cohorts of women and gnc people with incarcerated loved ones into our membership. And to facilitate our expansion into new regions, the National Organizing Director will guide the growth of our on-the-ground organizing Healing to Advocacy mode, two new membership types mandated by the Essie Sisterhood - supporting the Associate Director of National Organizing in the launch of the General Body membership in 2022, and in 2023 steering the ship in the development of a strategic plan to launch the Championship membership comprised of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people of all genders who nominate women and GNC people to Essie’s Sisterhood.
The National Organizing Director knows and loves the power of deep, relational organizing. But, what makes this person unique is that they passionately obsess over how to create the feeling of interpersonal organizing at scale - through smart strategy development, training, strategic toolkits, and technology that hundreds of thousands of people can access. Although likely possessing a background in the day-to-day work of deep member organizing, curricula building, and hands-on leadership development, the ideal candidate for this role currently finds their movement energy in program and network design; building and managing highly functional teams; and setting strategic priorities.
As a senior member of the organizational leadership, the National Organizing Director reports directly to the Executive Director and will help shape Essie’s present and future—contributing to strategic decision making in the present while helping to architect Essie’s internal growth in alignment with our values. At Essie, how we win is as important as what we achieve, and our ideal National Organizing Director approaches Black Feminist organizational culture development and scaled organizing goals with equal rigor and commitment.
Vision, Strategy, and Culture-Setting for Membership & Organizing Team - Lead the strategic coordination of the team towards a collectively built strategy.
- Manage and guide the Membership & Organizing Team to set strategic goals, priorities, and work plans in alignment with an ambitious organizational strategy.
- Directly supervise and coach staff, some of whom will ultimately serve as supervisors as the team grows.
- Ensure the Membership & Organizing Team utilizes alignment and collaboration practices and that they have the training and support they need to successfully execute their work.
- Foster a culture of growth, innovation, and inclusion.
- Create and maintain processes by which we regularly measure and evaluate the team’s impact and progress.
Build Organizing Infrastructure and Grow Membership Base - Building on Essie’s CA-based Healing to Advocacy program, oversee the growth of the comprehensive community organizing programming and membership structure that will facilitate the engagement of hundreds of thousands of women with incarcerated loved ones across the country.
- Lead Essie’s membership expansion to new regions including launching a national membership of incarcerated people.
- Lead a team in ongoing activation of Essie’s Membership Structure; ensure core functions of the structure are executed with fidelity including membership-wide votes, elections, and appointments.
- Ensure member culture is strong and politically powerful.
- Oversee the design and manage the implementation of the political education program for Essie’s membership to facilitate deep learning of self, systems, and histories of oppression and resistance necessary for inclusive organizing spaces and bold intersectional demands.
- Oversee and further develop Essie’s Nominations Program to reach women with incarcerated loved ones across the country through expanding our partnerships with incarcerated people who nominate women in their lives to Essie.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of current member engagement strategies and develop new standards; design practices to deepen the strength and political power of our member culture.
- Oversee the Essie Organizing Fellows Program and make recommendations for its expansion as a vehicle for training Essie members to become skilled organizers for the Black liberation, decarceration, and gender justice movements.
Organizational Leadership - Serve on the Essie Directors Team in order to strategically steward organizational resources in alignment with Essie’s mission and vision.
- Work collaboratively and consistently with other directors at Essie to define strategic priorities, make decisions about unanticipated opportunities, and manage to operational plan goals.
- Develop departmental budgets and work systems, and build and manage a dynamic Membership & Organizing department team.
- Establish and maintain sound stewardship of Essie’s Membership & Organizing materials, intellectual property, and budget.
- Hold external relationships necessary to run the Membership & Organizing Department successfully.
- Lead in special projects as needed.
- Embody and promote Essie’s Black Feminist culture and values internally and externally.
Who We’re Looking For
- 10+ years experience in organizing, preferably in distributed organizing contexts, within network, affiliate, or chapter models and direct experience or familiarity with program design and implementation.
- Meaningful experience supervising multiple full time staff, especially managers of managers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Impeccable attention to detail and effective writing, editing, and verbal communication skills.
- 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.
- Experienced movement leader. Building people power at scale to usher in a fair and free future is your life’s work. From years of dedicated practice as a movement leader, you’ve developed an analysis of what is needed for transformative social change to occur and what is needed in existing liberation movements. You think constantly about how change happens and how that shows up in the people we organize, mentor, and manage. You have a refined ability to make sense of what feels confusing, and bring people along with you. And you may have such a collection of well-worn campaign and statement tees that your dresser drawers have become hard to close!
- 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 National Organizing Director is a full-time, salaried, exempt position. This position is supervised by the Executive Director. The salary for this position is between $120,000 - $140,000 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. However, we are open to candidates outside of California who are willing to travel and accommodate California meeting hours. All Essie staff are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with limited exceptions for medical or religious reasons.
Please address a personal, specific, and thoughtful cover letter to the “Essie Hiring Committee” and submit along with a resume through our hiring portal (https://essiejusticegroup.bamboohr.com/jobs). Your resume tells us what you can do; your cover letter should tell us who you are and why you want to work with Essie.
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.