Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice has a newly created position open for a Community Engagement Coordinator and Legislative Advocate. We are searching for an individual who is skilled in community organizing to involve community members in the development of our research and policy initiatives, identify key individuals to connect with to promote change, and develop organizing strategies to solve problems raised by the community through advocacy.
Massachusetts Appleseed is committed to fostering the leadership and elevating the voices of people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people, low-income people, immigrants, young people who were formerly involved in the child welfare system, young people who were formerly involved in the criminal justice system, people with disabilities, and people living in the many intersections of these experiences. We encourage people from these communities and people with experience outside traditional career paths to apply.
Massachusetts Appleseed is a non-profit organization driven by a mission to promote equal rights and opportunities for Massachusetts residents by developing and advocating for systemic solutions to social justice issues. We research and identify the ways in which the justice system, schools, and government agencies are systematically failing our most vulnerable residents, such as through uneven access to the courts and unfair application of school discipline policies. Leveraging pro bono support, we collaborate with community partners to identify solutions and advocate for their implementation with policymakers, lawmakers, and through coalition- and relationship-building. We take our work wherever we believe we can do the most good, whether that’s in the courthouse, at the State House, in schools, or in the community.
We focus on three primary policy areas:
- Access to Justice: Eliminating the many systemic barriers within Massachusetts’ legal systems and various administrative agencies that deny justice to thousands of residents each year, guaranteeing language access, and reforming the courts and administrative tribunals to make them more “user friendly” to people who cannot afford an attorney. We are particularly interested in how technology can be used to achieve these goals.
- Educational Justice: Protecting students’ rights, promoting racial equity, and advocating for policy change to keep all students in class where they are safe, supported, and available for learning, with a particular focus on the disparate impact of school discipline policies on students of color, also known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
- Youth Homelessness: Providing policy recommendations, easing systemic barriers, and developing legal resources to help youth experiencing homelessness build safe, stable futures.
The Community Engagement Coordinator and Legislative Advocate will be responsible for establishing relationships with community-based organizations and individuals within each of our three policy areas listed above. Outreach will focus on developing relationships via one-on-one communication and group meetings across the state, in addition to conducting presentations for community-based organizations on Massachusetts Appleseed’s research and initiatives. From time to time, the Community Engagement Coordinator and Legislative Advocate may also support the Staff Attorney with research and policy work and legislative advocacy.
The Community Engagement Coordinator and Legislative Advocate must be a problem-solver and big-thinker: motivated, focused, highly organized, and able to make meaningful connections with community members from a diverse population. Knowledge of one or more of the current policy subject areas is a plus, but not required. This position will report to the Staff Attorney, and also work closely with the Executive Director.
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
- Develop strategic outreach plans and approaches to establish relationships with community-based organizations within each of our three policy areas (access to justice, educational justice, youth homelessness).
- Work with community members and community partners to identify issues within each of our three policy areas.
- Involve community members in the development of research projects and the identification of policy solutions.
- Conduct presentations or trainings for community partners on our research/initiatives.
- Organize statewide listening sessions for each of our three policy areas.
- Represent the organization at relevant events, community forums, community meetings, media events, and collaborative community-based projects.
- Lead ongoing Community Advisory Board Meetings – a 12-member group of students/teachers/advocates engaged in a collaborative school discipline research project.
- Support the Staff Attorney in legislative advocacy efforts (including leading coalitions and drafting testimony or advocacy materials).
- Collaborate with colleagues to provide holistic support to the organization.
- Assist Executive Director with administrative and operations duties.
- Supervise interns.
- Other duties as assigned.
The ideal candidate is a creative, self-motivated individual eager to be a part of our fast-paced team who possesses the following qualifications:
- Bachelor’s degree and/or two years’ experience in community organizing, grassroots advocacy, and/or political campaigning.
- Strong written and verbal communication skills, and the ability to clearly discuss projects with external audiences.
- Proven ability to work independently and collaboratively with partner organizations.
- Cultural competency to work with residents from diverse backgrounds.
- Excellent problem-solving and time management skills; must be experienced at meeting deadlines.
- Strong knowledge of Microsoft Office products (Outlook, Word, Excel).
- Willingness to travel to communities around the state required, having a car/appropriate car insurance/a valid driver's license is a plus (if you do not have a car, we will work with you to identify transportation options).
- Flexible schedule with the ability to work some evenings, weekends.
- Demonstrated commitment to social justice; experience working in/with non-profits, government or other public interest organizations preferred.
- Fluency in one or more languages in addition to English preferred.
- Experience related to the legal system, school-to-prison pipeline, or youth experiencing homelessness is a plus.
- Social science research and/or legislative advocacy experience a plus.
The salary for this role is in the range of low to mid-40s. Employee benefits include but are not limited to health insurance with employer contribution, generous paid time off (holidays, unlimited sick days, unlimited vacation time, Fridays off in July and August), and flexible scheduling. This position is based out of Massachusetts Appleseed’s office in downtown Boston, but we expect a “hybrid” work environment, combining in-person days and work-at-home days, for the foreseeable future.
To center the safety and well-being of our communities, Massachusetts Appleseed requires vaccination against COVID-19 for all employees. Reasonable accommodation based on a qualifying medical exemption or sincerely held religious beliefs are being considered in accordance with applicable law.
To apply, please submit your resume, cover letter, and a writing sample to Melanie Rush, Director of Research and Policy at email@example.com. While applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled, we strongly encourage you to submit your application by June 3, 2022. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 617-482-8686.
Massachusetts Appleseed is an Equal Opportunity Employer, is committed to diversity in its workforce, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, military status or any other status protected by applicable law.