News & Updates

We’re Hiring! WDA Seeks Reentry and Community Outreach Specialist
April 8, 2022 | Alison Pagan

Open Position: Reentry and Community Outreach Specialist

Who We Are

The Washington Defender Association (WDA) is the voice of the public defense community in Washington State. We provide support for zealous and high-quality legal representation by advocating for change, educating defenders, and collaborating with other justice system stakeholders and the broader community to bring about just solutions. WDA is the only organization dedicated solely to public defense reform and to supporting and training public defense attorneys, investigators, social workers and sentencing advocates in Washington.

In 1983, WDA was created to support public defenders across Washington State through training and technical assistance. Over time, WDA has expanded and now includes the Immigration Project, Incarcerated Parents Project, misdemeanor case support, and felony case support. We also advocate at the local, state, and national levels on policy issues that relate to public defense.

We serve over 1600+ members who are public defenders, investigators and other legal workers representing people facing the consequences of criminal legal system involvement. We are a small but mighty team guided by the belief that everyone belongs in the circle of human concern. We are dedicated to dismantling the barriers to belonging that burden all who are entangled in Washington State’s criminal legal system and disproportionately fall upon Black, Indigenous and People of Color and other marginalized groups, such as noncitizens, differently-abled people, and those with behavioral health challenges, substance use disorders and neurodivergence.

We aspire to leverage the opportunities presented by these disruptive times to participate in movements for durable transformational change within ourselves, our organization, our communities and the criminal and civil legal systems within which we live and work. Our stated core values reflect our goals towards becoming an organization that meaningfully and tangibly integrates an anti-racist, anti-oppression framework into all aspects of our work. And like many nonprofits embedded in our racist, oppressive legal systems, we contend daily with the realities, inside and out, that impede our progress. Despite the long, steep climb ahead we remain dedicated to building a collaborative, learning-based culture of resilience, inclusion, transparency, and accountability.

Who You Are

We strongly encourage people who have lived experience with the courts and justice systems (criminal, family defense/dependency, mental health) to apply.  We are looking for candidates who share our commitment to ending mass incarceration, challenging systems of oppression of marginalized communities, and advancing racial and economic justice for all.

We seek a person with these qualities and skills:

  • Lived experience with the criminal system and/or the civil court system including dependency court.
  • Strong commitment to those impacted by poverty, mass incarceration, criminal defense law and serving people who have been accused of serious crimes.
  • Ability or experience with public speaking.
  • Ability to effectively and respectfully communicate, collaborate and connect with people with various backgrounds, identities, and experiences.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Commitment to continuous learning and openness to new ideas.
  • Ability to work well on a team, prioritize responsibilities, and meet time-sensitive deadlines.
  • Understanding of the importance of self-care, and a willingness to take breaks and vacations.
  • Ability to travel occasionally around the state to engage with the public defense community, including trainings and meetings.
  • Competency with Microsoft Office and online meeting formats such as Zoom and Teams.

Preferred

  • Individuals who are formerly incarcerated
  • Understanding of the direct and collateral consequences individuals experience through criminal and family/dependency courts.
  • Knowledge of Washington state courts and criminal procedure.

The Job

Washington Defender Association seeks a Community Outreach Specialist to join our team. The Community Outreach Specialist will work with the Felony Resource Post Conviction Attorney to provide training and support to public defenders representing clients in resentencing matters.  This is a new position that will support WDA and Seattle Clemency Project’s joint post-conviction resource collaboration. The project is funded through September 2023.

  • Training: Design and present continuing legal education (CLE) programming for public defenders, our partners and other justice system stakeholders about barriers to reentry from prison to the community and other issues related to ending mass incarceration.
  • Resource Development: Build resources for public defenders to offer clients who are impacted by long and lengthy sentences.
  • Relationship Networking: Create meaningful and respectful relationships with organizations, coalitions, and groups working towards supporting individuals harmed by the criminal system. Develop and sustain relationships with public defenders and other legal professionals, expert witnesses, and justice system partners to build a network of interested candidates to provide training to the defender community.
  • Outreach: Engage the public defense community across the state through training, meetings, and listserv moderation.
  • Race Equity: Participate in WDA’s race equity work. This may include learning about and using race equity tools, adopting WDAs race equity practices, serving on WDA’s Race Equity Team or subcommittees, etc.

This job description is not designed to contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee, and others may be assigned.

Work Environment

WDA’s office is located in downtown Seattle and is generally open between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  WDA is closely following COVID-19 and continues to carefully monitor and follow public health recommendations. Currently, the WDA office is closed and staff are working remotely until further notice. To aid remote work, WDA provides laptops, home office supplies, equipment, and technology support. You will need an effective WiFi connection and a way to reach you by phone. This position is eligible for either a work phone or phone stipend, as well as an additional stipend each month to help cover any additional costs while working from home.

Once it is safe to return to the office, this position will require some physical presence at the office, as well as an ability to attend required meetings at the office and in the community. The physical demands and work environment described below represent those required and encountered by an employee to perform the essential functions of this job.

  • Ability to input information into a computer for long periods of time.
  • Ability to remain stationary for extended periods.
  • Ability to access information communicated through a computer.
  • Ability to work some evenings and weekends as needed for WDA training events and meetings, and when attending seminars and events related to staff professional development.
  • Ability to travel locally, regionally and across the state as needed, for outreach and training events, subject to any COVID 19 safety concerns and restrictions.

Compensation

The salary range for this position is $55,000 – $65,000/year, depending on experience. Within the position salary range, salary increases annually.

Benefits include:

  • 403(b) retirement benefit with employer matching contribution.
  • Excellent health insurance benefits with premiums for the employee paid by the employer.
  • The option to participate in a Health Savings Account with initial $500 employer contribution.
  • Generous vacation and sick leave.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also provided home office setup support for working remotely, additional time off for vaccinations or illness related to COVID-19, and an additional small stipend for miscellaneous costs. We expect to continue some or all of those benefits into 2022.

This is a Fair Labor Standards Act exempt, at-will position; continuation in the position depends on both performance and funding.

How to Apply

Send a cover letter and resume in an electronic form (Word doc, PDF) to Scott Shoemaker at scott@defensenet.org. Please make “Community Outreach Specialist” your subject line. We accept applications on a rolling basis, WDA will contact you only if we decide to pursue your application. If you need a reasonable accommodation for the application process, please contact the above email or call (206) 623-4321.

We are committed to an environment of mutual respect, collaboration, and equal opportunity for all employees.  WDA is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and fosters an environment free of barriers and discriminatory practices. People of color, those directly impacted by the criminal/civil/court legal system, people who identify as queer, trans, lesbian, gay, or bisexual, and those with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.