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Senior Community Organizer

Organization Description

The Public Defender Association (PDA) is a non-profit corporation which advocates for justice system reform and develops alternatives that shift from a punishment paradigm to a system that supports individual and community health. We also provide technical assistance to community partners who are committed to these goals.

We advance justice system reform and alternative practices and policy through several core programs and policy initiatives, including: 

  • Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD):   Under LEAD, police officers exercise discretionary authority at the point of contact to divert individuals to a community-based intervention program for low-level criminal offenses (such as drug possession, sales, and prostitution offenses).
  • Voices of Community Activists and Leaders - Washington (VOCAL-WA): VOCAL-WA builds power among low- and no- income people directly affected by the war on drugs, homelessness, mass incarceration, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic to create healthy and just communities for all.
  • Transforming Policy:  The Public Defender Association’s Racial Disparity Project (RDP) worked to improve police accountability and reconsider the role of the police since its inception in 1998.
  • System Reform:  In the spirit of our four decade history as a public defense office committed to system reform, the current incarnation of the Public Defender Association continues to do policy advocacy, litigation, public education and organizing on issues that systemically affect people who are or are likely to be engaged by the justice system. This work includes efforts such as the campaign for safe consumption spaces in Seattle/King County.


Position Description

PDA seeks a talented individual experienced in creating grassroots political power as part of a small, but dynamic, team. A significant portion of the community organizer’s job will include (but not be limited to) the ongoing development, support, and facilitation of Voices of Community Activists and Leaders – Washington (VOCAL-WA). VOCAL-WA organizes low- and no-income people who are impacted by mass incarceration, the War on Drugs, homelessness, and/or lack of access to adequate health care.  Under the supervision of the program director, the organizer will implement a leadership development curriculum for current and prospective VOCAL-WA members as well as develop community empowerment and civic engagement among VOCAL-WA members, coordinate issue-based campaigns, and promote member participation in planning and policymaking that affects members’ lives.

In addition to supporting VOCAL-WA, the organizer will support other organizing efforts throughout the office. PDA engages in a wide range of criminal justice reform related work. In collaboration with appropriate project leads, the organizer will collaborate to mobilize support for, amplify, and/or otherwise support other reform related efforts across program lines.

Job activities are varied and may include: community outreach; mobilization; leadership development; base-building; event coordination; monitoring the implementation of legislation; data collection and analysis; communications and media outreach; and creating public education and advocacy materials. Some administrative tasks (e.g. phone calls, data entry) are assigned as needed.  Other duties as assigned.

The community organizer will work in close collaboration with a member mobilization/peer support organizer, and will report to PDA’s Policy and Legal Services  Director.

The position is funded by grant revenue the continuation of which is expected but not guaranteed.  Continuation in the position will depend both on strong performance and on whether revenue to support the position is sustained.


Job Responsibilities:

  • Membership Recruitment: Conduct base building activities and achieve targeted membership recruitment goals, especially through outreach at youth, Alternative-to-Incarceration, and re-entry programs, court houses, and other venues as directed.
  • Leadership Development: Develop curriculum and use existing curriculum to conduct trainings that build the knowledge and skills of people who are impacted by mass incarceration, homelessness, the war on drugs, and the HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C epidemics to participate in planning and policymaking that affects their lives
  • Issue ID and Campaign Development: Work with the program director to assist members in identifying advocacy issues, developing advocacy strategy, and implementation of new campaigns;
  • Mobilization: Turn out large numbers of members to rallies, meetings and other events through mass phone banking and relationship building.
  • Phone-banking: In addition to directly phone-banking, the position will coordinate phone-banking for members.
  • Membership Meetings: Convene regular membership meetings and smaller campaign/committee meetings.
  • Database: Record and input data into our community organizing database
  • Support: The position will also be expected to provide support for all community organizing and campaigns around homelessness, criminal justice reform, the drug war, improved access to health care, and mass incarceration as needed.  We have a highly collaborative office environment where staff members provide regular support for each other’s campaigns, which is in part a function of our limited resources and ambitious scope of work.


Requirements / Qualifications:

People who have past involvement with the justice system, criminal conviction history,  a history of substance use, sex workers  people living with HIV/AIDS and/or hepatitis C, or people who have experienced housing insecurity or homelessness will have particularly relevant experience and are encouraged to apply.  People with disabilities, people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQIA+ communities are also strongly encouraged to apply.

This is a new position with the organization and we are seeking an energetic, creative, self-motivated individual who can manage multiple roles with extremely strong organization skills.

  • Commitment to the mission of the Public Defender Association;
  • Superior organization skills with strong attention to detail with the ability to managing multiple projects at the same time; must be self-motivated and be able to work both independently and as part of multiple teams;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills;
  • Experience executing social media campaigns and event promotion (including Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter);
  • Background in event planning and support a plus;
  • The ideal candidate will be an energetic, self-motivated individual who has strong inter-personal, public speaking and problem solving skills. Interest in working as a member of a team and in a fast-paced, dynamic environment is essential;
  • Candidates must demonstrate interest in criminal justice, homelessness, and/or drug policy reform and a willingness to approach these issues through a racial justice analysis, and with a commitment to harm reduction principles. Experience and knowledge of the local homeless services and housing systems preferred;
  • Candidates must have at least two years of experience in community organizing and/or related fields – campaign experiences is a plus;
  • Basic computer skills, including ability to use the internet, email, word processing (e.g. Microsoft Word) and spreadsheets (e.g. Excel) programs are required



The salary range will be commensurate with experience.  The Public Defender Association  offers a generous benefits package.


Equal Opportunity Statement:

The Public Defender Association is an equal opportunity employer. People with disabilities, people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQIA+ communities are also strongly encouraged to apply.


How to Apply:

Please send a cover letter and résumé to Patricia Sully, In the subject line, please put “Organizer [Your Name]”. No phone calls please.


The position will remain open until filled. Note: Only those candidates under consideration will be contacted

Intern, Extern & Volunteer Opportunities

PDA has various volunteer or intern opportunities available on an ongoing basis.

  • For current or recent law students interested in a fellowship, legal externship or internship, please contact Prachi Dave, PDA Senior Attorney, at
  • If you are interested in general, LEAD, VOCAL-WA or other open-ended opportunities, please complete the survey found here. Once complete, we will retain your information on file and contact you when an internship and/or volunteer opportunity is available.