Senior Research Associate, SUMH

Location: New York, NY

Department: Substance Use and Mental Health Program

Type: Full Time

Min. Experience: Experienced

The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, is an independent, non-partisan, nonprofit organization that combines expertise in research, technical assistance, and demonstration projects to assist leaders in government and civil society examine justice policy and practice, and improve the systems people rely on for justice and safety. Vera has offices in New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, and its projects and reform initiatives, typically conducted in partnership with local, state, or national officials, are located across the United States and around the world. Vera is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity in the workplace.

Vera’s Substance Use and Mental Health Program (SUMH) conducts applied research and provides technical assistance to help public officials and community organizations develop empirically driven responses to the substance use and mental health needs of people involved in justice systems. SUMH staff collect and analyze data to examine the interaction between public health and justice systems and evaluate existing programs in order to understand the experiences of those affected by psychiatric disorders or substance use and the polices that prolong their involvement in the justice system. Recent projects include a study of public defense services for defendants with mental health disorders, the launch and process evaluation of a pre-arraignment screening unit in Manhattan Criminal Court, and a study to understand how working on restrictive housing units impact correctional officer well-being.

SUMH seeks an experienced social science researcher with a passion for justice and excellent statistical skills, experience in research design, and knowledge of mixed methods to join its team as Senior Research Associate. The Senior Research Associate will work on a wide variety of SUMH projects, including taking a leadership role on a study that combines data from six Washington, DC criminal justice and public health agencies to determine rates of mental illness, treatment engagement, and Medicaid enrollment for people arrested in the district. Working closely with the Acting Director and other research and program staff, the Senior Research Associate will help SUMH think strategically about how its work at the intersection of public health and justice can achieve the greatest impact.



Reporting directly to the Acting Director of SUMH, the incoming Senior Research Associate will help manage ongoing research studies that employ diverse research methods and help lead the development of the SUMH research program. The ideal candidate will:

  • Work with SUMH staff to identify, develop and implement ideas for new research, including designing research methods and writing competitive grant proposals 
  • Oversee and manage a portfolio of existing SUMH projects at the intersection of health and justice to ensure timely completion of multiple projects
  • Have a strong background in quantitative methods, statistical analysis and evaluation research and expertise in mixed methods, such that they can take a leadership role in quantitative data collection and analysis
  • Produce a range of written documents, including technical research reports and academic papers, as well as guides and brief reports on project findings for non-research audiences and funders
  • Mentor, supervise, and support the career development of SUMH research staff
  • Work collaboratively with research and program staff across Vera’s centers and programs
  • Take part in research presentations and represent Vera/SUMH at external events


Required Qualifications

  • At least 6 years relevant work experience with a Master’s degree or 3 years with a Ph.D. in sociology, anthropology, psychology, public health, criminal justice, criminology, public policy, or a related discipline. A Ph.D. is strongly preferred.
  • A track record of successful proposal writing for federal solicitations and/or foundation grants.
  • Research project management experience and a commitment to teamwork.
  • Advanced skills in qualitative and quantitative research methods and performing descriptive and multivariate data analysis, including a combination of:
  • Use of statistical analysis software to conduct multivariate quantitative analyses. SQL Server experience preferred, (e.g., experience with Excel, R, SPSS also useful)
  • Managing administrative datasets
  • Survey construction and data analysis
  • Experience with qualitative interview techniques and data analysis
  • Experience with human subjects research ethics requirements and Institutional Review Boards
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills for research and non-research audiences


Ideal Qualifications

  • Experience working closely with government and other partners
  • Commitment to public health and justice system reform
  • Demonstrated research and policy interest
  • A track record of published research



$75 K to $85K depending on experience and qualifications, plus excellent benefits.


How to apply

Please submit cover letter, comprehensive CV and two sole or first author writing samples. Online submission in PDF format is preferred.

However, if necessary, materials may be mailed or faxed to:

ATTN: Human Resources / SUMH Senior Research Associate Recruitment

Vera Institute of Justice

233 Broadway, 12th Floor

New York, NY 10279

Fax: (212) 941-9407


Please use only one method (online, mail or fax) of submission.

No phone calls, please. Only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted.


Vera is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.  All qualified applicants will be considered for employment without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, prior record of arrest or conviction, citizenship status, current employment status, or caregiver status.

Vera works to advance justice, particularly racial justice, in an increasingly multicultural country and globally connected world. We value diverse experiences, including with regard to educational background and justice system contact, and depend on a diverse staff to carry out our mission.


For more information about Vera and SUMH’s work, please visit

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