Current position available at the Montana Innocence Project:
As the pace of DNA exonerations has grown across the country in recent years, wrongful convictions have revealed disturbing fissures and trends in our criminal justice system. These cases demonstrate how the criminal justice system is broken – and how urgently it needs to be fixed. In 2008, a passionate group of public officials, attorneys, journalists and professors founded the Montana Innocence Project. Thus, the first statewide litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating the innocent and preventing wrongful convictions was launched.
Advancing a significant number of cases, the Montana Innocence Project (MTIP) now stands on the cusp of its first exoneration, while the board and staff continue to advocate for policy change. The next Executive Director will be charged with facilitating the strategic planning effort that will outline the structure for the coming years and articulate the opportunities ahead for the organization, including further policy development and case management.
The Executive Director will assist the board in establishing fundraising goals, enhancing the program, developing brand identity, influencing policy development, and ensuring the organization’s long-term sustainability. The next Executive Director will be a passionate and committed leader who understands and respects the criminal justice process, even though s/he may not have necessarily been a practitioner. The Board looks forward to working with the next Executive Director to ensure that relationships are nurtured and systems are implemented that will continue to uphold this justice organization and its fine reputation.
The Innocence Project
The Innocence Project is headquartered in New York and provides high level assistance to the multiple Innocence Projects established across the country – including Montana. Since inception, the national organization has been involved in 176 of 330 cases where individuals were exonerated through DNA testing in the United States – this number includes 20 who were at one time sentenced to death.
The Montana Innocence Project provides charitable legal and investigative assistance to Montana prisoners; advocates for public policy reform that will prevent wrongful convictions; and works to educate Montanans throughout the State. MTIP functions through a dedicated staff and a talented pool of committed and trained volunteers with a $300,000 operating budget. Leveraging a rigorous, five stage evaluation and litigation process, MTIP screens, investigates, and litigates innocence claims through the Innocence Clinic that is operated in affiliation with the University of Montana School of Law and School of Journalism. Through this interdisciplinary clinic, law, journalism, paralegal and criminal justice students assist with MTIP’s casework while gaining hands-on training, a wide range of skills, and a strong understanding of the justice system.
The organization serves indigent Montana prisoners who are factually innocent by providing pro bono legal aid, DNA testing assistance and investigation. While physical evidence including DNA advances many claims, MTIP also accepts cases where DNA evidence is not available. Its approach is nationally proven and designed to maximize MTIP’s limited resources by prioritizing cases where compelling evidence can exonerate innocent Montanans. The organization currently has six cases in active litigation and is reviewing an additional 65 possible innocence cases.
Opportunities & Challenges Facing the Executive Director
MTIP stands at a moment of great opportunity and, because of that, must make some critical decisions about its future. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will partner with the Board to continue the organization’s planning process, articulating a clear vision for the coming years and developing essential strategies for fundraising, branding, education, and program enhancement. During his/her first 12-18 months, the new Executive Director will face the following opportunities and challenges:
Partnering with the Board of Directors during strategic planning. The new Executive Director will have the opportunity to work with the Board of Directors, The Innocence Network and staff to develop a detailed and ambitious strategic plan that will outline the structure for the coming years and articulate the opportunities ahead for the organization.
Spearheading ambitious fundraising efforts, broadening and diversifying the organization’s funder base to create a sustainable support model. Translating program priorities into funding opportunities for the organization, the ED will create the necessary partnerships with individuals, corporations, and public and private organizations to advance the mission of MTIP. S/he will oversee the identification of grant opportunities and the writing of grants; direct strategic communication to key funding partners; focus on increasing the number and capacity of major donors that may include planned giving and bequests; and identify opportunities for corporate support, whether through philanthropic dollars or inkind contributions. As part of these efforts, the ED will partner with the Board to develop and make contacts with and solicitations from current and potential individual and institutional financial supporters of MTIP.
Providing day-to-day program oversight while exploring program enhancements, working with staff and volunteers to amplify program’s impact in our State. Leveraging his/her substantive knowledge of criminal justice and an understanding of MTIP’s programs and services, the Executive Director will oversee all program operations, ensuring efficient service delivery and quality data collection. S/he will heighten the organization’s impact through the education and training of volunteers and community partners.
Serving as the public face of the organization, delivering key marketing messages, and building brand awareness to engage the community and legislators in support of the organization’s work. The Executive Director will serve as an effective and visible spokesperson for MTIP, passionately telling the story of the organization’s history, programs, and mission, representing the organization in the media, increasing public awareness, building demand for MTIP’s services, and broadening the organization’s reputation with strategic constituents. S/he will identify opportunities to introduce and advance public policy initiatives for the State, build and join key coalitions and campaigns, and amplify the organization’s message.
Leading staff and appropriately managing fiscal responsibilities, resources and volunteers. The Executive Director will demonstrate effective management and leadership so that operations are professionally and efficiently organized and administered; bring experience and good judgment to bear in working with a seasoned board of directors; guide both staff and volunteers in the execution of direct services; develop and oversee the annual budget while ensuring appropriate financial controls and reporting systems are in place; and use technology to facilitate organizational management, fundraising, public education and policy development.
The new Executive Director will be a passionate and committed leader with the strategic planning, fundraising, and community engagement skills necessary to bolster the organization’s reputation as a pursuer of justice. Although no one candidate is likely to have all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following:
• Proven problem-solving, strategic planning, fund development and financial management experience in the private, not-for-profit, or public sectors, with at least three years of successful fundraising experience;
• Background in defining, implementing, and rallying support for a strategic vision that advances an organization and its effectiveness in achieving its goals;
• Able to speak authentically about and embody the principles of the criminal justice movement;
• A track record of raising money from a variety of sources; experience with individual donors and grant writing is preferred;
• Understanding of the legislative and judicial process and experience in working with state and local elected representatives;
• Proven and successful track record in creating and implementing programs and training curriculums; experience creating partnerships and collaborations;
• A history of effective written and verbal communications, including excellent public speaking skills for both formal and extemporaneous presentations;
• A record of success reporting to a board and working effectively with staff and volunteers of diverse personalities and talents;
• An undergraduate degree; a graduate degree in a related field such as justice studies or a Juris Doctorate is preferred.
Ideally, the successful candidate will be:
• Personally committed to advancing MTIP’s values, mission, goals and programs, with an understanding of the range of criminal justice issues and their implications, though they may not themselves have been a practitioner;
• A dedicated leader and representative who can translate vision into action; someone who is avid about networking and who can respectfully represent the organization to critical constituencies including judicial authorities, funders, the public, government, and the media;
• An intelligent and inspiring individual; able to conceptualize, express ideas, anticipate and act on events which may create opportunities for MTIP;
• An entrepreneur who is creative, strategic, resourceful and who understands the value of creating partnerships with other organizations as a way of accomplishing MTIP’s goals;
• An energetic person who can handle and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities; a selfstarter and finisher;
• A team player who inspires collaboration and functions decisively; flexible and well-organized;
• Outgoing and straightforward; one who shares information easily; listens as well as gives advice; respects the abilities of others.
You can learn more about the Montana Innocence Project by visiting their website at http://www.mtinnocenceproject.org/.
Applications should be sent directly to Dan Weinberg, Board President at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be reviewed as they are received; interviews will be granted as appropriate candidates are identified. To be considered, applications must include a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, your resume (in Word format), and your salary requirements. In order to expedite the internal sorting and reviewing process, please type your Last Name, First Name as the only contents in the subject line of your e-mail.
The Montana Innocence Project is an equal opportunity employer