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Executive Director – PLS

Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts seeking Executive Director to lead the organization into the exciting next chapter of its distinguished history

Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts (PLS), a nonprofit public interest law firm founded in 1972 that provides free legal services to individuals incarcerated in Massachusetts prisons and jails, seeks an Executive Director to lead the organization into the exciting next chapter of its distinguished history. PLS is an organization committed to being anti-racist and whose mission is to challenge the carceral system through litigation, advocacy, client counseling, partnership with impacted individuals and communities, and outreach to policymakers and the public to promote the human rights of incarcerated persons and end harmful confinement. The office prioritizes work involving health and mental health care, assaults by staff, extreme conditions of confinement (including COVID, overcrowding, exorbitant prison phone rates), misuse of segregation and isolation, and racial equity. More detailed information is available at PLSMA.org.

With a small staff of attorneys, paralegals and support personnel, we engage in individual and systemic impact litigation; provide direct administrative advocacy regarding incarceration and parole; initiate and support legislation to promote the civil and human rights of incarcerated individuals and their families; work to eliminate institutional racism and its impact on Black and Brown incarcerated individuals in the day-to-day operations of Massachusetts prisons and jails; and, work with the media and community organizations to educate the public about the criminal legal system.

PLS is a fiscally sound, administratively strong agency with 32 dynamic staff members, including 13 attorneys, 19 paralegals and support personnel, and a diverse Board of Directors consisting of attorneys, community leaders, medical professionals, researchers, clients, and former clients.

Responsibilities: The Executive Director of PLS has ultimate responsibility for the programmatic performance, financial strength, and administrative functioning of the organization. The right leader for the organization will successfully engage, motivate, and excite members of the staff and board, as
well as a broad range of other supporters and stakeholders. Key responsibilities include the following:

  •  Develop and expand the financial resources of PLS and ensure rigorous, consistent financial and administrative oversight to enhance and maintain the long-term financial and institutional security of the organization. This includes grant writing and reporting, legislative and private fundraising, annual audit, and tax filings;
  • Provide strong leadership of the staff by inspiring a shared vision and guiding, encouraging, and supporting the staff and the Board in striving to achieve that vision.
  • Provide strong management of staff by encouraging individual initiative and creativity while assuring effective collaboration and rigorous accountability;
  • Support and participate in major or complex litigation to address systemic issues that affect PLS’s clients;
  • Represent PLS in its external relations with the legislature, the courts, and other government entities;
  • Serve as an effective spokesperson for the organization with the media and in the larger community;
  • Work cooperatively with other institutions and organizations to achieve shared goals relating to criminal legal system reform.

Qualifications: PLS seeks an Executive Director with at least 10 years of experience as an attorney and at least five years of demonstrated success as a manager in the nonprofit social justice community. Experience and attributes that will help the Executive Director succeed include:

  • A clear and compelling commitment to the work and mission of PLS;
  • Mature, independent, flexible with strong people skills;
  • Substantial experience in management, administration, or leadership in a non-profit legal or human services program;
  • Record of building high functioning teams, including a demonstrated ability to teach people from diverse backgrounds how to work well with one another;
  • History of creative and demonstrated leadership in policy work and a substantive expertise in legal issues affecting prisoners and their families;
  • Significant commitment, skills, and experience in supervising, coaching, mentoring, and training legal staff;
  • Strong, inclusive, leadership skills and a leadership style that inspires and encourages professional growth in others;
  • Record of effective media relations;
  • Record of effective grant writing and other fundraising activities;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • Bilingual skills in Spanish, American Sign Language, or other language common in the prison system preferred:
  • Prior experience with low-income prisoners and their families, and a demonstrated ability to relate effectively to a diverse clientele and staff
  • Although a hybrid schedule may at times be possible, the position requires availability to be in Boston Monday through Friday as needed.

This is a full-time exempt position with a salary range starting at $150K. PLS provides a generous benefits package, including 27 vacation days, 17 sick/mental health days, 100% paid health, dental, and vision insurance plans.

People of color, LGBT individuals, formerly incarcerated people and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

We recognize that historically, People of Color and Women might hesitate to apply for a role unless they meet all the listed requirements. We want to emphasize that we value diversity and inclusion, and we encourage candidates from all backgrounds and experiences to apply, even if you do not meet every one of the job criteria. We are looking for people with potential, passion, and a willingness to learn, and we believe that diverse perspectives contribute to innovative solutions and enhanced organizational success. If you are passionate about the role and feel that you could excel in this environment, please don’t hesitate to submit your application.

Please submit a letter expressing your interest, a current resume, a writing sample, and a list of three references to: lrydzewski@plsma.org.

Please submit applications by email only (no phone calls, please).