Administration, Nonprofit and Social Impact, Politics/Policy, Program Leadership, Social Justice and Advocacy

Chief Program Officer

  • Innocence Project
  • New York, NY

This position has been filled.

About Innocence Project

The Innocence Project fights to free the innocent, to prevent wrongful convictions, and for fair, compassionate, and equitable systems of justice for everyone. This critical work is guided by science and grounded in antiracism.

Since its founding in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld, the Innocence Project has grown into a national and international leader in criminal legal system reform. Thanks to the Innocence Project’s transformative work, DNA testing and analysis has become vital to exonerating innocent people and driving criminal justice reform. Nearly thirty years later, in addition to exonerating people who are wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit, the Innocence Project continues to leverage the expertise and passion of staff to fight to redress systemic issues through strategic litigation, policy reform, and education.

Under a new Executive Director and Senior Leadership Team, the Innocence Project builds on its powerful history as it looks toward implementing an exciting and innovative strategic plan. In coming years, the Innocence Project seeks to:

  • Embed antiracism principles in all aspects of the organization and expose and challenge the connections between racial bias and wrongful conviction.
  • Advance scientific scrutiny for reliability and accuracy, and embed consideration of ethical, legal, social, and racial justice implications in forensic disciplines, investigative techniques, and application of algorithm and artificial intelligence for criminal legal system decision-making.
  • Free and support the innocent, prevent future wrongful convictions, win high-impact exoneration/strategic litigation cases and policy campaigns, and provide trauma-informed social services.
  • Increase internal and external collaborations, including with Innocence Network partners, to amplify mission impact.

This ambitious plan will leverage the strength of the organization’s tremendously talented 105-person staff that brings together attorneys and paralegals alongside skilled professionals in social work, policy, communications, development, and finance. The diverse staff is united in its deep commitment to the mission of the Innocence Project and passion for ending the injustices of our criminal legal systems.

For more information on the Innocence Project, please visit its website.

The Opportunity

Reporting directly to the Executive Director, the Chief Program Officer is a member of the Innocence Project’s Senior Leadership Team.

The Chief Program Officer is responsible for oversight, management, and supervision of the following program areas: Client Intake and Evaluation; Post-Conviction Litigation; Research; Strategic Litigation; Social Work; and Policy Reform. The Chief Program Officer serves as a primary thought partner to the talented, creative, and hardworking team of experienced professionals that she leads. They are responsible for keeping the teams under their supervision aligned, focused, motivated, and high performing to ensure the effectiveness and quality of work in each area. The Chief Program Officer will model the Innocence Project’s values of an inclusive and respectful workplace and encourage the same from her staff.

The Chief Program Officer also works closely with all members of the Senior Leadership Team – including the Chief of Staff, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Communications Officer, and the Chief Development Officer – to advance the vision, strategy, goals, integration and cohesion of the Innocence Project.

This position is a full-time role, based in New York City. At the moment of this posting, the Innocence Project staff members are currently working on a hybrid schedule, with two days per week in the office.

Candidate Profile

Strong candidates will bring a diverse set of skills, characteristics, and experiences, both professional and lived. They are incredibly thoughtful and decisive, and will bring strong energy, joy, and passion around advancing the mission of the Innocence Project. While no candidate will bring every qualification desired, the details provided below are representative of the knowledge and skills Innocence Project is seeking for this important hire.

Organizational Leadership

  • Report to the Executive Director and work in partnership with the Senior Leadership Team to implement the Innocence Project’s strategic vision and plan for its substantive program departments;
  • Serve as a spokesperson for the Innocence Project, with the Executive Director, Program Directors, and staff, articulating the Innocence Project’s positions on a broad range of issues to the public and diverse stakeholder constituencies;
  • Cultivate, build and maintain strategic relationships to advance the Innocence Project’s mission, to engage on shared priorities, and to exchange knowledge and information.

Program Leadership

  • Develop and maintain a broad and deep knowledge of all program areas and working closely with the Program Directors to provide strategic thought-partnership and guidance;
  • Collaborate with Program Directors to identify relevant legal and policy issues to research, opportunities for amicus briefs, and follows current and pending litigation and legislation;
  • Regular collaboration with Program Directors to ensure consistency and integration of policy and litigation goals and to improve operations, communications, and effectiveness;
  • Plan and manage budgets with Program Directors and ensure effective use of organizational resources to ensure accountability and excellent stewardship;
  • Cultivate and coordinate pro bono legal resources;

People and Team Management

  • Foster cross-Program and cross-Department collaboration, identify opportunities and create strategies for further integration, communication, and cooperation;
  • In partnership with Program Directors and staff, set goals, monitor progress, evaluate outcomes, solve problems, and evaluate resource allocation;
  • Effectively manage, coach and supervise a high performing program staff, including Program Directors who manage others;
  • Develop and manage processes for teams as required to enhance clarity, efficiency, efficacy and morale;

In addition, candidates will offer:

  • 10+ years of professional experience, including at least 5 years managing teams involving complex tradeoffs and coordination;
  • A passionate commitment to criminal, racial and social justice and to the Innocence Project’s goals, mission, and values;
  • Juris Doctor (JD) degree preferred;
  • A management style that is open and consultative with a focus on team building and creating a culture of belonging and inclusion;
  • Broad background in criminal justice, including familiarity with the Innocence Project’s program areas;
  • Capacity to deeply engage in equity work internally with staff throughout the Innocence Project and externally, in the spaces in which the Innocence Project operates;
  • Ability to listen, communicate effectively, coach, shepherd, and support people to achieve shared goals;
  • Ability to manage multiple competing demands and resources and make decisions in a fast-paced environment;
  • Effective internal and external communications skills and the ability to engage and appropriately mobilize and utilize the skills and experiences across departments;
  • Demonstrated success working effectively with external partners including donors, pro-bono law firms, and government officials;
  • Excellent research and writing skills;
  • Superior attention to detail;
  • Outstanding judgment and problem-solving abilities;
  • Flexibility, grace and a sense of humor.
Compensation & Benefits

The salary range for this position begins at approximately $230,000, commensurate with experience.

The Innocence Project offers an excellent benefits package, including fully paid health, dental, and vision insurance, Flexible Spending Account, 401k plan with company-match, andcompany-paid transportation benefits adjusted for the current hybrid in-office model.


Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Shelby Woods and Trisha Sutrisno of Koya Partners are leading the search. To express interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.


The Innocence Project considers the diversity of its workforce to be vital to our organization’s success in meeting its mission. We strongly encourage applicants from all cultures, races, educational backgrounds, life experiences, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, age, gender, and physical abilities to apply. Individuals with personal connections to the criminal legal system are strongly encouraged to apply.

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is our policy not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, actual or perceived domestic violence victim status, unemployment status, caregiver status, or any other category protected by law.

Koya Partners is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit

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