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VOCAL-WA is looking for two part-time community organizers (term limited). Description and requirements below!


Civil Rights Community Organizer Internship

Organizational Background:

The Public Defender Association (PDA), a civil rights and justice system reform organization in Seattle, Washington, is launching a grassroots membership organization dedicated to building the power of low-income people affected by the drug war, mass incarceration, and HIV/AIDS to create healthy and just communities. Modeled after VOCAL-NY, the project is a semi-autonomous project of the Public Defender Association. This position is focused on engaging community members in advocacy and activism. Applicants must be flexible, creative, and willing to start building from the ground up! The structure and method of this project will be closely modeled on VOCAL-NY, and the selected applicants will be expected to work with and receive guidance from VOCAL staff who are consulting on this effort, as well as from PDA staff.

Position Description:

PDA seeks talented individuals interested in creating grassroots political power as part of a small, but dynamic, team. The community organizer intern will support community empowerment and civic engagement among low-income people who are impacted by mass incarceration, and promote their participation in planning and policymaking that affects their lives. Job activities are varied and may include: community outreach; mobilization; base-building; event coordination; communications and media outreach.

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: Conduct trainings that build the knowledge and skills of people who are impacted by mass incarceration to participate in planning and policymaking that affects their lives, as well as Know Your Rights trainings.
  • Issue ID and Campaign Coordination: Assist members in identifying advocacy issues, developing advocacy strategy, and implementation.
  • Mobilization: Turn out large numbers of members and potential members to rallies, meetings and other events through mass phone banking, street outreach, door-knocking, camp visiting, 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.

Requirements / Qualifications:

The ideal candidate will be an energetic, self-motivated individual who has strong inter-personal, public speaking and problem solving skills. Ability to work hours outside of normal business hours is highly desirable. This is a six-week organizer training internship for individuals with direct experience of criminal justice involvement, vulnerability to law enforcement action due to the War on Drugs, and/or homelessness. Candidates must demonstrate interest in criminal justice, homelessness, and drug policy reform and a willingness to learn, work as a part of a team, and approach issues through a racial justice analysis. Candidates must be able immediately to engage in outreach and base-building with currently homeless individuals, active drug users, and people with extensive criminal history. Basic computer skills, including ability to use the internet, email, word processing (e.g. Microsoft Word) and spreadsheets (e.g. Excel) programs a plus.


Two part-time positions will be filled at any given time. The salary range will be commensurate with experience but will range from $16-$20/hour.

Equal Opportunity Statement:

The Public Defender Association is an equal opportunity employer. People of color and people who are formerly incarcerated, HIV-positive, women and/or LGBT are 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 opportunites available on an ongoing basis.

  • For current or recent law students interested in a fellowship, legal externship or internship, please contact both Lisa Daugaard and Patricia Sully.
  • If you are interested in general, LEAD, VOCAL-WA or other open ended opportunities, please complete the survey found here. Once complete, someone from the PDA office will follow up with you regarding your application.