Content Strategist, Mellon/ACLS Public Fellowship


Only Available through the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Program

Job Title: Content Strategist

OrganizationInnocence Project

Location: New York,

NY Stipend: $67,500 with health insurance for the fellow, professional development funds, and relocation allowance

Start Date: September 4, 2018


The Innocence Project is a not-for-profit organization that works to exonerate innocent people through post-conviction DNA testing and to develop and implement policy changes to prevent wrongful convictions and otherwise reform the criminal justice system. The Innocence Project uses its unique science- and research-based expertise and the experiences of the exonerated to expose systemic problems and unequal treatment of people based on race and socio-economic status. We use a core set of strategies—litigation, policy advocacy, and strategic communications—to free the innocent from unjust incarceration and advocate for reform of the system responsible for their wrongful imprisonment. The Innocence Project has recently begun a new area of work calling attention to the innocent who plead guilty to misdemeanors, racial bias throughout the system, and the growing crisis in indigent defense systems. Our new work seeks to fashion a criminal justice system that really cares about innocence; a system that treats people humanely, with dignity and respect; a reliable system based on justice and fundamental fairness for all people. For more information, visit


As part of a collaboration between the Innocence Project’s executive and communications departments, the Content Strategist will investigate, vet, and develop sharable content for our advocacy work, website, and social media platforms. Starting with individual and organizational contacts as well as the Innocence Project’s ongoing communications, policy, and litigation efforts, the Content Strategist will develop personal narratives that shed light on the issues at the intersection of misdemeanor guilty pleas, indigent defense, and racial bias in the criminal justice system and how these issues contribute to wrongful convictions. These issues include racial profiling, policing, bail and pretrial detention, inadequate indigent defense, prosecutorial discretion, collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, trauma, and social stigma. The Content Strategist will report to the Special Counsel for New Initiatives, a member of the Executive team.

The Content Strategist will:

  • Conduct outreach with other criminal justice organizations and directly interview community members, advocates, and other individuals to develop compelling misdemeanor narratives to be shared in our advocacy work and on our digital platforms. Narrative development may also include gathering documentation from court files, interviewing defense counsel, and gathering supporting materials to create communications materials, including white papers, digital content and videos;
  • Create a story bank to allow communications, policy, and development staff to access stories on an as-needed basis; and
  •  Develop a comprehensive communications plan, in collaboration with the communications department, to support the Innocence Project’s public education and advocacy to raise awareness of racial bias in the criminal justice system and the system’s overreliance on guilty pleas. Based on their findings, the Content Strategist will conduct additional research to ultimately develop a comprehensive message guide that allows program staff to advocate for anti-mass incarceration and anti-racist policies.


  • PhD in the humanities or humanistic social sciences; •
  • A strong commitment to social/racial justice issues and to the mission of the Innocence Project;
  • Excellent investigative and communication skills;
  • Excellent writing skills;
  • Experience conducting outreach;
  • Facility with storytelling approaches;
  • Attention to detail and ability to work independently; and
  • Candidate should be organized, flexible, and creative. Preferred:
  • Meaningful familiarity with communities of color and communities with substantial contact with the criminal justice system;
  • Experience with external communications; and
  • Experience using video or photography to tell stories. 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, life experiences, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, age, gender, and physical abilities to apply. Those with direct experience with the criminal justice system, formerly incarcerated people, and people with incarcerated loved ones are strongly encouraged to apply. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Information on the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Program: All applications must be submitted through the ACLS Online Fellowship Application SystemApplication deadline: March 14, 2018, 9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time

This position is only available through the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program. You may not contact the host institution to inquire about this position.

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