Terrance Pitts Joins Vera’s Leadership Team as Chief of Staff


NEW YORK, NY – The Vera Institute of Justice announced the appointment of Terrance Pitts as Chief of Staff. Pitts will join the 8-member Vera Leadership Team and help Vera continue to drive change in the justice system by facilitating strategic thinking and problem solving and cultivating collaboration and accountability across the organization.

In this new role, Terrance will guide the Director of Race, Equity and Inclusion as part of Vera’s commitment to dismantling racism both within our institution and the wider community and to transforming our professional relationships and activities to align with this vision.

“We’re excited for Terrance to join the Vera Leadership team, bringing his decades of diverse experience to a new role as our Chief of Staff,” said Nick Turner, President and Director of the Vera Institute of Justice. “Vera is at a point of growth, creating the necessity of taking our leadership and management to the next level over the next chapter, particularly as we commit more fully to being an antiracist organization. Terrance’s field knowledge, strategic thinking skills, kindness, and ability to manage both large-scale and more detailed projects will be an asset to our dynamic and increasingly high-profile work.”

Trained as a lawyer, Terrance has extensive experience implementing and supporting racial justice initiatives, human rights advocacy, and criminal justice reform efforts. Terrance began his career in the criminal justice reform sector while serving as a New Voices Fellow for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty where he developed a deeper understanding of the extreme sentences and racial disparities that have become unfortunate hallmarks of the American criminal justice system.

Most recently, Terrance served as senior advisor for the Ford Foundation’s Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice unit, where he managed a robust grantmaking portfolio to advance the work of dozens of grantee partners to end mass incarceration in the United States. Prior to joining the staff of the Ford Foundation, Terrance worked as a program officer for Open Society Foundations (OSF) and as an independent strategy consultant supporting the development of new criminal justice reform efforts for organizations like Borealis Philanthropy and the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at NYU School of Law. During his tenure at OSF, he allocated millions of dollars to advance death penalty abolition efforts, end juvenile life without parole, and support new police reform campaigns.

“Changing our justice system to be more equitable takes the courage and wisdom of many collaborators and different types of organizations”, said Terrance Pitts, Chief of Staff at the Vera Institute of Justice. “I’ve been proud to support many of these reform efforts throughout my career in philanthropy, and I am now pleased and grateful to join the Vera Institute of Justice to continue my journey to transform the U.S. system of justice.”

Terrance has also implemented a variety of social change projects focusing on race, class, and justice using the tools of storytelling and cultural production – including several national and local events led by Blackout for Human Rights in collaboration with a variety artists and activists. As a documentarian and Firelight Media Documentary Lab Fellow, Terrance has examined the themes of incarceration, community-level violence, trauma, and healing through short film production.

He received an undergraduate degree in political science from Stanford University with a concentration in public policy, a master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law.

About the Vera Institute of Justice:

The Vera Institute of Justice is a justice reform change agent. Vera produces ideas, analysis, and research that inspire change in the systems people rely upon for safety and justice. Vera collaborates with the communities most impacted by these systems and works in close partnership with government and civic leaders to implement change. Across projects, Vera is committed to explicitly and effectively reducing the burdens of the justice system on people of color and frames all work with an understanding of our country’s history of racial oppression. Vera is currently pursuing core priorities of ending the misuse of jails, transforming conditions of confinement, providing legal services for immigrants, and ensuring that justice systems more effectively serve America’s increasingly diverse communities. Vera has offices in Brooklyn, NY; Washington, DC; New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

For more information, visit www.vera.org