Margaret diZerega


Margaret diZerega is the managing director of initiatives at Vera. In her role, she oversees a portfolio of national initiatives and projects.

Since joining Vera in 2009, Margaret has been instrumental in developing and leading various projects and initiatives across the Institute. She has worked on family engagement in prisons and jails, led county stakeholder groups focused on understanding the drivers of the jail population size through the Safety and Justice Challenge, and led several projects related to expanding access to public housing for people with conviction histories.

Most recently, Margaret served as initiative director for Unlocking Potential, leading the initiative’s efforts to expand access to high-quality postsecondary education in prison. Under her leadership, Unlocking Potential partnered with the U.S. Department of Education on the Second Chance Pell Experimental Site Initiative, a pilot program granting people in prison federal aid to pursue postsecondary education. Building on the program’s success, Vera, in partnership with formerly incarcerated leaders and other advocates, successfully advocated for the 2020 FAFSA Simplification Act, reinstating Pell access for people in prison beginning in July 2023.

Before joining Vera, Margaret was the director of training and technical assistance at Family Justice and was a program officer for LISC’s Community Safety Initiative, providing technical assistance to police and affordable housing developers.

Margaret holds a BA in American studies from Williams College and an MPA from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.