The Problem

We are in the midst of a national reckoning over crime and punishment, and what it will take to achieve public health and safety. Yet for decades, lawmakers and the media have overlooked the perspective, voice, and expertise of those closest to mass criminalization. As a result, misinformation spreads, fear wins out over reason, and the status quo prevails. 



Zealous works with public defenders, advocates, and people with direct experiences to harness:


Communicate experiences for maximum impact.


Identify key allies and build trust to fight together.


Use multi-dimensional strategies to change laws.

Social Media

Harness new tools to raise awareness and drive action.

Traditional Media

Work with journalists to share the injustices we see.

New Media

Propel policy change with video, web, data, technology, and art.

Narrative Shifting

Command language to disrupt the status quo.


Our values


Zealous listens and supports. We don’t “empower” or “give voice.” We provide opportunities for local partners to grasp their power and find the voice they always have had.


Zealous doesn’t invite ourselves into local jurisdictions or coalitions. We are always invited to do the work.


At Zealous arts and arts are integral to this work and our process. Artists are not just hired guns. They are partners from the very beginning.


Given the half-century of fearmongering media, press, and politics that has driven mass incarceration, we don’t downplay the power of awareness. 


Collaborative Advocacy means working intentionally and meaningfully in partnership on initiatives, in recognition of the fact that how we work matters as much as the work itself.


The Team


Scott Hechinger

Executive Director & Founder

Crystal Maloney

Managing Director

Alejo Rodriguez

Director of Collaborative Advocacy

Pallavi Daga

Design Lead

Gregory McKelvey

Regional Director

Jacqueline Williams

Regional Director

Molly Shapiro

Policy and Advocacy Associate


Advisory Council


Alex Bunnin

Chief Defender

Harris County, Texas

Brendon Woods

Chief Defender

Alameda County, California

James Foreman

Writer, Former Public Defender, Professor.

Yale Law School

Jonathan Rapping

Founder & Director

Gideon’s Promise

Josie Duffy-Rice

Journalist & Lawyer

President of The Appeal

Khalil Cumberbatch

Chief Strategist

New Yorkers United for Justice

Lara Bazelon

Professor, Writer Advocate

University of San Francisco School of Law

Meena Harris

Activist and Founder

Phenomenal Woman Campaign

Rabia Chaudry

Advocate, Author, & Podcaster

Raj Jayadev


Silicon Valley De-Bug

Samuel Sinyangwe

Data Scientist, Policy Analyst, & Activist

Founder of Campaign Zero

Soledad O’Brien

Journalist, Author, & Philanthropist



Zealous is at an extraordinary moment of growth and potential impact. In the linked document, you will find an overview of our work and all open job positions. Many of the positions include overlapping skills. Candidates should consider applying for more than one position. Please share these listings widely with your networks.

Deputy Executive Director

We are looking for an experienced and bold social and racial justice leader, communicator, and visionary to lead (alongside the executive team) the administration, programs, and strategic plan of the organization, as well direct on-the-ground projects and partnerships. The Deputy Executive Director will lead major aspects of Zealous’ work and interventions and manage key staff, while forging and building new relationships and partnerships, imagining and executing new opportunities for national and local growth and impact, and serving as a spokesperson and ambassador-leader for Zealous in key funder and partner meetings, events and panels, and media opportunities. Read more →

Defender Initiatives

Zealous works with public defenders to expand their vision of what public defense means and the advocacy tools they have at their disposal. We do so by conducting trainings with defenders and defender offices on a range of storytelling and advocacy skills they never learned in law school. We have also taught and are expanding our law school curriculum for future advocates and defenders. Skills taught include: coalition building, campaign development, communications and storytelling, relationship development, engaging clients as partners, working with press, developing new media advocacy strategies, working with artists as true collaborators, and using social media ethically and effectively. Read more →

Regional Leadership

In close collaboration with the Zealous leadership team, this position will project lead strategic partnerships, coalition building, organizing, communications and messaging, and movement building strategies for Zealous work in particular priority states and localities to maximize legal, policy, and narrative wins, help train and build capacity in local partner organizations, and strengthen local coalitions for the ongoing work they will do. Current states and localities where we are looking for heavy leadership and support include: Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and California. Read more →


This position will oversee and expand all of Zealous’s impact communications, messaging, and media strategy work. This includes supporting media and communications strategy for local partner campaigns, developing and nurturing a robust and interactive national community of journalists and overlooked sources (defenders, other frontline practitioners, and people with direct experience), co-leading our work with partners on commentaries for national and local news outlets, managing and growing Zealous’s own social media and communications strategy and presence, and developing and facilitating media trainings. This position will work closely with other members of the Zealous team to coordinate consistent messaging and support communications efforts on campaigns and in partner jurisdictions. Read more →

Policy and Advocacy Associate

The Policy and Advocacy Associate will be the glue that ties the various Zealous practice, issue, and jurisdictional practice areas together and supports all Zealous staff on a range of campaigns, curriculum, and partnerships through researching policy and legal issues, writing and revising proposals, trainings, scripts, and other foundational documents, taking meeting notes, and organizing key materials. The Policy and Advocacy Associate will also spearhead administrative duties, including scheduling and planning internal and external meetings. Read more →

Design Internships

Zealous is looking to add stunningly creative and highly motivated design interns with hands-on art and design education and/or experience. You have the skills of working on brand identity and UX design projects, have typographic knowledge and skills of application, a passion for the actual user experience and journey, and the ability to help with Zealous design projects to the best of your ability. Read more →


We are accepting applications on a rolling basis. To apply, please send resume and letter of interest stating clear which position(s) you are interested in to careers@zealo.us

For Design Internships, the application deadline is January 24, 2021. Please also send along portfolio of design work that articulates a strong quality and wide breadth of work thoughtfully crafted through a strong conceptual process.