DJDS | About
page-template,page-template-full_width,page-template-full_width-php,page,page-id-2318,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-title-hidden,qode_grid_1300,footer_responsive_adv,qode-theme-ver-10.1.1,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.0.1,vc_responsive

Our Mission

We are an Oakland-based architecture and real estate development non-profit working to end mass incarceration by building infrastructure that addresses its root causes: poverty, racism, unequal access to resources, and the criminal justice system itself. Our work counters the traditional adversarial and punitive architecture of justice—courthouses, prisons, and jails—by creating spaces and buildings for restorative justice, community building, and housing for people coming out of incarceration.

We also operate the Concept Development Fund, a program which helps nonprofits and advocates transform their ideas for community infrastructure reinvestment into fully realized designs complete with budgetary outlines, imagery, and other concrete details. The Fund receives charitable contributions that are used to support the financial costs of the concept development.

Bold Idea

Our bold idea is that by transforming the spaces and places where we do justice we can help our society make the shift from a punitive justice system to a restorative justice system. We hope to see peacemaking centers in every community in this country and end the age of mass incarceration.

Our Philosophy

Restorative justice seeks to restore and repair the people and relationships impacted by crime by understanding victims’ needs and holding offenders accountable in a way that meets these needs. It brings victims and offenders together for face-to-face meetings to discuss impacts, needs, and, when appropriate, ways to repair damages. Thousands of these processes operate in the US, Canada, and Europe, with many dialogues occurring in prisons when the offender is incarcerated and the crimes have been violent. Research suggests that these encounters contribute to increased empathy, improved restitution completion, and reduced offending.

Rather than focused on punishment, this philosophical approach to justice relies on values such as respect, participation, trust, accountability, and healing. Just as the principles and values of our punitive approach to justice manifest in our current justice architectural typologies, the philosophies of a restorative model can inform the design of justice spaces in a radically different way.

At DJDS our work is informed by these values and beliefs. Using the philosophy of restorative justice we design physical environments in such a way that the environmental design supports the programs which occur within the space.

This concern for the design of the spaces in which restorative justice occurs is important, but not all that a truly restorative community requires. It also requires that we support the development of new types of housing and resource centers to address the root causes of mass incarceration and the decades of disinvestment, trauma, and harm done to our communities of color.

Our Team

Deanna Van Buren

Deanna Van Buren

Co-Founder and Design Director

Kyle Rawlins

Kyle Rawlins

Co-Founder and Development Director

Barb Toews

Barb Toews

Evaluation Partner & Board Member

Shelley Davis Roberts

Shelley Davis Roberts

Architectural Associate

Tola Thomas

Tola Thomas

Architectural Designer

Brandi Mack

Brandi Mack

Community Liaison

Sabrina Siskind

Sabrina Siskind

Production Designer

Chris Bahara

Chris Bahara

Operations Manager

Job Openings


Senior Project Manager




DJDS is seeking to immediately add a full-time onsite Senior Project Manager to lead the (1) build-out of the organization’s project management capacity, and (2) successful day-to-day execution of existing and future projects. The position will report to the Design Director and Development Director, who are also the firm’s Co-Founders.

The profile of a successful applicant begins with a strong interest and/or activism in social justice issues. The applicant should enjoy—and thrive—working in a multidisciplinary, highly collaborative environment, and achieve successful results through practiced management techniques. The position requires initiative and prompt action to accomplish objectives. The social impact nature of the work requires a critical mind to reveal insights and creativity in the application of new solutions. A positive attitude will permeate through the work, interactions with coworkers, clients, management, and sponsorship of firm policies.






  • Lead multiple projects and teams, across multiple stakeholders
  • Manage and oversee the processes of projects


Capacity Building:


  • Explore and recommend project management software and systems to help streamline DJDS projects and tasks
  • Create a process for managing meetings, including the preparation of agendas, note-taking, and distribution of next steps
  • Direct, lead, and mentor staff to ensure professional development




  • Develop a system to track the status of all projects and goals
  • Create and coordinate work plans, schedules and timelines across projects
  • Create and monitor project schedules


Client Management:


  • Establish regular client meetings and attend with appropriate team and consultants as required by contract scope
  • Create additional service directives and sign additional services with approval of studio leadership
  • Serve as the main point of management contact with the client and city agencies


Quality Control:


  • In accordance with company quality requirements, ensure that the project conforms to the contractual agreement the firm has made with the client
  • Review contract drawings and specifications for completeness, accuracy, and coordination
  • Ensure that the project conforms to the allocated period of time and within the budget it has been assigned


Financial Control and Risk Management:


  • Establish and monitor project budgets along with project progress
  • Review project billings and update studio projections regularly
  • Monitor project receivables and assist in the collection of receivables


Business Development:


  • Assist in proposal drafts and submissions


Resource Allocation:


  • Ensure staff is effectively and efficiently utilizing time
  • Determine amount and type of staff to execute the projects




  • Accurate and detail oriented
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to work on multiple projects and maintain effective communication and quality control
  • Strong ability to plan, schedule, direct work of self and others
  • Advanced understanding and proficiency using the following software:
    • Microsoft Office
    • Google Apps
    • Basecamp/Smartsheet or similar project management software
  • Basic understanding of:
    • AutoCad and/or REVIT
    • Sketch-Up
    • Adobe Creative Suite




  • Bachelor’s degree in architecture, construction management, engineering or related field
  • Minimum seven years industry experience (architecture, construction management, real estate development, engineering)
  • Advanced understanding of building codes, including national and state local codes




Please submit a digital resume and portfolio of selected projects applicant feels are most relevant to the work of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces following the directions below:

Subject Line: Senior Project Manager
Attachment: One multipage PDF not to exceed 3MB

The PDF should include:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Portfolio of projects in which your primary role was project manager


Please, no phone calls or recruiters. All applicants must be eligible to work in the U.S.

Architectural Designer — Intermediate Level




Designing Justice + Designing Spaces is a small startup public-interest design practice using design and development to end mass incarceration and structural inequity. We have specific expertise in community engagement, evidence-based design research, and designing for peacemaking and reparation. We are seeking a freelance mid-level architecture design intern to provide support on discrete project tasks. We require a designer with mature design skills that has demonstrated proficiency in AutoCAD, Rhino, SketchUp and hand sketching. If you are interested in the role that design plays in social justice and enjoy working both inside and outside modes of traditional practice then you will find our office to be exciting.




Candidates must have:


  • A professional degree in Architecture
  • Minimum 5 to 7 years professional practice
  • Proficiency in SketchUp, Rhino and Adobe Acrobat Suite
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Able to work independently
  • Willingness to take direction and work as part of a multi-disciplinary collaborative team
  • A strong interest and/or activism in social justice issues is desirable
  • Fluent Spanish speaker desirable


Projected hours per week will vary with an average of 32 to 40 hours a week starting now.




Please send a digital portfolio or links to your website following the directions below.

Subject Line: Intermediate Designer
Attachment: One multipage PDF not to exceed 3MB

The PDF should include:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Portfolio with the following examples, for which you have primary authorship:
    • Three (3) hand-drawn sketches
    • Three (3) 3D computer renderings
    • Photo of an architectural model
    • Relevant image(s) of your choice


Please, no phone calls or recruiters. All applicants must be eligible to work in the U.S.