Federal Engagement Director
The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) supports local governments to implement bold change in pursuit of equitable and sustainable communities. It does this by building the capacity of local governments to act, scaling promising practices and solutions, and harnessing data and insights to advance and influence the field. The heart of USDN’s work is a network of local government sustainability professionals from over 250 cities and counties across the United States and Canada dedicated to creating a healthy environment, advancing racial equity, and building thriving and resilient communities. USDN is powered by a distributed team of 20 people that work together across the United States, and a robust network of trusted partners and collaborators.
USDN believes that a diverse, inclusive, and equity-centered climate movement is essential to achieving our ambitious goals for just, resilient, carbon neutral communities. Our work prioritizes those who experience the most vulnerability to climate change, disproportionate exposure to environmental injustice, and the biggest barriers to benefiting from climate solutions.
The Federal Engagement Director will oversee the creation, implementation and ongoing evolution of USDN initiatives related to federal funding and policy engagement. Working in collaboration with USDN leadership, staff, members, partners, and consultants, this position will be responsible for developing and implementing programs that increase USDN members’ understanding of and ability to access federal funding programs that can support local sustainability action. This position will also lead USDN’s federal policy engagement strategy to identify opportunities for USDN and its members to inform future policy and program design to advance equitable, ambitious climate and sustainability action.
The ideal candidate will bring a depth of understanding of federal programs and processes, hands-on experience with federal grant applications and/or grant program management, deep knowledge and experience in federal policymaking and budget processes, and working knowledge of local government and local-level sustainability issues. This position offers a unique opportunity to bring creativity and insight into a new, strategically important program that has the potential to amplify the work of USDN and its member communities in the coming years.
- Design and Oversight of a Federal Funding Assistance Program for Members. This program seeks to increase awareness and understanding of current and emerging federal funding programs for which municipalities are eligible applicants or recipients of funds. It will include 1:1 and small group consultation support to members pursuing specific grant opportunities. Program elements for which the Federal Engagement Director is primarily responsible include:
- Tracking and disseminating information on current and emerging federal funding opportunities.
- Hosting and facilitating virtual sessions for member learning and peer exchange on relevant funding opportunities, including delivering or coordinating training sessions, workshops, and small-group consultations. This role will work to design inclusive learning spaces that allow members to openly and honestly share needs and problems, and foster a learning community among peers.
- The position will work to invite and recruit diverse members and a diverse representation of communities to training sessions.
- Overseeing a grants technical assistance program supported by USDN’s consultants and partners; and directly advising members on proposal development by offering coaching and review services to members selected through intake or competitive process.
- The position will catalyze and prioritize projects with equity-centered approaches to climate and sustainability work, and will work to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion principles in all project concepts.
- Tracking data on program participation, member projects/proposals and other activities, and program results to facilitate peer learning and report on program impact metrics.
- Support Development of USDN’s Federal Funding Strategy. USDN is conducting exploratory research to determine the availability of suitable funding streams that may support USDN and member activities in the coming years. The Federal Engagement Director will play a supporting role in the strategy development and implementation process, which may include:
- Identifying funding opportunities for which USDN may be an eligible recipient.
- Overseeing consultant-supported processes to deliver related research, analysis, and recommendations.
- Developing proposals and/or engaging with potential partner organizations for immediate opportunities.
- Collaborating with other USDN team members to assess organizational readiness and capacities that would be required to apply for and deliver on competitive grant opportunities for which the organization may be eligible.
- Lead Development and Implementation of a Federal Engagement Strategy. USDN is evaluating opportunities to better engage with federal policymakers and agency staff to inform development of future policies, programs and funding opportunities. These efforts will draw from USDN’s field insights from our 10+ years working with local practitioners to help ensure federal programs are optimally aligned with local needs to advance ambitious, equitable climate and sustainability action. To this end, the Federal Engagement Director will have primary responsibility for:
- Developing a strategy for engaging in federal policymaking and program design in ways that may make existing or future federal programs more responsive to USDN member needs.
- With support from USDN leadership, programs staff, and consultants, facilitate engagement efforts with congressional bodies, federal agency staff, and others (this could include formalizing current relationships into more beneficial partnerships)
- Providing training, coaching, and direct assistance to members and/or support in the development and implementation of a federal advocacy strategy.
- Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as a Professional Competency. DEI is a central goal, fundamental value, and required competency for the practice of sustainability. USDN staff cultivate equity skills and competencies through personal practice and training.
- This role will demonstrate the skills to lead from an understanding of equity and anti-oppression.
- The position will prioritize advocacy for equity, diversity, and inclusion in all USDN policy strategies.
- The position will advance equity as a characteristic of responsible governance, where all levels of government have a fiscal and moral responsibility to address the long-term implications that inequity has on prosperity, health, and safety of residents.
- Other duties as assigned. This is an emerging area of work which the candidate will have an opportunity to shape in collaboration with colleagues.
- Knowledge and experience related to federal funding opportunities and processes, experience with federal grant application processes
- Knowledge and experience related to federal programs and policy making, including legislative processes, federal agency policy and programs, federal budget processes, etc.
- An understanding of the concepts of institutional and structural racism and bias and their impact on underserved and underrepresented communities
- Experience working with local governments preferred
- Experience working on local-level sustainability, resilience, and racial equity preferred
Required Skills and Abilities
- Project management skills, highly organized, with strong attention to detail
- Ability to design and facilitate productive meetings (virtually and in-person)
- High level of communication skills - interpersonal, written and verbal - and strong relationship-development skills
- Knowledge of and/or existing relationships with staff of federal agencies and members of Congress, and/or the demonstrated ability to network and build relationships within public sector organizations
- Ability to flex communication style and relationship development to multiple cultural environments
- Ability to work productively in an unstructured environment
- Capacity to manage multiple projects with different deadlines
- Ability to work independently and with team members in a collaborative and dynamic environment
- Proficient in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Google Suite, Zoom;
- Full-time position for 12 months, with possibility of extension.
- Reports to USDN’s Communications Director
- Compensation: Expected range $90,000 annually, commensurate with qualifications. Robust benefits package, including health, dental, disability, and life insurance, flexible leave policy, and 401(k) program.
- Location: This is a fully remote, work-from-home position. USDN has no central office but staff collaborate extensively via video call meetings. Candidates must furnish their own quiet office space for conference calls. USDN provides a computer, smartphone, and IT stipend to cover internet and phone, software, and other home office supplies.
- Work hours: 9am-5pm Eastern, Central, or Pacific Standard Times (flexible); 40 hours/week
Urban Sustainability Directors Network is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We are committed to equal treatment of all employees without regard to race, national origin, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, physical or mental disability or other basis protected by law.