Director, Community Science

National Resources Defense Council
1152 15th St NW #300
Washington, D.C., DC 20005
United States
$139,000.00 to $160,000.00 Per Year
Job Description

NRDC is a non-profit environmental advocacy organization. We use law, science, and the support of 3.1 million members and online activists to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and to ensure the rights of all people to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities. NRDC was founded in 1970 and our people helped write some of America's bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act and many of the implementing regulations. Today, our team of more than 700 lawyers, scientists, economists, policy advocate, communications experts, and others work across the United States and the globe from our offices in Bozeman, Montana; Chicago; New York; San Francisco; Santa Monica; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing. 


NRDC is seeking a Director of Community Science to work with the Environment, Equity & Justice Center team in any of our office locations. The Center was launched in 2021, and we seek an optimistic, creative, and collaborative leader who can co-create cross-disciplinary community-led campaigns that integrate community science strategies and advance community solutions with external partners, with staff in the Center, and across the organization. 


Position Summary 

The Director of Community Science will work in close collaboration with external frontline partners and members of NRDC’s Programs and Departments to advance community-led campaigns and to further integrate community science approaches and principles into NRDC’s advocacy overall. The Director of Community Science will work with lawyers, policy advocates, and community development practitioners across the Center to collectively provide integrated cross-disciplinary expertise to advance community-driven solutions. The Director will play a leadership role in elevating and integrating community-based science approaches into those efforts and into NRDC’s advocacy. The ideal candidate is flexible, thrives in collaborative environments, embraces solving complex and nuanced problems, and is recognized within the environmental and/or social justice movement as a strategic thinker with excellent communications skills. They will represent NRDC and the Environment, Equity & Justice Center in internal and external forums, acting as a spokesperson for our strategic vision. 


  • Advance community-led advocacy in partnership with frontline communities (50%) 
    • Serve in leadership role to develop, guide, and contribute to cross-disciplinary EJ advocacy campaigns with staff in the Center and across the organization. Ensure cross-disciplinary EJ campaigns integrate community science strategies and tools, elevate community expertise, and build evidence to advance community solutions and scientific and analytic approaches that meet community needs and advance EJ principles.  
    • Develop strong and collaborative relationships with EJ and community leaders, and represent NRDC in external coalitions and partnerships to incorporate justice and public health protections into policy interventions.  
    • Provide very high level of subject matter expertise on a wide range of community science, public health, environmental justice, social justice, and movement building issues to guide and support partnerships. 
    • Manage institutional partnership commitments and responsibilities for NRDC, inclusive of coordinating with executive leadership and serving as point for staff engagement. 
  • Integrate community science into NRDC’s policy advocacy & build community science capacity (30%) 
    • Serve in leadership role to integrate community-based science strategies into NRDC’s advocacy and cross-cutting equity and justice initiatives, collaborating with EEJC’s leaders and staff across the organization, advising on substance and approach, and serving as a mentor and role model.  
    • Partner with staff in the Science Office to build and leverage scientific and technical capacity, resources, and skills to achieve the equity and justice goals of NRDC and disproportionately impacted communities. 
    • Collaborate with EEJC’s leaders and across the organization to strengthen NRDC’s operational capacities to advance community-driven solutions and scientific and analytic approaches that meet community needs and advance EJ principles.  
  • Management, Strategy & Operations (20%) 
    • Directly manage and oversee 1-2 staff within the Center initially, ensuring that staff are supported and coached to increasing levels of performance and that projects are aligned with organizational mission and goals. 
    • Serve in leadership role to integrate community-based science strategies into the Center’s core partnerships, policy, and capacity-building functions. 
    • Work closely with the other Center leaders and staff to ensure that the Center’s priorities and activities are integrated and mutually supporting. 
    • Perform other tasks as requested by the Chief Equity and Justice Officer and Managing Director of Environmental Justice and Community Solutions, including but not limited to supporting the Center’s fundraising, communications, budget, and strategic planning processes.


Minimum Education & Experience 

  • Master’s degree or advanced degree in scientific or public health field required, with training and experience in applying quantitative and/or qualitative research methods to issues of social justice, environmental health disparities, climate change, and/or related challenges. 
  • Senior-level project management, scientific, and policy advocacy skills with a minimum of 8-10 years’ post-degree work experience in the environmental, social justice, or scientific field. 
  • Extensive experience (at least 5 years) and demonstrated success working in partnership with community groups and coalitions to provide scientific, policy, and technical tools and support. 


  • PhD in scientific or public health field preferred. 
  • Experience with health, air, toxics, and cumulative impacts analyses is a plus. 
  • Familiarity with fundraising, including foundation grants and major donor engagement. 
  • Fluency in Spanish is a plus. 

Skills, Abilities and Competencies 

  • Commitment to NRDC’s mission, values and DEI principles. 
  • Proven ability to forge common ground, build alignment, and navigate conflict. 
  • Demonstrated track record of working across disciplines (legal, scientific, etc.), with ability to leverage diverse methods from the environmental, health, and social sciences. 
  • Strategic thinker with strong interpersonal and active listening skills. 
  • Exceptional research, writing, communication, organization, and analytical skills. 
  • Team player with a proven ability to collaborate in a complex/matrixed organizational structure. 
  • Deep knowledge in community science approaches and strategies and EJ principles. 
  • Ability to communicate with a wide variety of audiences, including on EJ principles and scientific approaches. 
  • Experience managing and supervising staff. 
  • Demonstrated commitment to incorporating and growing the use of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion principles in NRDC’s work. 
  • Knowledge of and sensitivity to different racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and people with different gender identities, cultural differences, and disabilities. 
  • Ability to travel to NRDC U.S. based offices, approximately 10-15% annually.  

NRDC is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, both in our work and in our workplace. We believe that celebrating and actively welcoming diverse voices and perspectives is essential to solving the planet's most pressing environmental problems, and we encourage applications from candidates whose identities have been historically under-represented in the environmental movement. 


We are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, citizenship, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law. Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.  


We offer competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a supportive working environment. Salary is based on a nonprofit scale and is commensurate with skills and experience. For this position, the salary is $139,000 to $160,000. Internal equity considerations will be reviewed before making a final offer.  


Since March 2020, NRDC’s offices have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You will be associated with one of our offices, but until circumstances allow us to re-open, we will continue to support NRDCers with remote working arrangements. 


As a science-based organization, NRDC aims to do our part to help contain the COVID-19 public health crisis. For the sake of health, safety, and equity, we ask that people be vaccinated unless they have an approved medical or religious accommodation or other exemption in accordance with state and local law. We consider a person to be vaccinated two weeks after receiving one full course of a CDC-approved vaccine. In accordance with state or local law, new hires will be asked to attest to vaccination, those wishing to do so may request medical or religious accommodations or other exemptions via NRDC Employee Relations. NRDC treats all vaccine-related data confidentially, in keeping with local, state, and federal laws. 


To apply, visit and upload your résumé and cover letter. Please mention where you saw this posting and upload any additional materials that showcase your abilities. Due to the high volume of applications, we will contact only those candidates we would like to interview. Please no phone calls, emails, or in-person résumé drop-offs. 


If you experience technical problems while applying or if you are a person with a disability and need assistance applying online, please reach out to iCIMS Customer Care at 1-800-889-4422. 


1152 15th St NW #300
Washington, D.C. DC 20005
United States