Environmental Justice Program Officer
About the position
In the United States and elsewhere, the environmental movement has often focused on top-down regulation and litigation. Namati is developing a "legal empowerment" approach to environmental justice: one that equips communities affected by environmental harm to advocate for themselves.
Namati focuses on 'community paralegals', sometimes called barefoot lawyers, who demystify law and help people exercise their rights. Namati works with community paralegals in several countries and convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network, made up of over 2000 organizations from 160 countries.
In India, Sierra Leone, and Myanmar, Namati focuses on environmental justice (EJ) in particular. Paralegals in those places support communities to pursue practical remedies when, say, an oil palm plantation grabs land without consent, or an iron mine poisons the water.
We are searching for a dynamic teammate to support a new crew of legal empowerment advocates in Maryland and Washington DC. This is an opportunity to build an approach to environmental justice that could hold promise for the whole country. We have identified extraordinary advocates to form our first U.S. legal empowerment team-- people like Fred Tutman, the only black River Keeper in the country, and Rhonda Hamilton, who has led her neighborhood in Buzzards Point to take on pollution and gentrification at the same time. The advocates are learning from each other and deepening their work together.
We’ve just begun: the EJ Program Officer will help build this pilot into something lasting and powerful.
In collaboration with our team, the Officer will support legal empowerment advocates and the communities they’re serving to understand environmental regulation, and to pursue concrete remedies to environmental injustice. The Officer will equip the advocates to engage creatively across the institutional landscape—from departments of environment and public health to zoning boards—especially as federal regulation has weakened.
True legal empowerment involves not just knowing and using the rules as they exist, but shaping them to make them more just. In every country where Namati works, we’ve drawn on case experience to achieve improvements to policies and systems. The Program Officer will work with advocates and communities to attempt the same in Maryland and DC.
We’re looking for someone tenacious, creative and strategic, with a burning passion for environmental justice.
The Officer will play a core role in the following areas:
- Case work: work closely with community advocates to develop a strategy for getting concrete resolution to environmental justice issues in their communities. This includes supporting them to understand regulation, identify violations, and develop an action plan for engaging institutions to get a remedy. The Officer will work with the team to develop trainings to build the advocates' knowledge and skills for each part of the case process, including engaging affected people to lead the effort.
- Community outreach and organizing: support the advocates to build power within communities directly impacted by environmental justice issues. As they partner with communities on cases, advocates raise awareness about communities’ legal rights, create space for dialogue about community vision and priorities for action, and cultivate leadership by community members. The Officer will offer guidance on outreach and organizing and connect advocates to other organizers and activists who can serve as resources. In addition, the Officer will help develop content for communicating risks and impacts and steps in the regulatory process to communities.
- Policy analysis and advocacy: contribute to efforts to drive systems change based on learning from grassroots case experience. The Officer will analyze existing policy to identify opportunities and gaps, draw on grassroots case data to develop grounded recommendations for policy change, and help develop strategies and messaging for improving regulatory policy and practice.
- Coalition building: connect with allies to build a shared platform. The Officer will share learning from our grassroots experience with the broader EJ ecosystem and cultivate partnerships with civil society organizations with whom we share core commitments and strategic priorities. In addition, the Officer will build relationships with champions within government agencies.
The Officer’s specific responsibilities will be shaped in part by the skills and experience the person brings to the role. While the Officer will contribute significantly to each of these areas, the relative emphasis among them may shift based on their strengths and complementarity with other team members. In addition, the Officer will provide some operational support on program management and administration.
Here’s what you might have tackled in this role in the last month--
- Partnered with teammates to design training sessions for a monthly convening of legal empowerment advocates.
- Worked with a legal empowerment advocate to identify a legal hook for challenging air pollution arising from open coal piles in Baltimore.
- Participated in a team call with the Environmental Justice program in India to share lessons and strategies for building a people-powered movement around environmental justice.
- Drafted a policy brief drawing on case data to identify additional protections needed for the regulatory framework to meaningfully reduce harm in EJ communities.
About You/Must-Haves for the Position
- Experience in community-based environmental justice work in the United States: You are a seasoned environmental justice advocate who has spent time working at the intersections of community organizing, law, and policy. You have relevant credentials and strong connections and networks in the field, and are an outstanding communicator with experience engaging with diverse communities.
- In-depth knowledge of environmental regulation: You have a deep understanding of law and regulation on environment, land, and industry. You are familiar with the institutions that regulate these areas, and you can provide strong analysis of possible routes for administrative and other remedies to environmental harms.
- Strong program management. You are great at providing operational support to all aspects of an ambitious and emerging program; from training our advocates to managing key external partnerships and other stakeholder relationships. Not only can you execute on an existing plan and drive its tactical execution, you’re also able to identify what’s missing and iterate on details big and small.
- Experience with training, capacity-building and facilitation. You know what it takes to develop a training for community advocates, from needs assessment and training design to delivery and evaluating whether or not trainings are successful.
- Collaborative and service-oriented: You greet everyone you encounter with a collaborative spirit, kindness, and empathy. You are known as a team-player who brings an “all hands on deck” mindset to all projects, you’re adaptable, and you’re happy to contribute however you can to advance Namati’s mission.
- Growth-oriented: You’re always seeking to better yourself and your work, and you will push yourself to the peak of performance to help fulfill our mission. In service of that growth, you welcome and delight in feedback from supervisors, peers, and anyone else.
Namati is dedicated to placing the power of law in the hands of people.
For billions of people around the world, the law is broken. It’s an abstraction—or worse, a threat—but not something they can use to exercise their basic rights.
Namati advances justice by equipping people to know, use, and shape the laws that affect them.
Namati and its partners have supported cadres of community paralegals –sometimes known as barefoot lawyers or grassroots legal advocates – in ten countries. These paralegals equip their communities to protect common lands, enforce environmental law, and secure basic rights to healthcare and citizenship.
In all ten countries, their grassroots work has led to improvements to entire systems: a new anti-bribery policy for the health sector in Mozambique, for example, improved sand-mining regulations in India, and greater protection for women’s rights in Sierra Leonean land law.
Globally, Namati convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network, more than 2,000 groups from 160 countries who are learning from one another and collaborating on common challenges. This community successfully advocated for the inclusion of access to justice in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
As we move into our next phase, we’re growing our global team of passionate, results-oriented, big-hearted advocates, united by a common mission and a strong culture:
- Our mission is our North Star. It’s why we all wake up every day. We pour our hearts into this work.
- We’re innovators and changemakers. We are a young, energetic social enterprise and we know that our work is urgent. We believe in being nimble and doing what works.
- Our work makes real, tangible, measurable progress in people’s lives. We take abstract concepts – rule of law and human rights – and make them concrete, helping people find solutions that improve their lives every day.
- We walk our talk. Our movement is about legal empowerment and we bring this spirit of empowerment and collaboration to all our partnerships. We hold humility as a core value: we lead when necessary and follow when necessary.
- We are a truly global organization. Our offices are located in Delhi, Freetown, Maputo, Nairobi, Washington DC, and Yangon, and our staff come from all corners of the world. We are united by our common mission.
- We see our people as our most valuable resource. We bring on individuals of the highest caliber and character and we mentor, train, and support our staff.
- We hold one another in the highest esteem. Our work relationships are built on deep abiding respect and love.
For more about what it’s like to work at Namati, please see our Cultural Principles.
Washington, D.C. We are also open to Maryland-based candidates who are willing to travel often to DC.
Please note that candidates must already be legally eligible to work in the United States to be considered for the role.
The salary range for the Officer position is roughly $58,000-$64,000, commensurate with experience.
If through the course of our interview process, we determine that -- based on your experience and qualifications -- you would be able to take on higher-level responsibilities in line with Namati's Senior Officer band, we may elect to re-grade this position accordingly. In that case, the potential salary range for the role would be slightly higher than what we have outlined above.
Namati offers an excellent benefits package, including:
- Health insurance- Namati pays 80% of the base plan premium for individuals, and 50% for dependents
- 3 weeks' paid vacation, 12 sick days, 11 federal holidays (plus the week between Christmas and New Years), 3 personal days, 6 weeks' parental leave
- 401(k)- Namati contributes 5% of your salary plus matches your contribution up to an additional 5%
- Pre-tax withholding for transportation and parking (Washington DC metro area)
- Access to professional development opportunities
Please submit a resume and cover letter - explaining your interest and how your experience relates to the position - using our online application form. We’d also appreciate a brief but substantive work sample related to one of the position’s four key areas of responsibility (case work, community outreach and organizing, policy analysis and advocacy, and/or coalition building). This could be a sample training plan, an article or a policy brief; ideally it’s something you created yourself without a lot of involvement from others.
Note we strongly prefer for your application materials (cover letter, CV, and work sample) to be uploaded in one PDF.
We’ll accept applications on a rolling basis until the position is filled. No phone calls please. Namati is an Equal Opportunity Employer.