Full-Time City-wide Composting for Environmental Justice
The City of Albuquerque, NM, has identified city-wide composting as one component of a strategic plan to increase its climate resilience and provide benefits to historically marginalized communities. The FUSE Executive Fellow will design a public-private composting program that reduces the City’s carbon footprint while providing economic and environmental benefits to those communities most vulnerable to climate change.
Fellowship Dates: October 23, 2023 – October 21, 2024
Salary: Executive Fellows are FUSE employees and receive an annual base salary of $80,000. Fellows can also access various health, dental, and vision insurance benefits. Compensation for this year of public service is not intended to represent market-rate compensation for the experienced professionals in our program.
ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP
FUSE is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.
When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.
Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.
The City of Albuquerque has a range of initiatives underway to address climate change, equity, resilience and sustainability. With nearly 600,000 residents — and more than 40% of the state’s population residing in the greater Albuquerque area — the city’s success in these efforts has major implications for the state. The City’s initiatives have been formalized through planning processes that incorporated community input and best practices, including the 2019 Food & Agriculture Action Plan and the 2021 Climate Action Plan. A number of initiatives and strategies, many in partnership with other agencies, have been started. However, there is still considerable work to be done.
One cross-cutting theme that the Food & Agriculture Action Plan and the Climate Action Plan both touch is the potential impact of widespread composting. Albuquerque is home to one private-sector large-scale composting company that primarily serves commercial and institutional clients. However, there is much more that could be done.
Widespread composting has a number of potential benefits for frontline communities — those that are most vulnerable to climate change. There is also potential funding for these programs from federal, state and private sources. A citywide composting initiative, because of its potential impact on diverse and historically marginalized communities, also falls under federal guidelines for the Justice40 initiative, which seeks to address issues of climate change and environmental justice. By tying this work to the federal initiatives to ensure that investment flows to frontline communities impacted by climate issues, the project will be leveraging resources and opportunities to put climate justice at the forefront of its sustainability initiatives. This includes incentivizing the private sector to adjust business practices to address climate justice.
A composting initiative could, among other things:
- Reduce the City’s carbon footprint.
- Create green jobs and stimulate environmentally focused entrepreneurship.
- Support local food production systems economically while also reducing overall food system climate impact.
- Strengthen community gardens, which have multiple positive environmental, health and community benefits.
- Aid local farmers with crop production, including many members of marginalized communities whose Albuquerque-area roots date back centuries.
- Assist in rehabilitating depleted soil quality throughout Albuquerque agricultural lands.
- Reduce overall lifecycle emissions within current agricultural practices.
The City of Albuquerque will partner with FUSE to scale up citywide composting options. The FUSE Executive Fellow will identify the benefits that widespread composting could address, develop a market assessment for a public-private composting program, and identify funding sources for it. The successful FUSE Executive Fellow will contribute significantly to Albuquerque’s climate resilience, equity and sustainability, especially for frontline communities.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.
Establishing a composting program is part of the City’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for “… community composting, reuse programs and local job creation as means of improving Albuquerque’s waste-related sustainability.” At the same time, the plan acknowledges the importance of “assessing waste’s complex entanglement with issues of sustainability and climate justice.”
The FUSE Executive Fellow will begin with a listening tour to gather data, information and ideas about the potential benefits of a composting program, what community problems it could solve, and its economic and environmental impact. The City’s current lone commercial composting provider is likely to be an important stakeholder in efforts to expand composting, however it will also be critical to seek input from and build relationships with numerous community groups, government agencies and other institutions. The FUSE Executive Fellow will build relationships with City departments, the local public school system, county government, major civic institutions, nearby farming communities and other stakeholders. The FUSE Executive Fellow should seek out ideas and best practices from other cities that have successfully implemented large-scale composting programs.
After the listening tour and research phase, the public benefits that composting presents should be clearer and likely quantifiable. The FUSE Executive Fellow will develop a business case and plan for scaling up composting substantially beyond its current limited scope. This would include details on required upfront investments, how various public- and private-sector organizations, including businesses, would be involved, and the expected return on those investments. The outcome of a successful composting program is twofold:
- Reducing the carbon footprint of the waste system and local food system
- Providing public benefits, including jobs for frontline communities
One potential avenue to ensure the economic benefits of composting reach marginalized communities is clear RFP guidelines and language the City can use to invite diverse individuals and entrepreneurs to participate. Additionally, another option to promote success could include potential policy recommendations including action by the City Council or requests of the State Legislature instructions to better enable expansion of citywide composting.
Finally, the FUSE Executive Fellow will identify sources of funding for start-up and capital investment costs associated with the initiative. These could include federal grants, state grants or low-interest loans or philanthropic dollars. Because funding sources are rarely guaranteed — loan applications are rejected, grant applications fail, etc. — the FUSE Executive Fellow will identify multiple, redundant sources of funding to give the program the best chance at long-term success.
- Executive Sponsor – Michelle Melendez, Director; Office of Equity and Inclusion
- Project Supervisor – Kelsey Rader, Sustainability Officer; Sustainability Office
In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in public-private partnerships, and knowledge of government funding processes are strongly preferred for this project.
- Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
- Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
- Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
- Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes.
- Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing, and excels in both active listening and conversing.
- Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision-making.
- Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
- Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
- Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.
FUSE is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.