Full-Time Policy Specialist: Marketing, Food Systems, Rural Development
Are you passionate about building sustainable, equitable food and farm systems? Do you love working in a collaborative context? The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is seeking a policy advocate to staff our Coalition’s marketing, food systems, and rural development policy portfolio. This role will build on your skills and experience in policy research and development, direct advocacy, and grassroots engagement to address local and regional food systems, value chains, healthy food access & equity, and more. If you are just as excited to dive into the wonky details of institutional produce procurement as you are to advocate on Capitol Hill in partnership with grassroots leaders for resilient regional food systems, this is the role for you. Each Policy Specialist on our team focuses on a variety of issues and interacts with Coalition members through issue-specific policy committees; in this role, you will build critical relationships, act strategically to advance reforms to public policies, and be well versed in relevant issues. In addition, each Policy Specialist also collaborates with the rest of the policy team on shared campaigns and helps to further our racial equity efforts. This position may also support our work on annual agricultural appropriations.
This is a full-time, exempt position that offers benefits as outlined in the employee handbook and reports to NSAC’s Policy Director. All staff are currently able to work fully remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic with periodic in-person presence in our Capitol Hill office at 110 Maryland Avenue, NE, Suite 209, Washington, DC to participate in key Congressional and agency meetings when needed, in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols. Candidates based in or willing to relocate to Washington, DC strongly preferred; we will consider exceptional candidates based elsewhere with willingness to travel regularly to Washington.
NSAC is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. For over 30 years, NSAC’s stellar track record of policy accomplishments has been guided by a vision of agriculture where a safe, nutritious, ample, and affordable food supply is produced by a legion of family farmers who make a decent living for their work, while protecting the environment, and contributing to the strength and stability of their communities. Racial justice – an understanding and acknowledgment of historical and ongoing racial inequities and commitment to actions challenging those inequities – is a core NSAC tenet that we seek to embed in our structure, analysis, policy development, and advocacy.
- Act as the primary staff for NSAC’s Marketing, Food Systems, and Rural Development (MFSRD) Issue Committee, leading the Committee’s work to develop and advance administrative, regulatory and legislative policy priorities
- Advocate on Capitol Hill and with Executive Branch agencies (primarily USDA) on a regular basis, including developing and executing an ongoing strategy on policy issues and programs
- Draft policy materials, including policy papers, testimony, legislation, rulemaking comment letters, program analysis reports, and regular policy blog posts
- Collaborate with NSAC grassroots staff and Coalition members on campaign strategy and actions, and support NSAC interns and fellows on portfolio-relevant projects
- Collaborate with policy team to support cross-portfolio projects and help to carry issues adjacent to your portfolio
- Contribute to the organization’s annual priority setting, fundraising, and coalition-wide meetings
- Apply an equity lens to all work, and strive to advance racial equity both within the Coalition’s internal processes and externally through its public facing policy advocacy efforts.
- Represent NSAC at partner meetings, within coalitions, at conferences, and to the media in DC and nationwide
This is not an entry level role; a successful candidate likely has 3+ years of relevant work experience in fields such as legal, lobbying, regulatory, agency, or legislative experience, or other significant agricultural policy experience, with the opportunity for growth and development in other areas. We strongly encourage interested candidates to apply if they meet at least 75% of the qualifications. We also strongly encourage applications from people of color, people from working class backgrounds, women, LGBTQ people, or those who are members of other marginalized communities.
- An understanding of and passion for sustainable agriculture and food systems
- Knowledge of key federal programs and regulatory frameworks, including at least some of the following: local and regional food systems (supply chains through which food moves from production to aggregation, processing, distribution, sales, and consumption) including value chain businesses and direct to consumer efforts (food hubs, farmers markets, CSAs), healthy food access & equity, nutrition, and rural development.
- A working knowledge of the federal policy-making process
- Demonstrated understanding of how racial equity intersects with agriculture and food systems and the ability and enthusiasm to apply this understanding to specific policy development, ground-truthing, and decision making
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including public speaking skills and ability to translate complex federal regulations and policies for a lay audience
- Exceptional initiative and interpersonal skills, including the ability to work independently and collaboratively, listen well, build trust, and model healthy conflict resolution
- Strong project management skills, capable of planning, prioritizing, and troubleshooting efforts in an ongoing manner and working on variable, sometimes fast-paced project timelines
- Ability to work effectively with, value differences of, and incorporate the experiences and policy impacts on, diverse groups of individuals, including race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability, and socioeconomic circumstances
- Enthusiasm for and experience in cultivating lasting relationships and accountable partnerships with a diverse body of stakeholders and decision makers
- Willingness to travel domestically several times a year (with flexibility in accordance with COVID-19 precautions)
Additional Experience That Will Help the Specialist Excel:
- Experience analyzing and advocating around annual agricultural appropriations discretionary spending bills
- Experience in adjacent food & agriculture policy arenas: food safety, agricultural credit, working lands conservation, etc – and understanding of cross-issue connections
- Legislative and administrative advocacy experience at the state or federal level
- Experience working in a Congressional office or federal agency
- Background with grassroots advocacy campaigns (e.g. field organizing, lobby days, etc) or large, multi-organization grassroots coalitions, including facilitation and consensus building
- Experience on a farm or value chain business (food hub, processor, farmers market, etc)
- Fluency in a language other than English
Salary and Benefits
NSAC offers a competitive non-profit salary and benefits, dependent on qualifications and experience, $65,000-$80,000.
We will consider candidates with significant experience beyond the core job qualifications listed above at the title of Senior Policy Specialist, with commensurate salary increase.
This position offers excellent benefits (as per the employee handbook), including generous vacation and other time-off policy, health, dental, and long-term disability insurance, contributions after two years in a retirement plan, and financial support for professional and personal development.