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Program Assistant - Environmental Justice and Safe Water

The Natural Resources Defense Council (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 staff helped write some of America's bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, and many of the implementing regulations. Today, our staff of more than 700 lawyers, scientists, economists, policy advocates, communications experts, and others work across the United States and internationally from our offices in New York; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Santa Monica; San Francisco; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing.
Position Summary
NRDC’s Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program is seeking a full-time Program Assistant to support members of the Environmental Justice Team and Safe Water Initiative in our Chicago office.
The Environmental Justice Team (“EJ Team”) consists of roughly 10 staffers currently housed in NRDC’s Chicago, New York, and Santa Monica offices. The EJ Team deploys a range of legal, policy, science, administrative advocacy, coalition-building, community outreach, and/or communications tools to work in collaboration with and provide support for environmental justice communities, with a goal of addressing the disproportionate pollution burdens placed on low-income communities and communities of color. Examples of the EJ Team’s work include: improving air quality and public health outcomes for communities impacted by diesel pollution from the freight industry; eliminating a rampant mold problem in the country’s largest public housing program; advancing local land use and zoning policies that combat the concentration of environmental burdens in EJ communities; and leveraging legal support, funding and other resources to communities struggling with flooding, sewage and drinking water issues due to failing water infrastructure. The Program Assistant will provide administrative support to the EJ Team’s Chicago staff, along with general EJ Team needs in collaboration with program assistants in New York and Santa Monica.
NRDC’s Safe Water initiative (“SWI”) is a multi-faceted, cross institutional campaign that seeks to make safe, sufficient and affordable water from source to tap an enforceable human right. The effort brings together experts and advocates from across the institution and is centered on addressing the legal, health, environmental justice, and governmental failures that compromise the safety of our water. We fight for change on the ground with community-based partners, and with their partnership we take local governments, like Flint, Michigan, to court to make sure their residents have access to safe drinking water. While much of our efforts are rooted locally, we simultaneously advocate legally and legislatively for change at the national level. The Program Assistant will provide administrative support to the SWI’s Chicago-based staff, including one team member in Michigan, along with general SWI needs in collaboration with program assistants in other NRDC offices.

Specific responsibilities may include:
  • Preparing expense and budget reports and maintaining financial records including multiple invoices monthly
  • Managing and maintaining paper and electronic filing systems and databases
  • Taking notes on calls and researching topics
  • Scheduling and organizing meetings, events and conference calls for program staff
  • Making travel arrangements, including transportation, accommodations, vehicle rentals and conference registration
  • Proofreading, formatting, and helping prepare legal documents, letters, reports, fact sheets, blog posts, and other project materials
  • Responding to and directing inquiries from the general public and outside organizations
  • Preparing media reports with press clips and helping to put together reports to funders
  • Assisting the receptionist and other program assistants as needed
  • Performing other projects as assigned (like working with GIS)
  • Attending and/or supporting events sponsored by community partners
  • Assisting team in their effort to supervise work of contractors.
  • Occasional travel
  • Other duties as assigned
The Program Assistant position is largely administrative, with some opportunity for substantive work. To this end, we seek out the following in applicants:
  • Entry level experience with administrative, expense, accounting and organizational skills
  • Strong facility with spreadsheets, databases, such as Excel, and experience with accounting and finance preferred
  • Experience with professional software tools such as Outlook, Teams, Dropbox, Office, and internet research
  • Highly detail-oriented with excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to work independently, follow organizational procedures and perform accurately under deadlines
  • Ability to work hard, efficiently, and independently with the ability to prioritize, plan ahead, manage and follow through on multiple tasks
  • Strong research and writing skills, and interest in jumping in to help on new projects
  • Ability to organize and manage small internal and external events
  • Interest in engaging with community members and partners
  • Strong interpersonal and proactive communications skills along with the ability to work as a member of a team
Ability to represent NRDC with maturity, judgment and professionalism.
Application process
To apply through our online portal, please select “apply for this job online,” create a profile or log into your existing account, and upload your resume.  
NRDC is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, both in our work and in our workplace. We believe that celebrating and actively welcoming a diversity of 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.
We offer competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a supportive working environment. Salary is based on a nonprofit scale and commensurate with experience.
If you are having technical difficulty while applying, or if you are a person with a disability and you need assistance applying online, please reach out to iCIMS Customer Care by dialing 1-800-889-4422.
For further information about NRDC, please visit