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Climate Resilience Project Manager

Job Summary

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The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) is seeking a committed, creative, and organized Climate Resilience Project Manager to help launch the Social Resiliency working group for the 14-community Regional Mystic Collaborative (RMC).  

MyRWA was founded in 1972 to protect, restore, and celebrate the Mystic River, its tributaries and watershed lands for the benefit of present and future generations.  Over the past half-century, we have worked closely with watershed communities on water quality, flood management and healthy open space. These shared skills and relationships have now led to the founding of the Resilient Mystic Collaborative (RMC), a 14-community partnership focused on preparing our people and places for the increased heat, drought, flooding and storms associated with an unpredictable and rapidly changing climate.  

We recognize that we collectively understand the physical aspect of climate resilience better than we do its social aspect.  Climate Resilience Project Manager will work closely with social service providers, community leaders, and residents to help RMC members learn what actions and investments we can make as a region to help protect people’s health, livelihoods and housing during and after extreme weather.  He/she/they will also work with our Greenways Director to engage community members in the design and construction of climate-resilient waterfront parks and greenways. The job is based in Arlington, Massachusetts, with local travel throughout the Mystic Watershed, from Reading through Revere.

About the Mystic River Watershed

Home to 21 municipalities and 600,000 residents over 76 square miles, the Mystic River Watershed is the most densely populated and urbanized watershed in New England.  The Mystic and its tributaries flow southeast from Reading to Revere and form the northern edge of Boston Harbor. The Lower Mystic contains the highest concentration of critical regional infrastructure in New England--including transportation, energy storage and generation, food distribution and wastewater treatment-- interspersed with low-income communities of color and others disproportionately affected by extreme weather.  

Mystic Watershed communities are learning to live with the effects of climate change:  hotter, drier summers; freshwater and coastal flooding; higher winds; and unpredictable seasons.  With nearly fifty percent of the watershed developed and paved, heavier rain events mean more widespread stormwater flooding.  Developed areas that were once tidal rivers and marshes now represent growing risks of chronic flooding. We need to make more room for the river.

About the Regional Mystic Collaborative

In September 2018, ten municipalities, facilitated by the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) and Consensus Building Institute (CBI), launched the Resilient Mystic Collaborative (RMC).  The partnership has now grown to 14 communities (Arlington, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Lexington, Malden, Medford, Somerville, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester, Winthrop, and Woburn) focused on increasing social and physical resilience to climate change.  All watershed communities are welcome to join. Steering committee members are comprised of voting municipal planners and engineers and non-voting thought leaders in resilient architecture and landscape architecture, land use regulations and environmental justice. Working groups include a broader range of local stakeholders.

The RMC is focused on measurable, on-the-ground projects and policies that will benefit our most vulnerable people and places. All policies and proposed projects will focus on multiple-benefit solutions that increase climate resiliency on a watershed scale.  This partnership asserts that regional projects are better infused with community values, and municipal projects are better informed by regional best practices.  

The RMC has created four working groups.  First, the Upper Mystic Stormwater Management working group is using a sophisticated stormwater flood model developed by the City of Cambridge to identify and pursue opportunities for watershed-level stormwater management.  The group recently received a $350,000 MVP Action Grant to further this work.

Second, the Lower Mystic Regional Infrastructure working group focuses on identifying and prioritizing investments needed to storm-harden key regional infrastructure in the Boston Harbor region of the watershed.   We are in the process of securing funds for two vulnerability assessments. The first will detail the conditions under which components of our regional infrastructure would fail.  The second will identify how vulnerable residents’ health and finances would be affected, in both the short- and longer-term if and when critical infrastructure fails.  

Third, the Social Resiliency working group is developing and supporting a watershed-wide practitioners’ network of service providers who work with vulnerable residents, such as people living with health concerns and other disabilities; people with limited English language fluency, low financial resources, and social support; communities of color; people living near toxic hazards; and others who are disproportionately affected during and after extreme weather events.  This network will bolster these communities’ capacity to support and learn from one another and help RMC municipalities understand and pursue climate resiliency policies and investments that protect our most vulnerable residents and workers.

Finally, the Advocacy and Outreach working group engages influential private sector partners based in the Mystic Watershed to engage with their municipal governments.  The goal is to coordinate and amplify individual and governmental efforts to protect businesses and employees from climate-related harm.

Responsibilities and Duties

We know a lot about physical resiliency, or the ability of buildings and structures to withstand and recover from extreme weather.  We are still learning how to protect the health and economic well-being of our most vulnerable residents during and after extreme weather.  The Climate Resilience Project Manager will play a significant role in building this critical base of knowledge and the relationships necessary to leverage that knowledge in the Mystic River Watershed. The Climate Resilience Project Manager will report to MyRWA’s Deputy Director and will work closely with our Greenways Director and RMC members.  He/she/they will spend a great deal of time engaging with community leaders and service providers throughout the watershed, helping to identify and pursue cost-effective policies and investments. As this is a new position at MyRWA, the job will provide substantial opportunities for creativity and professional growth.

Specific responsibilities:

  • Meet with social services representatives, community leaders and residents in 21 Mystic Watershed communities to understand their clients’ vulnerabilities to extreme weather 

  • Assist in the development of a practitioners’ network among these service providers to increase their collective capacities and to guide the development and direction of the RMC’s Social Resiliency working group.  

  • Document, organize and professionally communicate lessons learned with the Resilient Mystic Collaborative and the Social Resiliency working group.

  • Work closely with MyRWA’s Greenways Director and parks agencies to engage residents in community-led designs for climate-resilient waterfront parks and a 25-mile Mystic River Greenway. 

  • Work closely with a professional social sciences firm to develop a social vulnerability assessment framework to understand residents’ reliance on regional infrastructure and other services.

Position Requirements

  • A major part of this job is interviewing and interacting with community leaders and residents.  Must have strong interpersonal skills and enjoy interacting with people.  

  • Must work well both with a team and independently.  This position is collaborative and will not be micromanaged.

  • Must have excellent analytical, organizational, and written and verbal communication skills.

  • Must be able to drive and have access to a car; most days a bicycle and public transit will suffice.

Position Preferences

  • Prefer candidates with bachelors or masters degree plus at least two years’ work experience.  Non-degreed candidates with equivalent skills and five-plus years’ work experience are also encouraged to apply. 

  • Relevant professional backgrounds include public health, social resilience, climate justice, environmental justice, community organizing, non-profit advocacy, and urban planning.

  • Spanish fluency. 

Compensation and Benefits

This is a full-time position with the Mystic River Watershed Association.  We offer a competitive salary and benefits package.

Location 

This position will be based at the MyRWA offices in Arlington, Massachusetts, with local travel.  Normal job hours are 9 am to 5 pm with some night and weekend events expected.  

How to apply

Please send resume and cover letter to jobs@mysticriver.org.  No calls, please.  The position will be open until filled.

MyRWA’s goal is to have a diverse workforce that is representative, at all job levels, of the people we serve.  We are an equal opportunity employer and welcome applications from people of color, LGBTQIA people, people living with disabilities, military veterans and other under-represented populations.