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RAY Conservation/Program Assistant, Coastal Wetlands and Coral Reefs

Job Location

Washington, D.C.


Type of Job




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Published Date

Feb 9, 2022

About the job

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Inspired by efforts to increase racial diversity in conservation and clean energy, the Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Diversity Fellowship Program aims to increase and facilitate environmentally-related career pathways for emerging leaders of color. The RAY Fellowship Program is a paid fellowship designed to equip recent college graduates with the tools, experiences, support, and community they need to become leaders in the conservation and clean energy sectors—one that, in our visions of the future, fully represents, includes, and is led by the diverse communities, perspectives, and experiences of the United States.


The Pew Charitable Trusts uses data to make a difference. For more than 70 years, we have focused on serving the public, invigorating civic life, conducting nonpartisan research, advancing effective public policies and practices, and achieving tangible results. Through rigorous inquiry and knowledge sharing, we inform and engage public-spirited citizens and organizations, linking diverse interests to pursue common cause. We are a dedicated team of researchers, communicators, advocates, subject matter experts, and professionals working on some of today’s big challenges – and we know we are more effective and creative collectively than we are individually. With Philadelphia as our hometown and the majority of our staff located in Washington, D.C., our U.S. and international staff find working at Pew personally and professionally rewarding.

We know that in America and around the globe, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, women, people of faith, and others have been discriminated against and disadvantaged. The multitude of perspectives offered by our staff and our partners has always been integral to our work, but today we must be more intentional in our efforts to focus on inclusion, diversity, and equity (IDE) as core elements of our operations and culture. At Pew, our journey involves direct and candid conversations across the organization about how we can do better. And we’ve coupled those conversations with concrete action plans to make progress. We know we have more work ahead and remain committed to listening, learning, documenting disparities, and advancing together.


For more than 25 years, Pew has been a major force in engaging the public and policy makers about the causes, consequences, and solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. Our environment work spans all seven continents with more than 250 professionals working at the local, national, and international levels to reduce the scope and severity of global environmental problems, such as the erosion of large natural ecosystems that contain a great part of the world’s remaining biodiversity, and the destruction of the marine environment.

Pew has worked in the United States and Canada since 1990 to protect vast stretches of wilderness and more recently expanded our land conservation efforts to Australia’s Outback and Chilean Patagonia. Safeguarding these places offers an opportunity to conserve wildlife habitat, shorelines and landscapes for current and future generations. Our work relies on the sciences of conservation, biology, and economics to advocate for practical and durable solutions to the loss of biodiversity.

In the sea, reforms to how our oceans are managed are essential to address overfishing, pollution, and loss of habitat. Pew began its oceans program in the United States, focusing on ending overfishing and protecting fragile marine habitat. Starting in 2005, Pew’s ocean conservation program expanded around the world and played a significant role in reforming marine fisheries management in the European Union and on the high seas and creating marine reserves around the world. Our work is grounded in the best available science and pursues domestic and international conservation measures that are long-term and provide permanent, durable protections for marine ecosystems.


Coastal wetlands host some of the richest biodiversity on the planet. Salt marshes, seagrass beds, and the waters where mangroves take root are refuges for wildlife and nurseries for juvenile fish, including commercially important species such as groupers and snappers. As with coral reefs, these habitats help vulnerable coastal communities adapt to a changing climate by stabilizing shorelines and serving as a buffer from storms. Coastal wetlands are also important for mitigating the effects of climate change because they sequester large amounts of carbon in the soil. Yet coastal habitats are among the most threatened ecosystems in the world. In the past 50 years, half of the world’s mangroves have been destroyed, according to the Global Mangrove Alliance. And in recent decades, at least a third of coral reefs have died out because of warming waters, habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing, and ocean acidification. If current rates continue, mangroves and coral reefs could disappear by the next century.

The United Nations 2015 Paris Agreement, adopted by 197 parties, created a significant opportunity for protecting coastal habitats. Each nation has committed to reducing carbon emissions and building resilience to climate change impacts, including “nature-based solutions” such as coastal conservation. Pew is building partnerships with countries to help them integrate coastal wetlands and coral reefs into their commitments and explore scaling this approach to substantially reduce the rate of coastal habitat loss.


This position will be an integral part of the Coastal Wetlands team at Pew and will focus on an exciting body of scientific research and policy development across three countries: Seychelles, Belize, and Costa Rica. In addition, the Fellow will help to scope out the next round of countries for our work and will assist in developing associated partnerships. Candidates should have an interest in environmental policy, environmental and climate justice, coastal habitat protection, and the application of scientific research to inform the policy process. Members of the Coastal Wetlands team are collaborative, have strong analytical, communication, and time management skills, and represent the team both internally and externally. A background in ecology, oceanography, marine science, environmental policy, or social sciences is preferred but not required. The Fellow will gain experience in designing and managing international projects, supporting in-country policy development, and strengthen both scientific and policy communication skills.


Specific work includes:

  • Developing key strategies to work with governments and associated local communities to raise awareness of the climate value of coastal wetlands and provide strategic outreach through virtual meetings and written communications to communities impacted by coastal wetland loss.
  • Helping to craft programmatic guiding principles for working with communities through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens.
  • Synthesizing existing information on coastal wetlands across specific countries from the peer reviewed literature, white papers, and other sources.
  • Providing a strategic review and analysis of existing research institutions and conservation organizations working in coastal wetlands across each country.
  • Supporting the development of research grants by engaging with external research institutions, scientists, and internal grant management departments at Pew such as Research, Review and Support.
  • Organizing and/or participating in meetings with scientists, policymakers, managers and others involved; capturing meeting highlights and developing summaries for the broader team to support collective learning.
  • Attending conferences and meetings, as needed (virtually, or in person as COVID-19 safety protocols permit); communicating highlights to the Pew team.
  • Participating in the development of outreach strategies, technical materials and other communications products (including written materials, presentations and talking points).
  • Connecting with other Pew teams within the environment portfolio to communicate updates and encourage intersections in conservation and policy efforts.


In addition to the responsibilities at the host institution outlined above, RAY Fellows will spend, on average, 2-4 hours per week (5-10% of work time) on the following:

  • Actively communicating and building community with their RAY Fellow cohort and previous RAY Fellows.
  • Attending monthly check-ins calls (including 1-on-1 check-ins with RAY program staff and group calls with their RAY Fellow cohort).
  • Meeting regularly with mentors both inside and outside the host institution.
  • Attending monthly professional development webinars, trainings, and other opportunities to build knowledge and skills.
  • Developing a Personal Leadership Plan (PLP) in their 2nd year with the support of supervisor(s), mentors, RAY program staff, and their RAY Fellow cohort. The PLP will serve as a tool for self-reflection, planning, and assessing progress towards professional, personal, and leadership goals.
  • Preparing and leading an hour-long end-of-fellowship webinar highlighting their Fellowship experience.

RAY Fellows will also attend:

  • A 3-day Orientation Retreat in August 2022.
  • A 3-day Mid-Fellowship Leadership Retreat in September 2023.


Eligible RAY Fellow applicants will:

  • Come from a racial/ethnic background underrepresented in conservation and clean energy and demonstrate a commitment to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Be no more than 1 year out of college and have a Bachelor's Degree by July 2022 (we are not considering individuals with graduate degrees at this time).
  • Have not had a full-time job in conservation or clean energy.
  • Have the ability to work in the United States and commit to the entire fellowship.


  • A college degree by the time of employment in ecology, oceanography, marine science, environmental policy, social sciences or related field.
  • An interest in the field of conservation with a preference for coastal and climate policy-related issues.
  • Demonstrated intellect and leadership.
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills.
  • An eagerness to learn.
  • Interest in advocacy and organizing.
  • ArcGIS or foreign language skills would be a bonus, but not required


This is a two-year, full-time fellowship (one year with a one year renewal) starting on or after July 15, 2022.


Salary: $45,000

The Fellowship is compensated and sponsored by The Pew Charitable Trusts, who offers a competitive benefits package as well as training and professional development opportunities. Benefits include: comprehensive, affordable health care through medical, dental, and vision coverage; financial security with life and disability insurance; opportunities to save using health savings and flexible spending accounts; retirement benefits to help prepare for the future; and work/life benefits to maintain a good balance such as flexibility to telework up to 60% for most staff.


To apply for the RAY Fellowship Program, applicants must:

  1. Complete the online application survey on the RAY Fellowship Program website:
  2. Follow the instructions on the linked application webpage to submit a resume or curriculum vitae, one essay response, one visioning response, one short answer response, and a letter of support.

Applications must be submitted to the RAY Fellowship Program no later than March 27, 2022. Transcripts and additional writing samples are not required. If you have questions please see our FAQ page, attend an informational webinar or watch a recording, and any further questions about the application process can be submitted to the RAY Program Coordinator, Maria Johnson, via email at

The Pew Charitable Trusts is an equal opportunity employer, committed to a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace. Pew considers qualified applicants for employment without regard to age, race, color, sex (including pregnancy), nation of origin, ethnicity, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, military/veteran status or any other basis prohibited by law.


Pew places a priority on providing a safe and supportive environment for all staff. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pew has taken steps to ensure that safety by requiring full vaccination against the virus, temporarily closing offices, and making certain that staff are well supported in a work-from-home environment.

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