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Research Associate

Job Location

San Francisco, CA


Type of Job



$55,000 - $73,000

Published By

Publisher Name

Published Date

Jan 31, 2023

About the job

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About the Organization

CEA Consulting is an environmental consultancy based in San Francisco, CA. For more than 35 years, CEA has worked at the intersection of markets, business practices, public policies, and philanthropic, nonprofit, corporate, and impact investment strategies to achieve positive environmental outcomes. Our work is guided by a deep knowledge of the scientific, financial/economic, cultural, and sociopolitical underpinnings of our most pressing environmental problems. CEA has three practice areas: Philanthropic Services, Environmental Policy and Advocacy, and Recruiting and Organizational Design.

With roughly 25 employees across the firm, CEA strives to create a work environment that is collaborative and inclusive and where all consultants are supported in doing the work they are most passionate about, developing their skills, and bringing their whole selves to work. We believe that a wide array of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences promote innovation and make our team more creative, flexible, and productive. CEA is explicitly working to create more diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout our organization and has an active DEI Strategy Working Group in charge of implementing our 2023 strategy. For a more in-depth description of our approach to work, please see our Vision, Mission, and Guiding Principles. For a more in-depth description of our services and examples of past work, please see our website.

CEA’s Work

CEA supports environmental foundations, nonprofits, private-sector businesses, government agencies, trade associations, and impact investors. We pride ourselves on being client-oriented, insightful, and responsive. Our work covers a wide range of environmental topics, and many of our projects are international in scope. The preponderance of our work is for the philanthropic and non-profit sectors and relates to marine conservation and/or climate change. We also work regularly on climate resilience and justice, sustainable agriculture, land use and conservation, freshwater management, climate resilience and adaptation, transportation, wildlife protection, pollution, environmental justice, and urban sustainability. We often work at the intersection of these issues. Our primary offerings include:

· Program Design and Strategy Development

· Programmatic Research, Analysis, and Modeling

· Grant Support: Sourcing, Conducting Due Diligence, Making Grant Recommendations, Grantee Management

· Project Incubation, Nonprofit Business Planning, Organizational Development, and Staffing Support

· Evaluation and Learning

· Facilitation, Collaboration, and Grantee Convening

· Recruiting and Organization Design

About the Role

CEA is looking for a Research Associate. The successful applicant will support the day-to-day management of complex consulting engagements for clients, including large environment-focused foundations, family foundations, NGOs, impact investors, and bilateral and multilateral agencies.

Our work environment is collaborative, intensive, and likely to require some travel (if deemed safe). The position requires intellectual rigor, excellent interpersonal and communication skills, independence, attention to detail, and a passion for environmental issues. This exciting opportunity will provide opportunities for interaction with leaders in the environmental field and a wide range of critical environmental issues.

About You

You are a self-starter and find joy and fulfillment from a job well done. You can deliver your work on time, support your teammates, and help to create a collegial, inclusive, and healthy work environment. You are intellectually curious. You can work effectively in teams as well as independently. You are coachable and are excited to continue to grow your knowledge base and skillset.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

· Support the execution of projects in collaboration with team members.

· Support project design and work planning.

· Formulate and test hypotheses via research, modeling, expert interviews, and data analyses.

· Conduct research and analysis independently.

· Participate in group problem solving and brainstorming with project teams.

· Liaise and communicate with clients.

· Develop and communicate recommendations via clear and compelling deliverables (e.g., reports, presentations, briefs).

· Ensure quality control of outgoing work products and correspondence.

· Work effectively and efficiently with minimal supervision and proactively engage with project managers.

· Participate in a growing phase for CEA as it transitions to a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization.

Desired Qualifications

We are open to candidates with a range of past professional experiences, including entry-level applicants. Many of our current consultants have experience in environmental nonprofits, academia, finance/impact investing, engineering, government agencies, foundations, and think tanks.

While each consultant at CEA brings different skills and experiences to their work, desired skills and experiences include the following.

· A Bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience that includes full and part-time employment, contracted work, academic area of focus, internships, volunteer experience, fellowships, etc.

· Degrees or work experiences that include training in research methods (quantitative or qualitative) and/or focus on environmental studies/natural sciences.

  • Content knowledge and professional interest in climate change science and policy, energy policy, ocean conservation, marine fisheries, coastal communities and livelihoods and/or climate justice, and climate resilience.
  • Ability to present information in an insightful and structured manner, both written and oral.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, including the ability to effectively communicate across internal teams and with external stakeholders.
  • Ability to work, multitask, and prioritize to meet deadlines and respond and adapt to changing client needs.
  • Ability to handle sensitive matters with discretion and interact with a wide range of stakeholders (e.g., scientists, policymakers, advocates, and industry representatives) with diplomacy and enthusiasm.
  • A curious, pragmatic, and strategic mind.
  • An ability and desire to problem solve independently and contribute your insight to team projects.

Preferred Experience

  • Proficiency in qualitative research methods (e.g., interviews, expert consultation, case studies).
  • Proficiency in Excel and/or other analytical software (e.g., R, GIS, Tableau).
  • Other content knowledge that will support CEA’s work includes land preservation, sustainable agriculture, freshwater management, forestry, environmental justice, and/or air quality.
  • Professional proficiency in a foreign language and demonstrated cultural competency.
  • A passion for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace

Work Location

CEA’s office is located in San Francisco, and roughly half of the team lives in the Bay Area, while others work remotely on a permanent basis. Those working from our San Francisco office come in at least twice a week. CEA Research Associates are asked to work in our San Francisco office for at least three years.

Compensation and Benefits

We offer competitive salaries, excellent benefits, and a supportive working environment. Salary will commensurate with skills and experience. The salary range for this position is $55,000 - $73,000.

Hiring and Interview Process Details

CEA is committed to a transparent and equitable hiring process, including providing details into what our overall interview process will be. We do our best to review your application materials as quickly as possible and to provide updates throughout our application process. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out directly to our lead search manager, Micah Day (

As a part of our effort to provide a transparent and equitable hiring process, we conducted a live Q&A session for all applicants and potential candidates to learn more about our organization’s culture, mission and values, our work, and the roles and responsibilities of a Research Associate at our firm. If you would like to view a recorded version of this webinar, please contact Sarrynna Sou ( or Micah Day (

To Apply

To be considered for this position, interested candidates must follow the link below to submit a resume and cover letter.

Apply here.

CEA is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to our legal and ethical obligations to protect job applicants and employees from employment discrimination, harassment, and unfair treatment due to race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation), age, disability, genetic information, marital status, medical condition, military status, or veteran status.

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