2022-23 Bay Area Projects

Reimagining Local Government Support for Equitable, Health-Protective and Ambitious Climate Action

Host: Bay Area Air Quality Management District
Region: Bay Area
Openings: 1
Project Focus: Public Health, Climate Adaptation, Climate Mitigation, Urban Planning, Air Quality
Skills Needed: Research, Environmental Justice, Communication

Service Needs & Plans

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD / Air District) is a regional air pollution control agency focused on protecting public health, air quality, and the global climate for all residents in the nine Bay Area counties. The Climate Protection Team sets the strategic direction for, and coordinates, the Air District’s efforts to accelerate the reduction of GHG emissions throughout the Bay Area in an equitable manner that improves air quality and protects residents’ health, and to increase their resilience to climate impacts such as wildfire smoke and worsened air quality from rising temperatures.

The cornerstone of the climate work is supporting local implementation of community-based GHG reduction programs, policies and planning. Many local governments in the Bay Area are taking action towards a net zero economy in the face of limited resources, growing inequities, and worsening climate impacts. Over the coming year, the Air District is reimagining how they support local governments in this transition towards a more equitable, healthy, resilient, and zero carbon future for all Bay Area residents. The Fellow will play a key role in shaping that effort and centering equity in the process.

Project Description

The Fellow will work closely with staff in BAAQMD’s Climate Protection Team to redesign and bolster its “Local Government Assistance Program”. This program aims to support aggressive climate action by local governments through policy, planning, resources, and technical assistance. One of the Fellow’s projects will focus on developing a framework to integrate equity into the program, specifically into sector-specific work (e.g., building decarbonization, diesel free transportation), local climate action planning-related efforts, and other opportunities as identified by the Fellow. The Fellow will also conduct research, help convene stakeholders, and develop materials to support the redesign and reimagining of the program. This could include:

  • supporting the Team in convening focus groups and discussions with local planners and sustainability managers;
  • researching emerging policy approaches, GHG inventory tools, state and federal funding and financing opportunities to inform the Team’s responses to local government requests;
  • creating a library of best practices for equitable climate actions that maximize co-benefits, in a way that meets the specific needs of local agency staff without duplicating existing efforts; and
  • reviewing and supporting local climate action plans.

The resources that the Fellow develops would help highlight for local governments different approaches to reducing disparities experienced by marginalized groups in the Bay Area through climate action.

Desired Skills

The ideal Fellow will have many of the following skills and traits:

  • Interest in helping local governments advance equitable climate action and passionate about climate equity
  • Self-starter who is motivated, organized, and detail-oriented with a strong work ethic
  • Experience in successfully leading a project or team
  • Ability to work independently and in a team
  • Strong research and critical thinking skills
  • Good verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to synthesize information into clear recommendations and readily digestible documents and presentations
  • Knowledge of (and preferably expertise in) equity and environmental justice, including how it relates to climate action
  • Experience and comfort in working and speaking with different types of stakeholders
  • Knowledge of (or a desire to learn about) climate policy and/or air policy and familiarity with local climate action and planning
Organization & Community Highlights

Our division’s workplace culture and environment is collaborative (team-based), supportive, and innovative. We seek to learn from leaders in the climate and air quality space and strategically integrate new approaches into our work to enhance our support of local governments and communities. Our division and the Air District as a whole are committed to furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion internally and equity and racial justice in communities across the Bay Area. The Air District has a formal Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and actively integrates DEI principles and practices into our work, including providing speakers and growth opportunities for staff. Air District staff also work collaboratively with Bay Area community members, community groups, and other key stakeholders to plan and implement the statewide AB 617 program, focused on reducing exposure to air pollutants in overburdened communities. A Community Advisory Committee helps inform the Air District’s work and the James Cary Smith Grant Program awards grants to projects that fund strategies to leverage the power of community members to fully participate in decisions that impact their environment and health.

By serving at the Air District, the Fellow will gain firsthand experience in a public agency and insight into regional and local governance approaches for climate action. They will also learn from staff who are working collaboratively with communities and local governments to advance equitable action on clean air and climate protection, which will help illuminate opportunities and challenges for this work. The Fellow will hone their project management, facilitation, and leadership skills as lead for their project. They will also have the opportunity to expand their professional network to include regional and local government staff, non-profit and community-based organization staff, academics, and others.

The Bay Area is at the leading edge of climate action in California and the nation. Over 80 jurisdictions have adopted local climate action plans – more than any other region in the U.S. Our region is home to a vibrant and strong network of communities and organizations advancing climate equity. More than 110 languages are spoken in the region. Equitable climate action is not a theoretical idea here but a goal for many jurisdictions and agencies who are setting the standard for what it means to shape an equitable and inclusive climate protective future.

Remote or On-Site Placement

We work remotely so the Fellow is not required to serve on-site. There may be a hybrid work option starting this Fall, if the Fellow prefers. The Fellow will need to be available during normal working hours. Key stakeholder meetings may require in-person attendance. Check-ins with the Supervisor will be in person at least once a month.

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