Building Capacity & Water Resiliency for Tribal Gov’ts & Disadvantaged Communities; Racial Equity

Host: CA Department of Water Resources (DWR): Executive Division; Financial Assistance Branch, Division of Regional Assistance
Openings: 2
Project Focus: Water Management, Water Policy, Groundwater Education; Racial Equity Action Plan
Skills Needed: Community Engagement, Research, Environmental Justice, Technical Writing,

Remote or On-Site Placement

Hybrid – Current DWR policy provides for non-supervisorial staff to telework 60% and be in-office 40%, which may vary by Division or assignment.


Service Needs & Plans

DWR’s Division of Regional Assistance, Financial Assistance Branch provides financial and technical assistance to 48 IRWM regions in California — working closely with the Office of Tribal Affairs (OTA), Sustainable Groundwater Management Office (SGMO) and other DWR groups (e.g., Statewide Planning, Climate Change, Human Right to Water). DWR is working to build capacity with Tribes and Disadvantaged Communities (DACs) to ensure more meaningful involvement in the IRWM program, including access to technical and financial assistance.

DWR is seeking two CivicSpark Fellows (Fellows). One Fellow will assist DWR’s Financial Assistance Branch (FAB) in conducting various projects/tasks related to removing barriers and building capacity for Underrepresented Communities and Tribes to access, apply for, receive and administer financial and technical assistance grants from the State for sustainable water management planning and projects that build climate resilience. The FAB Fellow will also assist in the development of an accredited program for K-12 educators to teach students on water and groundwater issues tailored to each hydrologic region.

The second Fellow (Tribal/Equity Fellow) will split the service year assisting DWR’s OTA and the Racial Equity Office (REO). This Tribal/Equity Fellow will assist OTA’s effort to increase the Tribes and DACs engagement in support of Tribal sovereignty and building government-to-government relationships, increase resiliency and ability to respond to water management challenges so that more state and federal resources can be garnered collaboratively for current and future challenges and opportunities, respond to new legislation affecting Tribal co-management practices with state entities and assist in developing training modules for DWR staff on Tribal engagement practices and protocols.

In this unique opportunity to work in the State Capital with DWR, Tribes and DACs, the Fellow will learn about statewide water management challenges through the Underrepresented Communities, California Tribes, Small Farmers Groundwater Technical Assistance (URCTA) Program, Racial Equity Action Plan, climate change adaptation, drought and flood preparedness and response, water conservation and supply, and fiscal challenges.

Project Description

Specifically, with guidance from the DWR supervisors, the Fellow for the Financial Assistance Branch will be developing up to two statewide guidance documents on land fallowing and land repurposing to add to the SGMA Portal for Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) and other entities responsible for implementing SGMA. With guidance from the DWR supervisors, the Fellow will be coordinating with other state and federal agencies that have land fallowing programs in addition to DWR staff to ensure this document is sufficient for all statewide needs. In addition, with guidance from the DWR supervisors, the Fellow will be holding technical advisory committee meetings and public listening sessions to gather feedback, gain the public trust, and have buy in from all interested parties. With guidance from the DWR Supervisors, the Fellow will work towards developing guidance on how to identify and outreach/engage small farmers solely or partially dependent upon groundwater and all farmers in California.

The Tribal/Equity Fellow will also assist DWR’s REO in an effort to solidify and deepen its commitment to develop water policies and strategies that address the needs of all Californians, guided by DWR’s Racial Equity Action Plan (REAP) and through DWR’s newly-established Center of Excellence for racial equity, Tribal affairs, and water justice.

Desired Skills

Ideal Fellows should have an interest in assisting underrepresented demographics including Tribal Communities, ability to connect people and topics, desire to learn and research, excellent communication skills (verbal and written), enjoy organizing outreach and educational events, and ability to work effectively as part of a team. Fellows should have strong organizational, planning, project management, database, presentation and audio-visual content creation skills.

The expected arrangement is for Fellows to spend about 70% of their time in an office environment and attending meetings, and about 30% traveling to various parts of the State with other DWR managers and staff.

Organization & Workplace Highlights

Recently, DWR has established a Department-wide Racial Equity Office in Executive Division to implement the Racial Equity Action Plan. Other DWR efforts include replacing the word Chief with Manager in titles to acknowledge Tribal cultural sensitivity; elevating an Executive Office for Tribal Affairs, Racial Equity and Water Justice; acknowledging the cultural heritage months through presentations open to all employees; placing a DEI statement in all job descriptions; and creating a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) online course and recognizing those who have completed it.

Community Highlights

Being in the DWR will provide the Fellows with a statewide view of issues and the demographics affected by water management issues. In addition to Tribal, DAC and Racial Equity work, DWR provides essential information to legislation and policy issues, for many water resources topics such as water management and water supply, power and infrastructure, dam safety and flood management, emergency response and education. DWR is headquartered in California’s capital city of Sacramento. The area is known as the City of Trees and as a Farm-to-Fork Capitol. It is rich in fresh produce with nearby agriculture, an abundance of natural recreation areas for hiking, camping, and boating, and also 2-3 hours away from Napa/Sonoma, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and the Santa Cruz/Monterey Peninsula. The Fellows will be a welcome addition to DWR’s 40-person Financial Assistance Branch team, comprised of environmental scientists, engineers, analysts and program managers and the Executive Center of Excellence for special projects. There will be many opportunities for developing new friendships with colleagues, getting coaching and mentorship, interacting with other DWR divisions and groups, and participating in monthly Branch meetings and team building activities.

In addition to the Headquarters Office in Sacramento, DWR has other Regional Offices in Red Bluff, Fresno and Glendale who can provide support. Currently, DWR staff is in the office 2-days a week minimum.

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