RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow: Climate Program

POSITION TITLE: RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow: Climate Program        

DEPARTMENT/PROGRAM: Climate Team                                  

REPORTS TO: Gwynne Taraska

STATUS: Regular, Full-Time                             

LOCATION: Washington, DC                             


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.


Ocean Conservancy educates and empowers citizens to take action on behalf of the ocean. From the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico to the halls of Congress, Ocean Conservancy brings people together to find solutions for our water planet. Informed by science, our work guides policy and engages people in protecting the ocean and its wildlife for future generations.


Climate change has had devastating effects on the ocean and the communities that rely on it. At the same time, the ocean is a source of sustainable climate solutions. Although the fight against climate change historically has overlooked ocean issues, there is now a growing movement to advance ocean-climate action. Ocean Conservancy is at the heart of this transformation. We work to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions—including CO2 emissions, which drive both warming and ocean acidification—and realize the potential of sustainable ocean-based mitigation solutions. We also work to build the resilience of communities and ecosystems on the front lines of ocean-climate change. To reach these objectives, we have a three-fold strategy: cultivating and steering decisionmakers at all levels of government; creating ocean-climate policy solutions; and building demand for action through advocacy and the mobilization of new voices.

As a full member of the climate program, general activities of the fellow would include:

  • Research on ocean-specific climate topics and solutions, such as marine protected areas, ocean-climate justice, and natural carbon storage, as well as research on more general climate topics, such as impacts of carbon pollution on the ocean and decarbonization efforts
  • Writing of issue briefs and reports; blog posts for a general audience; and memos on ocean-climate topics and developments
  • Engagement with stakeholder and partner groups and organization of ocean-climate events

The Climate Program RAY Fellow would work in the Washington, DC office and would be fully integrated into the climate program and its work, including cross-disciplinary work with the fish and Arctic programs, among others, in addition to day-to-day work with government relations and communications.

The Climate Program RAY Fellow would have an opportunity to gain a full range of experiences that would make the fellow a competitive candidate for climate or environmental think tanks or NGOs. This includes research and policy development; decisionmaker engagement and policy implementation; climate communications / advocacy (through blogs, etc.); stakeholder and NGO partner engagement; and authorship of both public-facing pieces and internal reports. If the fellow has an interest in ocean-climate justice specifically, there would also be the opportunity to focus on this body of work. In the course of the fellowship, the fellow would create a broad network across the ocean and climate spaces and would have the benefit of a number of mentors from different academic backgrounds and with different areas of expertise.


The fellow could engage in a range of projects (according to the interests and capacities of the fellow and the needs of the climate program), such as:

  • U.S. ocean-climate action. The climate program is currently working with U.S. states to formulate ocean-relevant climate mitigation and adaptation plans. The fellow may participate in state-specific policy research; coordination with decisionmakers; and creation of a “toolkit” of ocean-climate policy options for states. The fellow may also work on creating a suite of ocean-climate policies for the national level.
  • International leadership coalitions. The climate program is also working on the international stage, including by steering leadership coalitions of state and national governments. The fellow may help facilitate cooperative work on ocean-climate issues, such as climate-smart marine protected areas and zero-emissions ports, and may help organize coalition events and meetings.
  • Decarbonization. In addition to advancing ocean-based climate solutions, the climate program is working to support overall emissions reductions to protect the ocean—and the planet—from the impacts of climate change. The fellow may conduct research focused on decarbonization by midcentury, may write “rapid response” blogs to defend against regressive policies, etc.
  • Ocean-climate justice. The climate program is dedicated to promoting ocean-climate justice for underrepresented groups and to elevating new and compelling voices for climate action. We are weaving ocean-climate justice throughout our workstreams. The fellow may participate in activities such as research on the principles and policies of ocean-climate justice and engagement with communities to help share their stories and perspectives with a broad audience.

The fellow would work not only to advance external climate action but also to advance the climate policies of the organization itself. Specifically, the fellow would lead the coordination and authorship of the Ocean Conservancy annual sustainability report:

  • Sustainability report. The fellow would gather data from across the organization on Ocean Conservancy’s environmental impact, with a focus on calculating its annual carbon footprint. The fellow would also coordinate the development of recommendations for reducing operational impact and would present the final report and recommendations to the executive team.


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) 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 2020.
A 3-day Leadership Retreat in August 2021.
At least one other in-person training or workshop with their RAY Fellow cohort.


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 2020 (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 the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences.
  • An interest in the field of conservation or clean energy.
  • Demonstrated intellect and leadership.
  • An eagerness to learn.
  • Excellent research skills and the ability to synthesize complex and technical information.
  • Excellent writing skills and the ability to create a coherent narrative.
  • Openness to engaging in stakeholder outreach and to working across disciplines.
  • Experience or coursework on climate or environmental issues is a plus.


This is a two-year, full-time fellowship (one year with a one year renewal) starting on or after July 15, 2020.


The Fellowship is compensated and sponsored by Ocean Conservancy, who offers a competitive benefits package as well as training and professional development opportunities.


To apply for the RAY Fellowship Program, applicants must:

  1. Complete the online application survey on the RAY Fellowship Program website: https://rayfellowship.org/appy
  2. Follow the instructions on the linked application webpage to submit a curriculum vitae or a resume, two essay and one short answer responses, and a letter of support.

Applications must be submitted to the RAY Fellowship Program no later than March 31, 2020. Transcripts and additional writing samples are not required. Questions about the application process can be submitted to the RAY Program Coordinator, Guilu Murphy, via email at guilu@elpnet.org.

Ocean Conservancy is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, sex, handicap, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status. Ocean Conservancy is continually seeking to diversify its staff, particularly to broaden opportunities for individuals from demographic groups that are historically underrepresented in the sciences and in environmental advocacy.