Environmental Justice Program Lead, United States

Washington, District of Columbia, United States

A passionate advocate and results-driven leader who will help us build a new approach to pursuing environmental justice in the United States


About the position

In the United States and elsewhere, the environmental movement has often focused on top-down regulation and litigation. Namati is developing a "legal empowerment" approach to environmental justice: one that equips communities affected by environmental harm to advocate for themselves.

Namati focuses on 'community paralegals', sometimes called barefoot lawyers, who demystify law and help people exercise their rights. Namati works with community paralegals in several countries and convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network, made up of over 1800 organizations from 168 countries.

In India and Sierra Leone, Namati focuses on environmental justice in particular. Paralegals in those places support communities to pursue practical remedies when, say, an oil palm plantation grabs land without consent, or an iron mine poisons the water.

We are searching for a dynamic leader to support a new crew of legal empowerment advocates in Maryland and Washington DC. This is an opportunity to build an approach to environmental justice that could hold promise for the whole country. We have identified extraordinary advocates to form our first U.S. legal empowerment team-- people like Fred Tutman, the only black River Keeper in the country, and Rhonda Hamilton, who has led her neighborhood in Buzzards Point to take on pollution and gentrification at the same time. The advocates are learning from each other and deepening their work together.

We’ve just begun: the EJ program lead will build this pilot into something lasting and powerful.

She or he will support legal empowerment advocates and the communities they’re serving to understand environmental regulation, and to pursue concrete remedies to environmental injustice. S/he will equip the team to engage creatively across the institutional landscape—from departments of environment and public health to zoning boards—especially as federal regulation has weakened.

True legal empowerment involves not just knowing and using the rules as they exist, but shaping them to make them more just. In every country where Namati works, we’ve drawn on case experience to achieve improvements to policies and systems. The program lead will work with advocates and communities to attempt the same in Maryland and DC.


Overall, the Lead will be responsible for the following:

Program Design and Strategy

  • Define the vision of the program to guide strategic decisions over the next three years in collaboration with the Director of Global Learning and Practice (DGLP), CEO, and Program Officer. This includes articulating a clear program design, identifying learning questions, and defining medium term goals.
  • Lead the process of setting annual goals based on key priorities for advancing the program.
  • Align resources and systems with program needs to drive progress on strategic objectives.
  • Learn from implementation to refine our approach for deeper impact by actively assessing program status and addressing ongoing design challenges. 

Program Management

  • Oversee the development and ongoing management of annual work plans for the program to ensure we meet annual goals
  • Develop M&E systems and regularly analyze program data to track progress and generate learning. 
  • Supervise and provide support to the EJ Program Officer in managing casework with the five advocates
  • Contribute to implementation in a variety of ways - from helping develop case strategy to planning trainings to creating resource materials Draft and manage the annual program budget, allocating resources strategically to meet needs 
  • Draft and manage the annual program budget, allocating resources strategically to meet needs. Work with the DGLP, COO, and CFO to create medium term cost projections.
  • Manage direct implementation partnerships with three local NGOs, including co-designing program strategy and overseeing administrative requirements
  • Cultivate peer to peer learning, drawing in lessons from others in the field that can strengthen our work and sharing our approach with other practitioners

Development, Fundraising, and Communications 

  • Collaborate with the development team to secure funding for the program’s annual budget
  • Manage grant reporting and relationships for all major funders
  • Develop and cultivate new connections with potential donors
  • Work with the communications team to create content for a public audience 


Here’s what you might have tackled in this role in the last month--

  • Lead the process of setting annual goals based on key priorities for advancing the program.
  • Develop systems for documenting learning, including establishing M&E systems and targets.
  • Spend the day with a legal empowerment advocate, attending a community meeting with her and talking through strategy for the case she’s working on
  • Convene the advisory board to get guidance on key strategic questions, e.g. priorities for policy advocacy
  • Plan the next monthly convening for the legal empowerment advocates, drawing on feedback from previous events to build the most impactful session possible  
  • Write a policy brief using trends from case data to identify evidence-based recommendations for strengthening environmental regulation both in the US and in other contexts
  • Facilitate a meeting with local partner organizations to develop a joint strategy for advocating for greater public participation in regulatory decisions


About you/must-haves for the position 

Program Strategy and Design: At your core, you are a strategist that can identify opportunities and key questions, articulating a clear vision for the evolution of the program. You can align resources and systems with needs to achieve maximum impact. 

Strong program management. You can keep track of all aspects of an ambitious and emerging program; everything from training our advocates to managing partnerships and other stakeholder relationships. Not only can you take an existing plan and map out its tactical execution, you’re also able to identify what’s missing and iterate on details big and small. 

Experience in community-based environmental justice work in the United States: You are a seasoned environmental justice advocate who has spent time working at the intersections of community organizing, law, and policy. You have relevant credentials and strong connections and networks in the field, and are an outstanding communicator with experience engaging with diverse communities.

Track record of getting results: You bring significant experience (likely 5-7 years, and possibly much more) that demonstrates you are a strategic, dynamic leader who makes things happen. You have experience in the trenches of creating a new program, or of leading a program for some time. You’re great with logistics, work quickly and efficiently, and manage collaborative processes on deadline and with confidence.   

Collaborative and service-oriented: You greet everyone you encounter with a collaborative spirit, kindness, and empathy. You are known as a team-player who brings an “all hands on deck” mindset to all projects, you’re adaptable, and you’re happy to contribute however you can to advance Namati’s mission.


Growth-oriented: You’re always seeking to better yourself and your work, and you will push yourself to the peak of performance to help fulfill our mission. In service of that growth, you welcome and delight in feedback from supervisors, peers, and anyone else.



In-depth knowledge of environmental law: You have a deep understanding of law and regulation on environment, land, and industry. You are familiar with the institutions that regulate these areas, and you can provide strong analysis of possible routes for administrative and other remedies to environmental harms. We’re interested in lawyers, practicing or otherwise, but legal training is not a requirement for the position.


About Namati

Namati is dedicated to placing the power of law in the hands of people.

For billions of people around the world, the law is broken. It’s an abstraction -- or worse, a threat -- but not something we can use to exercise our basic rights.

Namati is building a global movement of grassroots advocates who empower people to understand, use, and shape the law. These “barefoot lawyers” form a dynamic, creative frontline that can squeeze justice out of even broken systems.  

In the past four years, Namati and our partners have worked with over 65,000 clients to take on some of the greatest challenges of our times: protecting community lands, enforcing environmental law, and securing basic rights to healthcare and citizenship.

We track data on every case and use that information to advocate for systemic changes, like better policies for land governance in Liberia, environmental regulation in India, and healthcare delivery in Mozambique. 

And we're joining forces for change. Namati convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network -- over 1,800 groups and 6,500 individuals from 168 countries learning from one another and bringing justice to communities in every part of the world.

For more about what it’s like to work at Namati, please see our Cultural Principles.



Washington, D.C., though we are open to remote working arrangements depending on the circumstances. We’re also open to Baltimore-based candidates who are willing to commute to DC heavily during their first several months here.

Please note you must already be eligible to work in the United States to be considered for this position.


Structure & compensation

This is a mid to senior level position with the organization (contingent on experience). We will finalize compensation and responsibilities based on the background and profile of the person joining. 

Namati offers an excellent benefits package, including:

  • Health insurance- Namati pays 80% of the base plan premium for individuals, and 50% for dependents
  • 3 weeks' paid vacation, 12 sick days, 11 federal holidays (plus the week between Christmas and New Years), 3 personal days, 6 weeks' parental leave
  • 401(k)- Namati contributes 5% of your salary plus matches your contribution up to an additional 5%
  • Pre-tax withholding for transportation and parking (Washington DC metro area)
  • Access to professional development opportunities


To apply

Please complete our online application form, noting we strongly prefer for your application materials (cover letter, CV, and writing sample) to be uploaded in one PDF. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. No phone calls please.


Namati is an Equal Opportunity Employer.