Ocean Conservancy - Climate Program - RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow

POSITION TITLE: RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow: Climate Program

DEPARTMENT/PROGRAM: Climate Team                        

REPORTS TO: Senior Research Fellow   

STATUS: Regular, Full-Time, Non-Exempt (hourly)                   

LOCATION: Ocean Conservancy – Santa Cruz, California                               



Inspired by efforts to increase racial diversity in conservation, the Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Conservation Diversity Fellowship Program aims to increase and facilitate conservation-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 sector—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.


The fellow will participate as a full partner in the Climate Team’s everyday work, and in particular they will help support our climate work at the subnational level, with a focus on California as a model for ocean climate action. Both the international and subnational work areas offer opportunities for the fellow to understand the relationships among policy and management scales.

Taking the ocean into account is critical for successfully addressing climate change, and addressing climate change is critical for the future of the ocean.  Yet until recently climate policies have largely overlooked ocean-based climate solutions. In effect, climate policies have an “ocean blind spot.” Ocean Conservancy is looking to change that. To spur the adoption of more “ocean-smart” climate policies, the Climate Team is working with partners around the globe to ensure the rules governing the implementation of the Paris agreement facilitate ocean-relevant actions, with a variety of national governments (including Chile, Fiji, and others) to provide leadership for creating ocean-smart Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs, the mechanism for implementing the Paris agreement), and with state and federal leaders in the U.S. to provide subnational models for ocean-climate action.

In the U.S., California has shown strong leadership in the ocean-climate space and is well-positioned to increase that leadership role going forward.  Research and recommendations produced by the fellow will be used by Ocean Conservancy to educate these leaders, inform strategies for action, and drive adoption of ocean-smart climate provisions at multiple levels of government.


The candidate will work out of Ocean Conservancy’s small Santa Cruz, California office, interacting closely with Ocean Conservancy’s Chief Scientist, Senior Research Fellow, and Manager of (Pacific) Fish Conservation. However, the fellow will be fully engaged with the entire climate team (with staff located in DC and other regional offices) through weekly check-in calls and other assignments; the fellow will thus be exposed to organizational work being done by a number of different programs and departments, including Ocean Acidification, Arctic, Ocean Planning, Development, Communications, and Government Relations.

The fellow will be exposed to a range of issues and areas of engagement in science, policy, and management through their work with the Climate Team. They will have an opportunity to enhance their research and communication skills, to learn about ocean-climate policy at scales from the subnational to the international, and to interact directly with the legislative and management process in California and regionally. We fully expect the fellow to contribute directly and in visible ways to the highly crosscutting work of the Climate team.

Beyond Ocean Conservancy, Santa Cruz offers a number of opportunities that are especially advantageous to early career fellows, with regular opportunities to engage with world-class ocean and coastal scientists and policy experts doing interdisciplinary work. The Monterey Area Research Institutions’ Network for Education (MARINE) offers a number of opportunities for regular participation, from research to seminars. The newly-opened Coastal Science and Policy Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz is specifically focused on recruiting and training a diverse student cohort and is literally minutes from the Ocean Conservancy office. 


  • Gathering background information and briefing team members on scientific, policy, or news issues of emerging relevance to our climate work
  • Researching subnational policy and management actions around ocean and climate adaptation and mitigation in California and the West Coast
  • Researching and writing blog posts, infographics, or short summaries of legislation, new science or emerging developments for a general audience
  • Helping organize and run an ocean climate science convening of approximately 20 external participants during the fellowship year.
  • Developing new and compelling digital communications products like slideshows, story maps, or audio/video products
  • Assisting with policy briefs, educational visits, letters of support around new policy and management actions in the state legislature and state agencies
  • Helping support the fish team advance climate ready fishery policy at the Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council or subcommittee meetings.
  • Help organize and run a convening of nonprofit advocates on fisheries climate adaptation, including researching and developing briefing materials and analyses needed to support the meeting.
  • Addressing the intersection of ocean-climate issues and environmental justice in California and beyond. This is an emerging issue in the state particularly focused on frontline/vulnerable/historically underserved communities. The fellow could examine how policies being considered now in California could be a model for other jurisdictions.


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-year webinar highlighting their Fellowship experience.

RAY Fellows will also attend:

  • A 3-day Orientation Retreat in August 2019.
  • A 3-day Leadership Retreat in February 2020.
  • At least one other in-person training or workshop with their RAY Fellow cohort.


  • A background in social sciences, natural sciences, or the humanities; an interdisciplinary background is a plus
  • Deep and genuine curiosity.
  • Solid written communication skills and excellent research skills; familiarity with research in academic journals is a plus.
  • Ability to synthesize technical information.
  • Openness to working across disciplines.
  • Previous experience at the intersection of science and policy or a focus on climate change is a plus.
  • Individuals who enjoy brainstorming in front of a whiteboard will find themselves at home!


Eligible RAY Fellow applicants will:

  • Come from a racial / ethnic background underrepresented in conservation and demonstrate a commitment to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Be less than 2 years out of college and have a Bachelor's Degree by July 2019 (we are not considering individuals with graduate degrees at this time).
  • Have not had a full-time job in conservation.
  • Have the ability to work in the United States and commit to the entire fellowship.


This is a one-year, full-time fellowship starting on or after July 15, 2019.


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://rayconservationfellows.org/apply.
  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 April 15, 2019. Transcripts and additional writing samples are not required. Questions about the application process can be submitted to the RAY Program Manager, Jordan Williams, via email at [email protected].


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.