Research Associate (Philanthropic Services Practice)

California Environmental Associates

San Francisco, CA, US

About the Organization

For thirty years, California Environmental Associates (CEA) has provided nonprofits, foundations, businesses, and government institutions with a range of environmental management, regulatory compliance, and strategy solutions. We currently provide consulting services in three main practice areas: Philanthropic Services, Recruiting and Organizational Design Services, and Regulatory and Compliance Strategy.

CEA’s Philanthropic Services Practice supports the work of environmental foundations and nonprofits, as well as sustainability-oriented businesses, with in-depth research and analysis, program design and evaluation, and strategic planning. We assist with both short-term projects and long-term engagements. Our work spans a wide range of environmental issues with particular emphasis on marine conservation, climate and energy, freshwater, and agriculture and land use. The geographic nature of our projects vary, but often they have a global and/or international scope. With respect to our services, our main functions for clients include:

  • Analysis and research: CEA specializes in producing neutral, in-depth analyses for our clients. We regularly blend an ability to conduct expert interviews on strategy and feasibility questions with a technically strong team capable of working with large data sets and scientific literature.
  • Program design: CEA develops grant-making program strategies for foundations as well as strategic plans for NGOs. As above, this work requires understanding the programmatic and management needs of the organization, with an ability to work with experts to vet strategies.
  • Landscape review and program evaluations: Clients commission landscape-level reviews on the state of philanthropic and NGO actors in a given field. We also conduct program evaluations for foundations, in some cases running monitoring and evaluation programs for them.
  • Organizational development and support: CEA writes business and operational plans, and has incubated new NGOs, led the launch of international offices, and helped organizations work through critical transitions.

Philanthropic Services – Research Associate

CEA seeks a dynamic and motivated individual to play a key role in the firm’s Philanthropic Services Practice. This is an excellent opportunity for individuals seeking an entry-level position in the environmental field to gain exposure to the philanthropic and non-profit sectors across a broad range of issues. The Research Associate will be part of a challenging, collegiate, team-oriented work environment and will have the opportunity to serve on a wide variety of client assignments on some of the most pressing environmental issues. The Research Associate will be responsible for conducting research and synthesis, managing schedules, planning meetings, drafting and editing documents, and designing client materials. The position requires intellectual rigor, independence, demonstrated attention to detail and a passion for environmental issues. Excellent communication skills—written, verbal, and interpersonal—are required.

The Research Associate may also have the opportunity to support the work of CEA’s two other practice areas, Regulatory and Compliance Strategy, and Recruiting and Organizational Design Services. Please see our website for more information about these practice areas.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

The Research Associate will perform the following and other duties as assigned:

  • Conduct research and produce summary memos, reports, articles, and presentations. Research can include literature reviews, expert interviews, and data analysis.
  • Synthesize research to produce clear and engaging presentations and reports.
  • Support project teams with logistics, setting up conference calls, coordinating travel arrangements, etc.
  • Provide general organizational and operations support to various client teams.
  • Assist with production and quality control of outgoing work products and correspondence.
  • Participate in work planning, issue analysis, and collaboration with colleagues to carry out project tasks.


The successful applicant will have the following minimum qualifications:

  • Exceptional academic resume
  • Bachelor’s degree preferably in a field related to environmental studies, economics, or public policy, and/or requiring complex analytical/quantitative methods and skills
  • 1-2 years of experience in a comparable role (not required)
  • An insightful, curious, pragmatic, and strategic mind
  • Outstanding research, analytical, writing, and editing skills
  • Strong Word, Excel, and PowerPoint skills
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, including the ability to effectively communicate with senior management
  • Professionalism, poise, and the ability to work as part of a team
  • Self-starter with the ability to work independently
  • Ability to work under pressure, prioritize, and manage multiple, often competing, tasks
  • Willingness to travel
  • A deep commitment to the conservation-related mission of CEA
  • Foreign language skills a plus; Spanish preferred

Compensation and Location

CEA offers an excellent benefits package and a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience. This position will be located at our offices in downtown San Francisco, CA.