Program Associate

Sonoran Institute

Tucson, AZ, US



Our Mission


The Sonoran Institute’s mission is to connect people and communities with the natural resources that nourish and sustain them. We work at the nexus of commerce, community, and conservation to help people in the North American West build the communities they want to live in while preserving the values which brought them here. We envision a West where civil dialogue and collaboration are hallmarks of decision making, where people and wildlife live in harmony, and where clean water, air, and energy are assured.


The Sonoran Institute has a track record of helping communities plan and adapt to change. Across the North American West, population growth, shifts in the region’s economies, and the impacts of a changing climate are affecting communities and the natural resources that nourish and sustain them. Effective strategies to increase climate resilience, manage growth, and ensure economic prosperity requires sound information, problem-solving tools, collaboration across boundaries and sectors, and improved laws and policies at all levels of government. 



The Sonoran Institute focuses on the ecological and cultural connections between the mainstream of the Colorado River, its tributaries, the Delta and its wetlands and estuaries, and the upper Gulf of California. The Institute uses strategies such as restoration, monitoring and research, education and community engagement, and policy reform to ensure successful restoration, recovery of species and ecosystems, and the institutional structures to maintain them. Our work has several components, that include science and restoration, outreach— Adopt a River Program, and policy, such as international water policy discussions and the oversight of a water trust to purchase and deliver water for ecological purposes. The region’s ecological diversity is also reflected in the cultural richness of the region’s human inhabitants. Collaborating with communities and partners in the U.S. and Mexico, the Sonoran Institute works to conserve and restore unique natural and cultural assets of the region.



The Program Associate works closely with the Senior Director of Water and Ecosystem Restoration (WERT) on all facets of the program to ensure smooth operations. The Associate will have opportunities to engage in program work, including Colorado River binational water policy, socioecological restoration, multi-sector outreach and project evaluation. The Associate will also help ensure the program functions effectively; communicate the program’s success; support in grant and report writing; and assist in other program logistics.



Project Support – 50% of Time

  • Assists with developing and implementing project activities that contribute to conservation of the region, both in Mexico and the US.
  • Works collaboratively with Sonoran Institute colleagues to coordinate activities when relevant, efficient, and beneficial.
  • Stays current on relevant research and literature including collaborative conservation initiatives and develops conceptual ideas that can be applied in our projects.
  • Participates in the Raise the River coalition and other binational working groups, as needed, to ensure coordination among Sonoran Institute’s staff and the fulfillment of Sonoran Institute’s commitments.
  • Works collaboratively with WERT colleagues to ensure that communities’ perspectives are considered in all project planning, implementation and monitoring.
  • Oversees social monitoring activities, ensuring data is collected, analyzed, evaluated and share with partners as part of the binational monitoring plans. 
  • Leads the Conservation Fund initiative following the Delta Conservation Fund Procedure Manual and actively works with Delta water users to raise funds for the Delta Conservation Fund.
  • Travels to the Delta to implement field work for specific projects.

Program Support – 30% of Time

  • Works collaboratively with the WERT leadership in the production of all program communication materials and assist in preparation of presentations and documents related to program work.
  • Prepares materials for meetings and workshops, and provide logistical support for workshops and conferences, and donor tours in the Delta.
  • Supports all program administration, including financial administration, program planning, staff hiring, and attention to all Sonoran Institute policies and procedures.
  • General support for the WERT Senior Director including preparing correspondence, filing, copying, etc.
  • Develops and manages program-level budgets for which he/she is responsible (fiscal year budgets).
  • Manages program-level budgets for which he/she is responsible, ensuring funds are spent according to grantor’s approved proposals.
  • Oversees development of budgets and revisions for use by Sonoran Institute and funders. 
  • Prepares, proofreads, and edits donor proposals and project reports, correspond with foundation and agency grant administrators, and ensure all donor reporting requirements are met. 

Program Fundraising Support – 20% of Time

  • Ensures that information regarding donors, partners, and other key contacts is forwarded to Development.
  • Works with WERT Senior Director and Chief Development Officer to manage all aspects of program fundraising, including development of fundraising strategy, preparation of proposals, reporting and communications with grantors, and tracking strategy.
  • Establishes relationships and communicates with potential donors; organizes donor tours to the Delta region; and sends relevant program material upon request.
  • Writes progress reports and ensures all donor reporting requirements are met.
  • Prepares funding proposals and budgets to fund and implement project activities.
  • Actively search for new funding opportunities and works collaboratively with colleagues to pursue new funding. 



Decision-Making/Consequence of Error

  • Most decisions will relate to personal workload priorities and how best to meet deadlines. Program decision making responsibility rests with the WERT Senior Director. Not meeting deadlines impacts all programs of the Institute.

Nature of Supervision Received

  • The position receives regular supervision from the Project reviews will be done monthly, and formal employment reviews will be conducted at least annually.

Representation and Public Contact

  • The employee will represent the Institute when participating in events, through communications, and in meetings as directed by the senior director.

Education & Experience

  • Bachelor’s Degree in relevant conservation and/or policy topics and 2-3 years similar experience in conservation project and program support.


  • A commitment to Sonoran Institute’s vision and values, including Equity, Diversity and Inclusion principles. 
  • A commitment to natural resource conservation.
  • Demonstrated experience in applying creative and strategic thinking skills for problem solving and generation new project ideas.
  • Experience in developing grant proposals and ensuring compliance grantor requirements
  • Bi-lingual; ability to read, write, and translate documents from Spanish to English/English to Spanish and culturally competent preferred.
  • Great interpersonal soft skills to effectively and harmoniously interact with colleagues and multi-sector stakeholders. 
  • Experienced in using Microsoft Office 365 to include, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and Teams.
  • Current, valid US Passport and valid driver’s license.


  • Previous work experience in a non-profit organization.
  • Previous experience or education related to conservation policy and practices.
  • Excellent facilitation skills.
  • Capable of motivating and inspiring team members.
  • Organized, attention to detail, and good time-management skills.
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Excellent verbal and written skills.
  • Willingness to handle general administrative tasks.
  • Available for occasional work on nights and weekends.

Physical activities and requirements, visual acuity and working conditions of the position

Physical activity and requirements of this positions

  • Stooping. Bending body downward and forward by bending spine at the waist. This factor is important if it occurs to a considerable degree and requires full motion of the lower extremities and back muscles.
  • Kneeling. Bending legs at knee to come to a rest on knee or knees.
  • Reaching. Extending hand(s) and arm(s) in any direction.
  • Standing. Particularly for sustained periods of time.
  • Walking. Moving about on foot to accomplish tasks, particularly for long distances or moving from one work site to another.
  • Lifting. Raising objects from a lower to a higher position or moving objects horizontally from position-to-position. This factor is important if it occurs to a considerable degree and requires substantial use of upper extremities and back muscles.
  • Fingering. Picking, pinching, typing or otherwise working, primarily with fingers rather than with the whole hand as in handling.
  • Talking. Expressing or exchanging ideas by means of the spoken word. Those activities in which they must convey detailed or important spoken instructions to other workers accurately, loudly, or quickly.
  • Hearing. Perceiving the nature of sounds at normal speaking levels with or without correction. Ability to receive detailed information through oral communication, and to make the discrimination’s in sound.
  • Repetitive motion. Substantial movements (motions) of the wrists, hands, and/or fingers.
  • Sedentary work. Exerting up to 10 pounds of force occasionally and/or negligible amount of force frequently or constantly to lift, carry, push, pull or otherwise move objects, including the human body. Sedentary work involves sitting most of the time. Jobs are sedentary if walking and standing are required only occasionally and all other sedentary criteria are met.

Visual acuity requirements of this position

  • The worker is required to have close visual acuity to perform an activity such as: preparing and analyzing data and figures; transcribing; viewing a computer terminal; extensive reading; visual inspection involving small defects, small parts, and/or operation of machines (including inspection); using measurement devices; and/or assembly or fabrication parts at distances close to the eyes.

Condition the employee will be subject to

  • None. The worker is not substantially exposed to adverse environmental conditions (such as in typical office or administrative work.

This job description in no way states or implies that these are the only duties to be performed by the employee(s) incumbent in this position. Employees will be required to follow any other job-related instructions and to perform any other job-related duties requested by any person authorized to give instructions or assignments. All duties and responsibilities are essential functions and requirements and are subject to possible modification to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities. To perform this job successfully, the incumbents will possess the skills, aptitudes, and abilities to perform each duty proficiently. Some requirements may exclude individuals who pose a direct threat or significant risk to the health or safety of themselves or others. The requirements listed in this document are the minimum levels of knowledge, skills, or abilities. This document does not create an employment contract, implied or otherwise, other than an “at will” relationship.