China Strategist

ClimateWorks Foundation

San Francisco, CA, US

~ ClimateWorks Foundation is a groundbreaking nonprofit organization working in partnership with a global network of philanthropic donors and investors who are committed to building a low carbon-society. ~

Climate change is an urgent global challenge that requires the immediate, widespread, and continued adoption of effective climate, energy, and land use policies. ClimateWorks develops strategies, awards grants, and mobilizes philanthropy globally to address climate change by advancing public policy, inspiring the private sector, and strengthening public support for a low-carbon future.

Founded in 2008, ClimateWorks and its partners support policies in the geographic regions and economic sectors that have the greatest potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To marshal the talent and capacity required to support sophisticated donors and tackle one of the world’s toughest challenges, ClimateWorks collaborates closely with a global network of partners, including regional grant-making institutions operating in China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Latin America, and the United States. Together, they help direct philanthropic resources to a portfolio of strategies that result in real-world outcomes and offer gigatonne-scale reductions of the pollutants that drive climate change. ClimateWorks supports public policies that prevent dangerous climate change and promote global prosperity.

Transitioning to a low-carbon society becomes more urgent with each passing day. To meet this challenge, ClimateWorks is dedicated to serving the field and attracting additional philanthropic resources. ClimateWorks believes that more resources, coupled with better coordination, will hasten society’s transition to a low-carbon future.

ClimateWorks and its partners embrace this challenge in pursuit of a shared vision: a safe climate system, affordable clean energy, thriving economies, clean air and water, and healthy forests and ecosystems. For more information, visit our website

Position Overview 

China Strategist

China, as the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, is one of ClimateWorks’ priority regions. ClimateWorks works with partners to influence policies, technologies and markets in China, with the goal of achieving significant reductions in the emissions that cause climate change.

ClimateWorks seeks a China Strategist to help identify, communicate, and muster resources behind a coherent strategic road map for work in China for ClimateWorks and other interested philanthropic funders, within the strategic priority areas identified by the ClimateWorks Campaign Directors.

S/he will have a holistic view of the entire China strategy and will establish and cultivate internal and external experts, partners, policy-makers, and funders to provide advice and insights into philanthropic opportunities and risks in China. Key to the success of this role will be the ability to become a trusted strategic advisor and partner to major donors and to build relationships and collaborate effectively with key partners in China.

The ideal candidate will be someone with relevant domain knowledge and exceptional strategic, collaboration, and communication skills. S/he will have a results-oriented, collaborative, low-ego approach and a true passion for working with partners across organizations to address climate change through high-impact strategies that measurably influence outcomes. Professional presence and the ability to interact effectively with leaders in government, business, philanthropy, and civil society are also of great importance.

A receptive, open-minded individual, the successful candidate will consult with a wide range of strategists, experts, partners, and others to help increase philanthropy’s effectiveness in supporting China’s transition to a prosperous, low-carbon future. S/he must have the experience, the credibility, and the practical business sense to ensure high-quality, relevant thinking and outputs, and to present convincing analyses and strategies that incorporate political savvy and analysis to funders and other collaborators. This position reports to Charles McElwee, Vice President of Programs.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities 

In close collaboration with the ClimateWorks Campaign Directors, the China Strategist will: 

  • Help ClimateWorks staff and partners track and understand the high-level political situation in China and how this situation impacts strategic opportunities to advance climate solutions in China. Build a network of trusted partners and advisors both inside and outside China to assist with these efforts. 
  • Be deeply engaged in the field of climate and energy in China, monitor developments of relevant issue discussions, research initiatives and NGO activities.
  • Work with key partners to help align philanthropic funding behind credible and compelling strategies and grantees in China. Identify and cultivate the interests of new funders, including Chinese philanthropies.
  • Solicit, review and comment on proposals, conduct due diligence and make grant recommendations to ClimateWorks Campaign Directors and other interested funders. 
  • Help ClimateWorks-and via ClimateWorks other foundations-monitor the progress of organizations and projects receiving grant support through site visits and ongoing communication; periodically conduct reviews and assessments to discern impact and to inform future strategy development.
  • Assess coordination needs among organizations and projects and propose appropriate measures.
  • Assess the overall environment for philanthropic activities as well as the health of the field in China. Propose appropriate measures to manage risks and build the field. Keep abreast of and flag the political and operational risks to Western philanthropies supporting strategic investment in China.
  • Convene and facilitate China-specific discussions for interested funders and other partners. 
  • Collaborate with Energy Foundation – China to help ensure that it remains a trusted partner to foundations investing in China. In consultation with ClimateWorks leadership and Campaign Directors, define and maintain appropriate and effective role division between the role of EF-China and, where applicable, other leading NGOs in China, and the role of the China Strategist.
  • With the approval of the line manager, manage budgets for China-related projects (such as scoping exercises, background analysis and expert consultancy) in support of developing the China strategy.


The successful candidate will have the following minimum qualifications: 

  • Advanced degree in economics, international relations, development studies, environmental studies, engineering, or a related field
  • At least 7-10 years of relevant professional work experience (including at least 3 years based in China) and a track record of significant achievements – on an international basis as well as in China
  • A practical view of issues and understanding of the key drivers of businesses and policy makers and their different perceptions of the economic and business risks of embracing bold low-carbon energy policies and initiatives
  • Experience in shepherding a strategic development and implementation process and making smart tradeoffs with the goal of pushing the right levers in a complex system with a large number of actors (and weak institutions in many places). A high tolerance for uncertainty, ambiguity, and compromise is required
  • Experience with advising philanthropic strategy development is a plus

Setting Strategy 

  • Interest in extending the thinking beyond current orthodoxies. Ability to constructively challenge conventional wisdom and articulate strong, clear positions that may be different from the prevailing view
  • Aptitude in generating innovative ideas and/or approaches to address and persuade constituencies with varying interests and objectives

Executing for Results 

  • Ability to translate the vision and mission of ClimateWorks and other philanthropic funders working in China into realistic and actionable plans
  • Persistence over a significant period to achieve his/her agenda
  • Diplomacy to understand and integrate differing perspectives in order to achieve big picture goals
  • Expertise in working well within networks; cultivating and expanding professional networks for greater impact

Building Relationships and Using Influence 

  • Skill in building and sustaining strong productive relationships across different constituencies
  • Ability to use relationship networks strategically and build effective partnerships to move an agenda forward
  • Strong communicator. Makes arguments in a clear and compelling manner. Communicates credibility and energy and motivates others to pursue a common objective

Personal Competencies / Motivation 

  • Intellectual agility – thinks across disciplines, cultures, and scenarios and can conceptualize both problems and solutions
  • Ability to adapt views and solutions in the face of new information and/or practical realities
  • A global outlook and the sensibility to empathize with, and adjust to, different cultures
  • Capacity to maintain focus in the face of multiple initiatives, constituencies, and priorities
  • Chinese language proficiency, both speaking and writing, is a must

Compensation and Location: ClimateWorks Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience. This position will be located in San Francisco, CA, while other arrangements may be negotiable.

To Apply 

To be considered for this position, interested candidates must click below: “Apply Here!” then follow the link below to submit a resume, cover letter, and salary requirements. 

Note: CEA Recruiting is assisting ClimateWorks Foundation with this search. Please direct all applications and inquiries to CEA Recruiting. This position will remain open until filled. 

ClimateWorks Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.

CEA Recruiting works with leading environmental nonprofits, foundations, and businesses to recruit top talent and design effective organizational staffing strategies. For more information, visit