Now Hiring: Land Use & Development Program Associate

Are you starting off your career with a passion for the built environment, federal policy, and strong writing skills that can be applied to challenges and opportunities in land use, economic development, and transportation? Join the team at Smart Growth America and use your skills to help policymakers and community leaders advance sustainable and equitable land use strategies, to advance racial equity, address the climate crisis, and create healthier communities.

Smart Growth America seeks a program associate to join the land use and development (LUD) team and support research, advocacy, communications, operations, and coalition-building work. The Land Use & Development Program Associate will report to the Senior Manager of Coalitions and Outreach, and work closely with the full Land Use & Development team across a number of projects. The Land Use & Development Program Associate will support and guide projects across the organization to advance SGA’s north star: “a country where no matter who you are, or where you live, you can enjoy living in a place which is healthy, prosperous, and resilient.”

To apply, please send a cover letter of interest that describes your relevant experience, motivation for applying, and how you learned of this opportunity and your resume to [email protected] with “ATTN: Program Associate, Land Use and Development” in the subject line.

About Smart Growth America

Smart Growth America is a leading national non-profit organization advocating for equitable, sustainable land use, development, and transportation. We empower communities through technical assistance, advocacy, and thought leadership to realize this vision of livable places, healthy people, and shared prosperity. Programmatic priorities for SGA include advancing racial equity, addressing the climate crisis, and improving the health of communities.

Land Use and Development team overview

Smart Growth America’s Land Use and Development (LUD) team’s work accelerates the implementation of land use and development practices that create environmentally responsible, socially inclusive, and economically competitive walkable urban places.

The LUD team comprises a variety of multi-faceted programs and projects including LOCUS, Form-Based Codes Institute, and National Brownfields Coalition. LOCUS, which will be a key focus for the Program Associate, is a national coalition of real estate developers and investors who advocate for sustainable, equitable, walkable development in America’s metropolitan areas. LOCUS brings together real estate developers and investors to change policy at the local, state, and federal levels and to build neighborhoods that are more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.

This is an exciting early career role for a mission-driven applicant interested in a collaborative team environment and gaining exposure to and supporting leading technical assistance, advocacy and research work with partners across the country.

Position Overview

The Program Associate will be a member of Smart Growth America’s (SGA) Land Use and Development (LUD) team, reporting to the Senior Manager of Coalitions and Outreach of Land Use and Development and supporting other members of the LUD team on a project-by-project basis. The Program Associate is expected to contribute to a dynamic, collaborative team environment.

The Program Associate will support research, advocacy, communications, operations and coalition-building work for LOCUS. The Program Associate will also support the Senior Manager of Coalitions and Outreach in planning and executing tasks for SGA’s annual Equity Summit, our largest event each year bringing together smart growth practitioners to build capacity on advancing racial equity through smart growth. An exciting key focus for the Program Associate’s first 6 months will be providing research support for a guidebook on zoning barriers to affordable housing.

Key areas of responsibility

The Program Associate role is likely to include the following responsibilities, with some ongoing and others aligning with specific projects or deliverables.

  • Research, writing, and communications: contributes to Land Use and Development team projects by providing strong research, writing and editing, and analytical skills; drafts blog posts and newsletters; assists with the writing and editing of grant proposals; conducts policy analysis, and helps to manage the LOCUS social media accounts.
  • Program and project management: supports project management, helping with scheduling, invoicing, presentations, tracking and some administrative support. Works closely with the Senior Manager throughout the planning process for the Equity Summit.
  • Technical assistance: Provides analysis and conducts research to support technical assistance efforts supporting community partners and local governments to implement smart growth approaches to land use policy. This work may entail analysis, building presentations, developing worksheets, creating informational documents, and coordinating with the LUD and other SGA teams.
  • Advocacy: prepares context to promote advocacy efforts on social media and through SGA blogs and e-blasts, creates and updates advocacy materials with team input, and provides background research for LOCUS’ advocacy work. This may include researching pieces of legislation, summarizing legislation or policy news for coalition newsletters, and supporting outreach strategies for advocacy projects.
  • Event management: coordinates events and meetings, such as NBC events, the LOCUS Summit and Steering Committee meetings, including logistics, planning, and overseeing invoicing.
  • Serves as an ambassador for the Land Use and Development Team and Smart Growth America.
  • Some administrative tasks supporting the Land Use and Development Team, as needed.
    Additional duties as assigned


The ideal candidate will have a minimum of a four-year college degree and 1-3 years of related experience, which can include employment, part-time positions and volunteer work. Higher educational attainment is a plus. They will also have a strong commitment to our north star: a country where no matter where you live, or who you are, you can enjoy living in a place that is healthy, prosperous, and resilient.


  • Excellent research and writing skills;
  • Excellent organizational and project management skills;
  • Interest in and exposure to the fields of land use, real estate development, planning, sustainability, climate resilience, architecture, design or community development;
  • Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion;
  • Strong time management skills;
  • Excellent communications skills;
  • Ability to multi-task and complete projects
  • Collaborative approach for work alongside the LUD team.

Additional qualifications:

  • Quantitative research skills, and experience with programs such as GIS
  • Computer graphic design skills.


Salary is commensurate with experience and will range from $52,000-63,000 a year. The successful candidate would need to be at the higher end of expected years of progressively responsible experience and have some of the preferred quantitative skills, project management experience, and mission alignment to be considered for a salary at the top of the range.
SGA has an entrepreneurial and innovative workplace culture where employees work collaboratively to achieve the mission with a focus on equity. SGA offers a generous employee benefits package featuring a fully paid medical plan, optional dental and vision coverage, 401k with a strong company contribution, company-paid life and disability insurance, transportation stipend, three weeks’ vacation in the first year, and 12 paid holidays.

Office Schedule & COVID Protocols

This position is based in Washington, DC. SGA staff are currently working in the office at 1152 15th Street NW, Washington DC Tuesdays-Thursdays. No relocation assistance is offered at this time. SGA requires employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and boosted.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Smart Growth America is committed to building a diverse staff and strongly encourages applications from candidates of color. Employment and promotional opportunities are based upon individual capabilities and qualifications without regard to race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation/preference, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status, or any other protected characteristic as established under law.

How to Apply

Please send the following to [email protected] with “ATTN: Program Associate, Land Use and Development” in the subject line: 1) A cover letter of interest that describes your relevant experience, motivation for applying, and how you learned of this opportunity, and 2) your resume. Applications will be reviewed as received.