Now hiring — Land use and development associate

Smart Growth America (SGA) seeks a program associate to join the land use and development team, and support research, advocacy, communications, operations and coalition-building work for LOCUS, as well as coalition activities for the National Brownfield Coalition (NBC). 

Organization overview

Smart Growth America (SGA) is a national non-profit organization, headquartered in Washington, DC, that envisions 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. We empower communities through technical assistance, advocacy, and thought leadership to realize our vision of livable places, healthy people, and shared prosperity.

Land Use and Development team overview

Smart Growth America’s Land Use and Development (LUD) team has a leading role delivering SGA’s work advancing equitable development, racially equitable land use outcomes, and climate resilience. The team’s work accelerates the implementation of performance-based and community-driven 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, Latin for “place,” 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. Joining the LUD team presents an exciting opportunity to advance the fields of land use and development, supporting advocacy, technical assistance and thought leadership projects.

Job description

The Program Associate will be a member of Smart Growth America’s (SGA) Land Use and Development (LUD) team, reporting to the Vice President of Land Use and Development and supporting other members of the LUD team on a project basis. The Program Associate is expected to contribute to a dynamic, collaborative team environment. This position works closely with the staff team to advance SGA’s role in thought leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance. Specifically, the Program Associate works to support research, advocacy, communications, operations and coalition-building work for LOCUS, and will support coalition activities for the National Brownfield Coalition (NBC). 

Key areas of responsibility 

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

    • Research, writing and communications: contributes research and content to Land Use and Development team projects, drafts blog posts and newsletters; assists with the writing and editing of grant proposals; and helps to manage the LOCUS social media accounts.
    • Program and project management: supports senior staff in project management, helping with scheduling, invoicing, presentations, and tracking. Coordinates engagement for the National Brownfield Coalition, including attending regular meetings, scheduling, and managing the production of the NBC newsletter.
    • Technical assistance: Provides quantitative analysis and research support to support technical assistance efforts. 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, creates and updates advocacy materials with team input and provides background research for the National Brownfields Coalition and LOCUS’ advocacy work.
    • Event management: coordinates events and meetings, such as NBC events, the LOCUS Summit and Steering Committee meetings, including logistics, planning and overseeing invoicing. Event work may sometimes include workshop management.
    • Serves as an ambassador for the Land Use and Development Team and Smart Growth America.
    • Some administrative tasks as needed.
    • Additional duties as assigned


The ideal candidate will have a minimum of a four-year college degree and 1-2 years of related experience, which can include employment 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.

Key skills will include:

  • Excellent research and writing skills;
  • Quantitative research skills, and experience with programs such as GIS;
  • 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;
  • Excellent communications skills;
  • Ability to multi-task and complete projects;
  • Computer graphic design skills a plus.

Compensation and location

Salary is commensurate with experience and will range from $45,000-60,000 a year. This is a full-time position with benefits, including health insurance, 401k, and paid vacation and sick leave. The position is located in Washington, D.C.

COVID-19 considerations

SGA staff are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the office currently scheduled to reopen in mid-January 2022. The candidate may be based anywhere in the United States during the remote working period, but should be prepared to move to D.C. upon the reopening of the office.

How to apply

Please send the following to [email protected] with “ATTN: Associate, Land Use and Development” in the subject line: 1) A cover letter of interest that describes your relevant experience and motivation for applying, 2) A resume, and 3) Three writing or work samples, including clarification on your role (e.g. sole author, co-author, researcher, etc). Ideally, work samples can include at least one research-based or academic piece  and one piece intended for a general audience (blog post, email blast, etc). Graphic design work samples are also welcome if available.  In your cover letter, please indicate how you’ve learned of this opportunity.

Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

Smart Growth America is committed to building a diverse staff and strongly encourages applications from candidates of color. 

SGA is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion/creed, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, pregnancy, veteran or active military status, alienage or citizenship status, arrest or conviction record, credit history, salary history, caregiver status, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or partnership status, familial status, unemployment status, status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual violence or any other status protected by applicable law.