Community Power Network seeks a Director of Policy and Advocacy

By Ben Delman on July 7, 2017
DC solar advocates demonstrate against Exelon's attempted takeover of Pepco.
DC solar advocates demonstrate against Exelon’s attempted takeover of Pepco

Community Power Network seeks a Director of Policy and Advocacy. Our organizational model is based on a projects-to-policy organizing philosophy. We believe that once a person or organization has gone solar, they are primed to join with fellow solar owners and advocate for their energy rights in legislative and regulatory settings. As such, our model is designed to take people solar, bring them together, and activate them for deeper policy engagement. Although you will be required to work intimately with all members of the CPN team, you will lead our organization’s advocacy work. You will guide and support field staff in each state.

Qualified applicants will have a minimum of seven years work experience, a strong understanding of effective campaigning techniques, a deep knowledge of energy policy, a passion for justice, an ability to develop relationships with community members and organizations, and a strong motivation to help grow this program. The job will be located in Washington, D.C. and require travel. Read below for a full descpription of the position.

About the Position

Help solar owners campaign for clean energy! Community Power Network (CPN) organizes current and prospective solar owners and represents them at local legislatures and public service commissions. We implement gutsy grassroots campaigns focused on mobilizing real people in their communities to fight for what they want: the ability to produce their own clean power, fight for energy independence, start their own local clean energy businesses, and keep money in their community by investing in local clean energy infrastructure. Our organization has a unique niche and a clear philosophical viewpoint. We believe that the clean energy revolution should be distributed and democratic.

CPN is growing quickly. We are currently active in six states and plan to expand into all 50 states over the next five years. And, we are seeking a Director of Policy and Advocacy to lead campaigns in each of our on-the-ground state programs. This job requires a deep and sophisticated knowledge of solar policy and the clean energy industry. You must understand the nuances of interconnection rules, net metering, rate design, community solar and low-income solar policy, as well as the larger framework of utility resource planning and emerging grid edge innovations. Issues like electric vehicles, energy storage, and regional capacity and ancillary services markets are also on the table. You must have experience running high profile grassroots campaigns, working in coalitions, building lists, and making an impact. Community Power Network is a fun, creative place to work. You will be given room to experiment, fail, and flourish. You will have a sophisticated field team to work with and a huge network of local partners. You must be brilliant, strategic, and excited to grow with an up-and-coming organization.

Job Description and Duties

Support State Directors to Develop and Implement an Advocacy Plan for Each State

Each state SUN program has a State Director, a State Advisory Board (comprised of leading state-based solar supporters, advocates, and innovators) and a broad network of local partners. As players directly engaged in the local market, your on-the-ground team will know best what the most critical barriers to the development of the solar market are and how to identify opportunities at the state legislature and PUC. Your role at the state level will be to bring a broader policy perspective to the table, helping them design advocacy strategies and/or support existing campaigns. What’s more, you will determine the best ways to communicate and engage our members regarding these campaigns. Engaging our network of solar owners and solar supporters in these advocacy and policy actions is critical to our success.

You will design and implement action alerts and web-content. Furthermore, you will develop strategies for social media advocacy, earned media coverage, citizen activism, and other techniques to create high impact campaigns. There will always be something our grassroots activists can do to fight for clean energy and you will be integral in deploying those opportunities.

Monitor National Solar Trends and Emerging Policy; Partner with Other Key Players in the Space

You will have your finger on the pulse of distributed energy policy. You will participate in networks and working groups so you know and understand the trends. You will monitor news, polling, communications studies, and other campaigns. You will participate in conferences, and collaborate with others to stay abreast of industry, legislative, and regulatory trends. You will help cultivate relationships with the most influential and high impact movers and shakers.

Develop and Disseminate Information for Citizen Activists Across Our States

Our goal is to build and empower a movement of clean local energy activists to achieve transformative change in the structure of our energy markets. CPN believes that our energy markets should be both clean and equitable. A key part of your job will be translating complex and wonky policy topics into language that is both accessible and inspiring to citizen activists. This can be done through various channels such as web content, online drip campaigns, face-to-face citizen trainings, social media and videos. CPN will support you in exploring new ways to deliver this content. Creativity and impact will be the drivers of this work.

Collaborate with CPN’s Engagement and Membership Directors on Listbuilidng Strategies

Besides the quality of our campaigns and policy actions, the size of our membership and network also matters for political power, impact, and the health of our organization. You will work closely with the Directors of Membership, Marketing, and Engagement to build our network list and build our membership. We implement policy advocacy campaigns to not only create policy change but also grow our reach and strengthen the clean energy movement. All of your work will be closely aligned with these goals and communications will be closely coordinated.

Key Challenges and Expectations of the Position

The Director will be responsible for quickly learning about the existing organizational work and how policy advocacy can support and amplify the existing work of our programs. We have already done significant policy advocacy over the last decade and are now seeking to scale these efforts.

The Director will be expected to be a full partner in establishing organizational vision and programmatic implementation strategies. The Director will also be expected to represent the organization in a variety of venues at the request of the Executive Director. This will require experience in planning and executing major programmatic strategies, the ability to articulate the mission and vision of the organization in a compelling manner, and strong, persuasive presentation skills.

A close and effective working partnership with the Executive Director and Executive Leadership Team is key to the success of this position. Regular meetings, consultation and substantive information-sharing and the ability to reach consensus on roles, direction, desired outcomes, benchmarks and timing are essential. This will require outstanding communication skills – oral and written, active and accurate listening skills, demonstrated experience in effective collaboration and teamwork, and the ability to develop and agree upon meaningful measures of success.

The Director will share in a critical focus on efficient resource utilization, monitoring budgets, ensuring appropriate financial and budget controls, reviewing resource allocation in light of strategic goals and outcomes and identifying opportunities to attract or leverage resources.

As requested and appropriate the Director will be responsible for providing accurate, timely reports to the Board, funders, investors and other key audiences.

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate will possess the following professional experiences and personal attributes:

  • Experience with Policy Advocacy and Movement Building: Experience working on grassroots advocacy campaigns is essential. We will rely on the Director to provide guidance and expertise based on their previous work in the field. That includes bringing knowledge on the types of technological infrastructure to implement, experience developing and implementing effective campaigns, and knowledge of the challenges inherent in growing a broad base of advocates. Ideally, the Director’s experience is based across multiple fields coupled with deep market, consumer and competitive insights.  We are looking for energy and creativity.
  • Staff Management: Extensive, successful experience managing and motivating diverse, entrepreneurial staff and volunteers is critical to the success of this position. The Director must have the ability to balance competing demands and demonstrated skill in establishing measurable goals and holding staff accountable. A non-autocratic, inclusive manager who is able to elicit the best efforts of staff and colleagues is ideal. The successful candidate will be described as an effective, motivational listener and communicator who can inspire and energize staff, foster internal learning and collaboration, hold people accountable and employ exceptional judgment to make timely, sensible decisions. The Director will be responsible for successfully leading people through change, both as direct reports and across the organization
  • Experience Scaling an Organization: The Advocacy Director will need to be able to implement systems that will quickly scale over the next five years. Our goal is to become a 1 million member organization by 2022, with much of that membership growth coming from advocacy listbuilding. This will require strategic planning in order to ensure our infrastructure and organizational systems can scale to meet this need. Experience taking an organization through the growth process will be highly valued, as will a systems thinking approach to problem solving (i.e. we need to be planning not only for the next challenges, but heading off issues down the road).
  • Comfort With an Evolving Process: The next few years will be a huge undertaking as an organization as we work to scale our reach to 50 states. It will also be extremely exciting and innovative. The Director will need to be really comfortable with growth and managing uncertainty as we scale. This will not be the type of organization where the Director arrives to an already established policy department where they are expected to continue implementing an existing process. We’re looking for someone who will come and work with us to flesh out our policy work and then lead it. That means being really comfortable with “building the airplane while flying it.”
  • Organizational Skills: The Director must have demonstrated, successful management experience in a growth dynamic, including the ability to understand and effectively manage organizational dynamics, diverse disciplines, and complexity. We will look to the Director to be able define and allocate tasks and resources for maximum impact, as well as use their problem-solving skills and ability to adapt quickly to new contexts and activities.
  • Flexibility and Willingness to Experiment: Scaling up our advocacy work and policy campaigns will require creativity and a willingness to experiment. As an organization we operate via a “Design/Do” process, where we are constantly developing new initiatives, testing their efficacy, refining, and then deploying again. The Director will be expected to utilize this process in developing and refining advocacy campaigns, and must be extremely comfortable with operating within an organization that is scaling quickly. The candidate must have “fire in the belly” to achieve a just and equitable distributed clean energy transition.
  • Communication: We are seeking a candidate with exceptionally effective and persuasive interpersonal communication and presentation skills (both written and verbal), a strong bias toward the use of technology, and someone who is a consensus builder with the ability to articulate strategic goals and vision as well as practical detail.

The entire organization will welcome a candidate with energy and stamina and a warm, friendly and responsive demeanor who is able to address the challenges of an increasingly complex organization.

How To Apply

Please send a cover letter and resume to Anya Schoolman, Executive Director, at Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis.