Ocean Career: Principal Associate, Coastal Wetlands and Coral Reefs at PEW Charitable Trusts

Coastal wetlands such as mangroves, marshes, and seagrasses found along shorelines worldwide, are among the most important parts of the larger ocean ecosystem that must function cohesively to ensure the ocean’s health.

While relatively small in area, these habitats are large in terms of ecosystem importance, forming a critical interface between the land and sea. Known for harboring rich biodiversity, supporting local economies, and delivering valuable ecosystem services, these ecosystems have become even more relevant as the effects of climate change are felt increasingly around the globe. They buffer shorelines from severe storms, erosion, and sea level rise, and can help mitigate climate impacts by acting as important carbon sinks.

Countries are increasingly recognizing the role that protection of coastal wetlands can play as nature-based solutions within their revised nationally determined contributions (NDC) to the Paris Agreement. In the first phase of the Coastal Wetlands and Coral Reefs Project, Pew worked directly in three countries – Costa Rica, Belize and Seychelles – to support the governments’ aim to include coastal wetland protections within their updated NDCs.

Building on this initial effort, Pew will soon commence a second, expanded phase of the Project, both aiding NDC implementation in our existing partner countries and expanding new partnerships in support of other countries. Working with local and regional partners, the project would provide country-specific scientific research, technical policy support, and on-the-ground capacity building that would enable nations to develop comprehensive, measurable, and science-based commitments to protect or restore their coastal wetlands in NDCs. This effort also would help create the enabling conditions needed to successfully implement and finance countries’ coastal wetland NDC commitments.

Position Overview

The Principal Associate will help develop and implement scientific research projects that advance the country-specific ecosystem data needed to include coastal wetlands and coral reefs in countries’ NDCs and provide wider support to the team as needed. This position will report to the Senior Officer, coastal wetlands and coral reefs and is based in Washington, DC and is eligible for up to 60% telework. The position has a set time frame that could be extended based on the success of the program, funding sources, and board decisions on continued support.


  • Support Senior Officers in managing Project’s portfolio of in-country research projects, partnerships, and associated project engagement with individual scientists and/or research institutions.
  • Assist in scoping efforts to establish new Project countries by synthesizing scientific information from the literature and identifying key in-country or regional research partners.
  • Support Senior Officer in developing new research projects by engaging with scientists to outline project objectives and scope. Assist in drafting deliverables, contracts, and associated budgets.
  • Engage with Pew’s Research Review and Support (RRS) staff on research projects to ensure that all internal processes for research review are met.
  • Manage individual research projects to ensure that deliverables and outcomes are met in a timely manner. Ensure that project partners are engaged and working together, quickly identify any emerging barriers to project success and assess solutions.
  • Lead development of research statements, papers and communications for the TOP for both internal and external audiences.
  • Collaborate with other staff on the Project supporting policy tasks and other activities.
  • Represent The Pew Charitable Trusts and the campaign at relevant meetings and events.


  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience required, advanced degree in environmental sciences, marine sciences, and/or experience with GIS strongly preferred.
  • At least six years of applicable experience in the international conservation arena. Project management experience in the Caribbean, Latin America, or Africa desired, but not required.
  • Ability to proactively manage logistically complex research projects with multiple research partners with a high degree of independence.
  • A task-oriented style, with experience in motivating partners to meet specific goals and timelines.
  • Superior oral and written communications skills. Ability to synthesize material and communicate complex ideas for a general audience.
  • Strong interpersonal skills; able to develop and manage productive relationships with consultants, partners and others who contribute to the development of a project by anticipating possible outcomes. Excellent listening skills. Highly articulate. Able to work collaboratively across cultures.
  • Exhibits strong diplomacy skills. Able to work productively with a wide array of different people and institutions that frequently disagree with and are in competition with one another.
  • Excellent analytic and problem-solving skills, and highly results oriented.
  • Seasoned judgment, ability to make decisions, justify recommendations and be responsive, clear and firm with colleagues and partners.


International travel expected approximately 10% of the time.  

Total Rewards

We offer a competitive salary and benefit program, including: comprehensive, affordable health care through medical, dental, and vision coverage; financial security with life and disability insurance; opportunities to save using health savings and flexible spending accounts; retirement benefits to help prepare for the future; and work/life benefits to maintain a good balance.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is an equal opportunity employer, committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace. Pew considers qualified applicants for employment without regard to age, sex, ethnicity, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity, military/veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.

Learn more about this position and how to apply.

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