Global Director, Poverty and Governance

Program Management Worldwide, United States

WRI seeks a poverty reduction and social equity expert to lead the Governance Center


In this role, you will lead WRI’s Governance Center by providing strategic direction, guiding innovative new research at the nexus of governance, sustainability, poverty and social inclusion, fundraising, and developing partnerships and collaborative opportunities within and outside WRI. We are particularly interested in building our thought leadership on poverty and inequality as it relates to the six urgent global challenges on which we focus: Forests, Food, Water, Climate, Energy, and Cities. We recognize that solutions to these challenges require a sophisticated understanding of the distribution of benefits and costs, a need for benefits to be shared equitably, and a just transition for those who may be negatively affected. WRI is seeking candidates with expertise on and field experience addressing poverty reduction and social equity. You will play a central role in undertaking research and sharpening our program strategies to support these efforts, which will build upon, and go beyond, existing Governance Center initiatives. Operating on an $8 million annual budget, the Center’s current staff of 30 (8 direct reports) is located primarily in Washington, D.C. and India.  

You will integrate governance principles and poverty and inequality considerations across our Programs, Centers (Governance, Business, Economics, and Finance), and International Offices. You will provide oversight and guidance to a broad group of WRI staff who work in other units but focus on governance topics. You will also help oversee the Gender and Social Equity Initiative which is dedicated to program outcomes to be responsive to gender and social equity concerns and institutional improvements that promote gender and social equity.

You will provide strategic and intellectual input for center-level strategy development and implementation, and human resource and budget management.  You will take lead responsibility for fundraising for the Governance Center and institutional work on governance and poverty. You will be expected to grow the size and scope of the Center by building on existing projects and strategies and leading the development of new work on poverty and inequality. Your management responsibilities will require about half of your time, with the remaining time devoted to program content.

This is an exceptional, exciting opportunity for a highly talented and inspirational leader who is an expert and thought-leader on governance principles, and poverty and inequality issues more broadly, and in the application of these goals in the climate, environment, and natural resource arenas. You are likely a recognized expert among government and foundation funders that support governance reform with a demonstrated track record of high quality research and publications, project design and implementation, and policy influence at the national and international levels.

This position can be located in any of our international office locations.

Job Responsibilities

You will report to the Executive Vice President and Managing Director. As a member of our Management Team, you will contribute to the overall management and effectiveness of WRI. Providing intellectual leadership to our work on governance, poverty, and inequality; leading efforts to forge greater strategic and operational integration of the Governance Program within WRI; and assisting in the development our capacity to serve international offices will be your main responsibilities.

Strategic and Operational Leadership

  • Build WRI’s knowledge and capacity to integrate poverty and inequality considerations into our research and influence strategies;
  • Develop new lines of work or new partnerships to scale existing work to support these efforts;
  • Work collegially with other Program and International Office Directors to promote WRI’s institute-wide goal of improving climate and environmental governance;
  • Manage the Governance Center on a day-to-day basis, managing and mentoring staff, and supporting staff with ongoing projects;
  • Ensure Governance Center’s outputs meet or exceed WRI standards for exceptional, innovative, peer-reviewed research;
  • Oversee the Governance Center’s annual budget and financial health;
  • Contribute to WRI’s overall management through participation in WRI’s Management Team.


  • Expand sources of funding for the Governance Center among the funder universe that are primarily concerned with governance, poverty, and inequality issues;
  • Actively lead Governance fundraising efforts with support from other Governance team members and WRI’s Development team;
  • Leverage and maintain existing relationships with foundations, governments, and international institutions and individual donors, as well as cultivate new relationships in both the environmental funding community and the broader governance and democracy reform community;
  • Work with Center staff to enhance their fundraising skills. Oversee management of existing fundraising relationships and cultivating new prospects;
  • Represent the Governance Center’s interests and needs in discussions about institutional funding.

 Intellectual Leadership

  • Provide intellectual leadership (e.g. produce new agenda setting research, ensure high quality research products, establish strategy for influence) to Governance Center research initiatives;
  • Contribute to one or more Governance Center initiatives by conducting relevant policy research, supporting project partner efforts, and engaging in related high-level policy or dialogues;
  • Provide strategic support to Governance Center projects—support project design, the development of influence strategies, and the preparation of annual workplans;
  • Develop and launch new initiatives that address critical governance, poverty and inequality issues and support Governance Center and WRI interests.

Professional Experience

  • Successful experience building a major program and leading the scaling-up of operations, preferably in the context of an emerging or developing economy, through strategic in-country partnerships and networks, including working with governments, international institutions, civil society and private sector partners;
  • Proven track record of leadership, substantial achievement and influence in a relevant field
  • A strong commitment to environmental, development and sustainability issues and demonstrated record of integrating gender and equity into program design and outcomes;
  • A record of success in securing large-scale funding from a variety of public and private sources. This experience should include conceiving new project ideas, formulating compelling strategies, articulating these to funders in writing, and securing grants;
  • Broad experience with public policy issues, particularly those having an impact on the environment, development, governance, poverty, inequity and global sustainability.

 Professional Skills and Personal Attributes

  •  Globally recognized as an expert in the governance and international development field and hold advanced degree (e.g., Ph.D., JD, LL.M., MBA, MPP or MPA) in a relevant field;
  • Superb cross-cultural interpersonal skills with an impressive history of forging strong relationships with multiple stakeholders, strong listening and influence skills and an ability to relate well to people at all levels;
  • A leadership style that is open, collaborative and results-oriented. Experience managing geographically dispersed and diverse teams;
  • Proven analytical and strategic thinking skills;
  • Strong focus on achieving results (e.g., policy and governance change, successful pilot projects) in research and project implementation;
  • Excellent public speaking and presentation skills, including the ability to communicate clearly and compellingly to a wide range of audiences;
  • Proficiency in more than one language is desirable
  • Ability to travel approximately 30% of time.

WRI’s Governance Center

Our Governance Center helps empower people and strengthen institutions to foster environmentally sound and socially equitable decision-making. It prioritizes the rights of poor, vulnerable and marginalized citizens who most sharply experience the brunt of resource constraints and environmental degradation. As a global leader on environmental governance, the Center works with civil society, governments, development agencies, businesses and other institutions to create transparent, inclusive, accountable decision-making processes and legal frameworks that ensure development benefits people and the planet. Two illustrative highlights include: (i) playing a pivotal role in the 2018 adoption of the Escazu Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation, and Access to Justice by providing analysis and participating in the negotiations over six years and (ii) transforming the debate on indigenous land rights by providing new evidence that strong land rights reduce carbon emissions and are a net economic benefit.  The Center includes five practice areas—climate resilience, environmental democracy, energy governance, natural resource governance and urban governance—and supports WRI’s seven priority issues: climate, energy, food, forests, water, cities and oceans. More information at

WRI Overview 

World Resources Institute (WRI) is an independent, nonprofit global research organization that turns big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. We are working to address seven critical challenges that the world must overcome this decade in order to secure a sustainable future for people and the planet: climate change, energy, food, forests, water, sustainable cities, and the ocean. 

We are passionate. We value our diversity of interests, skills and backgrounds. We have a flexible work environment. And we share a common goal to catalyze change that will improve the lives of people. Our shared ideals are at the core of our approach. They include: integrity, innovation, urgency, independence and respect. 

The foundation of our work is delivering high-quality research, data, maps and analysis to solve the world’s greatest environment and international development challenges, and improve people’s lives. We work with leaders in government, business and civil society to drive ambitious action and create change on the ground. Equally important, we bring together partners to develop breakthrough ideas and scale-up solutions for far-reaching, enduring impact. 

We have been growing rapidly: our staff has doubled in size over the past 5 years and our operating budget is now $100 million. Founded in 1982, WRI has a global staff of 800+ people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices in Africa, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States as well as a growing presence in other countries and regions.   

WRI is committed to advancing gender and social equity for human well-being in our mission and applies this principle to our organizational and programmatic practices.  

The World Resources Institute ( is an environmental and development research and policy organization that creates solutions to protect the Earth and improve people’s lives. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is WRI’s policy to recruit, hire, and provide opportunities for advancement in all job classifications without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, parental status, protected veteran status, or disability. WRI’s global agenda requires a staff that is diverse – with respect to race, gender, cultural, and international background. Diverse perspectives and experience enhance the way WRI selects and approaches issues, as well as the creativity and applicability of WRI's policy research and analysis. WRI, therefore, encourages applications from U.S. minorities, persons from other countries (especially developing nations), and from women of all backgrounds.