Director, Electric School Bus Initiative

Program Management Washington, DC, United States

Job Summary

In this role, you will lead WRI’s U.S. Electric School Bus Initiative. You will provide thought leadership, program oversight, and internal and external coordination with key partners to meet the goal of transitioning every U.S. school bus to electric by 2030. Leveraging your understanding of electric vehicle technology and experience engaging with school districts and decision-makers, you will support the WRI team. You will also use your network of contacts in the EV industry, financial institutions, state and national policymakers and regulators, electric utilities, automotive and charging infrastructure manufacturers, and/or environmental and education-based grassroots organizations to support the program and the internal team.

To ensure the program meets the desired outcome, you will provide thought leadership and oversight, directly manage a team of eMobility-focused professionals, and coordinate with multiple internal program teams focused on eMobility, climate, and energy topics, as well as operations and centers staff. You will liaise with high-level champions, government representatives, funders, and external partners. You will engage WRI experts from other disciplines to ensure a consistent and impactful and coordinated approach to the work plan. You will coordinate with external stakeholders and partners who will directly and indirectly support a large portion of the project work and activities. You will also lead on key research efforts in your field of expertise, including by authoring papers and contributing to specific research products.

This position is remote due to Covid-19, but you will be based in WRI’s Washington, D.C. office once restrictions have lifted.

Job Responsibilities

Program Management and Leadership (50%)

  • Develops strategies and sets objectives for WRI’s U.S. Electric School Bus Initiative and related major research products, working closely with the Climate, Energy, and Ross Center for Sustainable Cities teams and other relevant staff
  • Directly manages staff and coordinates work from multiple programs staff
  • Provides leadership and oversight of the project across programs and project partners
  • Manages the program budget and financial performance with support from members of the Operations Team, taking appropriate action to ensure financial objectives are met
  • Identifies potential gaps in personnel or expertise and develops plans to fill them, including inputting into hiring decisions and overseeing procurement of research services through appropriate consultants
  • Represents WRI in internal and external meetings, advocating for its strategic approach, needs, and value
  • Proactively manages changes in the scope of work for the U.S. Electric School Bus Initiative, identifies and mitigates potential risks, and oversees implementation of annual work plans
  • Identifies strategic opportunities to replicate and expand the work to other countries
  • Identify, coordinate, and manage external partner subcontracts/awards. A significant portion of funds will be provided to partner organizations
Research & Knowledge (25%)
  • Intellectual leadership - identifies and explores barriers and opportunities to accelerate electric school bus deployment in collaboration with research staff from other programs/centers/international offices
  • Manages the U.S. Electric School Bus Initiative research direction and approach, ensuring consistency in messaging and deliverables across the team
  • Oversees research efforts between different programs, partner organizations, and other internal and external support teams
  • Identifies the data and methods needed to produce robust, unbiased research that addresses knowledge gaps and informs the program's influence strategies
  • Authors or co-authors knowledge products (e.g., reports, briefs, data-products)
  • Reviews and signs-off on U.S. Electric School Bus knowledge products
  • Presents U.S. Electric School Bus research in media engagements, written materials, and external events
Program Coordination (25%)
  • Lead on strategy development, partnership development, and coordination with funders, with support from the electric school bus initiative team
  • Lead on determining appropriate research topics and plans for related electric school bus proposals and development efforts
  • Leverage new and maintain existing relationships with foundations, governments and individual donors
  • Develops and leads outreach/funding presentations to potential donors
  • Monitor and evaluate program performance with support from staff
  • Develop, and manage others to develop, presentations for internal and external audiences
Job Qualifications
  • Advanced degree in relevant field (Economics, Finance, Science, Business, Policy, Education, etc.)
  • Minimum 15 years of hands-on experience in program implementation and project management, and minimum of 10 years of experience in management or leadership roles
  • Demonstrated experience in working with high-level stakeholders and champions (including government officials, CEOs, and legislators)
  • Demonstrated experience working with the EV industry, financial institutions, state and national policymakers and regulators, electric utilities, automotive and charging infrastructure manufacturers, and/or environmental and education-based grassroots organizations
  • Demonstrated experience coordinating and managing external-facing project partners
  • Demonstrated understanding of and direct experience working with equity issues
  • Demonstrated ability to connect research results to measurable external change
  • Prior supervision and mentorship of matrixed teams and direct reports
  • Excellent writing, editing, and oral communication skills 
  • Commitment to WRI’s mission and values
Preferred Qualifications
  • Experience working with school districts, particularly in budget development and procurement
  • Experience managing vehicle fleets, particularly school bus fleets 
  • Professional experience working with electric vehicle technology
  • Professional experience as a community organizer 
How to Apply: Please submit a resume with cover letter. Applicants must apply through the WRI Careers portal to be considered. 

Program Overview

Overcoming the cost, infrastructure and policy barriers to mass adoption will require a systemic approach that engages an entire ecosystem of actors and prioritizes inclusive planning with impacted communities. WRI will achieve this by partnering with key stakeholders and project partners to: (1) Aggregate demand to drive mass procurement of electric buses, bringing the electric bus industry to a tipping point of mass adoption. (2) Scale e-bus manufacturing and drive down unit costs. (3) Develop innovating utility and private sector financing models and support smart charging infrastructure deployment. (4) Influence federal and state policy to unlock public funding and policy support for full electrification of school bus fleets. (5) Galvanize communities and stakeholders to push for an equitable and comprehensive shift towards electric school buses.

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, watersustainable 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 $150 million. Founded in 1982, WRI has a global staff of 1,000+ people with work spanning 60 countries. We have offices inAfrica, Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexicoand theUnited 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.