Senior Program Officer; Gulf Environmental Protection and Stewardship Program

Job Title: 
Senior Program Officer
Job Location: 
Washington, D.C.

Job Description Summary:


In 2013, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine established the Gulf Research Program to enhance offshore energy safety and the protection of human health and the environment in the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. outer continental shelf areas. The Program seeks to improve understanding of the region’s interconnecting human, environmental, and energy systems and foster application of these insights to benefit communities and ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico and other regions with offshore hydrocarbon production in the outer continental shelf of the United States.


Responsible for developing and managing highly complex programs or projects within the GRP’s Environmental Protection and Stewardship portfolio. The Senior Program Officer (SPO) will work closely with NASEM appointed committees, external stakeholders, and end-users to design, implement, and manage a portfolio of grants, contracts, workshops and other activities focused on improving understanding and forecasting of the Gulf of Mexico circulation, sea level rise, coastal changes and other physical science opportunities and challenges in the Gulf region. Develops program or project strategy and budget, staffing requirements and ensures the program/project meets its stated objectives. Serves as liaison among committee members, the National Academies, and other applicable parties. Independently supervises staff. Develops prospectuses and projects, negotiates funding with sponsors, and engages with other organizations to leverage funding for projects and activities. All of this work is in service of achieving the strategic goals of the GRP’s Environmental Protection and Stewardship Unit.

Requiring advanced knowledge of the Gulf of Mexico oceanographic system, incumbent performs work primarily intellectual and/or analytical in character. The job's primary focus is either on leading programs and building partnerships or managing associated activities including grants, contracts, workshops, studies and/or roundtables. Establishes processes and procedures to ensure the effective and efficient operation of a complex function. Has authority to take whatever action deemed advisable or necessary, subject only to organizational and departmental policies and rules. Has supervisory responsibilities, including hiring, training, and performance management for assigned staff. Provides innovative solutions to complex problems that impact program's or project's success. Typically reports directly to Board Director.



Job Description:


1. Works closely with a Standing Committee to design, implement, and manage the $25 million Understanding Gulf Ocean Systems (UGOS) initiative, that includes a portfolio of grants, contracts, workshops, and other activities focused on improving understanding and forecasting of the Gulf of Mexico circulation.

2. Independently designs and manages multiple and/or highly complex programs or projects involving physical environmental sciences in close consultation with the Board Director for the Environmental Protection and Stewardship Unit and in appropriate collaboration with GRP units responsible for Offshore Energy Safety, Health and Community Resilience, Education and Engagement, and Data program areas.

3. Develops program or project strategy, staffing requirements and ensures stated objectives are met. Develops and maintains relationships with the scientific community, partners, end-users, and other relevant organizations, forging new opportunities for coordination or cooperation, as appropriate, to support Environmental Protection and Stewardship goals and activities, generally, and specifically for those concerning UGOS.

4. Develops requests for proposals and selection criteria, oversees peer-review processes, and prepares grant and contract recommendations for UGOS and other initiatives of the Environmental Protection and Stewardship Unit. Serves as primary point of contact for grantees and contractors, building and developing collaborative relationships that strengthen research activities and support their successful implementation. Provides convening space and networking opportunities to grantees, contractors, partners, and end-users.

5. Manages grants and contracts and engages their performers.  Develops evaluation systems to ensure grantees, contractors, and overall programs meet goals and disseminate results to partners and internal and external end-users.

Conducts site visits to performing organizations and ensures current and new facilities meet established criteria.

6. Leads convening activities such as workshops. Identifies and solicits potential participants and develops agendas, logistics and summaries. Supports, coordinates, and communicates with committee members, workshop participants, etc. in all aspects of work.

7. Manages the consensus study process, where applicable.  Assembles committees and guides them in the consensus-building process. Identifies and gathers research materials. Facilitates the flow of information among members, consultants, staff, and other applicable parties. For studies, provides assistance in preparing the draft report, including writing sections of report based on committee input, reviewing and editing the report for format, consistency, and grammar. Manages the response to review, responds to comments and concerns of editors, and prepares the final manuscript for publication.

8. Prepares written products, including reports, proceedings, background papers, and technical summaries. Drafts and edits materials for publication, as per the National Academies’ policies, processes, and protocols.

9. Responsible for the funding portfolio, dissemination plan, and proposals for research and funding opportunities in UGOS and other initiatives of the Environmental Protection and Stewardship Unit. Manages report production activities. Identifies and engages external organizations in dissemination. Prepares dissemination materials. Conducts dissemination meetings.

10. Independently supervises and mentors program or project staff. Ensures staff are appropriately trained and plans for staff development. Initiates personnel actions. Conducts performance reviews. Interprets and ensures consistent application of organizational policies.

11.  Responsible to work with financial staff in managing assigned programs or projects, including overseeing budget and schedule and authorizing expenditures. As required, collaborates with financial staff to ensure compliance.



  • Related duties and special projects as assigned.



Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities: Advanced knowledge in ocean science and technology and their applications. Knowledge of Gulf of Mexico physical oceanography is a plus. Research administration and/or managerial experience in academia, industry, or government in oceanographic focused areas. Ability to build partnerships, coordinate a multi-disciplinary program, and work with teams across a variety of federal and state government agencies, legislative bodies, private sector and nonprofit organizations is highly desired. Strong program/project management and facilitation skills. Ability to understand and share technical/scientific issues with diverse audiences. Ability to solve problems using originality and ingenuity. Ability to serve as a resource to others in the resolution of complex problems and issues. Ability to operate using substantial latitude for independent judgment and action. Ability to independently develop and manage multiple and complex projects. Ability to work successfully in a team environment and to form and maintain effective teams. Ability to train and develop staff. Experience working in complex environments with a high degree of organizational effectiveness. Ability to develop relationships with co-workers, employees in other National Academies' departments, and external constituents through effective communication. Excellent communication skills with a proven ability to effectively interact with all levels of staff and constituents.

Minimum Education/Training Requirements: Master's degree in a related field, or equivalent knowledge.

Minimum Experience: Six years of related professional experience, two of which were in a supervisory capacity. Demonstrated impact on the advancement of science or policy through the successful completion of National Academies' activities or equivalent outside activities. Demonstrated high level of proficiency in conveying scientific, technical, and/or policy information in verbal and written form.

Preferred Education: Ph.D. in related field preferred.

Physical Capabilities: Ability to work at a computer for extended periods of time. Ability to travel.

Required Licenses, Certification or Registration: None.

Supervisory Responsibilities/Controls: Typically reports to board/program/division director. General direction is provided. Independently supervises project/program staff.

Work Environment: Office environment, with occasional travel between National Academies' facilities and to off-site meeting/sponsor locations.


Any qualification to be considered equivalent, in lieu of stated minimum, requires the prior approval of the Office of Human Resources.
The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work performed by employees assigned to this job. They are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required of personnel so classified. Some functions in this description may be specific to a particular unit of the National Academies and not applicable to other units.

Please note that all jobs are automatically removed once the application deadline passes. Jobs without a deadline are automatically removed after 30 days.