Program Director, Methane Removal

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About Spark

Spark accelerates progress in emerging, high-impact climate fields. By working directly with scientists, policymakers, and peer organizations, Spark supports the growth of emerging fields with the potential to limit warming, monitor and manage Earth systems risk, and help enable our return to a safe climate. Spark focuses on expanding the portfolio of mitigation and adaptation approaches that enable our return to a safe climate and minimize environmental and social risks along the way.

Spark’s first programs focus on large, under-addressed methane areas that currently represent unmanaged risks to our overall climate trajectory, including work on enteric methane mitigation, methane removal research, natural systems feedbacks, and additional innovation areas to assist efforts to mitigate super climate pollutants.

Spark's work is made possible through support from the Grantham Foundation, Quadrature Climate Foundation, Spitzer Charitable Trust, Astera Fund, Additional Ventures, and additional generous and pioneering funders.

Position Summary

Methane removal approaches are being researched to determine how methane, once in the atmosphere, can be broken down faster than with existing natural systems alone to help lower peak temperatures, and counteract some of the impact of increasing natural methane emissions. This new climate field has growing scientific interest as atmospheric methane levels continue to rise, the threat of growing natural systems emissions becomes better understood, and early approach research suggests the potential feasibility of large-scale approaches. With a National Academies of Sciences study coming out later this year focused on the field, it’s a critical period to steward the development of the field to ensure it grows responsibly, including with increased scientific research, appropriate governance, and engagement across stakeholders, rightsholders, policymakers, and other organizations. Methane removal is not a replacement for methane or any other greenhouse gas emissions reductions, which are crucial. 

Spark seeks a Program Director for the Methane Removal Program to advance this new field. Responsibilities of the role include developing and executing on strategic roadmaps to responsibly grow and steward the field, managing the internal team, growing the community needed to advance policy-relevant scientific and social understanding of potential scalable, effective, and safe methane removal approaches, and directing funding to support the advancement of science and policy. This position is an opportunity to play a pivotal role in defining and shaping a new climate field. This role will be highly interdisciplinary, taking science, engineering, talent development, society, economics, and policy into account to advance the field across every dimension. Spark is looking for a candidate who is deeply motivated by climate action and is excited to deeply engage with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders and rights holders to change what’s possible for climate action.

As illustrative examples, some of the past and current projects on the team that you’d be managing include: design, development, and implementation of a scientific grants program to accelerate research and grow the research community; development of strategic content and material, educating a diversity of audiences to build awareness and support for the emerging field; engagement with policymakers on opportunities for high impact public research funding; collaboration with cross-organizational colleagues on legal- and governance-related workstreams; organization of research workshops, conference sessions, and other research community-building efforts.

Responsibilities

  • Own and drive a strategy that supports the healthy development of the methane removal field as part of a larger climate solution ecosystem, with robust science, social license, responsible governance, and appropriate funding
  • Drive strategic and collaborative efforts in field building, including spinning up new programs internal to Spark, partnering with other organizations, and potentially seeding new organizations where needed
  • Lead and manage a small team to research and author roadmaps for the overall solutions ecosystems, including well-researched and supported recommendations for RD&D topics, policy changes, and public communication efforts
  • Build relationships with science, policy, and philanthropic partners to collaborate on roadmaps, research agendas, and granting opportunities
  • Serve as a subject matter expert with other organizations and funders getting involved in the space
  • Partner with Spark leadership to raise additional funding for the overall program, regranting, and any special initiatives
  • Identify key adjacent areas to support in order to most comprehensively address under-resourced, high-leverage approaches to near-term warming mitigation, and natural systems feedback avoidance and response

Qualifications

  • Scientific expertise — can quickly learn new scientific and technical topics to guide programmatic work, with high humility and clear communication about where their expertise starts and ends. Comfortable working with scientific material and collaborating with leading scientists in a given field.
  • Strategic, flexible systems-thinker — has deep respect for, and understands how various disciplines all fit together to support field development. Can identify cross-cutting and high-impact strategic priorities within a shifting field landscape. Can dig into the details of a specific science or policy proposal and zoom out to the big picture to see what’s missing in a field, moving comfortably among fundamental science, technological potentials/limits, and broader social and policy implications
  • Team and field leader — has experience supporting the development of a small team, while accelerating the overall output of a team, supporting strategic decision-making and execution, building team culture, and maintaining a high bar for output. Is ready to expand the “hometeam” to a field of colleagues and collaborators outside of any single organization.
  • Climate impact-motivated — strong climate mitigation motivation and understanding of the climate system and climate action to motivate work in the field. Can tie individual pieces of work to programmatic, field, and overall climate action progress. 
  • Approach-agnostic innovation-minded — follows science and guiding principles for approach development to support research across different possible approach categories. Takes an innovation-forward view of the space to see where there might be high-potential opportunities and “big bets,” understanding not all of these will succeed.
  • Excellent communicator — strong written, speaking/presentation, and interpersonal communication skills and adept at communicating complex concepts (including technical ones) to various audiences 
  • High bar for work quality — can produce high-caliber work, and work with team to do the same.
  • Empathetic teammate — Consistent track record of working collaboratively, effectively, and efficiently in ways that prioritize and center empathy and equity
  • 7+ years of combined professional experience, including 4+ outside of graduate work
  • 3+ years of program and/or people management experience

Candidates with experience and interest similar to the above — even if not checking every box — are encouraged to apply.

Preferred Attributes
  • PhD in natural sciences (climate science, atmospheric chemistry, biogeochemistry, Earth science, biology, physics, chemistry, or related field)
  • Experience determining strategic funding priorities and allocating large budgets towards frontier technologies (such as at philanthropies, VCs, or government grant programs like NSF, NASA, DARPA, or ARPA-E) 
  • First-hand experience building/scaling real-world technology, businesses, and/or programs
  • Proven understanding of climate action and how other climate solution spaces have been shaped, particularly in new and complex areas
  • Strong understanding of the broad climate space across many dimensions (technical, scientific, social, political, financial, etc.) in order to contextualize and advance this new field appropriately and impactfully.

We encourage anyone who is interested in this role to apply, regardless of whether you feel you meet 100% of the qualifications. The top candidates will bring their own unique perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds from a variety of industries along with many but not necessarily all the skills listed above.

Eligibility

  • Able to work as a W2 employee for a US non-profit.
  • At least 4 overlapping work hours with US Pacific time work day (9a-5pm PT).

Location

As with all positions at Spark Climate Solutions, this will be 100% remote. Employees can work anywhere within the United States, or internationally with approval.

Compensation

These are all full-time positions with benefits. The salary range is $150,000-$200,000 / year.  In addition, Spark Climate Solutions provides exceptional benefits including flexible PTO, sick time, holidays, generous health insurance coverage, 401(k) with employer match, and full-covered dental/vision/life insurance, and parental leave

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