The City of San José, CA, is working towards a “Climate Smart San José” to overcome its most pressing water resource challenges in the face of climate change. The FUSE Executive Fellow will help to build partnerships and define strategic priorities for San José’s water resources that can be used to create a city-wide water strategy for sustainably managing and developing water resources for current and future generations.
ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP
FUSE is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.
When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.
Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.
Climate change is expected to lead to more prolonged and more severe droughts and floods, challenging regional and local water supplies. In the City of San José, persistent drought throughout the last decade has dramatically decreased the available water supply and increased costs to residents and businesses.
Although San José significantly cut back on its water consumption during the community’s most recent drought, a rebound is expected, and demand will continue to grow without long-term measures. Under their “Climate Smart San José” climate action strategy, the City is working to curb its water use, improve water reuse and recycling efforts, and support legislative and regulatory measures to reduce the strain on the water supply and be prepared for future droughts.
San José will partner with FUSE to build partnerships and define strategic priorities for San José’s water resources that can be used to create a city-wide water strategy for sustainably managing and developing water resources for current and future generations. The FUSE Executive Fellow will: conduct a listening tour to understand supply, demand, and governance; research successful program models; act as a liaison between the city, community stakeholders, and private partners to build a “Water Team”; and define strategic water sustainability priorities. This work will help support the city’s goal of reducing and improving water use to create a sustainable and Climate Smart city.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.
Beginning in May 2023, the FUSE Executive Fellow will work to bolster the efforts of water and resource managers, planners, and decision-makers to define strategic priorities that will help San José overcome its most pressing water resource challenges. Ultimately, this will help San José employ sustainable water use practices to reduce water consumption while increasing access to clean and affordable water for all residents.
The Executive Fellow will conduct a listening tour to assess the City’s water resources from the perspective of ownership, operations, maintenance, governance, and current/potential partnerships that can be developed for increased sustainability. This will include examining current and projected demand/supply, commercial needs and priorities, community needs and perceptions, and regional plans or policies that may influence decisions and direction. The Executive Fellow will also research similar, successful water strategies nationwide to determine best practices.
The Executive Fellow will develop a comprehensive, multi-agency San José “Water Team” that communicates regularly, intending to develop key partnerships and facilitate multi-sector collaboration to make informed decisions regarding San José’s water future. Stakeholders on the team may include elected officials, government agencies, tribes, water and resource managers and retailers, private businesses, academics, and community members. The Executive Fellow will convene regular meetings of the team to advance the regional conversation on water strategies to increase supply and reduce reliance on imported water and improve water quality in the region.
The Executive Fellow will use the collected information and new partnerships to define strategic priorities for San José’s water resources that can be used to create a city-wide water strategy for sustainably managing and developing water resources for current and future generations. This will include collaborating with the Water Team to identify possible initiatives that will receive broad input and support from residents, meet state and county Water Code requirements, guide city investments, and advance city-wide water management and sustainability actions. Importantly, this work will center low-wealth communities and communities of color that have historically been excluded from or harmed by policy decisions and resultantly see disproportionate impacts on their water supply and access in public and private spaces.
The Executive Fellow will also facilitate collaborations with outside agencies in nearby localities, including but not limited to a growing collaboration with UC Berkeley concerning dynamic water supply modeling. Lastly, the Executive Fellow will identify robust funding strategies and opportunities to support eventual program implementation.
By April 2024, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:
- Conduct a listening tour-Engage with all relevant stakeholders, including other departments, staff members, private business, and community members, to better understand their perspectives, priorities, and concerns about the city’s water future; research other successful water strategy programs.
- Create a multi-agency strategic team- Develop a multi-agency San José “Water Team” from key stakeholders such as water and resource managers, planners, and decision-makers; ensure the team communicates and regularly collaborates to build key partnerships and advance the regional conversation on water strategies.
- Define strategic priorities – Outline strategic recommendations for water sustainability, ensuring community needs, perspectives, and equity for historically disinvested communities are centered in all work; identify and cultivate outside partnerships and funding opportunities for successful program implementation.
- Executive Sponsor – Kerrie Romanow, Chief Sustainability Officer, Environmental Services Department, City of San José, CA
- Project Supervisor – Jeff Provenzano, Deputy Director, Environmental Services Department, City of San José, CA
In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in team building, stakeholder engagement, facilitation, and project management is strongly preferred for this project.
- Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
- Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
- Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
- Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies, and other processes.
- Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing and excels in both active listening and conversing.
- Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies to support more effective decision-making.
- Establishes and maintains strong relationships with diverse stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, particularly community-based relationships.
- Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
- Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.
FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.