Program Manager - BGWS
Fully Remote Tucson, AZ Programs - GWS
Job Type

The Sonoran Institute’s mission is to connect people and communities with the natural resources that nourish and sustain them. We envision resilient and sustainable communities living in harmony with the natural world, where flowing rivers and healthy landscapes enable all people and nature to thrive. Our work transcends borders, bringing together diverse communities to promote civil dialogue about complex conservation issues that know no boundaries. All aspects of our work are guided by inclusivity and collaboration to create positive environmental change in the western United States and northwestern Mexico.

The Colorado River basin will continue to experience more severe water shortages due to climate change and increased growth, which will require that communities use less water and approach water holistically if they wish to continue to prosper while the natural world also continues to thrive. Sonoran Institute’s “Growing Water Smart” (GWS) program trains and assists communities in ensuring that land-use planning, which largely determines future water demand related to urban growth and development, is sensitive to future water conditions and makes the most strategic and equitable use of that water. The program promotes state and local policies that more widely integrate water and land use planning across the basin. The program currently operates in Colorado, Arizona, California, and along the US-MX border. 


The Program Manager is primarily responsible for managing projects within the GWS program from design to implementation to reporting. They work closely with two fellow Program Managers and the Director of the Growing Water Smart program to develop and execute a variety of additional duties. The Program Manager carries out education and outreach activities designed to promote community participation in GWS and elevate the program’s profile among local and state officials, land use planners, and water resource managers. Additionally, they participate in the design, marketing, organization, and facilitation of training workshops and provide planning and community engagement support to individual communities participating in GWS. The Program Manager participates in and presents at various meetings, conferences and other public venues and will be expected to contribute content to the Sonoran Institute’s peer network platform, social media, on-line resources, and various publications. This Program Manager position is tasked with leading the design and implementation of the Border Growing Water Smart program and will support program activities in other states. The Border Growing Water Smart training and assistance program has been in development for several years and has included research, convenings, and interviews around the needs and opportunities to better support water and land use integration and cross-border communication among sister cities along the US-Mexico border. 



Program Implementation - 70% of time

  • Serve as project manager for Growing Water Smart projects, as assigned, including managing project tasks and timelines, coordinating and leading project management meetings, and tracking grantor deliverables.
  • Organize, attend, present, moderate, or facilitate meetings, conference sessions, and workshop sessions.
  • Research and author reports, publications, articles, and presentations. 
  • Assist in the curriculum design of trainings and workshops.
  • Manage GWS online platforms such as websites, discussion forums, and Google. 

Program Management - 20% of time

  • Assist in the preparation and management of program/project budgets and funding proposals.
  • Develop and/or manage relationships with prospective, current, and past workshop attendees; outside agencies; consultants; partners; and funders.

Other - 10% of time

  • Respond to internal information requests from Sonoran Institute Executives, Development and Marketing, and Finance staff.
  • Communicate program activities to Sonoran Institute Board of Directors.


Decision Making

The Program Manager will be expected to demonstrate independent judgment in the conduct of assigned projects, using professional best practices and the principles of the Sonoran Institute as a foundation. Decisions impacting individual projects will frequently be the responsibility of the Program Manager while those impacting the activities and reputation of the Sonoran Institute may involve the Program Director or others in the organization. This position does not direct or supervise others.

Nature of supervision received

The Program Manager will receive direction and feedback from the Program Director on a weekly basis. In addition, the Program Manager may receive additional guidance from the Senior Director of Programs and Senior Adviser at the Sonoran Institute. Formal performance reviews will be conducted annually.

Representation and Public Contact

The Program Manager will typically interact in public and private settings with community decision makers and their staff and constituents. Contacts will also include community organizations and their representatives in both public and private meetings. They will deliver public presentations to represent work in which they are engaged, as well as the mission, vision, and overall work of the organization.


Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in natural or water resource management, public policy, environmental policy, sustainability, climate science, urban and regional planning, or related field
  • Three or more years of work experience in a related field with increasing levels of responsibility

Required Skills and Competencies

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, such as the ability to communicate complex ideas and information to a broad range of audiences.
  • Excellent program management skills, including ability to prioritize and balance multiple projects simultaneously. 
  • Proficient in reading, writing, and speaking Spanish (bilingual preferred).
  • Proficient in the principles of land use planning or water resource management.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office 365 programs.
  • Experience with website/digital/graphic design/video or other media tools.
  • Energetic, outgoing, flexible, creative, and a proactive problem solver.    
  • Current valid driver’s license.
  • Ability to work independently.
  • Ability to travel by car and plane in the United States.
  • Ability to occasionally travel overnight and work evenings or weekends, as needed.

Desired Skills and Competencies

  • Graduate degree in natural or water resource management, public policy, environmental policy, sustainability, climate science, urban and regional planning, or related field
  • Experience in facilitation and stakeholder engagement
  • Experience with designing education or training programs
  • Knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite, including InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop
  • Knowledge of GIS

Remote work: will consist of the employee’s own remote environment. Office work: The employee typically works in an office environment and uses a computer, telephone and other office equipment as needed to perform duties. The noise level in the work environment is typical of that of an office. Employee may encounter frequent interruptions throughout the workday. The employee is regularly required to sit, talk, or hear; frequently required to use repetitive hand motion, handle, or feel, and to stand, walk, reach, bend or lift up to 20 pounds.

Employees may be required to perform other related duties as assigned, to ensure workload coverage. Employees are required to follow any other job-related instructions and to perform any other job-related duties requested by their supervisor. This job description does NOT constitute an employment agreement between the employer and employee and is subject to change by the employer as the organizational needs and requirements of the job change.


As an organization that values equity and social justice, Sonoran Institute strives to be a place where all feel welcome, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or genetic information. We work to champion social justice initiatives and advocate for our community, and to continue to grow as an organization and as individuals. It is our diverse community that makes us who we are, and we stand against any and all discrimination, racism, and hatred.

Sonoran Institute is an equal opportunity employer and prohibits employment (be it as a volunteer or paid staff) discrimination based on race, color, sex, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion, veteran status, national origin, ancestry, or disability.

Geographic Location: Fully remote position physically located in Colorado or Arizona and the ability to travel for meetings and workshops. 

Salary: $50,253 - $72,218 annually (based on location and experience) 

Benefits Offered:

  • Health Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Life Insurance - Employer Paid
  • Long Term Disability - Employer Paid
  • 401K participation with employer match
  • Generous paid time off, starting at 20 days per year

 Sonoran Institute will begin reviewing applications on December 4, 2023. This posting will remain open until position is filled. 

Salary Description
$50,253-$72,218 based on location and experience