Senior Director of Programs

Job Type

Full Time




217 Water Street
Suite 300
New York
United States



The Waterfront Alliance is a civic organization that brings together a diverse coalition of more than 1,000 stakeholders with ties to our regional waterways. The organization’s mission is to inspire and enable resilient, revitalized, and accessible coastlines for all communities.

Waterfront Alliance is a leading advocate in the New York metropolitan region to reshape our harbor and the surrounding waterways into a shared resource for all, and to help our coastal communities prepare for the reality of sea level rise and the next big storm. After a decade of highlighting the urgent need to protect our coastal region from the risks posed by climate change and sea level rise, Waterfront Alliance has recently developed a new five-year strategic plan that, among other things, seeks to build broad consensus around our region’s most critical resiliency investments and policy changes. 

Resilience, access, and ecological enhancement are incorporated into every aspect of the Waterfront Alliance’s work, most notably through its flagship Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines (WEDG) program. Waterfront Alliance aims to shift the field of waterfront design, making WEDG the standard for sustainable waterfront development in New York City and expanding its use nationally. The organization also seeks to take an active leadership role in developing a consensus approach, and a large organizing campaign, for critical adaptation policies and infrastructure projects that demand the attention of, and cooperation amongst, City, State, and federal leaders. The annual Waterfront Conference, hosted by Waterfront Alliance, has become the region’s premier forum for discourse between grassroots advocates and policy makers about our region’s waterways, and attracts more than 600 civic and business leaders, academics, activists, and media.

In addition to WEDG, the Waterfront Alliance has developed tools to advance its mission to help citizens and community groups advocate for more access, cleaner water, and resilient neighborhoods. The Maritime Activation planning tool, offers strategic consulting and research to address infrastructure needs, feasibility, and benefits for waterfront open spaces. The Harbor Scorecard, a neighborhood-based assessment of waterfront access, water quality, and coastal flood risk, can be used as a community organizing tool to engage more neighborhoods to advocate for access and resiliency. 

Waterfront Alliance seeks a fulltime senior director of programs to provide leadership and vision for its programmatic work. The position is located at its office in lower Manhattan and reports to the president. 


Guided by the organization’s strategic plan, the senior director of programs is responsible for overseeing and managing Waterfront Alliance’s programmatic work, including sustaining or transitioning existing programs, along with developing new programs. Serving as a member of the senior leadership team, the senior director provides strong and effective leadership by defining programmatic expectations, and monitoring progress in achieving those expectations. Responsibilities include:

Provide direction and leadership for program staff of up to four, establishing internal structure and processes to meet objectives, including program tracking, and ensuring all programmatic work fits within the new strategic plan’s “resiliency lens” 

Working with WEDG program staff:

  • Provide leadership for WEDG Certification, including oversight of case studies and review of project certifications, and establish partnerships with professional organizations of national reach, developing a network to help disseminate WEDG beyond New York City
  • Provide leadership for WEDG Professionals, with oversight of a professional education program to establish WEDG as a go-to resource for coastal designers, developers, engineers, and among municipalities
  • Provide leadership for WEDG Neighborhoods, with outreach and collaboration at the community level to empower grassroots advocates to demand better waterfronts

Working with the policy associate:

  • Provide leadership toward development of content, structure, and strategies for annual Waterfront Conference, speaker series, and other related events and forums 
  • Provide leadership for policy research and political action campaign to identify and achieve consensus around our region’s most critical resilience and adaptation priorities, leveraging the Alliance’s broad reach to convene a multi-sector resilience task force for expert analysis of top coastal adaptation priorities 
  • Provide strategic guidance for updating Harbor Scorecard, an online index of water quality, resilience, and public access in New York’s community districts

Working with the director of education:

  • Provide oversight for the engagement of new clients for Maritime Activation planning consulting services, and production of research and reports
  • Provide leadership for Estuary Explorers environmental education curriculum development, offering multiple and age-appropriate modules
  • Working with other program staff:
  • Provide leadership for the Waterfront Alliance’s key partnership role in the outreach and planning for New York City’s 2021 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, and oversee leadership of associated task forces in related issue areas

Working with senior management:

  • Execute thought-leader positioning through educational webinars, articles, conference presentations, lunch & learns, and other methods; serve as an organizational spokesperson through media and public speaking
  • Establish benchmarks and metrics to evaluate staff and organizational program performance per the strategic plan
  • Support government, foundation, and corporate funding activities, including representing the organization at donor meetings
  • Support the president and COO in setting the annual budget, identifying new philanthropic funding sources with programmatic alignment, and developing earned income streams for programs

Desired Skills and Experiences

  • Eight to ten years of professional experience is required; a graduate degree in a relevant field is preferred;
  • Direct experience in coastal resilience, environmental sustainability, urban planning and design, community engagement, public policy, and/or maritime issues; 
  • Ability to manage and lead projects, work well with people, and foster and facilitate collaboration;
  • Ability to work with both technical issues and a wide range of project partners;
  • Excellent people, oral, and written communication skills;
  • Ability to work independently and with a team, to prioritize competing activities, troubleshoot and offer solutions to problems and challenges;
  • Able to serve as a representative of Waterfront Alliance to Alliance Partners and others; 
  • Strong organizational skills and an attention to detail in order to set, manage, and deliver on multiple priorities;
  • Enthusiasm, sense of humor, and a positive attitude; and
  • Facility with mapping, design, and/or data management software is a plus.


Salary is commensurate with experience. Waterfront Alliance offers a full benefits package, including employer paid medical, dental, and vision insurance; life insurance; 401K retirement plan with employer match; and paid time off. 

Level of Language Proficiency


Professional Level

None specified

Minimum Education Required

No requirement

How To Apply

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, and two original writing samples to The subject should indicate “Senior Director of Programs.” Only complete applications will be considered. Position open until filled. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.