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Assistant Director of Special Initiatives


Help us act collectively.


Urban Green Lab is searching for a full-time Assistant Director of Special Initiatives to help us fulfill our mission of teaching communities how to live sustainably.

Urban Green Lab

We teach communities how to live sustainably. Founded in 2009, Urban Green Lab is working to make learning how to make more sustainable choices in Nashville, Tennessee, just a part of life. We organize, train, and connect people in classrooms, households, and workplaces – places where culture begins. Learn more about our story, people, and values here.

Our Educational Philosophy

We believe learning how to live sustainably should just be a part of life. That means it needs to be systemic and woven into the existing fabric of who we are. Learning how to make more sustainable choices should begin with thinking “upstream” about how we can protect what we care about most in all the places where we learn, work, and live. We think these spaces can serve as laboratories for learning, taking chances, and exploring our life-long responsibilities as stewards of the earth. To us, a little change goes a long way.

Job Summary

Urban Green Lab’s Assistant Director of Special Initiatives is a new position designed to help Nashvillians come together around critical issues of sustainability facing the city. Supervised by the Executive Director and in collaboration with the rest of the team, the Assistant Director will help lead one or more initiatives that unite experts, partners, and stakeholders yearly around a particular issue, identify needs for new systemic learning opportunities, and oversee development of special educational projects. The position is full-time, exempt, and based in Nashville.

Unlike Urban Green Lab’s Classrooms, Households, and Workplaces divisions, which focus more on specific spaces, special initiatives drive conversations around single issues of consequence to the city’s climate and sustainability goals. Right now, Urban Green Lab leads two special initiatives: The first is the Nashville Food Waste Initiative, a partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Law Institute which organizes, trains, and connects people around reducing wasted food where we learn, work, and live.

Our second special initiative is the Nashville Environmental Justice Initiative, a partnership with Tennessee State University and others meant to also organize, train, and connect people around environmental and climate equity, with a focus on health disparities. Both initiatives are meant to raise general consciousness of these issues, listen to perspectives, and ultimately, figure out how we can systemically teach about them so people can take meaningful action. While these are our current initiatives, there could be others in place of or addition to them down the line.

Key Responsibilities

  • Partnership Development: Lead advisory committees for the special initiatives, which includes setting meeting agendas, identifying needs, welcoming inclusive relationships, facilitating dialogue and connections, inviting speakers to present best practices, centralizing data and research, disseminating helpful resources, and creating an overall cohort for exploration and exchange of ideas. Keep advisors on target for outcomes and execute deliverables between meetings, and up to date on related news and reports.
  • Education Integration: Collaborate with other citywide stakeholders as well as managers in Urban Green Lab’s Classrooms, Households, and Workplaces divisions to help them better integrate special initiative topics (like food waste and environmental justice) into their existing frontline educational programs. Help research credible resources to reference in their work, including guidance for how best to teach those particular issues. Work closely with Communications to shape key messages and spotlight the work of special initiative champions.
  • Special Projects: With advisement from the advisory committees, lead execution of events (like the James Beard Foundation food scrap cooking competition) and occasional educational projects related to the special initiatives (like community listening sessions for environmental justice) that go beyond the normal scope of the other divisions. Hire necessary vendors, experts, and partners, and oversee their work. Report outcomes to Urban Green Lab and the advisory committees.
  • Advancing Policy: Represent Urban Green Lab in higher-level meetings with policymakers, donors, and other community leaders to advance our educational agenda around the initiatives at the city level. Work closely with Metro Nashville Government officials (such as the chief of sustainability for the Mayor’s Office) and share insight in discussions that advance citywide climate and sustainability goals related to the initiatives.
  • Connecting Cities: Share best practices around Urban Green Lab’s special initiatives with peer cities (such as through the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Food Matters cohorts). Listen and learn how other cities tackle similar issues, and bring lessons home for Nashville. Work with Communications to share our own lessons learned through templates or models for other cities. Attend or present at conferences and grow partners abroad.
  • Everything Else: Work closely with Development to sustain and grow outstanding funding relationships for the organization through Urban Green Lab’s integration of special initiative topics into all our programs. Keep clean data and report regularly. Maintain the special initiatives portion of the strategic plan. Attend regular team or organizational meetings, and generally represent the organization in the community. Other duties as assigned.

Personal Attributes 

  • Passionately committed to Urban Green Lab’s mission and values
  • Entrepreneurial and goal-orientated with a keen sense for innovation
  • Proactive, dependable, and on-time – a team player to the core
  • Diplomatic with excellent community relations and listening skills
  • Positive and flexible with intellectual curiosity and ability to adjust to change
  • Inclusive and empathetic with an understanding of what it means to be equitable
  • Humble and gracious under pressure with a high sense of integrity and humor 

Experience & Knowledge

We’re searching for someone who has the following ideal experience and skills:

  • At least 3-5 years of professional experience
  • Outstanding executive skills and attention to detail
  • Experience leading and organizing groups of diverse stakeholders
  • Great sense for relationship-building with strategic partners and donors
  • Proven record managing complex projects with multiple long-term outcomes
  • Understanding of Nashville sustainability issues, especially waste, climate, and EJ
  • Facilitation skills and the ability to drive group talk toward results
  • Excellent, clear writing skills and public speaking ability
  • An educational or training background is a plus

Salary & Benefits

This is a full-time, exempt position with a salary in the $57,000–$60,000 range. Exactly where a prospective employee will be paid within this range will depend on, among other factors, the candidate’s depth of experience and qualifications and the level of specialization the candidate has. Urban Green Lab reserves the right to adjust the title and salary range depending on the level of expertise of the candidate. Benefits include health insurance allowance (medical, dental, and vision), 408p match, cell phone stipend, team volunteering and service hours, professional development opportunities, 27 days of paid time off (which includes holidays of your choice and excludes sick leave), and 90 days of parental leave.

How to Apply

Please email your cover letter and resume to Noah Spiegel, Sr. Director of Operations, at careers@urbangreenlab.orgCombine all documents into one PDF file with your full name as the file name and write “Assistant Director of Special Initiatives” in the email subject line. Incomplete submissions and follow-up inquiries will not be considered. Only applicants selected for consideration will be contacted. Applications are accepted until the position is filled. All correspondence is confidential. Background check required.

Work Environment

Urban Green Lab enjoys a flexible work-life balance and all staff are responsible for managing their own schedules during the week. Staff are expected to spend reasonable time with the team at our Marathon Village office and partners in the community. Reasonable accommodations may be made for individuals with disabilities. The employee is regularly required to sit, stand, walk, talk, listen and feel, reach hands above the shoulder, occasionally stoop or crouch, and lift or move items weighing 10-25 pounds.

Equal Opportunity

Urban Green Lab is fully committed to Equal Employment Opportunity and to attracting, retaining, developing, and promoting the most qualified employees without regard to their race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, citizenship status, veteran status, or any other characteristic prohibited by state or local law. Urban Green Lab welcomes applicants from a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, abilities, and ideas.


This job description is not necessarily an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, skills, requirements, or conditions. While intended to be accurate, it is not meant to exclude that other, different tasks may be required when circumstances change (such as during emergencies, personnel changes, workload alterations, rush jobs, or technological developments or advancements).

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