The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a national nonprofit working to reverse today’s extreme levels of corporate concentration and advance policies to rebuild the economic capacity of local communities. We use in-depth research, reporting, and data analysis to produce influential reports and articles. Our work illuminates the public policy decisions that have fueled concentration and shows how we can change the rules to create a more equitable and democratic future. Our analysis is frequently featured in national news media and sought out by policymakers. We work closely with a broad range of allies to move these ideas and policies.

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Research and Policy Associate

Location: Remote (US), some travel
Job Type: Full-time
Salary:  $56,920  – $61,020, depending on experience

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is seeking a Research and Policy Associate to join our Composting for Community (C4C) Initiative team to specifically support and help us amplify our policy and advocacy work that stretches from the local to the federal level. We are a dynamic and friendly team dedicated to making the world a better place.

The C4C Initiative is advancing composting in order to cut food loss, enhance soils, protect the climate, and advance equity and community prosperity while fighting concentrated corporate power in the waste sector. Expanding composting is an effective and immediate strategy for cutting methane emissions from landfills and sequestering carbon in soil. Further, it is an integral part of moving toward a circular zero waste economy and replacing the burn-and-bury wasting paradigm which disproportionately harms communities of color. Our focus is to catalyze local and distributed composting options – home, community, and on-farm composting. Our projects include policy advocacy, training, and direct support to community composters. 

This position is for full-time employment. Our C4C team works remotely and is scattered across several states. We will accept applications from anywhere within the U.S. but those in or near the Mid-Atlantic region are strongly encouraged to apply. The ideal candidate will have a passion for learning, public interest work, engaging with partners, and researching and documenting equitable policy and programmatic solutions that benefit marginalized communities as well as farmers and other small and locally rooted businesses. 


What You’ll Do

The Composting for Community Research & Policy Associate will be responsible for supporting the C4C Initiative with an initial emphasis on research and advocacy of composting-related policies to combat the climate crisis. This position will collaborate with the team to develop and execute strategy and goals as well as track legislative and policy developments and identify opportunities to advance our ideas and policy goals. Specific responsibilities will include:

  • Researching, writing, and analyzing policies to support local composting (e.g. small-scale compost site permitting, soil health & compost, compost procurement)
  • Developing templates of model policies to facilitate replication 
  • Producing issue briefs and other written materials that illuminate issues and motivate action
  • Creating a roadmap for local governments and community composters to use in order to help center composting in local climate action plans, especially composting programs and enterprises rooted in and serving communities
  • Contributing to our Compost Policy Rules Library and Composting Policy Map and writing website posts
  • Developing an interactive suite of resources (online toolkit) to guide policymakers and advocates in advancing policies that grow local composting
  • Organizing a series of webinars featuring model policies (with help from the team)
  • Engaging with policymakers and advocates to execute calls-to-action as well support implementation of a range of model policies (with a focus on Maryland and other states in which we have opportunities to collaborate with policy advocates)
  • Other projects as assigned (these might include evaluating data collected via an annual community composter census and researching and analyzing data to support promotion of local composting over concentrated corporate power)


Who You Are & Keys to Success (the must-haves)

To be successful in this job, you will excel in the following areas: 

  • Strong communicator: Pride in providing clear, helpful information. Effective writing and speaking skills and comfortable with email communications. Able to synthesize and convey complex ideas and policies in a clear and compelling manner. Attention to detail. 
  • Comfort with research: Able to find out accurate information on a topic such as determining the qualitative and quantitative data needed, collecting and analyzing that data (including from multiple sources), making and interpreting findings, and possessing the ability to explain findings in a succinct and effective manner to others. 
  • Highly organized, motivated, and detail-oriented: Strong sense of ownership over goals. Able to juggle competing demands and prioritize without sacrificing quality. Flexible and able to adapt to shifting priorities. Scrupulously attentive to accuracy, detail, and nuance. Leave things better than you found them. 
  • Reliable and collaborative: Follow through on commitments. Welcome feedback and able to adapt to new ideas and priorities. Respect diverse cultures and working styles. Have exceptional interpersonal skills and a genuine enjoyment of collaboration.
  • Committed to racial equity and social justice: Recognize ways that race, income, and other identities intersect in shaping societal disparities. Interest in joining a team who are working to recognize how our own identities show up in the work, and welcome, reflect on, and act on feedback with an eye toward continuous learning about race, ability, and other lines of intersection.
  • Computer proficient and able to work remotely: Comfortable with computers with proficiency ideally in WordPress and Google Workspace (Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Drive, Calendar, Meet and more). Prepared to participate in virtual meetings and spend long hours on a computer. 

Experience with policy research and advocacy (including engaging with policymakers) and knowledge about the legislative process preferred but not required. Knowledge of waste, composting, farming, or other environmental policy issues is also a plus. 



Position includes 100% employer-paid health plan, generous vacation and holiday leave, and retirement contribution matching after two years. Salary is commensurate with experience. 

This is a grant funded position in which case employment after one year is contingent upon future funding. 

This is a bargaining unit position represented by OPEIU Local 12 with salary controlled by contract.


How to Apply

Please send a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and two professional references to Brenda Platt at Use the subject line “C4C Research & Policy Associate Application” when sending your materials.  We are accepting applications on a rolling basis until this position is filled. Check ILSR’s website for updated information.


What Else You Should Know

ILSR welcomes applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences. Black people; Indigenous people; people of color; women; people with disabilities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, and gender-nonconforming individuals; veterans; and formerly incarcerated individuals are strongly encouraged to apply. 

This position requires a stationary location to use a computer over long durations. The position could require travel 2-5 times per year. Reasonable software, hardware, and accommodations are available.


ILSR is an Equal Opportunity Employer

ILSR is committed to providing employees with a welcoming work environment free of discrimination and harassment. ILSR is an equal-opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or disability.