The Meridian Institute Project Associate Position & Fellowship Program

Dec 15, 2021 • Views -

Sponsored by Meridian Institute

The Meridian Institute Project Associate Position & Fellowship Program provides an opportunity for early-career professionals to contribute to Meridian’s mission to help people collaborate to solve complex problems, make informed decisions, and implement solutions that improve lives, the environment, and the economy. Project Associate Fellows are embedded in project teams and engaged in varied and highly complex issues, learn about multi-party collaborative problem solving from experienced facilitators, and work directly with leaders from diverse sectors and interest groups. The Fellowship is a two-year, full-time position assigned to Meridian’s Dillon, CO, or Washington, DC offices. Project Associate Fellows who are selected will begin work in June 2022 or earlier. 

About Meridian Institute 

Meridian Institute is a mission-driven, non-profit organization that has helped our clients and partners develop and implement solutions to complicated, often controversial problems—big and small, global and local—for over two decades.  

We do this with an innovative approach that brings together three elements: our deep understanding of the issues at hand, as well as the people, politics, and power dynamics that surround them; our dedicated, expert team; and our ability to foster constructive discussions, manage decisions, and support actions that shape the world for the better. We work not only to shape meaningful consensus and action in the near term but also to build our partners’ capacity for cooperation that often continues for years, even decades. 

We focus on five key services: collaboration, implementation, strategy, research, and philanthropic support. We bring our skills to bear on a diverse range of issues, including environment & natural resources, climate change, agriculture & food systems, forests, health, oceans & coasts, resilience,  science & technology, water, and the application of “big data” and machine learning to solve societal challenges. Across issues, boundaries, and systems, our work is a catalyst for powerful impact. 

Effective collaborative decision-making requires the inclusion of different perspectives and involves bringing together participants with diverse backgrounds. As an organization, we seek staff that reflects and values that same diversity and has experience working in multicultural settings. 

For more information about Meridian and specific projects, please visit https://merid.org/

About the Position 

Meridian Project Associates typically work on several project teams focused on various topics over the course of their time at Meridian. Projects range from one-month efforts focused on facilitating a single meeting to multi-year projects where Meridian oversees the development, design, and implementation of an ongoing collaborative initiative. Project Associates contribute to research, writing, project management, and other types of support to teams. They can be responsible for a wide range of duties, which differ depending on the project team assignments as well as the individual’s skillsets and interests. The typical areas of responsibility include:  

  • Take detailed notes for internal and external video conferences and meetings in order to document the range of perspectives, capture key points and next steps, and draft meeting summaries.  
  • Draft various types of documents including meeting summaries, research reports, surveys,  interview synthesis and takeaways, press releases, letters, slide decks, and more. 
  • Conduct research, including tracking public policy developments, preparing literature reviews, identifying stakeholders, and gathering background information to support project teams in a variety of ways.  
  • Participate in and document interviews or otherwise engage participants in Meridian processes, including leaders of the private, non-profit, and government sectors.  
  • Assist in planning regional, national, and international projects and meetings. 
  • Support the preparation of grant proposals and grant reports, helping project teams effectively liaise with funders.  
  • Provide administrative support for client-funded and inter-organizational project teams including, but not limited to attending and supporting domestic and/or international meetings, maintaining spreadsheets, including grant tracking spreadsheets and databases, and maintaining websites. 

At Meridian Institute, we believe that we must do all that we can to protect the safety, health, and well-being of employees, clients, guests, our communities, and others with whom we interact. Therefore, all offers of employment in the U.S. where legally permitted are contingent on the candidate showing proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to pass the pre-employment requirements. In circumstances where an applicant communicates that they are not able to be vaccinated for COVID-19 because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance or because of a disability, then Meridian, in accordance with applicable law, will engage in the interactive process to determine if a reasonable accommodation is feasible that will not pose an undue hardship or create a  direct threat to safety. 

Eligibility Requirements 

Due to the nature and intent of the fellowship program, we do not accept applicants with degrees beyond a bachelor’s, nor do we accept those who are currently pursuing graduate studies. Additional eligibility criteria include:

  • Full professional proficiency or higher in English 
  • Legally able to work in the United States without visa support/sponsorship
  • Have completed a bachelor’s or expect to complete a bachelor’s degree by May of 2022

Characteristics of Meridian Project Associate Fellows 

REQUIRED CHARACTERISTICS—Successful applicants must have: 

  • Experience with qualitative and/or quantitative research.  
  • Strong attention to detail, copy-editing, and note-taking skills.   
  • Ability to handle multiple tasks at once, manage time effectively, and receive and balance direction from multiple Project Directors.   
  • Passion for the issues and work that Meridian is involved in, ability and willingness to learn, and ability to work independently and be self-motivated.   
  • Experience and enthusiasm for effectively working as part of a team.  Ability to work with people from culturally diverse backgrounds.   
  • Proficiency with Microsoft O365 (Word, Excel, Outlook, Teams, SharePoint, OneNote, PowerPoint) and other commonly used computer programs and technology, such as social media, as well as the ability to learn and deploy new and evolving technologies and tools. 

DESIRED CHARACTERISTICS- Preference will be given to candidates with the following characteristics: 

  • Interest or experience in collaborative decision-making, facilitation, or mediation. 
  • Experience with detailed notetaking, drafting meeting summaries, documenting interviews conducting surveys, researching, and assembling background materials, and providing meeting and logistical support. 
  • Basic understanding of the institutional and political context in which public policies are deliberated. 
  • Substantive experience in Meridian topic areas. 
  • Experience with virtual collaboration tools, including Zoom, visual collaboration (e.g., Mural,  Miro), and polling (e.g., Poll Everywhere). 
  • Online communications skills including experience with social media, managing website content in WordPress, and facility with platforms such as Twitter and MailChimp. 
  • Skills in graphic design for multiple platforms (web design, infographic creation, etc.),  including the ability to create and develop visual responses to communication problems using knowledge of aesthetics and composition to construct meaningful images. 
  • Advanced technology competencies (e.g., qualitative research methods such as survey development and coding, template development, and database management). 
  • Experience in multicultural and/or international settings.
  • Language skills at a full professional level in French and/or Spanish. 

Structure of the Ruckelshaus Fellowship 

The Ruckelshaus Fellowship will begin by June 2022 and is a two-year position, contingent upon the performance and needs of the organization. Meridian hires Project Associate Fellows to support projects on a variety of substantive topic areas. Past Project Associates have been involved in work with global and domestic agriculture and food security, climate change, water management, and community and global resilience, among other topics

The Meridian Ruckelshaus Fellowship offers opportunities for personal and professional development. By working in an active, exciting, and dynamic professional environment, Meridian Fellows can expect to: 

  • Develop the ability to think critically about complex issues and analyze participant interests and process dynamics. 
  • Help identify and learn to respond appropriately to concerns and problems that can arise in complex and challenging collaborative processes. 
  • Actively manage numerous tasks toward the completion of a project. 
  • Improve writing, research, and communication skills. 
  • Work under the guidance of experienced facilitators and mediators. 

Meridian Project Associate Fellows gain these skills through a combination of the projects they support and targeted professional development activities. Project Associate Fellows may work on a variety of different projects or support one or two larger projects throughout their fellowship. Project Associate Fellows spend approximately 72% of their time on project tasks, 8% on internal and administrative work,  and 10% on fellowship activities. The Fellowship program includes monthly calls with the Fellowship Director, monthly Fellows cohort calls, regular conversations with a peer mentor, an annual Project Associate Fellows Retreat, networking opportunities, an alumni network, and approximately 30 hours/year on professional development activities to help Fellows refine their career goals. Periodic reviews of the Fellow’s performance and professional goals will help ensure they are getting opportunities to grow. Fellows are encouraged to explore a variety of post-fellowship career choices,  including graduate school and employment with other organizations. 

Compensation and Benefits 

First-year Fellows are offered a salary of $45,450 per year in a non-exempt position ($21.86 per hour) and are eligible for overtime compensation. In the second year, Fellows receive set increases to account for growth and development within the program. Meridian offers an excellent benefits package including health, dental, and vision insurance; employer contributions to a 401(k) plan; and vacation, sick, and holidays (alternative holidays available upon request and approval). In addition, Fellows are provided with a stipend of up to $500 to support relocation expenses and are issued laptops and mobile phones in conjunction with employment. Washington, DC-based Fellows are provided reimbursement of costs incurred by using public transit to commute to work. 

How to Apply 

Completed applications are due by 10 pm EST on Monday, January 17, 2022. 

Apply using the Meridian Institute applicant portal. For the best experience, we recommend opening the applicant portal in either Chrome (version 30+), Safari (7+), Firefox (27+), or Microsoft Edge. 

After registering your account and logging into the applicant portal, you will be directed to provide  additional information related to your application and upload the following materials: 

  1. Cover Letter – 1 page 

Drawing from your personal, professional, and academic experiences, please explain how you hope to contribute to Meridian as a Fellow and what you hope to gain from this opportunity. 

  1. Essay – 1 page 

Meridian works on a variety of social and environmental policy issues including agriculture  & food systems, climate change, environment & natural resources, forests, health, oceans &  coasts, resilience, science & technology, and water. Briefly describe a critical public policy issue facing society today and suggest how a collaborative process could be effective in helping address that issue. If applicable, include details about which parties should be engaged and what challenges might be faced in trying to bring them together. 

  1. Resume – 1 page 

Detail relevant education, training, experiences, and accomplishments. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the application process can be found here. Please direct any additional questions about the Fellowship to Jennifer Brassanini (j[email protected]). 

Equal Opportunity Employment 

Meridian recognizes that our work is made stronger and more impactful by the contributions of diverse groups from around the world. At Meridian, we welcome people from all backgrounds and do not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity,  disability, national origin, creed, class, ancestry, or other grounds. 

Meridian Institute is a participating employer in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security program, E verify. 

© Victoria Johnson / ProFellow, LLC 2021, all rights reserved