Assistant Director, Forest Carbon and Climate Program

Hiring Organization: Department of Forestry
Employment type: Full-Time
Application Due Date: May 31, 2024

Position description: The Department of Forestry at Michigan State University invites applications for a full-time, 12-month Academic Specialist focused on forests, carbon, and climate change to act as the Assistant Director of our Forest Carbon and Climate Change Program (FCCP). 

The successful candidate will lead strategic efforts to enhance the FCCP's impact and presence in positioning forest contribution to climate solutions, with a special focus on activities and projects in the United States and Canada.  This position is crucial for elevating FCCP's thought leadership, increasing internal coordination, and driving new development to expand and scale our work in the climate change sector both domestically and abroad.  The Assistant Director position reports directly to the FCCP Director.

The mission of the Forest Carbon and Climate Program (FCCP) is to meet the educational needs of professionals and the public on forest carbon and its relationship to mitigating climate change.  The position will consist of Teaching (5%), Curriculum Development (20%), Administration (25%), Research (20%), Outreach/Public Service (30%). MSU Forestry courses teaching is optional. This is a fixed-term position with annual renewals available depending on satisfactory performance and continued funding availability. The position is supported by MSU and a coalition of external partners from industry, conservation, and government. Some international/domestic travel may be available.

This role is a unique opportunity to shape an important and timely disciplinary intersection of forest management, conservation, forest products, and global climate change. The Assistant Director will:

Outreach/Public Service:

  • Represent FCCP at key conferences and engage in international consortia related to nature climate solutions
  • Build relationships with partners with a view to enhance donor-base
  • Support policymakers and natural resource decisionmakers
  • Encourage cross-collaboration and communication across FCCP and MSU, promoting thought leadership and innovation
  • Convene key staff to implement FCCP’s core values
  • Publish blogs/articles and host webinars to highlight FCCP's thought leaders externally


  • Pursue funding for program operations
  • Support implementation of the FCCP 2030 strategic plan, including cohesive service offerings and objectives
  • Contribute to Project Management Office (PMO) design and implementation, including establishing PMO strategy, and defining reports, procedures, processes and tools
  • Monitor and report on sponsored activities
  • Increase project management internal capacity and provide direct project support through mentorship, workshops and QA/QC for projects
  • Lead opportunity qualification, capture and pursuit for selected opportunities including through venture and spin-off developments
  • Develop a portfolio of projects under existing flagship initiatives with a focus on catalyzing investments into high-integrity nature climate solutions
  • Support capture through engagement in technical design and solutions
  • Expand and scale FCCP’s carbon and sustainable finance capabilities in target sectors and locations
  • Contribute to the increase of non-grant-related revenue

Curriculum development:

  • Develop and implement training and educational material for professionals focused on identifying opportunities and barriers to investment in nature climate solutions from different perspectives ranging from investors, buyers, regulators and project developers
  • Knowledge sharing and technical capacity building to ensure nature climate solutions reach their full potential in abating climate change through sustainable finance and carbon and biodiversity markets


  • Track science and policy in forest carbon and climate topics
  • Contribute to a research agenda in subjects including carbon finance, sustainable development impact, social and environmental safeguards and bioeconomy
  • Lead proposal development for specific projects
  • Collect and analyze data


  • Teaching non-credit courses
  • Potential for teaching for-credit courses as assigned

Required Qualifications: Master’s degree or earned PhD in forestry, natural resource management, environmental economics, environmental policy, or a related field.  Three to five years of demonstrated leadership in relevant research, private or public sector leadership, conservation, program or project management, or environmental education.  Excellent communication and leadership skills, with the ability to work collaboratively across diverse teams. Strong organizational, strategic planning and performance measurement abilities including project management system design and implementation of progress tracking and reporting.  Knowledge of foundational environmental science methods and outputs and a passion to learn, including tracking new developments in this evolving field.  Eagerness to interpret and translate research findings for diverse audiences, visualize and analyze data, and utilize cutting-edge software to help further an effective and vibrant Forest Carbon and Climate Program at MSU.

Preferred Qualifications:  Experience in climate change management, with a strong preference for experience with USAID, USDA, US Department of State and other federal agencies.  Proven success in thought leadership, project management, and new business development in the climate change sector.  Background in grant writing, publishing in academic journals and opinion pieces, community engagement, adult education, and/or teaching practitioners and professionals.  Knowledge of or experience in forest carbon project development, project financing, forest carbon baseline modeling, risk assessments, impact measurement and management, due diligence, and monitoring, reporting, and verification.  Proficient in using project management business intelligence software.

Location: This position has been identified as remote-friendly, meaning some or all of the duties can be performed remotely by mutual agreement. The FCCP is based at Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing, MI, USA.

Formally established in 1902, Michigan State’s Department of Forestry was among the first undergraduate forestry programs in the U.S. and is accredited by the Society of American Foresters. The Department is a vibrant, growing, internationally recognized unit committed to interdisciplinary education, research, and extension to understand and resolve environmental and natural resource issues.

Michigan State University (MSU) is one of the top research universities in the world and home to nationally ranked and recognized academic, residential college, and service-learning programs.  MSU is a diverse community of dedicated students and scholars, athletes and artists, and scientists that provide regional, national, and international leadership in basic and applied research and excellence in teaching.  In addition, consistent with its Land Grant origins, the MSU community pursues international engagement and provides strong extension programs that partner with diverse stakeholders to provide much needed research in the areas of food, energy, water and the environment. MSU enjoys a park‐like campus with outlying research facilities and natural areas.  The campus is located in the city of East Lansing, adjacent to the capital city of Lansing. The Lansing metropolitan area has a diverse population of >500,000.  Local communities have excellent school systems and place a high value on education.  The University is proactive about its obligations under the ADA and provides individual accessibility plans to students and employees with disabilities.  Michigan State University is also proactive in exploring opportunities for employment for dual career families, both inside and outside the University, and respects all family forms.  Information about MSU’s dual career support and other types of support for balancing work and personal lives at MSU can be found at

To Apply: For consideration, submit your application online at to position number 941452. Upload the following required documents: a) letter of interest that includes qualifications for the position; b) current curriculum vitae; and c) contact information for three professional references.  Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Application deadline: The search committee will begin reviewing applications immediately, and continue until a suitable candidate is selected. The position is targeted to begin in Summer 2024.  Questions regarding this position can be addressed to the Search Committee Chair: Daniel Ortega Pacheco, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA, email:


MSU is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving excellence through a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture that encourages all people to reach their full potential. We actively encourage applications from, and nominations of, women, persons of color, veterans, persons with disabilities and other individuals who can contribute to the intellectual diversity and cultural richness at Michigan State University. MSU is committed to providing a work environment that supports employees’ work and personal life and offers employment assistance to the spouse or partner of candidates for faculty and academic staff positions.