Winrock International is a nonprofit organization that works with people in the United States and around the world to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity, and sustain natural resources. This position can be based in Little Rock, AR or Arlington, VA
The Wallace Center at Winrock International is a national leader in sustainable and equitable food systems development that supports entrepreneurs and communities as they build a new, 21st century food system that is healthier for people, the environment, and the economy. To achieve this vision, the Center builds and strengthens linkages in the emerging chain of organizations, businesses and civic efforts focused on making good food-healthy, green, fair, and affordable food-an everyday reality in every community. The Wallace Center is a unit within the Enterprise and Agriculture Group of Winrock International and works across the United States on national level initiatives as well as regionally in partnership with other organizations. www.wallacecenter.org
The purpose of the Regional Food Economies initiative is to generate broad support for development of local and regional food as economic and community development strategy. Expanded investment into and favorable policy for this sector will foster thriving local food and farm enterprises that satisfy the demands of a growing customer base while remaining committed to triple-bottom-line values: sustaining the environment, regional economies, and healthy communities.
To do that, the Wallace Center’s Regional Food Economies team implements programing nationwide that helps sustainable food businesses effectively operate and grow to meet demand and achieve long-term viability. Key activities include:
•Coordinating a national network of food system stakeholders to facilitate trainings, disseminate best practices/knowledge/resources, and support peer- to-peer relationship building
•Building the case for regional food systems as an economic development strategy by engaging and coordinating efforts within and beyond the regional food sector
•Conducting research to produce key performance indicators and measure the growth, challenges, and opportunities within the sector
•Building the financial literacy and business acumen of farm and food businesses through financial management, operations, and organizational development training
•Improving risk mitigation strategies for growing businesses through food safety and quality assurance programs
•Engaging and educating the funding and finance community, including investors, bankers, philanthropy, federal programs, and other organizations that can provide the working capital necessary for growth; and
•Engaging and educating the wholesale buying community and final consumers to drive increasing market demand.
The Wallace Center is looking for an experienced regional food systems professional who is exceptionally talented at multi-tasking programmatic and administrative duties, and has the focus to handle complex and challenging responsibilities, including the ability to engage with a wide range of organizations and people. Strong interpersonal skills are necessary for this position, as the selected candidate will work independently as well as in teams.
As part of the Regional Food Economies team, Program Associate II will support the ongoing implementation and administration of two of the Wallace Center’s key programing areas:
• Building the Case: economic development, regional planning, public policy, development finance, public health
• Building Capacity: farm level food safety planning, GAP certification, regulatory compliance, small business development, food hub/food business operations
Technical experience to support one or both of the key initiative areas above is required, along with the desire and commitment to learn new technical skills in support of project objectives. Applicable qualifications include experience with:
Building the Case for Food Systems as Economic Development
• Implement a portfolio of projects aimed at engaging community and economic development stakeholders including regional planning organizations, economic development agencies, community development finance institutions, healthcare providers, and impact investors to support successful partnerships around food system development
• Support the development and administration of a Regional Food Economies Fellowship program identifying and raising the profile of leaders and innovators from within selected stakeholder groups, and work closely with each of the Fellows to support their fellowship project, monitor the findings of their work and identify potential cross functional collaboration with other Fellows and the larger National Good Food Network
• Facilitate a Regional Food Economies working group, and work with the Fellows to build outreach networks that allow for the dissemination of project findings, best practices, and future opportunities
• Support resource development, technical assistance, and outreach efforts necessary to build and communicate the case for regional food systems as a development strategy
• Support all communications facets of the development of the RFE narrative
• Represent the Wallace Center team at economic development conferences and stakeholder meetings and explore new potential partnerships.
Building the Case for Scale
• Coordinate a portfolio of training and technical assistance programs, with an emphasis on building the capacity of farms and food businesses to implement food safety Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and comply with the applicable requirements of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
• In addition to food safety and quality programs, assist in work pertaining to technical topic areas including financial management, business planning, food value chain management, aggregation and distribution, and buyer engagement
• Coordinate requests for information and program support around these technical areas, including assisting with outreach and networking with partners, grantees, and those interested in the Center’s work
• Represent Wallace Center at practitioner events, at state and national level conferences, and to stakeholder groups within and beyond regional food systems
• Support the launch and maintenance of an interactive online learning platform and resource library and provide support for onboarding of new users and troubleshoot challenges
• Research, collect and curate relevant materials, resources, publications and tools/toolkits.
• Provide support for the planning and execution of Wallace’s biannual National Good Food Network Conference as well as other off-site events and gatherings
• Assist with technical assistance management, tracking, and evaluation. Duties include drafting and processing agreements with partners, contractors, and consultants; working with recipients to ensure scope completion, deliverable submission, and timely payment of invoices; coordinating events and travel; and providing overall coordination to the awards management process
• Assist with logistics, operations, and time management, e.g. meeting and travel planning, coordinating complicated project schedules, timelines and deadlines
• Support the completion of progress reports and the processing of financial reports to funders, and help keep track of financial status of awards and overall program(s)
• Provide excellent and timely client service and support relationship management, appropriate conflict resolution, and help strengthen the Center’s wide network of allies and partners
• Assist with the development of new business opportunities including proposal management, technical approach, partnership development, and budgets
• Assist with development and implementation of networking strategies that build capacity among organizations and advance the mission of Wallace Center
• Perform other duties as necessary and/or assigned. Some local and out-of- state (US domestic) travel may be required.
EDUCATION : Minimum BS/BA in an applicable field including food systems, economics, public policy, food safety and microbiology, agriculture, rural or community development, environmental science or studies or policy, business, or related fields. Masters preferred.
EXPERIENCE : At least three-five (3-5) years of related experience. Desirable experience includes:
• Understanding of key issues in food systems and sustainable agriculture;
• Understanding of economic development theory and practice;
• Understanding of farm food safety and regulatory compliance;
• Ability to research an issue and share findings in an organized and clear manner;
• Outreach and communications with key stakeholders;
• Work with culturally diverse populations and communities.
• Demonstrated communication skills (written and oral) for training materials,
digital content, proposal preparation, public relations, and communicating with partners;
• Fluent in English for both writing and speaking;
• Outgoing and communicative by nature;
• Excellent interpersonal skills to work with internal and external clients and a wide range of stakeholders and demographics;
• Excellent organizational and information management skills with an attention to detail and accuracy;
• Takes initiative, self-starts, and self-directs while also working effectively in a team;
• Ability to meet deadlines and manage multiple concurrent tasks;
• Ability to quickly learn new policies and procedures, and to navigate the language of contracts and compliance;
• Cultural competency in communicating with a wide variety of stakeholders, ranging from national leaders in the field to grassroots organizations;
• Experience using Microsoft Office software, including Excel, Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint;
• Excited to learn new skills and grow professionally.