The City of Jacksonville, FL, is working to address the growing threat and disparate impacts of climate change that inequitably threaten residents’ health and well-being by using nature-based solutions like trees to help lessen Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects. The FUSE Executive Fellow will design and implement ordinances, policies, and strategic plans to increase urban forestry solutions that decrease UHI effects, creating a more livable, sustainable, and resilient city, especially for historically disinvested communities and vulnerable residents.
Fellowship Dates: October 23, 2023 – October 21, 2024
Salary: Executive Fellows are FUSE employees and receive an annual base salary of $80,000. Fellows can also access various health, dental, and vision insurance benefits. Compensation for this year of public service is not intended to represent market-rate compensation for the experienced professionals in our program.
ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP
FUSE is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.
When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and can effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.
Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. They receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE throughout their fellowships to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.
Across the country, climate change and urban heat island (UHI) effects are driving more frequent, more intense, and longer heat wave days, making it the number one weather-related killer in the USA today. The City of Jacksonville, FL, is already struggling to cope with record-breaking heat that threatens public health, infrastructure stability, and general quality of life and is expecting a 40% increase in the number of dangerous high-heat days in the next few decades.
Many of Jacksonville’s historically disinvested communities with a history of redlining bear the greatest burden of UHI impacts (e.g., BIPOC, children, and elderly populations experience higher mortality rates during extreme heat events). These communities face intersecting vulnerabilities, including racial discrimination, poverty, disability, housing insecurity, linguistic isolation, poor air quality, and more, which affect their ability to adapt, resist, or recover from climate impacts such as extreme heat.
Jacksonville is committed to addressing the growing heat threat and its disparate impacts on historically disinvested communities by identifying and understanding heat's impact on communities. In 2022, the city conducted an urban heat mapping study with a grant from NOAA in partnership with Kappa Strategies and the University of North Florida. The study revealed that temperature varies across the city by up to 12°F at any given time depending on variables such as green space, tree cover, median household income, and impervious surfaces, highlighting that social ability to adapt to heat is closely tied to a community’s socioeconomic status. The Mayor’s Office is now working urgently to adapt policies and programs that help mitigate UHI's effects on public health to help reduce future incidences of heat illness, heat stroke, and death.
Jacksonville will partner with FUSE to help design ordinances and strategies that use nature-based solutions like trees to help lessen UHI effects on vulnerable communities. The FUSE Executive Fellow will: research successful program models and strategies; conduct a landscape analysis of current urban forestry needs, UHI risk, and city agency policies and operations; facilitate engagement with community and city stakeholders; and create strategic recommendations for improving and implementing the Tree Mitigation ordinance and an Urban Tree Master Plan. This work will help protect Jacksonville’s communities from UHI effects, thereby creating a more livable, sustainable, and resilient city, especially for historically disinvested communities and vulnerable residents.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.
Beginning in October 2023, the FUSE Executive Fellow will work with Jacksonville’s Public Works and Parks Departments as well as community stakeholders to design and implement ordinances, policies, and strategic plans that will increase urban forestry solutions to decrease UHI effects, with an emphasis on vulnerable communities most impacted by high heat risk. Ultimately, this will contribute to the city’s goal of improving public health, protecting vulnerable populations, increasing urban resilience, and fostering community well-being.
The Executive Fellow will begin by conducting a rigorous landscape analysis and listening tour of city and community stakeholders to understand the extent, intensity, and variability of how tree cover and current city agency needs, practices, policies, and ordinances impact UHI effects in the community. Importantly, the Executive Fellow will center vulnerable communities in this process to prioritize high-risk, historically disinvested communities that are most impacted by heat effects. This will largely include neighborhoods like Downtown Jacksonville, which have high heat exposure, low adaptive capacity, and greater extreme heat needs due to decades of negative environmental and social impacts from historic redlining practices.
The Executive Fellow will research national models and best practices for UHI mitigation strategies using urban forestry. This may include extensively assessing the viability and potential impact of well-known mitigation strategies recommended by the EPA that use nature-based, urban forestry solutions such as increasing tree and vegetative cover, installing green roofs, and/or installing cool roofs.
The Executive Fellow will use the collected insights and information to develop: 1) an updated framework for the city’s Tree Mitigation Ordinance that will help streamline and facilitate greater use of the Tree Mitigation funds to plant more trees as well as maintain those projects into the future, and 2) an Urban Tree Master Plan that assists the Public Works and Parks Department to determine where increased tree plantings are necessary as well as offers practical, on the ground understanding of issues and challenges to urban tree planting, while tailoring citywide processes that help navigate the process. As time allows, the Executive Fellow will also work to develop an urban heat reduction plan for Downtown, including an incentive package for cool and green roofs, an improved heat warning system, and potential programs that work with employers who operate outdoors.
The Executive Fellow will also work to identify funding opportunities and facilitate community engagement and approval to ensure long-term program sustainability.
By October 2024, the Executive Fellow will have overseen the following:
In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in legislative policy development, stakeholder facilitation and engagement, climate resilience, and urban planning is strongly preferred for this project.
FUSE is an equal-opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.