U.S. Policy Director, Food and Agriculture

Location: Washington, DC

Who We Are

The Breakthrough Institute (BTI) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that seeks innovative solutions to environmental and human development challenges in pursuit of a secure, healthier, and more prosperous future. BTI fosters a culture of aspirational, disruptive, and yet evidence-based thinking, and mission-driven, pragmatic problem solving. In our 15+ year history, we have shaped how policymakers, environmental groups, and other thought leaders view climate change, nuclear power, agricultural innovation, international energy development, and other key issues.

The Opportunity

Breakthrough Institute is seeking a US Policy Director of Food and Agriculture to join our growing team. Our Food and Agriculture program researches and advocates for ways to raise agricultural productivity and reduce the food system’s carbon footprint while mitigating other environmental impacts. You will be in charge of developing and advocating for the Food and Agriculture program’s US policy priorities and positions. You will also participate in setting our research agenda, promoting our research and analysis, and representing BTI to various stakeholders in Washington, DC and around the country.

Applications will be accepted and reviewed on an ongoing basis until filled.

Key Responsibilities

  • Supervise and manage the work of the US Food & Agriculture policy team.
  • Collaborate with the program director to set policy priorities.
  • Build and own a strategy to advance BTI’s policy priorities and positions.
  • Ensure alignment between BTI’s food and agriculture publications and US policy strategy.
  • Initiate and develop policy-focused partnerships with other NGO organizations, trade associations, corporations, and influential individuals.
  • Represent BTI in high-profile venues such as by giving oral testimony before the executive and legislative branches of government, speaking at conferences, and contributing to key national committees or coalitions.
  • Oversee development of comments, petitions, letters, legislative requests, and other documents to federal agencies and Congress.
  • Develop and manage contracts with government affairs firms and subgrants with other US policy nonprofits.
  • Establish and cultivate relationships with high-level policymakers including Members of Congress, senior committee staff, and government officials (including USDA).
  • Other duties, as necessary, to maximize the program’s impact on US policy.


Our ideal US Policy Director believes deeply in our mission and has:

  • 10+ years of experience working in Congress, USDA, an NGO, or a company working on developing or implementing national policy.
  • Substantive knowledge about domestic policy issues involving innovation, productivity growth, and/or environmental sustainability within agriculture.
  • Substantial experience communicating with legislators or agency staff on complex issues with budgetary implications.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop advocacy campaigns and achieve results.
  • Experience leading high-performing teams.
  • Flexibility. You work comfortably in a rapid-response and fluid environment.

Job Conditions

  • This is a full-time, exempt position in Washington, D.C., with hybrid virtual and in-person work arrangements. A minimum of 3 days of in-office work is expected, consistent with public health conditions.
  • This position requires approximately 2-4 domestic trips per year, with additional travel optional.
  • Some evening or weekend time may be required depending on events and other job-related work outside of the office.
  • All employees must receive the full course of vaccinations and boosters for COVID-19.

Compensation + Benefits + Perks

Breakthrough Institute is committed to providing competitive compensation and comprehensive benefits to our employees. The salary range for this position is $121,000 to 170,000.

Employees enjoy:

  • Excellent medical coverage: 90% of medical and dental coverage for you + spouse + dependents; Optional health and dependent care FSA programs
  • Retirement plan contributions: 3% Safe Harbor contribution made to your 403b by Breakthrough annually, regardless of employee contribution
  • General vacation time: 3-5 weeks of paid vacation days, depending on tenure at Breakthrough
  • 11 company-wide holidays, as well as election day off if it falls on a workday, and your birthday off
  • Two weeks of sick leave
  • Generous paid parental leave
  • A hybrid work schedule where employees can work from home two days a week
  • Reimbursements for cell phone, commuting, and home office expenses
  • Annual professional development stipends

Application Instructions

We encourage you to submit materials as soon as possible, as we will interview and hire on a near-term rolling basis.

Please submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to jobs[at]thebreakthrough.org. Please do not submit your application through alternate job sites.

  • Your email subject should say: <Your Name>: <Job Title>.
  • Your email should state how you heard about this position.
  • Your cover letter should reflect on Breakthrough’s work and how you could contribute.
  • We prefer writing samples that discuss and analyze legislation, regulations, or federal programs (such as comments to agencies or memos analyzing proposed legislation) or that set forth strategies to influence legislative or executive priorities.

Breakthrough does not shy away from contentious domestic and international political issues and from advocating for equity, justice, democracy, and human rights. We welcome candidates who bring varied experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds, and who are eager to learn about many ways of viewing the world. Our goal is to create a community that is rich with cultural, social, and intellectual diversity.