Water Policy & Organizing Manager

 Title:           Water Policy & Organizing Manager

Classification: Specialist II or Senior Manager

Location:    Sacramento Region preferred / hybrid

FTE:            100% FTE

Salary:        $67,000 – 75,000 annually

FLSA:         Exempt

Reports To:   Policy Director

Other details: Bilingual, non-required

Bilingual Pay Differential: Eligible


Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) is a 45-year-old California-based membership organization that includes family farmers and other community members passionate about local food, farming, and the environment. CAFF’s mission is to build sustainable food and farming systems through policy advocacy and on-the-ground programs that create more resilient family farms, communities and ecosystems. As a farmer-serving organization, we recognize the historic and lasting inequities in the California food and farming system. We believe farmers of color, and other historically oppressed people should have the opportunity to create and participate in a food and agriculture system that aligns with their needs, values, identities, knowledge systems, and communities. We commit to advancing racial, gender, and environmental justice in our larger systems, as well as in our own workplace. Currently, our programming is focused on four areas: Farm to Market, Policy & Advocacy, Farmer Services, and Ecological Farming. To learn more about CAFF, our history, and our core values, visit https://www.caff.org/about. 

As indicated by CAFF’s 2022 policy survey, access to reliable and affordable water is the second greatest challenge small and underserved farmers face, after access to land. This existing barrier, compounded by the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), climate change, and increased corporate investment pressure in California agriculture has put small-scale farmers in a nearly impossible position. To begin to address this challenge, in 2022 CAFF secured significant resources for a new program at the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to identify, engage, and educate small farmers around SGMA. 

Position Summary

CAFF seeks someone with expertise and interest in water, policy, relationship-building and organizing farmers towards collective change to serve as a new Water Policy & Organizing Manager; the position will help launch a significant new project to give small farmers greater voice in water policymaking. 

The interests of California’s family-scale farmers, particularly small and historically underserved, are often obscured by powerful interests. For 45 years CAFF has worked to act as a megaphone for these farmers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. In more recent years we have increased our attention on addressing sustainable water access and resilience needs through local, state, and federal policy in the form of crafting legislation, regulations, and engaging in implementing programs. 

The Water Policy & Organizing Manager will focus on uplifting the voices of small-scale farmers in SGMA conversations by organizing farmer engagement and managing projects focused on centering small-scale farmers in California water policy conversations at the state and local levels. This work will include local organizing and capacity building to educate farmers about the actions of their local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, and to involve farmers in this ongoing effort by DWR to achieve a statewide goal of ending groundwater overdraft by 2042. 

CAFF is the lead on the statewide SGMA and Small Farmer Technical Assistance project, working closely with UC ANR Small Farm Network, UC ANR GIS lab, and the UC Davis Law School, among others. We are seeking someone with strong multicultural leadership, project management, and facilitation skills with experience and a passion for California agriculture and water policy. Water Policy & Organizing Manager will act as a lead in conversations with local and state agencies and policymakers and frequently engage with farmers directly. This ideal candidate will demonstrate strong initiative and ability to dive into and navigate complex issues and partnerships; there are opportunities for advancement within CAFF for this position.

The ideal candidate is based in the Sacramento Region with semi-regular travel to other agricultural regions of the state, and opportunities to work from our Davis office as well as from home.

Major Duties and Responsibilities

Essential responsibilities include, but are not limited to: 

% Time Description

30%  – Water Program Management & Partner Coordination 

  • Grow and maintain expertise around California state water policy and impacts on smaller farmers
  • Build relationships with partner organizations, including agricultural, environmental, environmental justice and others around California water policy
  • Supervise regional part-time water policy & organizing contractors 
  • Support regular (quarterly, monthly, or weekly) team meetings with project partners, agency officials, and stakeholders

25% – Research Analysis & Writing

  • Collaborate with institutional research partners on project methodology development around identifying and mapping small farms in California
  • Collaborate with the Water Policy Director and with legal partners on water focused reports and updates on ongoing adjudication cases 

15% – Farmer Organizing & Engagement

  • Collaborate with Water Policy Director in developing an outreach and engagement plan in collaboration with UC ANR Small Farm Network
  • Identify, contract, and supervise outreach and engagement partners beyond the San Joaquin Valley
  • Help design and implement the CAFF policy platform by organizing and hosting farmer listening sessions, strategy workshops, & legislative farm tours
  • Establish and uphold relationships of accountability with farmers and connect them with resources and opportunities
  • Support district-level field visits between staff and CAFF farmer members and partners

15% – Policy Advocacy 

  • Cultivate relationships with key policymakers, staff, and agency officials 
  • Collaborate with the CAFF lobbyist on advocacy needs as they arise including reviewing, writing, and editing legislative language, attending hearings, providing testimony, writing position letters or public comments on behalf of CAFF and our members
  • Coordinate policy advocacy with active coalitions and networks on water-related legislation 
  • Educate key decision-makers around policies that impact small and underserved farmers
  • Develop written reports on relevant policy priority issue areas

10% – External Communications

  • Develop communications material shared with farmer members and partners, including social media, blogs, action alerts, and fact sheets. As well as website content development and maintenance
  • Collaborate with agency and partners organizations on outreach materials such as flyers, webpage development, and other public-facing documents 
  • Collaborate with CAFF communications staff to publicize findings and activities of the project, including posting on blogs, social media, and outreach to press

5% – General CAFF responsibilities This person will be an important member of CAFF’s Policy Team and work closely with all members of the team on various projects.

  • Participate in CAFF’s Policy Team meetings and work closely with all members of the team on various projects.
  • Participate in weekly all-staff meetings and annual all-staff gatherings and retreat
  • Represent CAFF by participating in community activities and events
  • Collaborate with CAFF staff on grant-writing, reporting, and fundraising
  • Participate in other administrative tasks as needed
  • Other duties as assigned 

We know it’s impossible to convey every single task for a particular job in one job description. Our hope is that as we work together, and your role evolves over time, we can adjust your job description accordingly.


Educational and Work Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree required; Higher degree or significant experience preferred
  • At least 5 years experience working in positions relevant to this job
  • Knowledge of California agricultural water policy is essential
  • Experience working with farmers in sustainable agriculture, or related fields preferred. However, more important than hands-in-the-dirt agricultural experience is a passion for food systems work and CAFF’s mission and values.
  • Valid driver’s license

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Strong attention to detail and accuracy
  • Strong organizational skills with an ability to handle competing demands
  • Effective written and oral English communication skills required; Spanish language proficiency is encouraged
  • Demonstrated ability to enhance and effectively deliver programs to diverse audiences through your understanding of self, language, culture, and community
  • Strong facilitation and listening skills, brings an ability to build trusting relationships with diverse community of stakeholders 
  • Ability to work independently and remotely
  • Strong computer skills, including above-average knowledge of Microsoft Office applications, Google Suite, and Wordpress or similar
  • Familiarity with and enthusiasm about social media platforms encouraged: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube
  • Willing and able to maintain strict confidentiality
  • Desired experience: Salesforce and Adobe Creative Cloud 

Physical Abilities

  • Ability to sit for long periods of time working at a computer.
  • Ability to lift up to 50 lbs.

CAFF’s policy is that all persons are entitled to equal employment opportunities regardless of race, color, religion, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation. We strongly encourage those from diverse backgrounds and from historically underserved communities to apply.

To apply:

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, and sample of your work that you feel is relevant to this position with the subject line “Water Policy & Organizing Manager” to jobs@caff.org by October 1, 2023. Reference requests will be made further along in the application process.