Food & Water Watch

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30+ days ago

Maryland Organizer

Food & Water Watch Washington, DC

Food & Water Watch is a national advocacy organization that runs dynamic, cutting edge organizing campaigns challenging the corporate control and…

8 hrs ago

New Jersey Field Organizer – new

Food & Water Watch New Brunswick, NJ

Since 2005 Food & Water Watch has advocated for common sense policies that will result in healthy, safe food and access to safe and affordable…

8 hrs ago

Baltimore Field Organizer – new

Food & Water Watch Baltimore, MD

Since 2005 Food & Water Watch has advocated for common sense policies that will result in healthy, safe food and access to safe and affordable…

Food & Water Watch Reviews

14 Reviews
14 Reviews
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Wenonah Hauter
7 Ratings

    Their heart is in the right place, but a strong look at how the organization is run is in order

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    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC

    I worked at Food & Water Watch full-time (more than 5 years)


    The pros of working for Food & Water Watch are many. First, the organization fully pays for its employees' health, dental, and vision insurance, and the employee pays nothing for it. Second, the amount of paid time off is very generous, with new employees' getting three weeks of vacation right out of the gate, and more later, along with personal and sick time. In addition, there are company-paid biweekly office happy hours, where beer, wine, and snacks are provided.


    The organization has a major problem with favoritism. Basically, if you work in the organizing or development departments, you are on top of the heap, and everything that you say is law. If you are outside of those areas, it is made quite clear by the actions of others that your roles are inferior to those of organizing and development. Those two areas also got the bulk of the training and professional development, while others were given little, if any. I found that this created a culture of resentment amongst the "non-favored" employees, which poisoned the well in terms of interdepartmental relationships. Organizing and development staff would continually deny this, while happily reaping the benefits of their favored status.

    Likewise, unless one is in the organizing or development departments, the likelihood of professional advancement is slim to none. While development and organizing staff are routinely promoted to ever increasing titles and roles, other staff rarely ever gets a raise beyond the annual raise that applies to everyone, and no promotions. In other words, if you were hired in as a researcher or other non-organizing/non-development position, that's likely all you are ever going to be there, and the only way to get professional advancement is to leave. In addition, the line between which employees get their own office and which staff has shared offices is not clearly drawn, resulting in two people who have identical roles in different areas' having very different office arrangements.

    Additionally, the organization is quite unwilling to give up the "small nonprofit" mindset, and continually wants to operate in that way, to its own detriment. Despite having grown from 10 or so people to well over 100 now, the organization still wants to act as though it's the small size. Any attempts to introduce structure to the processes of the organization would be routinely ignored by the organizing staff (the largest department), and would subsequently be tossed by the wayside. This should come as no surprise to anyone, as the organization was formed when a group of renegade employees at another organization split off to form their own organization because they didn't like the structure and process that the parent organization operated with. However, as the organization has grown, the lack of structure hindered productivity because there were no formal channels in order for things to be processed in an orderly manner. The attitude is very "anti-corporate", which leads to much inefficiency as they refuse to adopt any processes, policies, or procedures that will make them look "too corporate", despite such processes' working well.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I recommend that management take a good look at the way it operates. One thing I noticed over and over again is that planning is not one of the organization's strong points. Often times management will wait until the last minute to make requests or decisions, which leads to taking wrong actions that can solve the immediate problem without addressing the underlying issue, only to have it crop up again and again, i.e. doing something quickly at the last minute, vs. planning and preparation in order to make a good decision that addresses everything.

    In addition, the favoritism when it comes to organizing and development staff needs to go. Value everyone in the organization equally, not just the revenue-raising staff, and distribute credit equally. Recognize the whole team for victories, rather than framing a victory in the context of one or two organizing staff members. After all, the organizer in the field didn't do it alone. They had research staff, communications staff, administrative staff, and others helping to support what the organizer is doing.

    The highest levels of the orgainzation should separate the "public figurehead" roles from the management roles. It's fine to have the top staff members out on the road promoting the organization and writing books. But that sort of public figurehead role needs to be paired with a strong manager to run the organization day-to-day while the figurehead is out doing those more public roles. When one person has the role of public figurehead and manager, one of those roles is going to be neglected, and it's too often the management role.

    Lastly, structure the organization to facilitate more cooperation and indicate levels of authority. When I left, departments were only connected organizationally at the topmost level of the organization. Therefore, despite many departments' having to work together to achieve results, there was no management structure in place to facilitate this, but rather a number of silos. Within those silos, anyone with any amount of authority in their role got the word "director" in their title, which led to several layers of management with the same title, i.e. directors reporting to other directors, who in turn reported to other directors. In one case, there were "directors" four levels deep. Functionally, this led to a case of "too many chiefs" as many people acted as though they were the boss, despite having little authority in the organization. I would strongly recommend differentiating position titles based on level of authority, introducing terms such as "manager", "supervisor", "superintendent", etc. to achieve this.

    Doesn't Recommend
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