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Principal Rails Developer

Job Description

Posted 4 months ago

Title: Principal Rails Developer

Reports to: Intelligence Director (Intel Metrics)

Position type, duration: Full-Time

Location: Remote, US

Exempt or Non-Exempt (Salaried or Hourly): Exempt

Compensation Range: $90k-$110k

Benefits: paid vacation, paid personal days, paid sick days, paid holidays, health benefits, access to 401k plan, flexible work week

Applications due: Sunday, January 17, 2021

Interviews: First 2 weeks in February 2021

Start Date: March 1, 2021


The Solutions Journalism Network, a growing national non-profit organization, is catalyzing critical reporting about responses to social problems. Solutions journalism provides a framework, grounded in journalistic ethics and informed by today’s professional challenges, that enables journalists to cover society more comprehensively, revealing possibilities for civic agency and connection.

In SJN’s seven years, solutions journalism has become a credible reporting practice recognized for driving meaningful impact in society.  Over 14,000 journalists have been exposed to our curriculum. More than 400 news organizations have engaged SJN to produce staff workshops, develop reporting projects, and consult on audience or community engagement activities.

Our web platform is central to our curriculum, network-building, and dissemination strategies. We have a searchable database of over 10,000 examples of solutions journalism from hundreds of news organizations (Solutions Story Tracker: We also have a suite of online courses to train journalists and educators in solutions reporting (Learning Lab:

Under the hood, we have a minimal stack comprised of a Ruby on Rails application (Rails 4; jQuery/SASS) with a PostgresSQL database, deployed via Heroku. We also utilize a few auxiliary services: AWS S3 for file uploads, Cloudinary for image hosting, Solr for search, Scout for system monitoring and Airbrake for exception monitoring. The application has a few other minor integrations as well, including with Google Analytics, Salesforce, Mailchimp, Click Pledge, and Rebrandly.

We’re at a point now where iterative testing has become part of our DNA. We are constantly improving our online products, launching new features or initiatives, and exploring new technologies to reach our core audiences of journalists, educators, other social impact organizations and networks, and a general audience of news consumers. We need a developer who can dream with us, building upon our existing web infrastructure.

Role Description:

We’re looking for an experienced, entrepreneurial Rails developer to serve as the key strategic leader for envisioning our website strategy. This is a vital operational role and a position requiring thoughtful decision-making and leadership.

As the sole developer on staff, the Principal Developer will work within the Data, Intel Analysis team, reporting to the Intelligence Director. They will work closely with the Director of Data Governance + Analysis, Operations Associates, the Database Manager and Data Architect to oversee, scale and improve SJN’s online infrastructure. 

The Principal Developer will also be responsible for building relationships with program/product managers across the entirety of the organization: to scope and prototype new features, to identify areas for improvement, and to design and lead projects of their own. 

The goal of this role? To ensure that SJN’s website (including our various online tools, resources, and larger products) continues to accurately represent the entirety of our work, engage our key audiences, and creatively explore new ways of connecting and communicating our mission.

As Principal Developer, you will:

  • Oversee the organization’s website management and development 
  • Write high-quality, high-performing and well-tested code; deploy code to production daily
  • Work with program/product managers to brainstorm solutions and scope out work plans
  • Proactively identify areas of improvement and address issues with our infrastructure
  • Manage contractors as needed
  • Develop solutions to scale our architecture and improve site performance
  • Maintain information security standards  
  • Understand SJN’s strategy and and prioritize development accordingly
  • You will play a key, central role within our operations team, and as the sole developer on staff, you will have daily support from and interaction with your colleagues in related administrative and data-related roles. More broadly, we envision you as an active member of the SJN team, building relationships across all sectors of the organization to inform your work.

    Does this sound like your calling? We hope so: We’re an energetic, ambitious, and fun bunch, and we want great people to join us. We need folks who know how to solve problems, with an appetite for experimentation and an appreciation for ambiguity. 

    Diversity and inclusion at SJN means a workplace where individual differences are recognized, appreciated, respected and responded to in ways that fully develop and utilize each person’s talents and strengths. Diversity of perspective, identity, and experience is important to us: We want to reflect and serve the whole of society. As a result we encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds to seek employment, and we make all employment decisions without regard to race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or any other factors protected by federal, state or local law. To request reasonable accommodation, contact Elizabeth Tompkins at [email protected]

    What we’re looking for:

    (What you can do:)

    • At least 5 years of professional work experience deploying Rails applications/applied experience with Rails at the intermediate to master level; enough end-end experience to call yourself a full-stack developer
    • Experience managing designers and developers. Project management experience as a developer in a startup or nonprofit setting 
    • Up-to-date knowledge of and significant exposure to jQuery/SASS, PostgreSQL, AWS, Heroku, Git, third-party APIs, Google Analytics, and mobile web development 
    • Communication skills: must enjoy engaging with both technical and non-technical staff. Ability to manage internal expectations, balancing scope and timelines; convey complex technical concepts to people of varying technical knowledge; and translate ideas and requests into a tangible work plan. 
    • Familiarity with and adherence to web standards and best practices for load time reduction and accessibility
    • Familiarity with modern web and application development practices such as test-driven development, don’t repeat yourself (DRY) frameworks, debugging and unit testing frameworks, data modeling, design patterns, clean code and a focus on quality and scale 
    • Focus on equity and sustainability: exhibit leadership and attention to detail in crafting solutions that will provide our organization with strong bones for future growth
    • (Who you are:)

      • Enthusiastic. You believe in what you’re doing and want to do it well. You’re a highly motivated, adaptable and passionate learner with a strong work ethic and a lot of curiosity. You’re passionate about SJN’s mission.

      • Communicative Collaborative. We’re a highly collaborative organization; everyone wears multiple hats, acts like an owner, and contributes ideas. This role requires comfort managing up as well as preparedness to work diplomatically with many individuals on distinct projects. You are kind, compassionate and courteous.

      • Adaptable. We need people who can navigate the rapidly-evolving terrain of our work and reshuffle staff needs and priorities on the fly. You can navigate uncertainty and allow space to dream without diving immediately into the technical aspects. 

      • Adept. You pride yourself on your ability to build solutions in Rails.

      • Organized. Strong project management skills and excellent follow-through ability; you can manage multiple tasks and people with strong attention to detail. 

      • Analytical. We’re big on testing, optimizing and learning from the past. You can think through all the factors that might affect a given situation. You figure out how all the pieces can be arranged for maximum productivity. 

      • Solutions-Focused. You have a solutions-oriented mindset. You ask questions to better understand before suggesting a solution and help come up with solutions if the proposed build is not possible.

        Won’t you join us?

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Bremen, HB, DE Location

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