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2 Aug 2017

Full-Time Executive Director, Southwest, Regional Sustainable Development Partnership

University of Minnesota Extension – Posted by Willmar, Minnesota, United States

Job Description

Title: Executive Director, Southwest, Regional Sustainable Development Partnership

Appointment: Community Relations Outreach Specialist,  100% Annual Renewable, Full benefits eligibility

Application Deadline: August 21, 2017; Initial application screening will take place immediately after this date.  Position will remain open until filled.

Location: To be determined by date of hire (Morris, Willmar or Marshall) 


About Extension:

University of Minnesota Extension is a major outreach arm of the University of Minnesota, a land grant institution with a mission to serve the public through applied research and education. The mission of the University of Minnesota is:  Making a difference by connecting community needs and University resources to address critical issues in Minnesota.



The University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships are a multi-college program of the University formed by the Minnesota Legislature in 1997.  The Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (SW RSDP) is led by a Board composed of community leaders and University of Minnesota faculty.  The community member-driven Board solicits and identifies innovative research, education, and outreach projects aimed at improving economic, social, and environmental sustainability of Southwest Minnesota. The staff and Board link University faculty, students and other resources to the emerging and approved projects.  Operating policies and statewide projects are coordinated among the five Partnerships by a Statewide Coordinating Committee composed of staff and community members from each RSDP Region, and representatives of three Partnership colleges.


The Regional Partnerships work in four focus areas:

  • Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • Natural Resources
  • Clean Energy
  • Resilient Communities and Sustainable Tourism



The Executive Director supports the SW RSDP Board of Directors and its research, education, and outreach projects.  The Executive Director must have an understanding of university-based research, education, and outreach processes; a basic knowledge of agriculture, natural resources, tourism and/or sustainable development; an ability to lead a process of shared decision-making between local community members and University faculty; and community engagement skills that build partnerships. This person must also have excellent communication skills and the managerial skills needed to oversee several projects at one time.  The Director must be a catalyst and team builder who supports the University’s community engagement mission.  The primary geographic area served is Southwest region of Minnesota.



  • Foster teamwork that builds a partnership between the Board, community members in Southwest Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota.
  • Strengthen and increase the presence of the University of Minnesota in Greater Minnesota communities
  • Work as a team member with the Extension Regional Directors in Southwest Minnesota to build programmatic and community based synergies in research, education, and outreach.
  • Builds Extension and UM campus relationship, including connecting students and faculty to community based projects and groups. This includes working with the UM Morris campus, the Research and Outreach Centers and other U of M units located within the region.
  • Work with the community member-faculty Board, businesses, organizations, and agencies to convene and identify issues and opportunities to improve the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of Southwest Minnesota, in the RSDP’s four Focus Areas.
  • Work with local stakeholders and University faculty to strategically design, implement and evaluate sustainable development research, education and outreach projects. Provide assistance to communities in identifying and developing projects for consideration by the SW RSDP board and workgroups.
  • Identify and recruit University faculty, system-wide, and other expertise to conduct research, education, and outreach projects recommended by the Board and workgroups.
  • Provide administrative support to carry out the Partnership’s work: supervise students and staff, develop contracts, monitor funds, provide oversight of funded projects to insure they accomplish goals and meet deadlines, provide staff support for meetings and other Partnership work.
  • Maintain open communication and strong relationships among the all five Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, the Statewide Coordinating Committee, the Statewide Director and statewide staff, and University faculty and administrators.
  • Engage with and coordinate on multi-Regional and statewide projects with all RSDP Regions, where applicable, to implement successful rural sustainable development strategies
  • Communicate project progress and outcomes to regional stakeholders and the media.
  • Pursue external fundraising activities to include identifying and responding to funding opportunities, such as grants.


The Executive Director is accountable to the SW Partnership Board of Directors and the Statewide Director.  The Executive Director is supervised by the RSDP Statewide Director.



  • Bachelor degree and six (6) years of related experience. Additional education that is related to the work may be substituted for experience. Related experience includes but is not limited to:
  • The equivalent of 3 full years of experience in research, education, and/or community engagement
  • Demonstrated experience in facilitating, organizing and leading diverse groups through decision making and planning processes.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and community networking capacity in one or more of the SW RSDP four focus areas and/or community and rural development
  • Demonstrated strong skills and abilities in oral and written communication, leadership and team building
  • Demonstrated ability to work with people and organizations that represent significant diversity in culture, values, education, occupation, income, and the changing rural demographics
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a university setting and in rural communities
  • Ability to work independently and be confident in building relationships with community members throughout the Region


  • A master’s degree or PhD in a range of disciplines related to community development, agriculture, and/or natural resources is strongly preferred
  • 3 or more years of professional experience related to sustainable agriculture, natural resources, energy, rural and community development, or related fields.
  • Experience with financial and budget management, contracting, invoicing, as well as grant writing and administration



  1. The full-time, 12-month position with an annual renewable University academic administrative appointment. The University classification/job title is Community Relations/Outreach Specialist 1 and the working title is SW RSDP Executive Director
  2. The appointment is reviewed for renewal annually, with continuation dependent on performance, results, availability of funds, and program needs.
  3. The University of Minnesota benefits package is available with this full-time appointment.
  4. Salary is commensurate with related education and experience.
  5. Reimbursement for travel and subsistence is available in accordance with University policy. (Must provide own means for traveling throughout the state and legally required vehicle insurance).
  6. Person hired will be expected to use a personal cell phone.

How to Apply

TO APPLY Job Opening ID:  318815 Please apply online: or call 612-624-3717. Applications must be submitted online. To be considered for this position, please click the Apply button and follow the instructions. You will have the opportunity to complete an online application for the position. Complete the brief application and include the following attachments with your online application.
  1. Cover letter
  2. resume or vita
  3. Transcripts for all college work (unofficial transcripts are acceptable at the application stage).
  4. Names and contact information for three related professional references.
  For questions about applying online, contact: Naaz Babvani Extension Human Resources Phone: 612-624-3717   FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS POSITION Please visit the statewide web site at or contact the search committee chair, Kathy Schwantes,, 320-235-0726.   Additional documents may be attached after application by accessing your "My Activities" page and uploading documents there. To request an accommodation during the application process, please e-mail or call (612) 624-UOHR (8647). Any offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. Our presumption is that prospective employees are eligible to work here. Criminal convictions do not automatically disqualify finalists from employment.   The University of Minnesota Extension shall provide equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Job Categories: Sustainable Agriculture / Food. Job Types: Full-Time.

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