Full-Time Director of Water Resources
Since 1934, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has been dedicated to shaping a more sustainable and prosperous greater Chicago region. As an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, MPC serves communities and residents by developing, promoting and implementing solutions for sound regional growth.
Over the past decade, MPC’s programming in sustainable, equitable water resources management has greatly evolved and expanded. We spearhead legislative efforts at multiple levels of government, pilot market-based approaches to localized flooding, facilitate multi-sectoral collaboratives, direct on-the-ground technical assistance, engage in original research, and more. MPC is increasingly called upon to share the lessons of our work nationally, and throughout the Great Lakes region in particular.
The full spectrum of our water resources agenda requires policy and programmatic coordination by multiple partners across municipal, county and state borders, as well as the communication of complex technical issues to a variety of audiences, including the media. More than ever, this work requires consistent commitment to partnership with frontline community-based organizations and environmental justice advocates in order to advance water resources solutions that are restorative to both ecosystems and people.
MPC is hiring a full-time Director of Water Resources to continue to build the organization’s environmental policy and programming. In the immediate term, the focus is on water supply and stormwater initiatives, with an eye toward growing the program to more expansively target climate resilience and other pressing environment challenges. The ideal candidate will have the ability to manage the existing work plan while envisioning and building toward greater impact.
MPC is seeking a highly motivated individual with a background in public policy, advocacy, law, urban planning, engineering, sustainable development, and/or environmental management. Strong relationship and project management skills are crucial – experience facilitating large, multi-partner initiatives is a major plus. At the outset, this Director will spearhead multiple legislative efforts targeting lead pipe replacement, strengthening the Illinois State Water Plan process, and securing funding for an objective analysis of the drivers of water rate increases. The Director will also guide policy changes in water resources management and broader environmental policy at the City, county and suburban level. Thus, experience in policy development and advocacy, coalition management, and campaigns is highly desired.
The Director will also supervise multiple staff and consultants engaged in local technical assistance, facilitation of the long-standing Calumet Stormwater Collaborative, research into stormwater management financing, and the establishment of an innovative stormwater credit program in suburban Cook County. Supervisory and mentorship experience, as well as strong project management skills, are a must.
MPC’s water resources management work does not stand alone. It is imperative that this work be integrated seamlessly with other organizational priorities and rooted in our organizational values (see below). It is expected that the Director will develop opportunities for integration of work across program areas, so versatility, inquisitiveness and creativity are essential to success.
The position will report directly to MPC’s Vice President Josh Ellis and will work closely with others on staff in multi-disciplinary project teams.
Duties may include:
- Supporting or managing MPC’s legislative efforts regarding lead pipe replacement, enhancement of the State Water Plan, and more;
- Working directly with units of government, community organizations and a range of other stakeholders on local technical assistance projects;
- Building resources to sustain and grow the program through multiple forms of fundraising;
- Communicating MPC’s work through a variety of platforms and to a range of audiences, including elected officials and the media;
- Translating lessons from MPC’s efforts into administrative or legislative policy reform recommendations, to be communicated through original reports, policy briefings, and dialogue with elected officials;
- Researching best practices in water resources management for technical white papers and policy briefs, while also writing original content for a lay audience through newsletters, blog posts, and social media feeds;
- Supervising and mentoring multiple staff and consultants, and guiding the projects those individuals in turn manage;
- Coordinating public roundtable events and workshops to further MPC’s policy initiatives;
- Participating actively on MPC’s Management Team; and
- Other duties will depend on the background and expertise of the individual hired.
MPC seeks an organized, high-energy individual who thrives in a collegial work environment and can juggle multiple deadlines at once. The ideal candidate has at least three years experience and:
- is a self-starter, able to prioritize, handle multiple tasks and projects, and work in a fluid environment;
- is a creative thinker, able to help build MPC’s environmental programming, and integrate it with other emerging MPC initiatives;
- is able to work collaboratively with staff colleagues and external partners;
- is passionate about the body of issues that MPC addresses and committed to supporting the organization’s entire mission;
- preferably has a Master’s degree in urban planning, engineering, public policy, or a related field (not required);
- has knowledge of regional actors and institutions in Illinois and Indiana;
- has demonstrated the ability to work effectively with diverse constituencies, including government officials, developers and community-based organizations;
- is able to communicate directly and work collaboratively with staff colleagues and external partners;
- desires to make a positive impact on the greater Chicago region;
- is patient and eager to learn;
- is energized by the body of issues that MPC addresses and committed to supporting the organization’s mission;
- is passionate about developing his or her own as well as MPC’s competencies in diversity, racial equity and inclusion;
- has worked or otherwise been part of a diverse range of communities and community groups;
- has a sense of humor; and
- is an excellent writer and public speaker.