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5 Sep 2018

Full-Time Executive Director, University of Minnesota Northeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership

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

Job Description

Title:  Executive Director, Northeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership

Application Deadline:  October 1, 2018; Initial screening will take place immediately after this date. Position open until filled.

Location:  Cloquet or Grand Rapids Extension Regional Office or University of Minnesota, Duluth. To be determined by date of hire.



The University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) are a multi-college program of the University formed by the Minnesota Legislature in 1997. The Northeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (NERSDP) 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 the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of Northeast Minnesota. The staff and Board link University faculty, students, and other resources to the emerging and approved projects. Together with the governing board, the NERSDP manages a portfolio of community-University projects that build partnership and address sustainable development in the region. A storymap of FY17 RSDP projects can be found at Operating policies and statewide projects are coordinated among the five Regional 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:

  1. Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
  2. Natural Resources
  3. Clean Energy
  4. Resilient Communities and Sustainable Tourism



The Executive Director supports the NERSDP Board of Directors and its research, education, and outreach programming and projects. The overall objective of this position is to deploy the RSDP concept in the Northeast Region, thereby maximizing the impact of the program both in the region and throughout the University. From a practical perspective, this means (1) building strong relationships throughout the region in order to attract committed board and work group members and to identify and bring forth high-potential project ideas, (2) developing contacts within the University that will lead to engaging a wide range University faculty, staff, and students to partner on regional projects, and, (3) providing day-to-day leadership, management, and financial oversight of the NERSDP program. The NERSDP executive director will also be actively involved with the statewide office and other Regional EDs in projects of a joint or statewide nature and matters affecting the entire program.

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 and 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 the Northeast region of Minnesota.


  • Strengthen and increase the presence of the University of Minnesota in Greater Minnesota communities.
  • Foster teamwork that builds a partnership between the Board, community members in Northeast Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota.
  • Work in collaboration with Extension Educators and Regional Directors and UMN faculty to develop and build research, education, and outreach programs that address and respond to community needs and innovations in addressing sustainable development.
  • Build Extension and UMN campus relationships in the Region, including connecting students and faculty to community-based projects and groups. Connect and work with faculty, staff, and students from the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses, the Research and Outreach Centers, the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI), and other UMN units located within the region.
  • Support the pipeline of RSDP projects by working 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 NERSDP 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 ensure they accomplish goals and meet deadlines, provide staff support for meetings, and other Partnership work.
  • Maintain open communication and strong relationships among all five Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, the Statewide Coordinating Committee, the Statewide Director and statewide staff, and University faculty and administrators.
  • Foster continuing relationships with former board members as RSDP alumni and continue to inform them of Regional efforts and engage them as appropriate.
  • 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 and contribute content for Regional Partnership social media outlets.
  • Pursue external fundraising activities to support Regional projects by identifying and responding to funding opportunities, such as grants, program agreements, and fees, and work with Extension Development office on donor prospects and cultivation.


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




  • BA/BS degree and six years of related experience. Additional relevant education may substitute for up to three years of 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 knowledge and community networking capacity in one or more of the NERSDP four focus areas and/or community and rural development.
  • Demonstrated experience in facilitating, organizing, and leading diverse groups through decision making and planning processes.
  • 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 assertive in building relationships with community members throughout the Region.


  • One related degree and at least 3 years of experience in sustainable agriculture, natural resources, clean energy, rural and community development, or related fields.
  • Masters degree or PhD in a range of disciplines related to community development, agriculture, and/or natural resources is strongly preferred.
  • Experience with project and program management, including financial and budget management, contracting, invoicing, as well as grant writing and administration.
  • Experience working with Native nations in order to foster relationships, identify opportunities for collaboration, partner on projects.


  1. The full-time, 12-month Executive Director position has an annual University academic administrative appointment with the title of Community Relations/Outreach Specialist 1 and the working title of NERSDP Executive Director.
  2. The appointment is reviewed for renewal annually, with continuation dependent on performance, results, availability of funds, and program needs.
  3. University of Minnesota appointment and benefits, including health and life insurance.
  4. 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.)
  5. Salary commensurate with education and experience.


How to Apply

TO APPLY Job Opening ID:  326287 Please apply online: or call 612-624-3717. Applications must be submitted online. Complete the brief application and include the following attachments with your online application:
  1. Cover Letter
  2. Resume or vita
  3. List of three professional references with complete phone and email contact information.
  4. Transcripts for all college work (unofficial transcripts are acceptable at the application stage).
  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).   FOR QUESTIONS ABOUT APPLYING ONLINE, CONTACT: Naaz Babvani, Extension Human Resources Telephone: 612-624-3717   FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS POSITION, CONTACT: Please visit the statewide web site at or contact the search committee chair, Susanne Hinrichs,, 218-828-2286.   Any offer of employment is contingent on the successful completion of a background check.   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: Sustainability. Job Types: Full-Time. Job Tags: education, executive director, Outreach, and Sustainable Development.

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