The RequirementsTo meet the basic qualification for this role you will have legal authorization to work permanently in the United States for any employer without requiring a visa transfer or visa sponsorship. To be a good fit for the Chicago Area Director opportunity, you also should have:
- A bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in Urban Planning, Urban Studies, Landscape Architecture or a related field; an advanced degree preferred
- 5+ years of experience in an organization focused on public urban work and/or conservation
- 8+ years of relevant non-profit work experience, including at least 5 years of staff management experience
- Familiarity with Chicago and the surrounding areas; the ideal candidate will be politically and personally connected to the area, including having influential contacts
- Extensive experience working with fund raisers, raising mission support from public and private sources
- Experience with:
- Public finance techniques
- Government funding practices and procedures
- The foundation community
- Best practices expertise in the areas of management, budgeting and marketing
- A passionate commitment to The Trust for Public Land’s mission of creating parks and conserving land for people; experience working on large-scale open-space urban programs such as trails, gardens or parks, or other directly relevant projects
- Ability and willingness to work outside of standard business hours; willingness to travel on occasion
- Excellent leadership skills, including the ability to lead, mentor and inspire others
- Strong entrepreneurial spirit, including drive, initiative and high-energy
- Ability to thrive and excel in a matrix organizational structure
- Outstanding written and verbal communication skills; experience in public speaking
- The capacity to be both a high individual performer and a team player
- Common sense with a sense of humor
The RoleFocus on the Chicago Metropolitan Region
Reporting to the Division Director, as Chicago Area Director, you will be responsible for developing and managing The Trust for Public Land’s programmatic activities in the region. The principal geographic focus will be the city of Chicago, but will also include surrounding counties and towns that comprise the Chicago metropolitan region.
For close to a decade, The Trust for Public Land’s work in Chicago has been associated with The 606, a high visibility, signature project for the organization, both locally and nationally. (Please see The 606 tab for detailed information.) While there is still significant fundraising to complete, as well as some physical project work, such as finishing parks and adding artwork and enhancements, we are in the final phase of the project. The project will be complete by the end of 2017.
Culminating Tactical Duties Combined with a Strategic Vision for the Future
Your primary responsibility, as the new Chicago Area Director, will be to complete the development and fundraising associated with The 606 project. As that project reaches conclusion, you will also be responsible for developing a vision and strategic plan that identifies future programs and projects for The Trust for Public Land in Chicago. The canvas is wide and could include projects in the Chicagoland area or in the outer reaches such as Cook County. While we don't expect a project with the scope and visibility we enjoyed with The 606, we are seeking strong project/program ideas that can make a significant impact. You could focus on programs that build communities, enhance water quality, or promote recreational access or conservation.
Throughout all of your work you will manage and mentor the operations staff and work in close collaboration with the Director of Philanthropy to raise funding to support the area’s programs, projects and operating costs. Additionally, you will work with public and private partners, donors, the local Advisory Board, and others within organization to enhance opportunities for the success of the Chicago office and its programs. More specifically, you will have direct responsibilities in the following key areas:
Specific Areas of Responsibility
In the area of Program Development and Management (approximately 25%), you will:
- Be responsible for directing staff and working with program partners, both public and private, to complete The 606 project
- Develop new ideas and cooperatively reach a decision as to the next area project, including evaluating new project and program opportunities in priority areas like Green Infrastructure, conservation finance, park design and development, etc.
- Develop and maintain positive relationships with key public and private partners
- Provide funding support for the Chicago Area Office and the programs it carries out. Monies are:
- Partly derived from public funding
- Primarily derived from private philanthropic dollars
- Work in close coordination with the local and national TPL philanthropy staff to cultivate and solicit major gifts from individuals, foundations and corporations
- Work in partnership with the philanthropy staff to:
- Create and implement a fundraising plan
- Manage the local Advisory Board
- Serve as the primary face of TPL in the donor community
- Supervise direct and indirect reporting staff (five total, including program and operations management and administrative staff), creating a positive working environment, strong staff morale and a culture of teamwork and mutual support
- Create a positive culture of teamwork and mutual support with the Philanthropy staff that does not directly report to this position
- Develop the office budget
- Take necessary action to meet or exceed targets within the budget
- Represent The Trust for Public Land, building the organization’s visibility in the Chicago regional market
- Work with public officials and staff civic leaders
- Partner with non-profits, the media, the donor community and others
Why Join TPLHigh profile impact
You will ensure that we complete The 606 project with the same level of quality and dedication that the project has enjoyed throughout. The 606 ranks nationwide as one of TPL's most ambitious campaigns, and the organization is already leveraging the project around the country as a model of TPL's exceptional abilities. The project is and will remain visible at the highest levels of our organization. That means that even though you didn't craft or steer the project to date, you can still make your mark during the home stretch and your successes will be noticed at the top.
Long-range, ground-up impact
While completing The 606 will be paramount to your success, it's only the beginning of what you can achieve with The Trust for Public Land. You can leverage your talent and strategic insight to research and develop the next project(s), keeping the momentum in the Chicago area going. You might focus on a different park project, or go in a completely different direction, such as water conservation. You will build new projects from the ground up. We're excited to hear your strong ideas!
Across the nation, The Trust for Public Land's message and mission are very popular and attractive to donors. The 606 represents innovative solutions to open space, community building, conservation, urban equity and more. It also appeals to the sense of civic pride and duty that motivates donors. And, frankly, Chicago loves The 606 -- you'll find that, as soon as you mention The 606, people light up. It has motivated involvement on multiple levels and in multiple ways. Supporters of The 606 have hosted pub crawls, donated a portion of shop sales, held fundraisers, pledged gifts, written letters of support to area foundations, made an annual donation at year's end, donated food and drink, art and photographs, given input and guidance, and just about everything else to make The 606 a reality. You can leverage that strong momentum as you begin your work in Chicago.
This is a key role for our organization, and one that enjoys wide public and private exposure. You will be the face of TLC, as you make inroads into the community and advance our mission. The stronger your ability to make contacts and build relationships in both the public and private sectors, the greater your exposure and influence.
Naturally, you'll enjoy a good deal of autonomy in managing your responsibilities, but you'll also work closely with seasoned professionals with tremendous experience and industry knowledge. You'll have opportunities to share ideas and insights with talented peers and leaders both locally and nationwide. You'll also find our leaders are open to input and feedback around strategy and overall direction. After all, we're all passionate about and working toward the same mission.
Because we spend so little to gain so much, The Trust for Public Land is one of the country's top-rated nonprofit organizations. Our skill at pooling many funding sources allows us to conserve $4 worth of land for every $1 donated. A couple of examples:
- The American Institute of Philanthropy gives The Trust for Public Land an "A for efficiency" for putting 84% towards program costs while generally spending only $9 to raise $100.
- Forbes Magazine gives us high marks for fundraising efficiency and charitable commitment, in our entry on their list of "The 200 Largest U.S. Charities."
In addition to a competitive salary we offer comprehensive benefits, including health, dental, vision and prescription plans; generous paid time off; flexible spending accounts; retirement savings plan; a commuter benefits program; and more.
Pictured top: one of the first steps in creating The 606 was to clean up the Bloomingdale Trail, and the community pitched enthusiastically. Middle: a family enjoys one of The 606's bike trails on opening day. Bottom: public art is an integral part of The 606 master plan. Shown here, artists and citizens partner to create a mural during Arts Blitz in September 2015. The 606 showcases artwork by renowned artists, students from local schools, and other community members.
The 606Upward and Onward
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a leader in conservation and the only national organization working in urban cities. Here in Illinois we are working every day to create and protect the beautiful places that make the state so special.
The 606 is more than a new path. Or a new park. It's a new way forward.
The 606 is Chicago's most innovative new public space, and is connecting commuters and communities alike. An elevated, linear park and trail system, The 606 runs through four densely populated Chicago neighborhoods on the city's Northwest side.
Getting involved early in The 606 project -- The 606 has been a decade in the making -- TPL helped bring together a coalition of city and civic organizations to move the project forward. The alliance of the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, The Trust for Public Land, and dozens of groups has turned the idea for a trail into a park and trail system to connect four Chicago neighborhoods and create innovative park space for thousands of residents and visitors alike.
Using its expertise in land conservation, creating urban parks and community collaboration, The Trust for Public Land hosted numerous community meetings, including a three-day design charrette in 2011. Community input into design and function has been a hallmark of The 606 process. Numerous public meetings brought community input into the park and trail system's design, function, and aesthetics of the parks, trail, and event spaces. That process culminated in an unveiling of the final design plans and overarching project name in June of 2013.
The park and trail system is also the signature project of Mayor Emanuel and his push to create 800 new parks, recreation areas and green spaces throughout Chicago. The City of Chicago and The Chicago Park District, and The Trust for Public Land have provided the financial, cooperative, and logistical strength to move this public-private partnership from a dream into reality.
The 606 brings together arts, history, design, trails for bikers, runners, and walkers, event spaces, alternative transportation avenues, and green, open space for neighbors, Chicagoans, and the world.
Pictured above: Opera-Matic practices flag moves with Chicagoans near the Milwaukee bridge. Below, the Opening Day event brought thousands to The 606. In this shot, Pedro Adorno Irizarry leads Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center in procession on Humboldt Boulevard.
Keys to SuccessThe role of Chicago Area Director requires a leader with strategic insight, creativity and the tactical will to implement and execute plans. You will need to substantively understand how to create public / private relationships and how to develop and leverage those relationships to move projects and our overall mission forward. Chicago is a competitive city with lots of people jockeying for air space. You should be able to rise above the fray, build credibility and respect with key influencers and decision makers, and develop enduring relationships. While your role is heavily focused on program operations, you also need to understand what it means to raise money. In fact, your ability to develop and maintain positive relationships with key public and private partners, and leverage those relationships to drive our mission forward, will be paramount.
In addition, success in this role requires entrepreneurial drive; we run lean, so you will need to be resourceful and able to make an impact with little direction and without a large staff. Of course you'll be a leader, but you'll also be a collaborative team player; a lone wolf approach simply isn't in the spirit of TPL. In fact, you will depend on many other people in order to achieve your goals, including the Philanthropy team and Director, working in tandem, but also separately from your team. We are proud of the strong team dynamic here in Chicago, and you'll support and further develop that dynamic. That means being a solid leader, while also being a results-oriented teammate able to collaborate with your own team, and the Philanthropy team which does not report to you. Ours is a matrix organization which sometimes takes interpersonal finesse to navigate. A sense of humor is a must! Equally important is your ability to share enthusiastically in our mission of creating parks and protecting land for people.
About The Trust for Public LandsThe Trust for Public Land works to protect the places people care about and to create close-to-home parks -- particularly in and near cities, where 80 percent of Americans live. Our goal is to ensure that every child has easy access to a safe place to play in nature. We also conserve working farms, ranches, and forests; lands of historical and cultural importance; rivers, streams, coasts, and watersheds; and other special places where people can experience nature close at hand. We focus our efforts in two major areas:
Parks for People
For the 80 percent of Americans who live in or near a city, neighborhood parks offer the closest connection to nature. Yet, today there is only 1 park for every 3,000 people in America. As a result, an entire generation is growing up disconnected from nature and the outdoors, missing out on the fun, fitness, and relaxation that parks provide.
Research shows that parks promote public health and revitalize local economies. They make cities more energy-efficient and less vulnerable to the effects of climate change. They connect people to the great outdoors and to each other.
The Trust for Public Land was founded to create parks and protect land for people to enjoy, and we're still the only national conservation organization focused on this goal. Today, nearly ten million Americans live within a ten-minute walk of a park or natural area created with our help, and millions more visit these sites every year. We're working toward a day when everyone has easy access to a safe, green place to play.
Our Land and Water
The American conservation movement was born from a shared desire to protect our wildest places. Early visionaries proposed setting aside land to safeguard natural resources and connect people to the great outdoors. These park pioneers believed that as cities grew, access to nature would become one measure of a great nation.
Today, the wilderness and waterways they protected are integral to our health, our happiness, our economy, and our quality of life. And with an estimated two million acres lost to development every year, it's more important than ever to protect these special places.
The Trust for Public Land helps communities nationwide balance the demands of growth with the protection of wilderness, waterfronts, and working farms and forests. We use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to identify and prioritize conservation goals -- then we employ our internal expertise to accomplish them. Whether improving the health of a local bay or preserving public access to a beloved mountain trail, we're protecting life-giving land and water resources for all to enjoy.