Now in its second century, Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Audubon’s mission is engaging people in bird conservation on a hemispheric scale through science, policy, education and on-the-ground conservation action. By mobilizing and aligning its network of Chapters, Centers, State and Important Bird Area programs in the four major migratory flyways in the Americas, the organization will bring the full power of Audubon to bear on protecting common and threatened bird species and the critical habitat they need to survive. And as part of BirdLife International, Audubon will join people in over 100 in-country organizations all working to protect a network of Important Bird Areas around the world, leveraging the impact of actions they take at a local level. What defines Audubon’s unique value is a powerful grassroots network of nearly 500 local chapters, 23 state offices, 41 Audubon Centers, Important Bird Area Programs in 50 states, and 700 staff across the country. Audubon is a federal contractor and an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).
Audubon Great Lakes (AGL) is the regional arm of National Audubon Society, working across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin and the lead office for Audubon’s Great Lakes conservation strategy. Audubon’s bipartisan membership base in the region spans more than 55 chapters and 112,000 people. Based in Chicago and reporting to AGL’s Executive Director, the Director of Policy is responsible for localizing national policy priorities, building state-based policy agendas, and collaborating with the Executive Director to elevate Audubon’s leadership in the region. This new position has been created to build political power to advance conservation policy to protect birds and the places they need across the region.
The Director of Policy is responsible for leading the policy efforts and overall governmental affairs functions for the five states managed by Audubon Great Lakes as well as leading conservation policy strategy across the Great Lakes Basin. As part of AGL’s senior leadership team, s/he will collaborate with the Executive Director and senior conservation policy, fundraising, and engagement leads at AGL and across National Audubon to develop a regional policy agenda to advance both state and federal priorities. The Director of Policy will collaborate closely with the Director of Engagement to successfully engage our bipartisan network and conservation partners for successful policy campaigns and conservation leadership.
The ideal candidate will be a skilled, experienced manager and a strategic thinker, and have a background in Great Lakes and water conservation, renewable energy, and/or climate change policy.
Lead the development and effective implementation of annual and longer-term state and federal policy advocacy and campaign goals as directed by the AGL Executive Director and the VP of Conservation Policy, including the effective engagement of internal and external stakeholders.
Develop and deliver on a policy agenda around issues impacting the ecological health of the Great Lakes in coordination with the National policy team and Audubon offices in Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania
Provide periodic updates and recommendations to state and national board and staff to facilitate more productive integration at all levels of the organization. This may include identifying important issues that need to be addressed across the range of priority conservation programs and highlighting successful case studies.
Develop productive relationships with key state-elected and agency officials/leaders, as well as the regional Congressional delegation and federal agencies critical to Audubon goals.
Research and guide framing of the Great Lakes region and related public policy positions, including development of briefing papers and talking points, and work to advance those positions externally.
Work closely and effectively with consultants that Audubon retains for policy work; act as a liaison on projects and report updates to the Executive Director following meetings.
Collaborate with Audubon’s development team to identify, cultivate, and make requests to donors and foundations. Be an active partner in helping to brainstorm engagement strategies for current and new members interested in the state’s advocacy work.
Qualifications and Experience
Bachelor's degree in political science, economics, or related field and 5-7 years’ professional experience in policy, grassroots advocacy, wildlife conservation, public service or related field, including at least 3 years managing staff and teams, required. Experience in conservation, renewable energy, and/or climate related issues is preferred. Equivalent combination of education and experience will also be considered.
Exceptional leadership skills with the proven ability to oversee and mentor professional staff while working effectively in a team-based environment.
Excellent written and verbal communications skills and the ability build consensus amongst a wide range of individuals. Comfort with presenting and engaging others in public-speaking events is also necessary.
Demonstrated experience overseeing complex or multiple projects through to success, including meeting financial goals, project deadlines, and coordinating the work of key staff and partners.
Desire and ability to advocate for complex, aggressive conservation positions in both small and large settings.
Thorough understanding of how advocacy, communications, and grassroots engagement components effectively work together.
Outstanding interpersonal skills, judgment, and a demonstrated ability to collaborate and build coalitions.
Technically savvy, to include proficiency with Microsoft Office suite applications and comfort using web-based engagement systems. Experience with EveryAction or similar voter/volunteer database desired.
Willingness to travel, including some occasional out-of-state travel, and comfort working evenings and weekends as job responsibilities demand.
Demonstrated interest in conservation and commitment to the mission of the National Audubon Society.