Communications Director

21 Sep, 2020


Communications Director

Rails to Trails Conservancy
Washington, DC

About Us

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), a nonprofit organization with more than 160,000 members and supporters, is the nation’s largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Founded in 1986, RTC’s national office is located in Washington, D.C., with field staff in California, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Connect with RTC at and on social media @railstotrails.

Job Location

This position is located in RTC’s national office in downtown Washington, D.C., and is easily accessible from Metro’s red, orange, silver and blue lines. However, due to COVID-19, staff are telecommuting.

Job Description

The Communications Director is a full-time exempt position.

In partnership with the Vice President of Communications and the Editorial Director, the Communications Director will be responsible for developing and guiding the strategies for media relations, brand development and management, community events, collateral development, content creation and content marketing as it relates to RTC’s national portfolio of policy and trail development projects, including RTC’s TrailNation™ program—an innovative trail-network building initiative intended to serve as a model for building trail networks nationwide. This position will work as a communications partner in close collaboration with staff from across the organization.

The Communications Director will work in support of RTC’s mission to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people, with an emphasis on promoting the organization’s leadership as the nation’s largest nonprofit organization advocating for trails and active transportation. The Communications Director’s portfolio will directly advance communications goals that help to build political will for trails and trail networks while supporting RTC’s primary strategic communications objectives nationally: increasing audience engagement across programs and priorities; establishing and promoting RTC’s thought leadership; and raising RTC’s brand visibility.

  • Develop, implement and evaluate communications strategy and branding associated with each of the TrailNation projects—a portfolio of a minimum of eight projects with initiatives currently underway in Baltimore, the District of Columbia, Philadelphia, the industrial heartland (western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and western New York), southeast Wisconsin, the San Francisco Bay Area, south Texas and Miami.
  • Develop necessary collateral and media materials to ensure success.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with the media to position RTC’s programmatic activities and TrailNation projects within local markets and nationally.
  • Coordinate with program teams and development staff to prepare communications plans for foundation proposals and implement upon grant-funded communications projects, including managing grant deliverables and workplans, budgets and preparing necessary timelines and grant reports.
  • Manage a proactive digital media strategy for RTC’s national programmatic campaigns and TrailNation, including development of online content that engages audiences across digital channels (web, social media, email, etc.) and leads to measurable action.
  • Manage online and print editorial activities for national programmatic campaigns and TrailNation, including content creation, marketing, testing and measurement.
  • Coordinate with RTC’s Web Manager to ensure information about national programmatic campaigns and TrailNation is up to date, relevant, engaging and actionable.
  • Organize events to engage the media, partners and local constituents in support of national programmatic campaigns and TrailNation projects across the country.
  • Work diplomatically with partner organizations from across the country.
  • Manage external communications consultants.
  • Direct and support communications priorities across the organization as needed.

Supervisory Responsibilities

This position will report to the Vice President of Communications and will work closely with RTC’s Editorial Director and the RTC Trail Development and Policy departments. There are no direct staff reports, however, this position will have responsibility for overseeing paid contractors, as appropriate.

Desired Background and Personal Attributes

Ideal candidate will possess the following skills and qualifications:

  • Minimum 7–10 years of experience in media relations, communications or journalism.
  • An undergraduate degree, or equivalent experience, in communications, journalism, public relations, marketing or a related field.
  • Strong creative, strategic, organizational and leadership abilities.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated success in media relations.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and manage budgets.
  • Superior persuasive writing and editing skills.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of how to use online and social media platforms and strategies to engage audiences and market content.

Other necessary qualities include the following:

  • Strong verbal communication skills
  • Ability to manage complex projects and competing deadlines
  • Poise in working with a diverse set of personalities from all levels of the organization as well as external partners
  • Sound judgment in complex and nuanced situations
  • Familiarity with campaign/event management
  • Ability to quickly identify the nuances of RTC’s policy and program messages and translate them into a form understandable by a variety of audiences
  • A strong commitment to the mission of Rails-to-Trails to advance trail networks across the country.

Work Environment

Normal office setting with low to moderate noise level. A minimum of 10 percent travel is expected. We will work with successful applicants to solve technology needs to ensure a positive remote work experience.

Employer’s Rights

RTC reserves the right to revise, change or reclassify this job description at any time in accordance with RTC’s business needs. This job description is by no means an implied contract.

How to Apply

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. To apply, please email with the following:

  • Identify the position you are applying for in the subject line.
  • Attach your resume.
  • Include a cover letter that includes a brief statement about your personal background or experiences that demonstrate your potential to contribute to RTC’s commitment to create an inclusive and diverse workplace.

Commitment to Diversity

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy seeks diverse, passionate and qualified individuals who want to make a difference in the world. RTC is an equal opportunity employer. We evaluate qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, age, and other legally protected characteristics. If you need a reasonable accommodation because of a disability for any part of the employment process, please e-mail and provide the nature of your request and your contact information.

Job posted: 2020-09-21