Regional Planning Manager with Openlands

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The Regional Planning Manager is primarily responsible for carrying out regional-scale planning initiatives that will advance large-scale land protection. S/he must be able to manage multiple complex projects, develop innovative solutions, and engage multiple partners to expand the protected acres of natural and agricultural lands, increase connectivity through land and water corridors, and develop projects designed to protect the natural, agricultural, and cultural landscapes of the Chicago Wilderness Region.

Essential Functions

● Conduct planning projects and represent Openlands in developing plans of regional import. Includes technical design projects, data collection, literature reviews, watershed and coastal planning, analyses of underlying transportation and land use forecasting and assumptions, and production of planning and policy recommendations.

● Research conservation challenges and opportunities on the regional, state, and national level; identify trends, propose opportunities to strengthen policy and implement model demonstration projects to protect natural lands and waters

● Draft plans, policy reports, and briefing documents as part of larger Openlands regional policy initiatives or as part of their own project portfolio

● Assist regional team staff and work with external experts to develop plans for regional initiatives. (e.g. an agricultural conservation easement program in south Will County, county-wide green infrastructure plan, and regional green corridor plan)

● Assist regional team staff in integrating project management principles and tools into projects to maximize team focus and efficiency

● Engage community members, elected officials, government agency staff, business leaders, funders, and the public on planning and policy initiatives to promote systemic change and regional conservation models

● Represent Openlands on various conservation and planning working groups, advisory committees, and coalitions

● Coordinate and write internal and external communications around planning and policy projects including website content, action alerts, e-newsletters and letters to the editor.

● Assist in drafting grant reports and funding proposals

● Plan and facilitate meetings

● Speak at public forums and conferences

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

● Bachelor’s degree in urban planning, landscape architecture, public policy, political science, environmental science, sustainability, or a related field. Master’s degree preferred

● At least 3-5 years’ experience working in planning and project management. Conservation, engineering, public policy experience, as well as a PMI, LEED-AP or AICP certification is a plus

● Understanding of issues involved in land preservation, natural resource protection, and governmental and public policy processes

● Excellent communication skills, including both writing and public speaking

● Exceptional planning, organizational, research, and analytical skills

● Strong interpersonal and relationship-building skills

● Proficiency in Microsoft Office, Google, and GIS applications


Salary range is market competitive. Benefits include health, life, and disability coverage, a 403(b)-retirement plan, paid holidays and vacation time. This is a full-time, exempt position.

Openlands is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

To Apply:

This position is open until filled. Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter explaining why your skills and experience would complement this position. Please include “Regional Planning Manager” in the subject line.

About Openlands:

Openlands protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives. Openlands’ vision for the region is a landscape that includes a vast network of land and water trails, tree-lined streets, and intimate public gardens within easy reach of every city dweller. It also includes parks and preserves big enough to provide natural habitat and to give visitors a sense of the vast prairies, woodlands, and wetlands that were here before the cities. In sum, Openlands believes that protected open space is critical for the quality of life of our region.