Director of Environmental Policy

Posted by

Metropolitan Planning Council

Published 9 days ago

January 22, 2021
$100,000 - $110,000

About MPC

Dedicated to shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone, Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) believes that every neighborhood has promise. Every community should be heard. And every person can thrive. Since 1934, this independent, nonpartisan organization has served metropolitan Chicago’s communities and residents to change perceptions, reimagine conversations, and defy the status quo. Through thoughtful collaboration with local communities, businesses, and governments, MPC is a bold change-maker, addressing the region’s toughest planning and development challenges. We believe that strong partnerships rooted in respect and trust are critical to creative and effective problem-solving. 

MPC is a values-driven workplace, and we are seeking candidates with a demonstrated commitment to creating a region that is:

  • Equitable: For MPC, equity means that every individual and community in our region has the opportunities they need to thrive. Promoting equity means that we recognize the harm that discrimination and racism have caused and continue to pose to our lives and neighborhoods. That’s why we drive policies, investments and ideas that ensure all current and future residents can reach their full potential.
  • Prosperous:For MPC, prosperity means that both metropolitan Chicago and all of its people are economically healthy and prepared for growth. MPC is focused on ensuring that everyone who lives and works in our region can provide for themselves and their families. We support commitments that bring resources, development, and fairly paid and quality jobs to all communities.
  • Sustainable:For MPC, sustainability means that our region meets the natural, human and financial needs of the present while improving conditions for future generations. MPC’s agenda supports ecological vitality, residents’ health and economic stability for the long term, and ensures that as things change, our region adapts.
  • Engaged and Responsible:For MPC, civic participation and effective government are cornerstones of our region’s viability. We drive policies that strengthen the participation and impact of residents in local and regional decisions. We also promote adaptive, collaborative, just and transparent governance at all levels.

EEOC/Diversity Statement: 

MPC is an equal opportunity employer. We stay true to our mission by celebrating the differences among us. We are committed to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion within our workplace and encourage applicants from a wide range of backgrounds, ages, and abilities to apply. We will not tolerate harassment, discrimination, or retaliation of any kind and we promote a climate of mutual respect for our employees.

The Opportunity:

Over the past two decades, MPC’s environmental programming has evolved and expanded, and now is in need of new leadership, both to steward existing initiatives and to build for the future. MPC has a particularly strong program, team, and track record in multiple facets of water resources management. At the same time, MPC has built momentum and intersections in a range of broader spheres–climate resilience, environmental equity, public health—and specific topical areas, such as air quality.  

MPC spearheads policy change at multiple levels of government, facilitates multi-sectoral collaboratives, provides direct on-the-ground technical assistance, engages in original research, and more. MPC is increasingly called upon to share the lessons of our work nationally, and throughout the Great Lakes region, in particular. The Director is expected to lead a strong team in all facets of MPC’s environmental policy work.

The full spectrum of our environmental agenda requires policy and programmatic coordination by multiple partners across municipal, county and state borders, as well as the communication of complex technical issues to a variety of audiences, including the media. More than ever, this work requires consistent commitment to partnerships with frontline community-based organizations and environmental justice advocates in order to advance solutions that are restorative to ecosystems and people. 

The Position:

MPC is hiring a full-time Director of Environmental Policy. The Director will inherit a highly successful water resources program and team, and is expected to advance current priorities, such as launching a stormwater credit trading program and advancing state legislation mandating the replacement of lead pipes. The Director will also scope and continue to build the organization’s broader environmental policy and programming. The Director will also build on MPC’s organizational commitment to anti-racism in the process and outcomes of our environmental initiatives. The ideal candidate will have the ability to manage the existing work plan while envisioning and building toward greater impact, which will include collaborating with other staff at MPC working transportation, land use, housing and other planning topics. The Director will also supervise multiple staff and consultants engaged in a variety of types of work – research, advocacy, technical assistance, and beyond. The Director will be a primary spokesperson for the organization, able to convey MPC’s priorities and values through a variety of media, and able to communicate complex intersections between environmental policy, racial justice, government capacity and more.

2021 priorities will include leadership within multiple legislative efforts targeting lead pipe replacement and water justice issues, strengthening the Illinois State Water Plan process, and working with multiple state agencies to embed environmental equity into their processes and funding. The Director will also lead advocacy efforts to stand up an Environmental Equity Working Group for the City of Chicago, to contribute to MPC’s broader efforts to inform the structuring and priorities of the We Will Chicago citywide plan, and to establish a clear and impactful role for MPC in regional climate resilience and other regional sustainability strategies beyond Chicago.

While this Director will inherit the existing momentum of MPC’s water resources work, those efforts cannot stand alone. It is imperative that this work be integrated seamlessly with other organizational priorities and rooted in our organizational values (see below).

The position will report directly to MPC’s Vice President Josh Ellis and will work closely with others on staff in multi-disciplinary project teams. 

Core duties include:

  • Supporting or managing MPC’s legislative efforts, including major 2021 activity lead pipe replacement at multiple levels of government;
  • Working directly with units of government, community organizations and other stakeholders on local technical assistance projects, such as through MPC’s Drinking Water 1-2-3 initiative;
  • Deepening relationships with current and prospective funders to sustain and grow the program through multiple forms of fundraising;
  • Communicating MPC’s work, priorities and thought leadership community-based organizations, , elected officials, funders and the media;
  • Developing opportunities for integration of work across program areas and, therefore, versatility, inquisitiveness and creativity are essential to success.
  • Supervising and mentoring multiple staff and consultants, and guiding the projects those individuals in turn manage; Participating actively on MPC’s Management Team; and
  • Other duties depending on the background and expertise of the individual hired.

 The Candidate:

MPC seeks an organized, high-energy individual who thrives in a collegial work environment and can juggle multiple deadlines at once. The ideal candidate has at least three years of relevant experience and:

  • Is a self-starter, able to prioritize, handle multiple tasks and projects, and work in a fluid environment;
  • Is a creative thinker, able to help build MPC’s environmental programming, and integrate it with other emerging MPC initiatives;
  • Is able to work collaboratively with staff colleagues, external partners and contractor/consultant relationships;
  • Is passionate about the body of issues that MPC addresses and committed to supporting the organization’s entire mission;
  • Has an academic and/or professional background public policy, advocacy, law, urban planning, sustainable development, and/or environmental management;
  • Has knowledge of regional actors and institutions in Illinois (and ideally, northwestern Indiana);
  • Has demonstrated the ability to work effectively with diverse constituencies, including government officials, developers and community-based organizations;
  • Is patient and eager to learn;
  • Is passionate about developing his/her/their own as well as MPC’s competencies in diversity, equity and inclusion;
  • Has a sense of humor; and
  • Is an excellent writer and public speaker.


About MPC

Dedicated to shaping a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone, Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) believes that every neighborhood has promise. Every community should be heard. And every person can thrive. Since 1934…

Details at a glance

  • Remote Possible
  • Full Time Schedule


Chicago, IL

How to Apply

How to Apply:

The priority application deadline for the  Director of Environmental Policy position is January 22, 2021, but applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Please send the following materials by e-mail to Ame Esterline at

 1) A cover letter articulating your specific interest in the role and what you will bring to it;

2) Your résumé;

3) A short and relevant writing sample (2-3 pages); and

4) Three professional references 

No phone calls please.

MPC is carefully following CDC and Chicago Department of Public Health and safety guidelines due to COVID-19. The organization has implemented a work from home policy for all staff and research assistants. 

How to Apply:

The priority application deadline for the  Director of Environmental Policy position is January 22, 2021, but applications will be accepted until the position is…

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