Manager of Governmental Affairs

The Manager of Governmental Affairs cultivates relationships with elected officials and agency leadership at all levels for Openlands staff to advance policy and programmatic goals, providing staff with the expertise to carry out legislative and advocacy strategies to advance the mission of the organization. In addition to the role of legislative liaison, the Manager will manage specific policy initiatives and respond to requests for assistance with policy issues, pursuant to the organization’s agenda. This position reports to the Senior Counsel and will work closely with the CEO and Executive Vice President.

Essential Functions:

  • Track legislation and public policies that impact Openlands’ work, keeping staff informed.
  • Collaborates systematically with executive management and program staff to identify their governmental and legislative needs that advance Openlands’ programs and mission.
  • Advances the organization’s annual legislative agenda that has been developed and vetted with executive management and program staff.
  • Identifies opportunities to advance Openlands’ mission and informs and collaborates with executive management and program staff to determine appropriate actions.
  • Works consistently with program staff to assist in shaping their initiatives that advance Openlands’ programs and mission to be successful in a legislative or governmental setting. When requested, assist staff in formulating position statements and action plans regarding changes in policies.
  • Engages with Illinois Environmental Council and subject matter experts to organize partnerships and participate in coalitions that communicate and advance Openlands priorities.
  • Empowers Openlands’ members to advocate for our priorities by conducting organizational advocacy initiatives and collaboratively working with program staff to develop advocacy alerts, disseminate information on policy campaigns, and lead advocacy trainings.
  • Builds and sustains relationships with elected and public officials by familiarizing them with Openlands work and priorities. Educates and lobbies public officials at all levels to advance Openlands’ priorities.
  • Publicly supports Openlands’ policy priorities by speaking at conferences, giving media interviews, and testifying at public hearings.
  • Participates and provides leadership in local, regional, state, and national conservation communities to advance mutual goals and elevate Openlands’ interests and standing.
  • Develops annual workplans to carry out legislative and governmental initiatives.
  • Advances assigned projects, develops project scope, and meets budget and deadline goals.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Bachelor’s degree in political science, public policy, planning, law, or related field required: Master’s degree or JD desirable
  • 5 years of experience working in the public policy field, preferably in a legislative setting
  • Excellent relationships and experience interacting with elected and public officials
  • Successful track record managing multiple projects
  • In-depth understanding and experience in public affairs, government, and legislative processes
  • Persuasive public speaking and excellent written communications skills
  • Coalition building and team management skills
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office as well as advocacy and power-mapping applications
  • Travel will be required, and a valid Illinois driver’s license must be maintained during the duration of employment


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

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 to JobApps@Openlands.org.   Please include “Manager of Governmental Affairs” in the subject line.

Please note that applications without a cover letter will not be considered.

Work Environment:

The office is ADA accessible. This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, and scanners. The employee is regularly required to talk, hear, see, and communicate effectively via computer. This role requires manual labor- standing, bending, crouching, lifting. Openlands is a smoke- and drug-free environment.

Openlands is an equal opportunity employer and seeks to employ qualified individuals based on individual merit. Openlands does not discriminate against any individual with respect to the terms and conditions of employment based on that individual’s race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, disability, genetic information, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, housing status, or any other non-merit factor protected under state, local or federal laws.

Equal Employment Opportunity applies to all personnel actions such as recruiting, hiring, compensation, benefits, promotions, training, transfer, termination, and opportunities for training. Openlands is committed to a fair and equitable workplace where everyone is a respected and valued member of the team.

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.