Policy & Advocacy Associate

The Policy & Advocacy Associate cultivates relationships with elected officials and agency leadership at all levels for Openlands staff to advance policy and programmatic goals, providing staff with expertise to carry out legislative and advocacy strategies to advance the mission of the organization. In addition to the role of legislative liaison, the coordinator 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 Director of Policy and will work closely with the Vice President of Policy and Conservation.

Essential Functions:

  • Track legislation and public policies that impact Openlands’ work, keeping staff informed.
  • Help advance the organization’s annual legislative agenda that has been developed and vetted with executive management and program staff.
  • Work with policy and program staff to shape advocacy and policy messages, and legislative priorities that advance Openlands’ programs and mission. When requested, assist staff in formulating position statements and action plans regarding changes in policies.
  • Engage with various coalitions and subject matter experts in organizing partnerships and participating in movements that communicate and advance Openlands priorities.
  • Empower 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.
  • Help track, build, and sustain relationships with elected and public officials at all levels by familiarizing them with Openlands work, initiatives, and priorities.
  • Participate and provide leadership in local, regional, state, and national conservation communities to advance mutual goals and elevate Openlands’ interests and standing.
  • 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
  • 3 years of experience working in the public policy field, preferably in a legislative setting. Experience working on policy issues before the Chicago City Council and/or the federal government is a plus.
  • Excellent relationships and experience interacting with elected and public officials
  • Successful track record managing multiple projects
  • 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

Vaccination Statement:

To protect our staff and community, Openlands requires all employees to be fully vaccinated upon hire or may request a medical/religious exemption if extended and offer.


Salary range is $47,000-52,000 annually. 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 “Policy and Advocacy Associate” 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:

Founded in 1963, 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 works across area to advance nature-based solutions to climate change, improve the health and well-being of communities and create a more verdant region for all.