Senior Director, Trail Development Projects

  • Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
  • Feb 08, 2018
Full time Administrator/Executive Advocacy and Policy Communication - Public Outreach Conservation/ Natural Resources Management

Job Description

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 regional offices in California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Job Location

This position is located in RTC’s national office in Washington, D.C. (West End/DuPont Circle area), and is easily accessible from Metro’s Red line (Farragut North) and Blue/Orange/Silver lines (Foggy Bottom).

Job Description

The Senior Director of Projects is a new position that will support the VP of Trail Development in growing and managing the Trail Development team, as well as collaborating as part of a multidisciplinary team to implement RTC’s TrailNation projects, which span cities and regions nationwide. This position will be responsible for overseeing up to three projects in RTC’s TrailNationTM portfolio. This is an amazing opportunity for a strategic, creative and results-oriented professional with exceptional management, program development and implementation skills to join a successful organization in a leadership position.

TrailNation Project (National Scope)

The Senior Director will oversee the development and implementation of RTC’s newest and largest TrailNation project with an extensive, cross-departmental implementation team. He or she will:

  • Serve as the project's senior project manager, coordinating with senior leadership and key cross-department staff to develop, lead and implement strategies that advance the project through the political, advocacy, infrastructure planning, coalition building, marketing and public finance processes
  • Lead, participate in and support teams working in a matrix-management environment, including working with policy/advocacy, fundraising, communications, finance and trail development staff, some of whom do not report to the Senior Director
  • Collaborate with senior leadership, key project staff and external stakeholders to develop, lead and implement strategies that advance the project through the political, advocacy, infrastructure planning, coalition building, marketing and public finance processes
  • Translate the project’s mission into operating plans with clear benchmarks and budget goals
  • Lead in the creation and monitoring of overall project work plan and budget to guide the advancement of the project through cross-departmental work
  • Work hand in glove with RTC’s Development Department to support the creation of fundraising proposals that support the project.
  • Serve as a member of RTC’s “sales force,” which cultivates relationships with prospects and pitches specific proposals, under the leadership of the Development Department

TrailNation Projects (Regional Scope)

The Senior Director will oversee up to two TrailNation projects from conceptualization through implementation. He or she is responsible for the following:

  • Hiring, onboarding and managing local staff to support each project
  • Supporting direct reports in implementing and managing their TrailNation projects, including:
    • Strategy setting/strategic planning/agenda setting and implementation guidance to advance the goals and impact of the project
    • Translating the project’s mission into operating plans with clear benchmarks and budget goals
    • Troubleshooting on complex project opportunities and hurdles related to diverse coalition building and partner engagement, advocacy, infrastructure planning, political will, GIS mapping, public engagement, public finance, and marketing and branding
  • Serving as a content expert and project implementer either through assisting or co-leading with the project manager to meet the project deliverables

Supervisory Responsibilities

  • Supervise a team of two to four direct reports
  • Support staff in identifying and managing strategic partnerships and opportunities
  • Responsible for overseeing staff’s project workplans and budgets
  • Mentor staff in meeting their workplan goals and career development
  • Conduct performance reviews and feedback for staff


Ideal candidate will possess the following skills and qualifications:

  • Eight to 10 years of progressively responsible experience managing complex and multidisciplinary projects for an organization, including supervising direct reports
  • Strong ability to engage with a wide variety of stakeholders, both internally and externally, with the goal of building support for the projects and effectively managing day to day operations
  • Demonstrated experience working in a matrix management, nonprofit organization
  • People development, mentoring and management experience
  • Advanced project management skills and experience, including: ability to set short- and long-term planning goals in line with project priorities and available resources; task-oriented style, with a focus on achieving clear and ambitious goals; demonstrated ability to meet multiple deadlines by maintaining a high level of organization while delivering a high-quality work product and project deliverables; and ability to develop and manage complex budgets (ability to use Excel required)
  • Outstanding oral and written communication and strong interpersonal skills; ability to work at all levels of the organization
  • Content expertise in one or more of the following topics: trail development, transportation planning, economic development, public finance, real estate, conservation planning
  • Ability to design and execute forums, workshops and other content-rich convenings
  • Master's degree (strongly preferred) in urban planning, conservation planning, public administration, real estate or a related field
  • Valid driver's license (required)

Other necessary qualities include the following:

  • Change leadership skills
  • Ability to exercise sound judgment and critical thinking skills
  • Mindset of operating excellence in all matters, with the confidence to defend/debate ideas
  • Self-starter, self disciplined and entrepreneurial
  • Spark, imagination, creativity
  • Ability to remain focused in the face of pressure and deliver against timelines; is not intimidated by tasks/time limitations
  • Polished, possesses consensus building skills, has the ability to read an audience, is decisive
  • Willingness and ability to travel

Employer's Rights

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

How to Apply

Please use one form of transmitting your résumé. No phone calls please, unless contacted for an in-person interview. Recruiters, please do not contact our offices.

Mail, fax or email cover letter, résumé and three professional references to:

Human Resources Manager
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Court, NW, 5th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20037

Fax: 202.223.9257

Commitment to Diversity

RTC is an equal opportunity employer and seeks qualified candidates regardless of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability or national origin. Women and diverse applicants are encouraged to apply. EOE

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