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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 field offices in California, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas, Maryland 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

In partnership with the Vice President of Communications and the Editorial Director, the Communications Director will lead all communications related to RTC’s TrailNation™ program—an innovative trail-network building initiative intended to serve as a model for building trail networks nationwide. The Communications Director will be responsible for developing and guiding the strategies for media relations, brand development and management, community events, collateral development, content creation and content marketing as it relates to TrailNation within the project footprints and aligning with the RTC brand nationally. This position will work as a communications partner in close collaboration with staff from across the organization, with an emphasis on coordinating with the Vice President of Trail Development and TrailNation project managers, many who work on location.

The Communications Director will work in support of RTC’s mission to create a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people, with an emphasis on promoting the organization’s leadership as the nation’s largest nonprofit organization advocating for trails and active transportation. The Communications Director’s portfolio will directly advance communications goals that help to build political will for trails and trail networks in each of the TrailNation projects while supporting RTC’s primary strategic communications objectives nationally: increasing audience engagement across programs and priorities; establishing and promoting RTC’s thought leadership; and raising RTC’s brand visibility.

Specific job duties are as follows:

  • Develop, implement and evaluate communications strategy and branding associated with each of the TrailNation projects—a portfolio of a minimum of eight projects with initiatives currently underway in Baltimore, the District of Columbia, Philadelphia, the industrial heartland (western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and western New York), southeast Wisconsin, the San Francisco Bay Area, south Texas and Miami. 
  • Develop and maintain relationships with the media to position TrailNation projects within local markets and nationally.
  • Develop necessary collateral and media materials to ensure success.
  • Work closely with RTC’s development staff and funders to prepare TrailNation communications plans for foundation proposals and implement upon grant-funded communications projects, including managing grant deliverables and workplans, budgets and preparing necessary timelines and grant reports. In addition, grant-funded work is likely to be pursued and implemented in partnership with the Vice President of Trail Development and TrailNation project managers.  
  • Manage a proactive digital media strategy for TrailNation, including development of online content that engages audiences across digital channels (web, social media, email, etc.) and leads to measurable action. 
  • Manage online and print editorial activities for TrailNation, including content creation, marketing, testing and measurement.
  • Coordinate with RTC’s Web Manager to ensure information about TrailNation is up-to-date, relevant, engaging and actionable.
  • Organize events to engage the media, partners and local constituents in TrailNation projects across the country.
  • Work diplomatically with partner organizations from across the country.
  • Manage external communications consultants.
  • Direct and support communications priorities across the organization as needed.


Ideal candidate will possess the following skills and qualifications:

  • Minimum 7–10 years of experience in media relations, communications or journalism
  • An undergraduate degree, or equivalent experience, in communications, journalism, public relations, marketing or a related field
  • Strong creative, strategic, organizational and leadership abilities
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Demonstrated success in media relations
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and manage budgets
  • Superior persuasive writing and editing skills
  • Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of how to use online and social media platforms and strategies to engage audiences and market content

Other necessary qualities include the following:

  • Strong verbal communication skills
  • Ability to manage complex projects and competing deadlines
  • Poise in working with a diverse set of personalities from all levels of the organization as well as external partners
  • Sound judgement in complex and nuanced situations
  • Familiarity with campaign/event management
  • Ability to quickly identify the nuances of RTC’s policy and program messages and translate them into a form understandable by a variety of audiences

Work Environment

Normal office setting with low to moderate noise level. A minimum of 10 percent travel is expected.

Employer's Rights

RTC reserves the right to revise, change or reclassify this job description at any time in accordance with RTC’s 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