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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 building a nation connected by trails. We reimagine public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors. Founded in 1986, RTC’s national office is located in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in California, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Connect with RTC at railstotrails.org and on social media @railstotrails.

Job Location

This position is located in our Washington, D.C., National Headquarters and is eligible for a hybrid work schedule (working 2 days per week in the D.C. office) in accordance with RTC’s policies. Proof of vaccination is required for all staff.

Job Summary

The TrailNation Collaborative Lead will be responsible for implementing and managing RTC’s TrailNation™ Collaborative, an initiative to bring critical learning resources and best practices to a broad and inclusive network of practitioners leading the development of trail networks across the United States. The Collaborative provides cutting-edge trail network practices and opportunities for diverse practitioners and leaders to connect, share tools and resources and support each other's work.

The Collaborative brings to scale RTC’s innovative TrailNation program to catalyze the rapid development of regional trail and active transportation networks, from concept to implementation. We take a systematic approach, applying RTC’s depth of expertise and collaborative strategies to reflect local realities and new opportunities.

Through emerging best-practice sharing and facilitated dialogue on critical issues, the Collaborative highlights how local, regional, and state practitioners and leaders can further advance trail networks at a more rapid national scale.

The Collaborative Lead will collaborate as a member of the Trail Development team across the entire organization to identify and grow relationships with leaders in the trail network movement—as well as create a variety of forums to connect these leaders and practitioners to each other. This position will help RTC to demonstrate and scale best practices identified from its TrailNation project portfolio and associated TrailNation Playbook. This position will report to the Senior Director of Trail Development. This is a great opportunity for a strategic, entrepreneurial, and collaborative professional to shape the future of this initiative and the advancement of the national trail network movement as a whole.

Job Duties

Programmatic Strategy and Participant Cultivation

  • Collaborate with both the Vice President and Senior Director of Trail Development to launch and scale the TrailNation Collaborative and Playbook.
  • Work with leadership and TrailNation colleagues and cultivate relationships with current and future TrailNation Collaborative participants to build their inclusion and participation in the program.
  • Lead Collaborative participant recruitment, communication and information sharing through phone calls, video calls, webinars and emails.
  • Guide and support respectful, reciprocal and effective interactions and relationships among participants.
  • Facilitate and implement the most appropriate tools and data collection formats necessary for assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of Collaborative activities.
  • Work with colleagues to develop a sustainable structure for the Collaborative to encourage ongoing participation, growth and diverse learning opportunities.
  • Publicly represent and speak on behalf of RTC and the Collaborative.
  • Develop and track metrics to evaluate Collaborative success and its value-add to partners.
  • Work collaboratively with the following internal RTC teams to achieve organizational goals in support of the Collaborative:

- Development Department to support the creation of successful fundraising proposals
- Communications Department to increase project visibility and utilize communication channels
- Policy Department to coordinate advocacy and partnership cultivation opportunities
- Operations Department to develop and manage programmatic budget

Content Development and Convening Lead

  • Design and bring both virtual and in-person convenings to life, ensuring participants are engaged in a meaningful way with each other and the content, and leave feeling energized to act on the convening topics. This will include a regular webinar series and virtual focus groups on emerging topics, as well as larger, in-person Collaborative summits.
  • Support Collaborative participants with relevant content to advance their work and advance the proliferation of trail networks nationwide.
  • Serve as a valued contributor during convening sessions; proactively look for opportunities to further spotlight emerging trail-network best practices within the Collaborative and RTC’s communication vehicles; and connect partners to each other.
  • Identify emerging best practices from Collaborative partners and position them for wider dissemination through regular e-newsletters, and updates of the TrailNation Playbook and inclusion of new content (videos, toolkits, reports, etc.) across any or all Collaborative channels.
  • Provide expertise to staff and lead content creation for expanded TrailNation Playbook topics including diverse coalition building and partner engagement; active-transportation and trail network planning; political-will building; securing and implementing public project funding; external project communications; and equitable trail development.
  • Collaborate closely with RTC Trail Development, Communications and Policy teams to identify and help highlight emerging best practices from TrailNation projects and TrailNation Collaborative participants to RTC’s broad and diverse audience base.
  • Together with the Advocacy Outreach Director and Policy team, strategize and translate development of trail networks into content/messaging to build greater political will to complete a nationwide network of trails.
  • Together with Trail Funding Resources Manager, support synergy between Transportation Alternatives Data Exchange team, TrailNation project managers and Collaborative partners to improve implementation of federal funds for advancing regional trail network development.
  • Look for common project challenges and roadblocks from TrailNation Collaborative participants and create speed-to-market content support and other opportunities for developing solutions.
  • Work closely with RTC’s program and communications staff to develop and disseminate a quarterly newsletter to Collaborative participants.

Trail Grant Program Management

  • Supervise and guide strategy for staff coordinating grant-making program that catalyzes trail connectivity including a request for proposals process. 
  • Work closely with Development Department to support the creation of successful fundraising proposals to support future grant programs.

Supervisory Responsibilities

This position does not have any supervisory responsibilities.

Basic Qualifications and Personal Attributes

  • A minimum of five years of professional work experience managing duties with coalition building and/or advocacy and partner cultivation and/or nonprofit organizing
  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university focused on urban/regional planning, environmental planning, public policy, public administration or a related field. Master’s degree preferred but not required. Extensive work experience may be substituted for one or both degrees.
  • The ideal candidate will be a self-driven leader with the ability to successfully influence, persuade and motivate people to obtain buy-in and commitment from project partners and stakeholders. They will have been a problem solver with sound judgement and the ability to meet adversity with tenacity and creativity.
  • Advanced, highly organized project management and program leadership skills, including the ability to set short- and long-term planning goals in line with program priorities and available resources.
  • Political savvy and demonstrated ability to engage and cultivate a wide variety of stakeholders both internally and externally (government, advocacy, business, elected officials), and experience building diverse coalitions to achieve support and buy-in
  • Experience designing, executing and facilitating virtual and in-person convenings that effectively distill practical and actionable learning for busy practitioners and leaders
  • Demonstrated comfort and enthusiasm in developing and cultivating new and ongoing relationships with local leaders and practitioners via phone calls and video calls
  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills as well as an engaging, enthusiastic and empathetic communication style
  • Demonstrated commitment to racial equity and diversity
  • Consensus-building skills, with the ability to read an audience and be decisive in achieving results
  • Demonstrated experience developing and managing foundation and corporate grants, including proposal development, management of deliverables and budget reporting
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite (especially: SharePoint, Excel, Word and PowerPoint), Zoom and Survey Monkey
  • Passion for trails, walking and/or biking
  • Ability to travel domestically (approximately 20%)
  • Experience with GIS software and platforms (e.g., ArcPro, ArcGIS Online) (preferred)
  • Experience with grant-making and reviewing proposals (preferred)
  • Experience with Blackbaud or other relationship management software (preferred)

Work Environment

Normal office setting with low to moderate noise level. We will work with successful applicants to solve technology needs to ensure a positive remote work experience.

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

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. To apply, please email careers@railstotrails.org with the following:

  • The position you are applying for in the subject line

  • A résumé (as a separate attachment)

  • A cover letter that includes a brief statement about your personal background or experiences that demonstrate your potential to contribute to RTC’s commitment to create an inclusive and diverse workplace.​

  • Candidates are encouraged to provide a geo portfolio or work samples.

Commitment to Diversity

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy seeks diverse, passionate and qualified individuals who want to make a difference in the world. RTC is an equal opportunity employer. We evaluate qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, age, and other legally protected characteristics.

If you need a reasonable accommodation because of a disability for any part of the employment process, please e-mail careers@railstotrails.org and provide the nature of your request and your contact information.