Interim Communications Director

Interim Communications Director

Prairie Rivers Network Website
  • Prairie Rivers Network
  • Illinois
  • Full Time
  • $75,000 USD / Year

Prairie Rivers Network seeks a highly motivated and optimistic individual that is passionate about the environment and people to serve as our first Interim Communications Director and lead our communications and marketing efforts to the next level.

About Prairie Rivers Network

At Prairie Rivers Network (PRN) we protect water, heal land, and inspire change. Using the creative power of science, law, and collective action, we protect and restore our rivers, return healthy soils and diverse wildlife to our lands, and transform how we care for the earth and for each other. Our programs confront many of the root causes of environmental degradation in Illinois while addressing the sources and impacts of climate change and advancing just and equitable solutions.

The Opportunity

The Interim Communications Director will lead PRN’s communication efforts to advance our program narrative for clean water, climate and energy, habitat and biodiversity, and river health and resiliency, as well as advance our organizational and fundraising goals. This position will work to transform public perception and values, linking human well-being and happiness to nature’s health and diversity. The Interim Communications Director will help educate and empower people to stand up for their local lands, waters, and wildlife.

This is a full-time position through December 31, 2024. Promotion of this position to permanent Communications Director will be decided no later than December 15, 2024 and will be contingent upon employee performance and PRN’s financial position.

The ideal candidate will be located in the Champaign-Urbana area, but candidates residing in other Illinois communities will be considered with an expectation of frequent trips to the Champaign office. A hybrid telework schedule is possible.

What You Will Do at PRN

Leadership and Organizational Advancement

  • Lead the Communications team to support PRN’s mission; advocate and speak for clean water, river protection, biological integrity, wildlife conservation, and climate mitigation and adaptation with a strong focus on advancing Illinois’ historic transition to clean energy; collaborate with local, regional, state and national partners to pursue resources, policies, programs and strategies that will ensure the long-term health and beauty of Illinois’ communities, rivers, and habitat.
  • Provide strong, collaborative leadership with the staff and board to achieve the organization’s mission and goals consistent with our Strategic Plan.
  • Advance PRN’s core values and competency within the Communications team and across the organization to ensure that the social change we advocate for reflects our values throughout our work, particularly with regard to equity and environmental justice.
  • Develop and deepen long-term relationships with team members, partners, agency staff, decision makers, funders, and donors to advance our mission.
  • Work independently, managing a robust work load and schedule, with minimal supervision.
  • Coordinate and participate in regularly scheduled team meetings.
  • Contribute to and uplift a positive, equitable, inclusive, and just internal organizational culture.

Team Management

  • Ensure PRN’s Communications team progresses toward long term goals; assess and develop opportunities which align with organizational priorities while retaining the flexibility to act quickly and opportunistically.
  • Collaboratively develop and oversee the implementation of strategic, effective work plans; regularly evaluate program goals and projects to measure success and adjust accordingly; support the development of PRN’s Strategic Plan.
  • Lead, mentor, challenge, and retain a qualified and motivated team; inspire confidence and trust; effectively delegate communication responsibilities, cultivate a culture of accountability, and successfully manage the team to work collaboratively together and across the organization.
  • Work closely with the Executive Director to foster open communications including communication reports with the Board and attend Board committee meetings as needed.
  • Work closely with the Executive Director and Director of Operations and Finance to develop, administer, and monitor the communications budget.
  • Manage communication grant cycles including developing grant proposals, meeting key deadlines and deliverables.


  • Drive fundraising efforts to secure grants and work in collaboration with the Development Director and Executive Director in securing individual donations to support and advance the organizational budget; cultivate and maintain relationships with funders and major donors.
  • Assist with member and major donor relations through participation in fundraising and outreach events, activities, and communications.
  • In partnership with the Development Director, develop and coordinate a marketing plan for the organization based on PRN’s mission, vision, and strategic plan; and create engaging outreach materials.


  • Lead and work collaboratively with the Communications team to support and develop creative and effective communications to advance program and organizational goals and share success stories. Oversee and drive PRN’s communications calendar.
  • Programs Team Support:  Work with Program Directors, Program staff, and consultants to develop narratives and communications strategies both within and across programs to meet strategic and programmatic goals. Coordinate the development of metrics and key performance indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of communication efforts and adjust strategies accordingly. Lead program needs including but not limited to messaging, talking points, earned and social media, blog posts, opinion columns, and action alerts.
  • Actively gather and seek out stories and opportunities to drive program narrative and content authentically and leverage multi-channel communication strategies.
  • Be an advocate for, external face of, and effectively represent the organization in order to increase its impact and visibility.
  • Strategic Communication Planning: Develop and execute a comprehensive communications strategy that supports PRN’s goals and objectives. Including supporting the development of program narratives, communications guides, creative content, and social media.
  • Programmatic Specific Communication Collaborations: Support our program teams by joining partner communications strategy meetings.
  • Media Relations: Build and maintain positive relations with media outlets, journalists, and industry influencers. Lead and manage media inquiries and proactively pitch stories to secure positive media coverage and drive our narrative into communities. Assist staff with developing media relationships.
    Public Relations: Support and advance the organization’s public image and engagement efforts through speaking events, media outreach, and partnership development.
  • Internal Communication: Lead and implement strategies to enhance internal communications and staff engagement, ensuring that all members, stakeholders and staff are informed and aligned with the organization’s mission and vision.
  • Content Creation: Oversee and lead the creation of content for various communications channels, including press releases, articles, blog posts, social media, reports, e-news, and newsletters.
  • Crisis Communications: Support and implement crisis communications plans and protocols to manage and mitigate potential issues or crises effectively and transparently. Develop and implement rapid response plans for common emergencies and respond to public inquiries.
  • Identify significant media and public policy issues to support PRN’s work and create and implement communication plans to utilize them.

What You Will Bring to PRN

  • Joy of building relationships with people and reaching diverse audiences.
  • Friendly and outgoing attitude with a great sense of humor that has a passion for people and helping the community in environmental protection.
  • Excellent communications and listening skills with enthusiasm for public speaking as well as ability to express complex issues in easily understood written form.
  • Enthusiasm for working in a team-based organization and with volunteers and diverse communities.
  • Organized, flexible, and can work independently or in a team.
  • Time management skills to efficiently prioritize multiple responsibilities.
  • Creativity and willingness to bring new perspectives and ideas.
  • A can-do and will-do attitude, meaning no task is too daunting nor too basic.


  • Excellent public speaking, written and oral communication skills are required.
  • Experience generating earned media coverage, social media, and driving narrative change is required.
  • Familiarity with environmental advocacy and conservation is preferred.
  • Experience securing grant funding from private foundations is preferred.
  • May require travel and weekend work.
  • Valid driver’s license with either access to own vehicle or eligibility to rent is required.

What We Offer


The Interim Communications Director is a full-time professional position with a starting salary of $75,000.


We believe staff is more effective in a work culture that values a work-life balance and a family-friendly atmosphere with flexible scheduling. Benefits include:

  • 15-20 vacation days
  • 12 general paid time off days
  • 11 paid holidays plus winter break from Dec 24 through Dec 31
  • 403(b) retirement pan with 5% employer match
  • Up to 12 weeks parental leave (4 weeks paid; 8 weeks unpaid)
  • 100% employer paid health insurance for the individual employee
  • Employee assistance program


A remote telework schedule is expected for candidates outside the Champaign-Urbana area. Candidates in C-U may have a hybrid telework schedule.

To Apply

We want to get to know you. We value great writers with creativity and inspiration. Tell us why you really want to join our team.

Interested candidates should email their cover letter, resume, and writing sample (press release, investigative article, messaging guide, grant proposal, or whatever makes you shine) to:

Subject line of your email should be “Interim Communications Director Application” and attach your cover letter, resume, and writing sample with the file name consisting of “Last name, First name Resume/Cover Letter/Sample.”

Please: no phone calls, drop-ins, or paper applications.

Hiring Process

Applications will be considered through April 3, 2024 and will be evaluated on a rolling basis. We will acknowledge, by e-mail, receipt of each application.

Prairie Rivers Network is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. We strive to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and environmental justice in all aspects of our work and organization. We recruit, employ, train, compensate, and promote regardless of race, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity (including gender nonconformity and status as a transgender individual), age, physical or mental disability, citizenship, genetic information, past, current, or prospective service in the uniformed services, or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal, state, or local law.

We recognize that people come with a wealth of experience and talent beyond just the technical requirements of a job, therefore our job descriptions are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Your experience, which may include paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work, helps build the competencies and knowledge that translates to our openings. Diversity of experience and skills combined with passion is a key to innovation and a culture of excellence. Therefore, we encourage people from all backgrounds to apply to our positions.

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