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Communications Manager - Climate Adaptation Science Center

University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota, US
Closing date
Jan 23, 2022

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Job ID344856 LocationTwin Cities Job FamilyMarketing & Communications Full/Part TimeFull-Time Regular/TemporaryRegular Job Code8342CG Employee ClassCivil Service

About the Job

Are you passionate about science communication - and the role it can play helping people adapt to a changing climate? Do you thrive in roles where you get to orchestrate many moving parts, aligning them toward impact? We'd like to meet you. We're the Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC), a regional consortium hosted at the University of Minnesota, and we're looking to hire a communications manager for our dynamic new research and education partnership.

What's a CASC, you ask? The Midwest CASC is a consortium of higher education and natural resource institutions, the ninth such partnership in the U.S. Geological Survey's national CASC network. Federally funded, the nine regional CASCs - along with the national CASC - are dedicated to delivering science that helps wildlife, water, land, and people adapt to a changing climate.

Each CASC is responsible for ensuring access to a broad range of scientific expertise; producing high-quality research, data sets, and tools; and fostering adaptation capacity across its region. CASCs help scientists and natural and cultural resource managers to work together, ensuring research and scientific products are both useful and used, relevant to real-world challenges.

To this end, the Midwest CASC will fund - and communicate about - individual and collaborative research projects across the consortium, which includes the University of Minnesota system, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Indiana University, College of Menominee Nation, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and The Nature Conservancy. The Midwest CASC will also include a fellowship program for graduate students and a summer research experience for undergraduates focused on Tribal participation.

As the CASC communications manager, you'll be in charge of developing, implementing, and evaluating the Center's first communications program. Ensuring compliance with USGS requirements, you will develop and manage a Midwest CASC website; produce and coordinate email, social media, and media relations; and plan and execute strategies to share the work of the Midwest CASC, including developing a variety of outreach-oriented products and tools.

In your domain, you'll also have opportunities to contribute to communications training - and you will oversee the production of a variety of other internal content, including required USGS reports. In all of this work, you will want and need to coordinate closely and communicate regularly with USGS and CASC partners, both regional and federal. You will also want to coordinate with and leverage the expertise, resources, and contributions of fellow USGS and consortium communicators.

Because the CASC spans a large geography and involves many partners and stakeholders, skill in building and managing relationships will benefit you in this position. Intercultural competency will be key. Science communication experience is also highly desirable, as this position shares responsibility for making adaptation science accessible and relevant to a wide range of audiences. For this reason, experience evaluating the effectiveness of communications efforts will also benefit you in this position. Finally, experience collaborating with federal or state agencies - or other complex organizations - would also undoubtedly serve you well.

Your home base will be at the University of Minnesota, with workspace at the . IonE is a mission-driven unit that spans the UMN five-campus system; it catalyzes interdisciplinary, community-responsive research; works to cultivate sustainability leaders; and uses storytelling as a tool to scale impact, convene communities, and drive change.

At the Midwest CASC, we emphasize impact and outcomes; partnership with implementing organizations; and programming that is equitable, inclusive, and dismantles racism and other structural injustices and social vulnerabilities - values that IonE shares. We also take seriously a commitment to Tribal sovereignty, which includes data and information, and stories about and with Tribal communities. We strive to build a new chapter of adaptation science that is culturally diverse - and inclusive of a diversity of perspectives, experiences, and points of view.

Your supervisor will be the IonE director of communications, and you'll be connected to a broader community of University of Minnesota communicators, including those at IonE. You'll also collaborate closely with the Midwest CASC program manager (see job opening 344857).

Job Duties and Responsibilities
  • Strategy and Planning (10%)
    • Develop a strategic communications plan for the Midwest CASC, prioritizing audiences, identifying channels, and choosing tactics to effectively advance CASC objectives
    • Create individual communications plans, aligning with strategy and coordinating with partners, for significant outcomes and other key milestones, projects, and activities
    • Ensure that Midwest CASC communications products align with the overall communications strategies and products of the U of M and USGS
  • Public-Facing Communications Management (50%)
    • Lead the development of a Midwest CASC website, developing its content strategy and ensuring it meets USGS standards and requirements
    • Post-development, provide day-to-day oversight and maintenance of the website, including development of new pages/functions, as well as general content management
    • Research, write, edit, and publish regular stories and announcements about CASC-funded research and activities
    • Manage and leverage email as a channel, developing tactics and tools, such as a digital newsletter, and developing and growing relevant lists
    • Establish and manage a Midwest CASC social media presence, prioritizing the social platforms best suited to CASC goals
    • Produce a range of other communications tools and products, such as fact sheets, one- or two-pagers, videos, presentations, etc., working with a variety of contributors including colleagues and CASC collaborators, as well as occasional freelancers
    • Do basic design work, layouts, and graphics for your communications projects and products, coordinating freelance support as needed
    • Coordinate media relations and serve as point of contact for incoming media inquiries
    • Across all activities, coordinate with consortium and USGS partners, leveraging shared resources, building mutual benefit, and expanding reach and impact
  • Internal Communications and CASC Activities (25%)
    • Work with the Midwest CASC director on programming for the Midwest CASC Annual Gathering; coordinate with the Midwest CASC program manager to help promote that meeting; and assist with meeting delivery, particularly the communications needs and opportunities
    • Facilitate internal CASC and USGS partner communication, developing regular USGS highlights and serving as the editor/writer of a periodic update for internal audiences
    • Help support the communications training and activities of Midwest graduate and postdoc fellows, and leverage trainings and associated activities at consortium partner institutions
    • Help create calls for graduate and undergraduate fellowships and other funding or participation opportunities - and distribute such opportunities via the website, newsletter, and other internal (and external as appropriate) channels and platforms
    • Manage relationships with a variety of stakeholders, including the USGS, IonE and the UMN, and communicators at consortium institutions
    • Attend regular meetings with groups including UMN-based CASC leadership, the consortium leadership team, IonE/UMN communicators, and local and national USGS staff
  • Reporting and Evaluation (15%)
    • Participate in the collection, review, and analysis of data with regard to research accessibility, effective science delivery, and outreach, evaluating the the effectiveness of the communications program and products - and revising approaches as indicated
    • Under the guidance of the Midwest CASC and USGS directors, generate quarterly and annual reports to the USGS, working closely with the Midwest CASC program manager to develop the content and gather information (budget, personnel, etc.)

Working Conditions
IonE and the UMN Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) endorse a "work with flexibility" approach that offers a welcoming and flexible work environment where everyone is inspired to do their best. Work location options include working fully remote, partially remote, or entirely in the office, and are based on the work of the position. Some on-site work may be necessary for certain positions, even those designated as fully remote. IonE retains the right to modify flexible work arrangement agreements on a temporary or permanent basis for any reason at any time.

This position has been designated as "Work Profile Two," within the OVPR flexible work guidelines. Work Profile Two is expected to work on-site more than 50% of the time. Your office will be located at the Saint Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota.


Required Qualifications
  • B.A./B.S. degree plus two or more years of experience in a communications role, or a combination of related education and work experience equivalent to six or more years
  • Experience leading or relevant to leading a communications program, including developing, executing, and evaluating the effectiveness of plans, strategies, and tactics
  • Demonstrated commitment to valuing diversity and equity, and contributing to an inclusive working and learning environment
  • An appreciation of the role of science in decision-making - and experience with science communication
  • Strong writing, editing, and design skills, lending themselves to creating a variety of content
  • Experience with website management, including fluency with content management systems, web design/development, and basic technical maintenance
  • Skill using various communications apps and tools, such as Adobe Creative Suite, Mailchimp and/or Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and social media management platforms

We anticipate strong candidates might also have some of the following experiences, skills, traits, or qualities:
  • A professional background in science communication and/or outreach
  • A connection to natural resource management and/or climate science
  • Experience working with federal or state agencies, and/or other relevant organizations
  • Proven ability to express scientific concepts, research findings, or other complex subjects in engaging, accessible language
  • The competencies necessary to work effectively with distributed teams and with stakeholders who have diverse backgrounds, priorities, and perspectives
  • Attentiveness to relationships, especially when it comes to stakeholder engagement and multi-organization collaboration
  • An ability to move projects forward independently (but not in isolation) - setting priorities, communicating progress, and balancing different streams of work
  • Experience engaging with stakeholders at events, small-group meetings, and one-on-one
  • Demonstrated ability to grow long-term relationships with key partners and audiences

About the Department

The Institute on the Environment (IonE) is a mission-driven unit with big ambition. A UMN systemwide entity, IonE catalyzes interdisciplinary, community-responsive research; works to cultivate sustainability leaders; and uses storytelling as a tool to scale impact, convene our community, and drive change.

How To Apply

To Apply
We will begin reviewing applications on January 18, 2022. The starting range for this position is $60,482 - $71,156, with comprehensive benefits. To apply, please submit a cover letter describing your interest in the role and qualifications; your resume; two writing or other work samples; and a document with short answers to the questions below.

Any kind of sample is welcome - from published stories and content to communications plans and other internal documents. Please approach the questions with high-level answers, not essays. We won't be counting words, but we recommend no more than 300. We recognize that applying for any position takes effort, and we look forward to reading your materials.
  • Tell us about a recent communications plan you developed and how you evaluated its effectiveness.
  • How do you approach managing relationships with a broad range of stakeholders?

  • Applications must be submitted online. To be considered for this position, please click the Apply button and follow the instructions. You will be given the opportunity to complete an online application for the position and attach a cover letter and resume.

    Additional documents may be attached after application by accessing your "My Job Applications" page and uploading documents in the "My Cover Letters and Attachments" section.

    To request an accommodation during the application process, please e-mail or call (612) 624-UOHR (8647).

    ***If you experience any barriers or obstacles to the application process, please email IONE@UMN.EDU***


    The University recognizes and values the importance of diversity and inclusion in enriching the employment experience of its employees and in supporting the academic mission. The University is committed to attracting and retaining employees with varying identities and backgrounds.

    The University of Minnesota provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. To learn more about diversity at the U: .

    IonE is committed to becoming an anti-racist organization and to building a culturally diverse and inclusive environment with equity core to our work.

    Employment Requirements

    Any offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. Our presumption is that prospective employees are eligible to work here. Criminal convictions do not automatically disqualify finalists from employment.

    Please note: All employees at the University of Minnesota are required to report complete vaccination against COVID-19 or submit documentation requesting a medical or religious exemption on their first day of employment. To learn more, please visit the .

    About the U of M

    The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC)

    The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC), is among the largest public research universities in the country, offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional students a multitude of opportunities for study and research. Located at the heart of one of the nation's most vibrant, diverse metropolitan communities, students on the campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul benefit from extensive partnerships with world-renowned health centers, international corporations, government agencies, and arts, nonprofit, and public service organizations.


    Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health


    Bachelor's Degree


    2 to 20+ years
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