Associate: Great Rivers Chicago

Metropolitan Planning Council

For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has guided towards a better, bolder, more equitable future for everyone. We do that by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area’s toughest planning and development challenges. MPC is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with an established track record of high-quality research, advocacy and demonstration projects to help our region and its local communities thrive. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems—with a focus on government effectiveness, vibrant neighborhoods, quality housing and transportation choices, and well-managed natural assets—and we think ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow.

With a professional staff of 26 and growing, several Senior Fellows and a team of Research Assistants/Interns, MPC’s 2020 budget is $5.8 million. More information on MPC can be found online at:

The Opportunity:

In 2016, MPC, the City of Chicago, and other partners released Our Great Rivers, a vision for making Chicago’s riverfronts more inviting, living and productive. This vision was a culmination of a year-long engagement effort that asked residents and stakeholders what they envision for the future of the Chicago, Des Plaines and Calumet rivers. More than 6,000 individuals articulated how they would like interacting with their river system. A series of goals and objectives, ranging from policy change to individual actions resulted in providing a plan to achieve this vision by 2040.

Over the past three-and-a-half years, MPC has been working to advance Our Great Rivers through both advocacy and providing support to community-led projects. The full spectrum of work requires coordination with multiple partners, ranging from government to community based organizations, as well as the ability to communicate and work through challenging issues collaboratively. Our Great Rivers is entering a milestone year with a number of goals targeted to be achieved in 2020. This year, MPC will highlight the progress the initiative has made as well as make progress on the goals that remain, to build momentum for sustained work into the future.

The Position:

MPC is hiring a full-time Associate to support Great Rivers Chicago, a signature project under our Land Use and Planning cluster. MPC is seeking a highly motivated individual with strong project management skills, along with the ability to execute strategies and learn new tasks quickly. This role requires flexibility and working with individuals in many different sectors, ranging from nonprofit organizations, to community organizations, to government partners, to the private sector.

This role is highly collaborative and requires knowledge of the broader Chicago community as well as the ability to identify needed tasks to successfully implement communications strategies, including authoring blog posts and coordinating newsletters, events and media, as well as connecting project partners to resources and expertise, and using research skills to guide project components.

The position will report to MPC Director of Land Use and Planning Christina Harris.

Primary responsibilities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Provide project support to place-based community projects
  • Support Our Great Rivers grantee projects by providing support and assistance to external partners in applying for funding, relationship building and pro-bono resources
  • Plan monthly convenings of organizations involved in riverfront projects and implementation
  • Collect information to assess the short and long-term impacts of past and current community-led projects
  • Support a multi-faceted communications strategy around telling stories of the impacts of community-led projects
  • Complete an assessment of progress on Our Great Rivers goals
  • Evaluate and document progress on 2020, 2030, and 2040 goals categorized under Inviting, Living and Productive
  • Provide input into prioritizing goals to be championed in 2020 by the City of Chicago’s River Ecology and Governance Task Force
  • Document progress made and still needed on each goal in the Our Great Rivers vision
  • Develop research and advocacy strategy for identified and unfulfilled 2020 goals
  • Build political will to implement Our Great Rivers and associated projects
  • Support work associated with the City of Chicago’s River Ecology and Governance Task Force
  • Complete research for current and future advocacy objectives

Knowledge, skills and abilities:

MPC seeks an organized, high-energy individual who thrives in a collegial work environment and can juggle multiple deadlines at once. The ideal candidate has a broad understanding of Chicago’s neighborhoods and politics and holds a degree in a relevant field (this can include but is not limited to: urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, community development, economics, political science, public administration, etc.) and has at least one year of relevant work experience (this can include internships). Knowledge of the river system, environmental issues and environmental justice are a plus. Work and internship experience should include writing, research and working with other partners to achieve defined objectives. The ideal candidate:

  • is a creative thinker able to help connect the Great Rivers Chicago work with other MPC initiatives;
  • is a self-starter, able to prioritize, handle concurrent tasks and projects, and work in a fluid environment;
  • is experienced with the Adobe Suite, including InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop (preferred, not required);
  • is experienced with GIS programs such as ArcMap or QGIS and online mapping libraries (Google maps, Cardo DB, etc.): strong spatial analysis and mapping skills (preferred, not required);
  • is able to communicate directly and work collaboratively with staff colleagues and external partners;
  • desires to make a positive impact on the greater Chicago region;
  • is patient and eager to learn;
  • is energized by the body of issues that MPC addresses and committed to supporting the organization’s mission;
  • is passionate about developing his or her own as well as MPC’s competencies in diversity, racial equity and inclusion;
  • has worked or otherwise been part of a diverse range of communities and community groups;
  • has a sense of humor;
  • is an excellent writer and public speaker;
  • is both entrepreneurial and executes skillfully on assigned work;
  • has a working knowledge of regional actors and institutions in northeastern Illinois; and
  • has cultural competency with an ability to communicate ideas to many different types of audiences and partners.

MPC has a values-driven workplace and we are seeking candidates with a demonstrated commitment to creating a region that is:

  • Equitable: For MPC, equity means that every individual and community in our region has the opportunities they need to thrive. Promoting equity means that we recognize the harm that discrimination and racism have caused and continue to pose to our lives and neighborhoods. That’s why we drive policies, investments and ideas that ensure all current and future residents can reach their full potential.
  • Prosperous: For MPC, prosperity means that both metropolitan Chicago and all of its people are economically healthy and prepared for growth. MPC is focused on ensuring that everyone who lives and works in our region can provide for themselves and their families. We support commitments that bring resources, development, and fairly paid and quality jobs to all communities.
  • Sustainable: For MPC, sustainability means that our region meets the natural, human and financial needs of the present while improving conditions for future generations. MPC’s agenda supports ecological vitality, residents’ health and economic stability for the long term, and ensures that as things change, our region adapts.
  • Engaged and Responsible: For MPC, civic participation and effective government are cornerstones of our region’s viability. We drive policies that strengthen the participation and impact of residents in local and regional decisions. We also promote adaptive, collaborative, just and transparent governance at all levels.
Chicago, IL
Due Date: 
Friday, March 13, 2020
Posted by Mary.Fichtner on January 30, 2020 - 12:54pm