Vice President of Regional Conservation

The Vice President of Regional Conservation serves on Openlands executive team that leads the work of the organization and provides a leadership role in developing and executing organizational strategy and regional conservation goals. S/he is an accomplished conservation leader responsible for directing and overseeing region-wide conservation activities for the organization, ensuring successful and meaningful short-range, intermediate, and long-lasting results.

The Vice President of Regional Conservation will:

  • Advance the organization’s region-wide priorities by developing actionable land, water, and policy solutions; executing plans; engaging the board of directors; and recruiting and developing emerging leaders
  • Foster alignment, teamwork, collaboration, innovation, and synergy within the organization’s culture, structure, and strategic priorities
  • Develop and advance innovative solutions that address the systemic root challenges facing nature and people
  • Be responsible for formulating, coordinating and accomplishing the permanent protection, restoration, and stewardship of land and water resources in furtherance of Openlands’ mission

Essential Functions

  • Provide close support to and maintain open communication with the President & CEO, Executive Vice President, and other executive team members on a wide variety of operations matters, strategic priorities, and policy initiatives
  • Build and lead highly-effective, nimble teams that deliver timely and tangible results at significant scale; sustain a culture of accountability; supervise staff and build a collaborative, results driven culture
  • Establish and implement work plans, evaluate outcomes, and adjust priorities; manage alignment of resources and priorities among work teams
  • Originate, execute, and oversee innovative and complex multi-party projects to advance regional conservation goals; generate support and guide public engagement efforts to accomplish successful outcomes
  • Collaborate with other staff to develop and implement policies and positions which reflect regional organizational values and priorities
  • Coordinate with and support legal staff regarding initiatives to shape (or block) damaging transportation projects
  • Grow and sustain a portfolio of relationships among leadership of government and private partners, including philanthropic institutions, elected officials and agency representatives
  • Provide leadership within the state-wide land conservation and environmental communities to advance mutual goals; serve on committees and panels as appropriate to advance the Openlands’ regional agenda
  • Cultivate land owners regarding real estate transactions that culminate in permanent land protection; work with legal staff to execute deals
  • Supervise the merger integration of Conserve Lake County focusing on maintaining a high level of on-the-ground presence in Lake County; oversee the Conservation at Home program and the spring and fall plant sales; manage the integration of Casey Farm and build constructive relationships with government, foundation, and private parties; supervise activities to build depth in Lake County activities including the integration of the wide range of Openlands programs
  • Supervise Openlands greenways and trail work focusing on connectivity in the face of climate change, recreational and educational access to trails, and the intersection of regional and national initiatives
  • Supervise Openlands science-based aquatic ecology work focusing on headwater stream planning, inventory, and protection and facilitate recreational and educational access to water trails
  • Supervise advocacy, research, and legislative initiatives at a local, state and federal level; coordinate closely with legal and communications staff
  • Oversee the operational and stewardship management of the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve
  • Oversee Openlands ecological restoration work, including compliance with legal obligations to government partners in connection with wetlands mitigation funds
  • Manage budgets; secure funding and financing, including market-based mechanisms, to advance the work
  • Assure meaningful participation of regional programs with Openlands Program Impact Framework to assure that program activities are having meaningful impact and measurable results

Knowledge, Skill, and Abilities

  • Bachelor’s degree in environmental or natural resource field or other applicable fields, such as political science, legal studies, business administration; Advanced degree desirable
  • Ten years relevant experience managing a multi-disciplinary team
  • Experience with land trusts, conservation strategies, conservation finance, and trends and emerging issues
  • Experience managing a multi-disciplinary team of professionals
  • Experience developing region-wide strategies and policies
  • Proven skills and experience negotiating complex, high profile agreements
  • Demonstrated ability to build and manage relationships with donors in the foundation and corporate sector
  • Ability to work independently and well with people and agencies
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills
  • Willingness to work evenings and weekends several times per month
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite
  • Ability to travel frequently throughout the Chicago region; access to automobile and driver’s license required throughout the term of employment

Openlands is an equal opportunity employer and seeks to employ qualified individuals based on individual merit. Openlands does not discriminate against any individual with respect to the terms and conditions of employment based on that individual’s race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, disability, genetic information, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, housing status, or any other non-merit factor protected under state, local or federal laws.

Equal Employment Opportunity applies to all personnel actions such as recruiting, hiring, compensation, benefits, promotions, training, transfer, termination, and opportunities for training. Openlands is committed to a fair and equitable workplace where everyone is a respected and valued member of the team.

To Apply

This position is open until filled. Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter explaining why your skills and experience would complement this position to Please include “Vice President of Regional Conservation” in the subject line.

Please note that applications without a cover letter will not be considered.

Work Environment

  • Loop office is ADA accessible.
  • This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, and scanners. Employee is regularly required to talk, hear, see, and communicate effectively via computer.
  • Smoke- and drug-free environment.


  • Salary range is market competitive. Benefits include health, life, and disability coverage, a 403(b)-retirement plan, paid holidays and vacation time. This is a full-time exempt position.

Openlands is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

About Openlands

Openlands protects the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois and the surrounding region to ensure cleaner air and water, protect natural habitats and wildlife, and help balance and enrich our lives. Openlands’ vision for the region is a landscape that includes a vast network of land and water trails, tree-lined streets, and intimate public gardens within easy reach of every city dweller. It also includes parks and preserves big enough to provide natural habitat and to give visitors a sense of the vast prairies, woodlands, and wetlands that were here before the cities. In sum, Openlands believes that protected open space is critical for the quality of life of our region.