Communications Director
Job Type

About Us:

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is the nation’s largest trails organization—with a grassroots community more than 1 million strong—dedicated to building a nation connected by trails, reimagining public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors. Founded in 1986, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's national office is located in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. For more information, visit Connect with RTC @railstotrails on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Job Summary:

In partnership with the Vice President of Communications, the Communications Director will be responsible for developing and implementing communications strategies that directly support and accelerate organizational goals related to equity, infrastructure, investment, and participation. The Communications Director’s portfolio will center on RTC’s efforts to position trail networks as essential to the well-being of people, communities, and the environment while elevating the organization’s leadership as the nation’s largest nonprofit organization advocating for trails and active transportation.

The Communications Director must be comfortable working in a highly nuanced communications environment and will be responsible for developing and executing communications strategies in support of projects and programs across the organization, which includes media relations, issue-based campaigns, thought leadership, events and partnerships, rapid response, advocacy communications, brand management, and visibility. This position will emphasize communications goals that help to build political will for trails and trail networks while supporting RTC’s primary strategic communications objectives nationally: increasing audience engagement across programs and priorities; establishing and promoting RTC’s thought leadership; and raising RTC’s brand visibility. 

We seek a candidate who is energized by both thinking and doing. The successful candidate will be someone who places value on the contributions of the entire team and looks for opportunities to develop and mentor the team and individual team members. This position will work as a communications partner in close collaboration with staff from across the organization.

Job Location:

This position is located in our Washington, D.C. National Headquarters, and is eligible for a hybrid work schedule in accordance with RTC’s policies. Proof of vaccination is required for all staff.

Job Duties:

  • Develop, implement and evaluate communications strategies that raise the visibility and influence of RTC’s TrailNation initiative, including efforts associated with the initiative’s model projects—a portfolio of a minimum of eight projects with initiatives currently underway in Baltimore, the District of Columbia, Philadelphia, the industrial heartland (western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and western New York), southeast Wisconsin, the San Francisco Bay Area, south Texas and Miami. Develop necessary relationships, content and collateral to ensure success.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with the media to position RTC’s programmatic activities and TrailNation projects within local markets and nationally.
  • Manage a proactive digital media strategy for RTC’s national programmatic campaigns and TrailNation, including the development of online content that engages audiences across digital channels (web, social media, email, etc.) and leads to measurable action. Distribution of content across platforms will be implemented in partnership with members of the communications team. 
  • Manage online and print editorial activities for national programmatic campaigns and TrailNation, including content creation, marketing, testing, and measurement. 
  • Coordinate with RTC’s Web Manager to ensure information about national programmatic campaigns and TrailNation is up-to-date, relevant, engaging, and actionable.
  • Organize events to engage the media, partners, and local constituents in support of national programmatic campaigns and TrailNation projects across the country. 
  • Provide strategic guidance to project teams and partners to consistently shape messaging and engagement opportunities in support of organizational goals, working in a matrixed style to achieve outcomes. 
  • Coordinate with project teams and the Development team to prepare communications plans for foundation proposals and implement grant-funded communications projects, including managing grant deliverables and workplans, budgets, and preparing necessary timelines and grant reports. 
  • Work diplomatically with partner organizations from across the country in service of communications opportunities that support broader organizational goals and help to advance the trails, walking, and biking movement. 
  • Working alongside the Vice President of Communications, lead, collaborate, and support communication initiatives as required throughout the organization.

Supervisory Responsibilities:

  • This position supervises the Social Media and Engagement Strategist, and other external consultants/vendors/personnel as needed. This position will report to the Vice President of Communications.


Basic Qualifications and Personal Attributes:

The ideal candidate is an accomplished communications professional who possesses the following skills and qualifications:

  • Minimum 7 -10 years of experience in media relations, communications, or journalism
  • An undergraduate degree, or equivalent experience, in communications, journalism, public relations, marketing or a related field
  • Strong creative, strategic, organizational, and leadership abilities
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Demonstrated success in media relations 
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and manage budgets
  • Spanish-language content development skills
  • Superior persuasive writing and editing skills
  • Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of how to use online and social media platforms and strategies to engage audiences and market content
  • Strong verbal communication skills
  • Ability to manage complex projects and competing deadlines 
  • Poise in working with a diverse set of personalities from all levels of the organization as well as external partners
  • Sound judgment in complex and nuanced situations 
  • Familiarity with campaign/event management
  • Ability to quickly identify the nuances of RTC’s policy and program messages and translate them into a form understandable by a variety of audiences
  • A strong commitment to the mission of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to advance trail networks across the country.

Work Environment

  • This position is expected to travel a minimum of 10% of the time as the job responsibilities cover a national portfolio of projects. 
  • Normal office setting with low to moderate noise level.

Employer’s Right: 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 not an implied contract.

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 and provide the nature of your request and your contact information.

Salary Description
Minimum $97,000 per year