Director of Government Relations
Job Type

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

The Director of Government Relations will serve as the deputy to RTC’s Vice President of Policy with responsibilities cutting across all facets of the organization’s strategy to shape federal, state and local policies and create sufficient political will to ensure that trail and active transportation networks are routinely prioritized as essential assets. Specific responsibilities include expanding RTC’s impact on Capitol Hill, directing state policy initiatives and departmental management duties. The position will focus on legislative decisions, executive branch policymaking as well as federal, state and local implementation of policies and programs. Tactics will include direct interactions with decision-makers, collaboration with partner organizations and grassroots and “grasstops” movement-building. 

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

  • Cultivate a broad set of relationships with Congressional members and staff of both parties and both chambers, and advocate for RTC’s policy agenda on Capitol Hill.
  • Cultivate relationships with USDOT leaders and take lead responsibility for monitoring and responding to relevant rulemakings and other administrative initiatives.
  • Track and analyze new federal policy proposals and work with the federal policy team to establish RTC positions and strategies for priority bills and administrative actions.
  • Provide information and strategic support to state and local partners in taking full advantage of federal and state funding programs that may be used to develop trail and active transportation networks. Organize applicants to advocate for further policy advances. 
  • Direct the efforts of Director of State-Level Policy and advocate for RTC’s objectives in select states.
  • Assist the Vice President of Policy with management of RTC’s policy department, including standing in for the Vice President when needed and supporting organizational management duties as appropriate (e.g., development of budgets, performance objectives and metrics).
  • Represent RTC on (or lead) key national coalitions addressing transportation, particularly those at the intersection of climate, equity and mobility.
  • Work with the Senior Strategist for Policy Advocacy, the Advocacy Outreach Director and the Development team to create and implement a strategy to deploy influential individual supporters to engage key decision-makers.
  • Work with the Communications staff to ensure accurate content and appropriate messaging to engage grassroots supporters and partner organizations.
  • Develop and implement campaigns to achieve top policy goals that engage all parts of the organization, as appropriate.
  • Provide support to TrailNation project staff and the TrailNation Collaborative by sharing relationships and providing policy expertise and political strategy.
  • Represent RTC at national, state and local events in strategically important places. 

Supervisory Responsibilities

This position directly supervises the Director of State-level Policy and has indirect responsibility for the Midwest Policy Manager, who reports to the Director of State-Level Policy. Additional positions may report to the Director over time. Further, the position entails leadership responsibilities within the policy team, serving as the deputy to the Vice President of Policy on management matters. The position coordinates closely with the rest of RTC’s policy team as well as colleagues on the trail development and communications teams. The Director reports to the Vice President of Policy.


Basic Qualifications and Personal Attributes

  • A minimum of seven years of relevant and varied professional experiences, such as experience working:
  • on Capitol Hill;
  • in federal or state agencies in a policymaking role;
  • in federal or state advocacy;
  • on federal, state or local policy;
  • on federal or state electoral campaigns.

The ideal candidate will have a mix of federal and state-level experience, including direct advocacy relating to both legislative and executive branches.

  • Three or more years of direct supervisory experience as well as team leadership responsibilities
  • Outstanding critical thinking, writing and presentation skills
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills
  • Ability to develop ambitious goals and pragmatic strategies to achieve them
  • Strong policy development, analysis and advocacy skills, ideally including legal training or experience
  • Experience with transportation policy preferred, ideally relating to trails, walking and biking
  • Experience with electronic grassroots advocacy preferred
  • Experience creating and managing a budget preferred
  • Experience with development of funding proposals preferred 
  • Some travel required  

Work Environment

Normal office setting with low to moderate noise level.

Employer's Rights

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 by no means 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 interviewing process, please e-mail and provide the nature of your request and your contact information.

Salary Description
Minimum $105,000 yearly