Communications & Engagement Director

Admin · Nevada City, California
Department Admin
Employment Type Full-Time
Minimum Experience Experienced

TITLE:                     Communications & Engagement Director
REPORTS TO:        Executive Director
JOB STATUS:         Full time, exempt
LOCATION:           Nevada City, CA

The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL – pronounced circle) was founded in 1983 by grassroots activists determined to protect the South Yuba River from dams. Ultimately, SYRCL won permanent protections for 39 miles of the South Yuba River under California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Today, SYRCL is the central hub of community activism to protect, restore, and celebrate the Yuba River watershed. With 37 years of achievements, 3,500 members and 1,000 active volunteers, SYRCL is doing great things for the Yuba watershed. SYRCL is a leader in the Sierra headwaters for addressing statewide and regional issues – challenging new dams, recovering endangered species, addressing climate change and drought, water security and water quality. Together, we are extending our powerful coalition from the summit to the sea.

People Can Save a River is SYRCL’s guiding principle. Engaging the community and working with partners has always been central to our success and we are seeking a Communications Director who is a seasoned professional with experience leading a successful team, who is an outstanding writer excelling at external communications, and strategic thinking. The Director will be highly skilled in using communication and engagement tools to advance our policy, advocacy, legal, and scientific work to protect the watershed.

The Director will also be experienced at community organizing, coalition building, volunteer engagement, mentoring and overseeing program staff, and raising funds. This position will directly manage our communications, outreach, engagement and education staff and will coordinate closely with SYRCL staff across all departments.

This position is based in Nevada City, CA. The position may require occasional travel within California (Sacramento and Bay Area).  Must be available to work some nights and weekends.


  • Bachelor’s degree required. An advanced degree in communications, environmental science, or a related field a plus.
  • Demonstrated excellence in writing, public speaking, and communicating science to the public.
  • Demonstrated ability to solve problems, raise funds, develop and manage internal budgets.
  • Ability to manage multiple, complex projects in varying stages of development under time pressure.
  • Working knowledge of today’s web, email, and social media platforms for education, advocacy, fundraising, storytelling, and general communications.  
  • Proven success with media relations including the ability to write press releases and op-eds, organize press conferences and public relations events, and cultivate media coverage by working with reporters and editorial boards. 
  • Experience managing and developing staff as well as participating as part of a leadership team.
  • Strong collaboration, time management, organizational, and interpersonal skills are required in addition to emotional intelligence, and a track record of working effectively across race, gender, sexual orientation, and other social identities.


  • Graphic design and photo editing skills, using Adobe Creative Suite
  • Web development experience, including building new sites and editing content

General Responsibilities

  • Provide vision and leadership for SYRCL communications, education, and outreach programs
  • Lead SYRCL’s River People and Education teams and supervise staff, currently consisting of 2.6 FTE plus an AmeriCorps member.
  • Develop and implement annual communications goals and plans in collaboration with other department leads, including establishing budget needs, fundraising and advocacy goals, listing growth objectives, and other department priorities.
  • Participate on the organization’s Leadership Team and help guide a positive culture for the organization.
  • Create and adhere to departmental budgets.
  • Ensure effective cross-departmental coordination.

Communications Responsibilities
As SYRCL’s chief storyteller, the Communications Director will oversee the organization’s overall communications strategy aimed at raising SYRCL’s profile, our campaigns, programs, projects, and events. This will include:

  • Identify significant media, science, education, and policy issues that can be leveraged to showcase SYRCL’s work and create and implement plans to build on campaigns as well as breaking news in order to achieve advocacy, science, education, and fundraising goals.
  • Develop materials for outreach and engagement, such as brochures and an annual report.
  • Lead organizational media relations; cultivate relationships with key reporters, editorial boards, media and news outlets, and actively pitch stories, spokespeople, and events during new cycles and campaigns.
  • Oversee management of the organization’s website(s), action alerts, event programs and remarks, press releases, and op-ed pieces.
  • Provide leadership for urgent and timely communications to SYRCL’s various constituent groups, follow stories as they develop, use discretion, and employ good judgment with sensitive information.
  • Work cross-departmentally to create a communications schedule that complements organization-wide efforts.
  • Oversee management of bi-monthly e-newsletters.
  • Oversee management of SYRCL’s social media channels with a goal of staying relevant and engaging the public.
  • Track analytics to measure success across channels and platforms and use data to inform communications strategies.
  • Support Development Department and fundraising communication efforts, including direct mail, e-appeals, and grant proposals.
  • Work with Executive Director on speech writing and presentation creation as needed.

Community Engagement & Education

  • Provide leadership for SYRCL’s Education and Outreach Programs, including expansion, fundraising, and partnership opportunities.
  • Provide leadership for successful marketing and production of events such as the annual Cleanup, State of the Yuba, and Quiz Night, in coordination with Development and other key staff.
  • Oversee staff’s development and management of SYRCL’s educational programming including Salmon Tours, youth field science, Wild & Scenic Film Festival school program, etc.  
  • Work closely on communications strategies with policy staff for current campaigns: Stop Centennial, Growing Green, Hydropower Reform, and Yuba Salmon Now.
  • Supervise staff efforts for volunteer recruitment, retention, and recognition for SYRCL-wide events and activities.


  • Able to work on a computer, including sitting at a desk for extended periods; to read a computer screen; and manual dexterity to operate a keyboard.
  • Able to speak clearly on the phone and in person and be understood by others.
  • Able to occasionally lift objects weighing up to 30 pounds.        


Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.  Preference will be given to applications received by September 27. We recognize this is a challenging time for hiring, both for the organization and candidate due to COVID-19. First contact will be a phone screen interview; finalists will be invited to video call panel interview. Anticipated start date will be December 1, 2020. Applicants will be expected to provide two to three writing samples and participate in a timed writing exercise.

Salary and benefits are competitive with other Northern California not-for-profit conservation organizations; salary is commensurate with experience plus 14 days paid time off (PTO), 3 sick days, 8 paid holidays, and 100% individual health insurance benefits.

SYRCL is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other protected status.

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  • Location
    Nevada City, California
  • Department
  • Employment Type
  • Minimum Experience