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Deputy Executive Director

Job Description: 

Deputy Executive Director


Prairie Research Institute

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


The Prairie Research Institute (PRI), a research and service institute of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign centrally located between Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, houses five large scientific surveys covering a wide range of expertise including biology, water resources, climate, geology, sustainable technology, and archaeology. PRI’s mission is to provide objective, integrated scientific research and service, in cooperation with other academic and research units of the University of Illinois and elsewhere, that allow citizens and decision-makers to make choices that ensure sustainable economic development, enduring environmental quality, and cultural resource preservation for the people, businesses, and governments of Illinois.


PRI is seeking to hire a Deputy Executive Director to develop, implement, and administer public policy strategic plans and projects of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI).


Major Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Promote the vision, mission, and strategic goals of PRI; protect PRI's credibility as a nationally prominent applied research institute that delivers objective, integrated scientific research and unbiased information in support of public health and safety, industries and government, economic development, environment, and cultural resources; and expand PRI's international status.

  • Act in close cooperation with the Executive Director, Strategic Project Leaders, Office of the Executive Director (OED) team members, and Survey Directors to ensure efficient, effective, and ethical performance by overseeing the progress of proposed and ongoing major integrated scientific research projects including research initiatives, large multi-disciplinary projects, response teams, special projects, and strategic partnerships; and overseeing the delivery of public engagement and services.

  • Administer all aspects of the public policy program within PRI by supporting or representing the Executive Director on public policy issues; develop and implement policy research and analysis related to PRI's scientific research; and provide policy-related information and recommendations to the Executive Director and the OED team.

  • Build and maintain relationships with key stakeholders, including University leadership, Advisory Board members, clients, constituents, partners, and major donors; maintain contacts with government agencies, policymakers, stakeholders and professional practitioners; and negotiate and collaborate with partners.

  • Develop fundraising and ensure the overall financial sustainability of PRI with assigned expert development staff and in close cooperation with the Associate Director for Strategic Communications, Associate Director for Finance, and other OED members.

  • Actively participate in the OED's team in terms of ensuring open communications, active participation in relevant meetings, and timely responses to requests for action or information.

  • Serve as a senior advisor to the Executive Director.

  • Serve as a liaison to the University Office of Government Relations and to the Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

  • Required Qualifications:

  • Ph.D. in conservation or environmental science, public policy, law, or a closely related discipline or Juris Doctorate. Alternate degree fields will be considered based upon the nature and depth of the experience as it relates to this position.

  • 10+ years of experience working in public policy, law or advocacy.

  • Current affiliation with the University of Illinois.

  • Working knowledge of economic development or natural resource management policy, legislation, and state and campus administrative procedures.

  • Creative problem-solving skills with excellent judgment, analytical, and interpersonal skills.

  • Demonstrated high proficiency in public speaking and written communications combined with exemplary customer service and organizational development skills.

  • Demonstrated ability to work in a diverse and fast-paced work environment consisting of multiple and changing priorities, under minimal supervision.

  • Proficiency in common-employed software and databases.

    Preferred Qualifications:

    • Significant public policy or legal experience in a professional or governmental position in the public sector at a level requiring regular contact with elected officials or with executive officers of administrative agencies.


This is a regular full-time 12-month academic professional position, renewable annually based upon satisfactory progress in the position and continued funding. The starting date is negotiable after the closing date. Salary will be commensurate with experience.


Applications must be received by June 1, 2017. Applicants may be interviewed before the closing date; however, no hiring decision will be made until after this date. To apply, please visit to complete an online profile and to upload 1) a cover letter that clearly articulates how your qualifications and experience make you a viable candidate for this position and should address the qualifications listed above, 2) a résumé/CV, and 3) the names and contact information (including e-mail addresses) of three professional references. All requested information/documentation must be submitted for applications to be considered. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.


For further information please contact Lori Walston-Vonderharr, Human Resources, Prairie Research Institute, at or 217-244-2401. The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer.


The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer. Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit To learn more about the University’s commitment to diversity, please visit


Your Company or Organization: 
Prairie Research Institute
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Required degree level: 
Doctoral Degree
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