Job Openings >> Director, Community Partnerships & Impact
Director, Community Partnerships & Impact
Title:Director, Community Partnerships & Impact
Department:Learning & Community

The Director of Community Partnerships and Impact (CPI) will oversee Shedd Aquarium’s approach to growing and sustaining equitable community partnerships that cultivate thriving ecosystems and communities.

They will build and maintain relationships with key stakeholders and strengthen the Aquarium’s community relations with a focus on supporting initiatives that advance racial, economic, cultural, and environmental equity in the local community. They will lead a strategy for public engagement, developing a regular presence in key neighborhoods and leveraging the aquarium’s expertise and resources in support of community goals.

The Director will provide vision and leadership for the team of Community Partnerships and Impact. Working in close collaboration with departments across Shedd, this team will nurture the development and ongoing management of community partnerships throughout the organization via a cohesive strategy for investing in partnerships to improve outcomes for communities and the environment. They will develop and implement strategies to build the organization’s collective capacity for effective community relations and partnership management that is grounded in asset-based community development, racial justice and inclusion. The team will work to align and evaluate community partnership efforts across Shedd, using qualitative and quantitative data to assess partnerships and initiatives, develop ongoing channels for community voice to be heard and heeded, and make recommendations for improvement as needed.

Duties & Responsibilities:

  • Demonstrate commitment to Shedd’s vision, mission and values.
  • Community Relations
    • Build and maintain relationships with key stakeholders, demonstrating a deep understanding of how to engage diverse audiences with a welcoming and accessible approach
    • Work closely with the VP of Learning and Community to develop and manage Shedd’s Community Advisory Network; create additional avenues for regular feedback and listening with communities and partners.
    • Use an asset-based approach to develop relationships of trust and mutual respect with civic, cultural and environmental organizations serving diverse audiences.
    • Research, design, deliver and evaluate innovative community engagement strategies that align with Shedd’s mission, values and organizational priorities.
    • Generate awareness and community support around Shedd’s community work through presentations and activities as needed
    • Work with External Affairs to ensure clear coordination and leveraging of relationships so that each has an understanding of existing and planned work.
  • Partnership Strategy & Management
    • With guidance from the Vice President, oversee all facets of an approach to equitably partnering with communities to advance shared goals
    • Research, develop and implement new public initiatives that forge closer connections between Shedd and local communities and that increase access to, awareness of, interest in, and appreciation for the aquatic world and local ecosystems.
    • Work with VP and partners to set outcomes and evaluation strategies for community partnerships across Shedd, informing approaches to collect, analyze, and integrate data collection
    • Assess progress and describe results to internal and external collaborators and to the larger community with authenticity, clarity, transparency and effectiveness
    • Oversee the development of internal tools for partnership management, reporting and communication
    • Build capacity across Shedd to effectively work with communities and manage partnerships through training and resource sharing
    • Work with Guest Relations and External Affairs & Marketing to develop, maintain and assess Shedd’s approach to community tickets and in-kind donations in alignment with outreach and community goals
    • Identify and communicate the evolving needs of local communities and partners to ensure a welcoming and engaging environment for diverse audiences at Shedd
  • Departmental Leadership & Collaboration
    • Provide vision and direction to the Community Partnerships and Impact department, developing departmental goals and objectives; hire, supervise and assess CPI staff, interns, and volunteers
    • Plan and oversee projects to ensure they are completed in a timely fashion and within budget, including designating project resources, preparing budgets, monitoring progress, and communicating with internal and external stakeholders.
    • Help ensure community needs and perspectives are represented across Shedd in internal planning efforts
    • Collaborate on and co-write funding proposals for community engagement initiatives.
    • Assess priorities, create and execute timelines, meet interim and overall project milestones; continuously monitor and evaluate based on goals and recalibrate when necessary; bring people together to successfully execute tasks.
    • Collaborate interdepartmentally to ensure the smooth implementation, marketing and communication of community initiatives
  • Other duties as assigned.



  • Bachelor's Degree and/or equivalent experience.

Experience & Skills:

  • At least five to seven years’ experience developing and managing community engagement strategies and building and maintaining coalitions, collaborations and/or partnerships. Strong background and relationships within Chicago area communities is preferred
  • Expertise in group facilitation skills
  • Knowledge of outcome-based evaluations; experience in community needs assessment measurement (desired); demonstrated skills in excel and other data analytics
  • Ability to develop information and raw data into meaningful conclusions
  • Very strong organizational, project, relational and time management skills
  • Excellent research, verbal and written comms skills; ability to make presentations
  • Passionate motivation for community and environmental transformation
  • Understands and can apply leading practices in community engagement in a museum and environmental conservation context
  • Seeks information and shares knowledge of priority community areas, is consistently present and visible in key communities aligned with Shedd’s plans and partnerships.
  • Ability to strategically plan and serve as a catalyst for organizational change, cultivate a shared vision with others, and motivate others to transfer vision into action.
  • Flexibility with work schedule; must be willing to travel around the metropolitan area for business purposes and work evening and weekend hours. Must be willing and able to travel at least 20% of work time.
  • Understands, communicates and works effectively and respectfully across demographic, socioeconomic, language and all other constituents that represent a diverse culture of communities.
  • Spanish fluency (desired)


We strongly encourage people of color, LGBTQ+ community, veterans and active duty military, parents, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from all cultural backgrounds to apply. Shedd Aquarium is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes everyone to our team.

If you need a reasonable accommodation at any point in the application or interview process, please let us know. In your application, please feel free to select which pronouns you use (For example – she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs).

This opening is closed and is no longer accepting applications
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