Program Manager: Rural Innovation Initiative
Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc (RISI) is dedicated to helping clients bring prosperity and investment to rural areas in the digital age.
We use data-driven strategies, modern geospatial tools, and deep experience in rural economies to develop new modes of rural economic development for communities and stakeholder organizations. Working with our sister organization the Center on Rural Innovation (501c3) and philanthropic partners like the Siegel Family Endowment, Kauffman Foundation, and Reid Hoffman, we are partnering with communities as they launch Innovation Hubs in small towns - facilities that offer digital job skills training for the “future of work,” co-working space, remote/distributed work opportunities, support for entrepreneurs, housing for young workers, amenities and cultural resources. We believe that our activities will attract parallel and follow-on investment from a variety of sources in the towns where we operate, creating momentum for economic renewal.
In addition, we analyze the drivers of growth and resilience in rural economies and build data analytics platforms that inform the efforts of rural development stakeholders across the country. Our goal is to develop replicable and scalable paradigms for rural economic development in America.
This is a flexible location position, the right candidate can be located anywhere in the United States.
RISI is headquartered in a historic general store building in the village of Hartland, Vermont, a part of the Upper Valley and greater Dartmouth College region. For more information, please visit our website: https://ruralinnovationstrategies.com/
Rural Innovation Initiative
Our young organization is developing a model for building digital economy ecosystems in rural America, specifically “Innovation Hubs” that introduce remote work strategies, entrepreneurship development programs and computer science training to small towns. Having launched its first Innovation Hub, Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Economic Development Administration to scale the model to other rural communities around the country and assist them with strategic efforts to diversify their economies through a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. We are seeking an exceptional strategist and change agent to help support communities as they implement the Innovation Hub model and work creatively to close the rural opportunity gap.
- Working with Director of Strategic Partnerships for RISI and senior staff to create a comprehensive strategy for engaging rural communities in developing Innovation Hubs
- Developing communication and assessment tools for helping rural communities understand what is needed for rural digital economy ecosystems to thrive
- Deploying an outreach strategy via partner organizations to engage a broad range of interested communities
- Managing the direct capacity building activity with a number of communities, working directly with community leaders to reach fundraising, board development, and partnership goals, and applying to EDA’s RIS grant program or other federal or private grant programs
- Coordinating, designing, and assisting with facilitating site visits to communities across the nation to develop regional strategies for building digital economy ecosystems
- Conducting analysis to hone our approach distill feedback from participants, and identify core learnings for national audiences
- Contributing to RISI’s efforts to build a thriving network of rural innovation hubs to increase local capacity, enabling collaboration among innovation hubs, and facilitating investment in rural communities and entrepreneurs
- Managing administrative functions, including ensuring travel policies are followed when coordinating site visits, managing expense filing, and program reporting
Required Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes
- Passionate and demonstrated belief in our mission, vision, and potential to improve Rural America through this social enterprise
- Track record of relentless problem-solving and overcoming barriers to success
- Solid analytical skills with exceptional attention to detail
- Exceptional writing skills to create concise reports to federal program office and general communications to community leadership
- Excellent interpersonal and relationship management skills; demonstrated ability to interact well and respect a diverse range of people, experiences, and constituencies
- Demonstrated expertise in accumulating, analyzing, and presenting research data to non-technical audiences
- Ability to handle sensitive and confidential information with discretion and judgment
- Ability to be self-directed, as well as succeed and thrive in a collaborative team environment
- Ability to lead, inspire and motivate others, and assume leadership on a team when appropriate
- Effective verbal communication skills, including active listening, and public speaking
- Ability to work comfortably in a fast-paced and entrepreneurial environment
- Ability to organize multiple tasks/projects, as well as prioritizing tasks, intellectual curiosity, and ability to present complex ideas and analysis of ideas
- Four-year degree from an accredited college or university; graduate degree preferred
- Several years experience in program management and/or development
- Experience consulting or providing technical assistance for national programs desired
- Strong computer skills, including use of Google Suite, web based collaboration and project management tools, and virtual presentation platforms
Essential job functions and requirements are subject to possible modification to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities.
This job description is intended to convey information essential to understanding the scope of the job and the general nature and level of work performed by job holders within this job. However, this job description is not intended to be an exhaustive list of qualifications, skills, efforts, duties, responsibilities or working conditions associated with the position. This job description is general and may evolve over time. The description is subject to periodic updating. At management’s discretion, the employee may be assigned different and/or additional duties or responsibilities.
You’ll love working for RISI if:
- You want to join a fast-moving social enterprise with a clear mission and entrepreneurial culture
- You are comfortable working with an intense, ambitious team
- You are willing to take risks, learn from experiments that don’t work, and try another approach
- You have a strong attention to detail, but also the ability to align and prioritize specific initiatives to strengthen the whole operation
- You take initiative and ownership of your responsibilities
- You love traveling to small towns around America and meeting with community leaders to hear their stories and support their visions for their future
- You believe that a team whiteboard scrum, an afternoon IPA session at the hilltop brewery, and morning caffeination at the local bakery are all equally great ways to surface ideas and make good decisions
- You believe that Rural America provides real economic opportunity and that sustainable, future-focused development is the key to bridging many of the geographic and economic divides facing our country
We offer competitive compensation and benefits.