Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc., guided by a belief in rural ingenuity and small-town potential is a dynamic social enterprise committed to helping rural communities get strategic about 21st century economic development.
COVID-19 has challenged assumptions about where digital economies and tech talent can exist. To seize this narrative shift moment, RISI has grown its team by 43% since March 2020. As RISI continues building a passionate nationwide team to execute on this work, they are seeking nominations and applications for the position of Director of the Rural Innovation Network. RISI uses data-driven strategies, leading-edge geospatial tools, and digital economy expertise to help partners and clients advance economic prosperity in small towns across rural America. Collaborating with the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), a mission aligned nonprofit organization, RISI and CORI are dedicated to closing the digital divide and empowering small towns to build thriving digital economies that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation.
We have a distributed team across the country and are headquartered in a historic general store building in the village of Hartland, Vermont, located within the Upper Valley Region of New England and close to Dartmouth College. For more information, please visit our website: www.ruralinnovation.us.
About the Role:
The Director of Rural Innovation Network will support the growth and success of the Rural Innovation Network (RIN), and build and lead a team that will engage in the following areas:
Growing the Network to Drive Digital Economy Ecosystem Development
The Director is expected to lead the growth of the Rural Innovation Network to include 50 communities by the end of 2023. The Director will lead the development of programs and offerings that deliver value to rural community leaders as they design and implement inclusive rural digital economy strategies to support local tech job creation and tech-based entrepreneurship. This requires integrating efforts across several domains, including (a) Future of Work - digital skilling, remote work, tech talent development and job placement efforts; (b) Tech Entrepreneurship - accelerator and incubator programs, access to capital and networks that can facilitate the growth of scalable tech-based companies in rural America; (c) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - supporting communities as they design and implement efforts to ensure an equitable and inclusive approach to tech job creation and tech entrepreneurship that embraces and leverages the breadth of talent and diversity across rural communities; and (d) Research, data, and communications - ensuring that RIN communities benefit from the latest research and data-driven insights, and that systems are in place to monitor progress, capture and share learning. The Director will collaborate with other teams across the organization to ensure an integrated approach that supports communities and shares learnings across the Network, CORI and RISI.
Effectively delivering on these objectives requires building an understanding across a wide range of domains, including scalable entrepreneurship, workforce development, co-working, economic development strategy, and inclusive and equitable economic development strategies. An ideal candidate will have expertise in at least one of these areas and experience in at least one other. The Director will be expected to build expertise in areas where they have less experience through self-directed learning and professional development.
Developing and Leading the RIN Team
The Director will recruit, develop, and empower a team to support RIN communities and the growth of the Network. RIN leverages the subject matter expertise of individual team members, and the Director will be responsible for building an inclusive team culture which supports cohesion across domain experts, while also enabling area leads to take initiative and responsibility to support members and deliver value by advancing programming and projects in their area of expertise.
Shaping Project Design for RIN funding
The Director will work closely with the Executive Director and Director of Development on shaping funding opportunities for RIN programming. This work will require experience in budgeting, program design, and the ability to work collaboratively and synthesize interests across a range of stakeholders, including RIN team members, RIN members, and other leaders across CORI. The Director will also be responsible for overseeing management for funded projects, building and maintaining systems for budget management and reporting.
While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
- Commitment to the belief that rural America provides real economic opportunity, and that sustainable, future-focused development is necessary to bridge geographic and economic divides facing our country.
- Experience designing and delivering programs and services to support the mission of local and regional organizations that are members of a national network, preferably related to entrepreneurship, economic development, or workforce development with a focus on the technology sector.
- Experience building teams, including recruiting, developing, and retaining a diverse, multi-disciplinary team to maximize talent, collaboration, and project management. Experience leading a distributed team.
- Comfort working in a dynamic, fast-growing organization.
- Experience working for or with the government sector is a plus.
- Experience synthesizing learning for best practices and the ability to develop systems, tools and frameworks to support program staff in documenting learnings. Strong writing skills and the ability to work collaboratively with a communications team to deliver learning internally.
- Experience identifying, securing, and growing partnerships to advance system change strategies focusing on policy change, narrative shift efforts and driving strong economic and community outcomes.
- Excellent client relationship skills to understand needs, align on deliverables, and execute according to schedule. A strong customer service mindset for both internal and external stakeholders, with the ability to calibrate expectations and deliver products on time. The ability to do customer discovery and understand relevant data needs for local economic development professionals.
- Proven experience working with communities that are racially, geographically, and socioeconomically diverse. The ability to lead cross team discussions on conceptual topics like ideas, theories, methods, as well as personal experiences arising from work with communities.
- The ability to interact with and communicate to a wide variety of audiences, including community organization leaders, large tech companies, economic development officials, and rural employers and employees. Ability to synthesize findings and convert theoretical ideas in ways that are accessible to staff, community partners, policy makers and thought leaders.
- Willingness to travel to work directly with communities and attend convenings once pandemic-related restrictions are lifted.
Competencies and Skills:
- Design and achieve strategic goals and objectives.
- Develop and deliver programs and services that help member organizations grow and achieve their mission.
- Design and manage projects on-time and on-budget.
- Build and maintain relationships with partners and funders.
- Build a high-performing distributed team and develop the skills and competencies of junior team members.
- Create systems that enable multi-disciplinary, cross-team learning and organizational growth.
Expectations are that you will be onsite for your first week of employment and then periodically as required while working remotely. RISI will arrange for your accommodations when needed to be at the Hartland, Vermont office.
- Personal and professional development opportunities
- Health, dental, and short-term disability insurance
- Employer matched 401k
- The salary for this position is $100,000-$130,000, depending on experience.
Due to the pace of this search, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. To express interest, please fill out an application and submit your resume and cover letter here: https://apply.workable.com/ruralinnovation/j/FDA2C2A104/
Rural Innovation Strategies Inc. does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, age, national origin, marital status, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other reason prohibited by law in provision of employment opportunities and benefits.