The Austin Area Research Organization (AARO) is a non-partisan nonprofit membership organization made up of 110 of the top thought leaders from Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop, Burnet and Caldwell counties. These business, community and civic leaders are thoughtfully and intentionally selected from across the six-county region and diverse economic sectors to ensure that varied voices are heard.
AARO researches and studies issues and solutions critical to the long-term success of the region which will result in the economic and social well-being of all Central Texans. AARO is a volunteer-driven organization which values inclusion and collaboration and accomplishes its work through member involvement in five priority issue committees: Education, Health, Social Equity, Transportation and Water. AARO envisions Central Texas as an exemplary region: dynamic, thriving and sustainable for all.
The Austin Area Research Organization seeks a dynamic public policy professional with proven communications experience to work for an influential, regional, member-driven and non-partisan leadership organization. The Program Manager manages volunteer member efforts that develop and implement strategies and programs for AARO to address regional issues in accordance with the organization’s mission. This role is also responsible for developing and overseeing key internal and external messaging including member communications, policy position statements, website content and social media.
The right person for this job is a driven, highly motivated and organized individual who can manage multiple projects, problem-solve, meet deadlines, and respond quickly and calmly to last-minute changes. This person has excellent communication skills and is a team player who is also adept at working independently.
This is a full-time position that reports to the Executive Director.
1) Policy Issues: Works with members, regional partners and staff to fulfill the organization’s mission through its issue committees.
- Responsible for working directly with committee leaders and other members to develop committee work plans in a manner that supports the committees’ strategic approaches, AARO’s mission and accomplishment of committees’ issue goals/metrics.
- Responsible for the staff-side of program implementation, e.g. program structure, speaker invitations and communication about scope of speakers’ remarks.
- Responsible for communicating effectively with committees and members around the key priority policy issues.
- Provides information, perspectives and best practice information related to policy issues and the Central Texas political landscape for committees and staff.
- In collaboration with Executive Director, serves as liaison between committee work and external researchers or external projects and builds relationships with civic entities.
- Helps move the policy agenda of AARO forward by engaging members and fellows in the organization and its work and drawing on relationships of trust and accumulated goodwill to advance AARO’s vision for Central Texas.
2) Communications: Serves as the in-house communications expert.
- Provides guidance to and collaborates with volunteer members in the development of community engagement and communication plans. Implements AARO’s communication strategies for conveying AARO’s interest in and positions on the region’s social, economic and infrastructure issues. When direct communication with media/the public is needed, engages appropriate volunteer members.
- Works with members and staff to engage members, fellows and, as appropriate, external audiences, in the organization through written and verbal communications.
- Develops and communicates issue area information about upcoming meeting programs and past meetings in a concise and informative manner.
- Writes high-quality policy context material for the organization for internal and external audiences.
- Manages AARO’s brand assets by working with creative external contractors, including graphic designers, videographers and website developers.
- As appropriate, oversees staff work to ensure excellence in communication.
3) Organization Operations: Supports operations of a small-staff, dynamic, member-driven organization.
- Provides support to the Executive Director, members and other staff in matters relating to the organization’s finances, including financial planning, budget preparation and financial reporting.
- Reconciles organization’s accounts as required by AARO’s financial policies to ensure separation of financial duties.
- Leads other office endeavors, including small business operation-type projects, technology upgrades/changes and large-scale event logistics.
- Eight+ years research, communications, public policy or advocacy experience. Nonprofit policy-influencing organization experience and work with board-level/C-suite leaders are pluses.
- Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience; advanced degree in policy public administration, business administration or other related fields a plus.
- Understanding of at least one AARO priority policy issue and long-term regional challenges in the Central Texas policy landscape.
- Experience in planning, program development and task facilitation.
- Exceptional interpersonal skills and comfort with ambiguity.
- Ability to work with and cultivate positive experiences with people at all levels, inside or outside of the organization.
- Exceptional written communication skills, with a commitment to accuracy.
- Excellent planning skills.
- Ability to multi-task and prioritize work amidst competing demands, as well as respond quickly and calmly to last-minute changes.
- Ability to work well independently and as part of a team.
- Knowledge of fundraising strategies and constituent relations unique to nonprofit sector is a plus.