Executive Director

Southeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership
Organization Summary

The University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) are a multi-college program of the University formed by the Minnesota Legislature in 1997. The Southeast Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (SERSDP) is led by a Board composed of community leaders and University of Minnesota faculty. The community member-driven Board solicits and identifies innovative research, education, and outreach projects aimed at improving the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of Southeast Minnesota. The staff and Board link University faculty, students, and other resources to emerging and approved projects. Together with the governing board, the SERSDP manages a portfolio of community-University projects that build partnership and address sustainable development in the region.

Southeast RSDP is one of five RSDP regions across Greater Minnesota. Operating policies and statewide projects are coordinated among the five Regional Partnerships by a Statewide Coordinating Committee composed of staff and community members from each RSDP Region, and representatives of three Partnership colleges.

The Regional Partnerships work in four focus areas:

  • Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems
  • Natural Resources
  • Clean Energy
  • Resilient Communities and Sustainable Tourism 

Across RSDP’s work, the Partnerships strive to advance equity, diversity, and inclusivity, understanding issues of equity and justice to be intertwined with sustainability. The Partnerships work to build relationships with and partner with a broad diversity of individuals and organizations.

Posting Date
Closing Date
Location in MN
Job type
Primary Duties

The Executive Director supports the Southeast RSDP Board of Directors and its research, education, and outreach programming and projects. The overall objective of this position is to deploy the RSDP concept in the Southeast Region, thereby maximizing the impact of the program both in the region and throughout the University. From a practical perspective, this means (1) building strong relationships throughout the region in order to attract committed board and work group members and to identify and bring forth high-potential project ideas, (2) developing contacts within the University that will lead to engaging a wide range University faculty, staff, and students to partner on regional projects, and, (3) providing day-to-day leadership, management, and financial oversight of the Southeast RSDP program. The Southeast RSDP executive director will also be actively involved with the statewide office and other Regional EDs in projects of a joint or statewide nature and matters affecting the entire program.

The Executive Director must have an understanding of university-based research, education, and outreach processes; a basic knowledge of agriculture, natural resources, tourism and/or sustainable development; an ability to lead a process of shared decision-making between local community members and University faculty; and community engagement skills that build partnerships. The Director should have a strong commitment to building relationships with diverse individuals and organizations across the region and the ability to foster an inclusive, welcoming environment across board meetings, work group meetings, partnership teams, and all work of the Southeast RSDP. This person must also have excellent communication and managerial skills needed to oversee several projects at one time. The Director must be a catalyst and team builder who supports the University’s community engagement mission. The primary geographic area served is the Southeast region of Minnesota. This position will frequently travel throughout the region, and occasionally to the TC campus and other facilities statewide.


  • Strengthen and increase the presence of the University of Minnesota in Greater Minnesota communities.
  • Foster teamwork that builds a partnership between the Board, community members in Southeast Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota.
  • In partnership with board and work group members, identify emerging community sustainable development needs and innovations from diverse community members and organizations.
  • Work in collaboration with Extension Educators and Regional Directors and UMN faculty to develop and build research, education, and outreach programs that address and respond to community needs and innovations in addressing sustainable development.   
  • Build Extension and UMN campus relationships in the Region, including connecting students and faculty to community-based projects and groups. Connect and work with faculty, staff, and students from the Twin Cities campus.
  • Support the pipeline of RSDP projects by working with local stakeholders and University faculty to strategically design, implement, and evaluate sustainable development research, education, and outreach projects. Provide assistance to communities in identifying and developing projects for consideration by the Southeast RSDP board and workgroups.
  • Identify and recruit University faculty, system-wide, and other expertise to conduct research, education, and outreach projects recommended by the Board and workgroups.
  • Provide administrative support to carry out the Partnership’s work: supervise students and staff, develop contracts, monitor funds, provide oversight of funded projects to ensure they accomplish goals and meet deadlines, provide staff support for meetings, and other Partnership work.
  • Maintain open communication and strong relationships among all five Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, the Statewide Coordinating Committee, the Statewide Director and statewide staff, and University faculty and administrators. 
  • Foster continuing relationships with former board members as RSDP alumni and continue to inform them of Regional efforts and engage them as appropriate.
  • Engage with and coordinate on multi-Regional and statewide projects with all RSDP Regions, where applicable, to implement successful rural sustainable development strategies
  • Communicate project progress and outcomes to regional stakeholders and the media and contribute content for Regional Partnership social media outlets.
  • Pursue external fundraising activities to support Regional projects by identifying and responding to funding opportunities, such as grants, program agreements, and fees, and work with Extension Development office on donor prospects and cultivation. 


  • A BA/BS degree and six years of related experience. (Additional relevant post-bachelor’s education may substitute for up to three years of experience.)
  • Experience with community networking in one or more of the Southeast RSDP four focus areas and/or community and rural development.
  • Project management experience
  • Demonstrated experience in facilitating, organizing, and leading diverse groups through decision making and planning processes. 
  • Leadership experience to include supervising staff
  • Demonstrated ability to work with people and organizations that represent diversity and the changing rural demographics.
  • Demonstrated ability to:
    • Work in a university setting and in rural communities
    • Work independently and with teams
    • Be effective in building relationships with community members throughout the Region.

Additional Requirements:

  • Valid driver's license and reliable vehicle with required liability insurance, to be utilized for frequent travel within Minnesota.
  • Personal cell phone that can be used, as needed, for work purposes.
  • Access to a reliable internet connection and ability to work remotely when Extension offices are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Master’s degree or PhD in a range of disciplines related to community development, agriculture, and/or natural resources.
  • One related degree and at least 3 years of experience in sustainable agriculture, natural resources, clean energy, rural and community development, or related fields. (Related experience includes but is not limited to: the equivalent of 3 full years of experience in research, education, and/or community engagement)
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Experience working with under-represented communities in order to foster relationships, identify opportunities for collaboration, and partner on projects. 
  • Knowledge of the topography, communities, and challenges facing southeast Minnesota.
  • Experience with:
    • Financial and budget management
    • Contracting and invoicing
    • Grant writing and grant administration

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