Great Plains Institute
Organization Summary

A national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis, the Great Plains Institute (GPI) is transforming the energy system to benefit the economy and environment. We combine a unique consensus-building approach, expert knowledge, research and analysis, and local action to find and implement lasting energy solutions. Our work strengthens communities and provides greater economic opportunity through creation of higher paying jobs, expansion of the nation’s industrial base, and greater domestic energy independence while eliminating carbon emissions.

Our strategic areas of focus are carbon management, communities, energy systems, and transportation and fuels.

Throughout our 25-year history, GPI has built a reputation for bringing together three skills that are rarely found in one organization:

  • Nationally recognized energy policy and technology expertise
  • A nuanced understanding of the commercial, local, and political realities that shape the energy sector
  • Well-honed facilitation, group process, consensus-building and advocacy techniques.

Together, this skill set produces results in nearly any economic and political environment and offers an important antidote to today’s often fractured public discourse.

GPI has a fast-paced entrepreneurial culture in which people enjoy both great freedom and great responsibility. People who thrive in this culture take personal responsibility for seeing what needs doing and getting it done. They are self-starters, problem-solvers, and quick to help others. They work hard because they believe in the mission and get to spend most of their time at the intersection of what they love to do and are good at. It’s a working environment in which performance is judged more on results than on time spent in a chair. We aspire to make this the best job anyone has ever had.

The Communities Program

Our goal is to ensure that equitable and inclusive action on clean energy, resilience, and climate solutions is accelerated and becomes the norm for the communities across our footprint. We work with local governments and communities to address climate mitigation and resilience across all the emission sectors. We work deeply with Minnesota communities and influence and support work across the Midwest and country via our network leadership and participation. Our vision is that:

  1. Minnesota is a national leader with communities leading the way in meeting or exceeding the state’s climate goals through implementation of equitable actions   
  2. There are robust networks of organizations across the country, in which GPI is a leader that are collaborating to support local governments in ways appropriate to their states resulting in communities in each state with climate goals, policies, and/or new efficiency, clean energy, or clean transportation projects developed with engagement from affected communities.
  3. State, regional, and federal policies reflect local governments’ climate and clean energy goals.
Posting Date
Closing Date
Location in MN
Job type

$70-$90K, commensurate with experience. Benefits include health plan (medical, dental, and disability) 401(k) retirement plan, paid time off, and paid family leave.

Primary Duties

The urgent need to equitably decarbonize our energy system and economy is at the core of this position. The Great Plains Institute seeks an ambitious and experienced individual with knowledge of and experience with local and regional governments to manage local climate and resilience programs. The successful candidate may be a generalist with a range of experience in implementation of sustainability goals and/or bring specific expertise in buildings, energy production, transportation and land use. We aim to support the most ambitious communities and use their success to engage and support others. This position will work closely with other Communities program members including the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team Director and the Transportation Program Manager.


This position will support communities through leadership of the Community Energy Network, city staff sharing and learning together; the City Climate Caucus, local elected officials learning together and collaborating on state and regulatory policy; leadership of timely action-oriented cohorts, which might address building or energy-related actions; one-on-one technical assistance; and may include fee-for-service work on climate planning or action implementation. These efforts often include development of topical tools and resources for local governments for dissemination. GPI is a partner in both the MN GreenStep Cities program and the Clean Energy Resource Teams and much of our work is done in partnership with both. Our funding is a combination of philanthropy and fee-for-service projects. 



The successful candidate will manage a wide variety of community-focused technical assistance, community-engagement, facilitation, and research projects, and provide support. The candidate will work primarily as part of the Communities team but will collaborate and support efforts across other GPI initiatives in the Renewable Energy, Electricity, Transportation, and Research Teams, including the following tasks:


  1. Manage Minnesota and multi-state local government networks
    1. Manage or co-manage Minnesota-based networks supporting local government action on climate mitigation and resilience including the Community Energy Network.  GPI also participates in and, in some cases, leads multiple initiatives including SolSmart, EV Ready Communities, and the Sustainable States Network. Tasks may include managing outreach efforts, recruitment, tracking progress of multiple cities, developing implementation priorities, developing tools and resources, educational programming, and providing or arranging for technical assistance on a range of topics including building efficiency and electrification, renewable energy, and a range of emerging technologies such as micro-grids and energy storage. 
    2. Connect networks and their members with information and assistance on state and federal funding, helping to connect specific project needs with funding sources.
    3. Develop best practice and technical guidance documents or models to assist local and regional governments in meeting climate action or specific implementation goals. GPI researches and develops new best practices and disseminates to local, state, and industry audiences.
    4. Potentially oversee and help design research initiatives that would support successful equitable local government and community project development
    5. Provide overall project support, including writing summary and progress reports, tracking invoicing, manage contracts, and participate in team meetings. 


  1. Facilitate local community engagement and/or stakeholder groups on climate mitigation and resilience planning and projects
    1. Take responsibility for designing, administering, and facilitating community or stakeholder meetings climate planning and project implementation. GPI is often responsible for community engagement either as a part of a planning process or project development and implementation.  In addition, GPI administers a number of stakeholder engagement efforts designed to resolve barriers for renewable energy, electric vehicle, decarbonized building electrification deployment, and other energy topics. 
    2. Conduct community and stakeholder engagement for local energy and climate plans and implementation efforts. GPI works with both individual communities and cohorts of communities to help create local vectors for meeting the climate crisis. 
    3. Guide stakeholders to address equity issues in renewable energy and climate action. GPI is committed to ensuring an equitable energy transition and recognizing and correcting for historic exclusions in decision making and program design. 
    4. Be comfortable with managing the logistical details of stakeholder engagement processes that ensure broad and equitable participation. 


  1. Work in depth with local governments on climate action planning and implementation efforts to reduce carbon emissions and increase clean energy opportunities. 
    1. Working with project teams of GPI and outside organizations, provide direct assistance to local governments on technical details of climate implementation. Topics include land use planning and regulation, transportation, natural resource or eco-system service integration, and capital improvements.
    2. Assist with market transformation efforts for new or burgeoning technologies; electric vehicles, micro-grids, energy storage, industrial decarbonization, and similar technologies. 


  1. Respond to funding opportunities, write proposals. 
    1. Work with the program team and fundraising staff on identifying new funding opportunities. GPI encourages an entrepreneurial mindset consistent, with its mission, on developing new projects and initiatives. 
    2. Take the lead on responding to requests for proposals for local, state, or federal requests for proposals.
    3. Work with philanthropic funders to identify new opportunities for decarbonizing our economy.


  1. May conduct analytic and social research 
    1. Conduct appropriate quantitative or social analyses that support project goals and support informed decision making. GPI provides technical analysis to support projects, including geospatial analyses, literature searches of technical work, modeling, surveys, regulatory assessments, economic analysis, and social research. 
    2. Design and lead research initiatives in conjunction with program team members and research department staff. 


  1. Education and Experience: Bachelor’s degree, Master’s preferred, or commensurate experience in sustainability, urban planning, environmental or energy planning. At least 10 years of hands-on experience working with or for local government and state agencies that work with local governments. 
  2. Expertise on local government processes: Established knowledge of and experience with local or regional government processes; development review, zoning, land use planning, permitting, environmental review, fiscal analysis. Topic areas include sustainability, energy, resilience, land use, natural systems, transportation, public works. 
  3. Climate or Renewable Energy Project Leadership: Demonstrated experience in planning, leading, and managing sustainability, renewable energy or climate action projects.
  4. Equity, Diversity, Inclusion: Demonstrated commitment to equitable outcomes and increasing diversity and inclusion in project work and organizationally, and direct experience with implementing DEI initiatives.  
  5. Technical experience: Technical capabilities such as geospatial (GIS) analysis, economic assessment and modeling are a plus.
  6. Communications: Skilled in written and oral communications across a variety of audiences that may hold a variety of ideological positions. Ability to convey complex ideas through brief, simple materials. Experience and credibility when presenting materials to external audiences. 
  7. Collaboration: Effective at working with others both within GPI and partner organizations, agencies, and institutions to reach common goals and objectives. Skilled at establishing and cultivating strong relationships with peers, across different levels of the organization and externally.

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