This position has lead responsibilities for communications and public affairs for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, a planning agency for energy and fish and wildlife in the Columbia River Basin. The Council is an interstate agency, formed by the four states of the Columbia River Basin – Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana – as authorized by Congress in the Northwest Power Act of 1980.

Informing the region of key energy and fish and wildlife issues and engaging with the public and federal and state agencies, the region’s Indian tribes, electric utilities, electricity consumers, fish and wildlife managers, non-governmental environmental and energy groups and other stakeholders in the Council’s decision making is a critical part of its mission. This position reports to the Executive Director.

The Director of Communications and Public Affairs is responsible for designing and implementing an effective strategic communications plan to reach a broad range of audiences using both traditional and new communication tools, including direct outreach, media relations, digital projects, and social media.

Public affairs responsibilities include working with Council members from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, their staffs, and the Executive Director to develop and maintain close relationships with key policymakers and stakeholders. These include the Northwest delegation, state governors’ offices, tribal governments, local utilities, and other regional interests.

This position is responsible for completing required reports to Congress and ensuring that the Council has regular and effective engagement with delegation members and their staffs. This position manages a small team of professionals that oversees and implements all public-facing communication and coordinates engagement with policymakers.

Primary Duties

Manage Communications and Public Affairs Division

  • Manage a team of high-performing professionals, coordinating their work and ensuring that the team is appropriately staffed. Oversee any necessary consultants to assist the division and for managing the division’s budget.
  • Oversee Council communication efforts, including its website, media contacts, regular blog posts, and other social media.
  • Develop a comprehensive public involvement strategy for the Council’s regional power plan and fish and wildlife program.

External Communications

  • Work with Council members, the Executive Director, and staff in crafting effective messages on key findings from the Council’s work. Demonstrated skill in conveying complex technical information that resonates for a general audience is critical.
  • Build a unified communication strategy with a branded look and feel that identifies the Council as the “go to” source for technical information on both power and fish and wildlife policy issues.

Internal Communications

  • Assist the Executive Director and division directors with internal communication to ensure the organization is coordinated and supports a culture of collaboration.
  • Assist the Executive Director and others in the organization to ensure employees remain well- informed despite less time together in the office through “all hands” meetings, regular staff communication, and other efforts to stay coordinated.

Public Affairs

  • Maintain close coordination with governmental entities, including the region’s congressional delegation, federal agencies, governors’ offices, key state policymakers, and others. This work includes coordinating trips to Washington D.C. for Council members and other staff on a regular basis and organizing periodic congressional tours for delegation staff and policymakers.
  • Work with Council members and staff to craft key messages for policymakers that can be delivered by members and staff to bolster the organization’s efforts.
  • Serve as the conduit for information from policymakers to members and staff regarding policy developments that are key to the organization. This work is performed in coordination with state staff, the executive director, the general council, and others.
  • Coordinate and complete required reports to Congress.

Essential Skills and Qualifications:

  • 10 or more years of experience in the field of communication and/or public affairs
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills for maintaining relationships with Council members, staff, external stakeholders, tribal representatives, and the public
  • A demonstrated ability to build and deliver strategic communications for an organization
  • A demonstrated ability to communicate with policymakers about technically complex material
  • Previous experience managing and motivating employees, overseeing budgets
  • Some experience with the power sector and/or with fish and wildlife issues is a plus
  • Ability to work in the central office (Portland, OR) a minimum of two days per week
  • Ability to attend regular in-person meetings in the Portland area and the ability to travel to meetings outside the Portland area, as needed.

The initial hiring process will be conducted virtually. In-person meetings with the Executive Director and division directors at the central office in Portland (requiring masks and social distancing) will be required for candidates during the final stages of the hiring process. Virtual meetings with one or more of the Council members will be part of the interview process as well.

The Council provides a competitive structure of compensation and benefits. The salary range for the position is $130,000-$165,000. Starting salary will be determined based on relevant work experience. Additional benefits information available upon request to shirotsu@nwcouncil.org.

The Council is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The Council does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability, genetic information, or military or veteran status. See our Inclusion Statement here.

About the Council

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is an interstate compact agency of the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington, authorized by Congress through the 1980 Northwest Power Act. The Council develops comprehensive planning on energy and fish and wildlife issues and is mandated by the Act to inform and involve the public in its planning processes and decision making. Under the Act, the Council approves and oversees a regional conservation and generation electric power plan to add low-cost energy resources to the region’s electrical supply, and a Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program to protect and mitigate fish and wildlife affected by the hydroelectric facilities on the Columbia and its tributaries – and does both in a manner to assure the Pacific Northwest of an adequate, efficient, economical, and reliable power supply