Now Hiring: ELGL Program Director

Posted on October 25, 2020

ELGL Program Director

This recruitment is now closed. Please check for other opportunities that may be of interest!

ELGL is hiring a full time Program Director to manage ELGL learning and training programs. The job description and application link are below. Please contact Kirsten with any questions. Applications are due by November 15, 2020.

Program Director

  • 40 Hours/Week
  • Salaried; $28-$33/hour or $58,240 – $68,640/annually
  • 100% Remote Work
  • Flexible/unlimited vacation

About the Organization:

Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) is a professional association focused on engaging the brightest minds in local government. ELGL began in Portland, Oregon in 2012 with a 16 member dinner group. Today, ELGL has grown to over 4,800 members from all 50 states plus Canada, UK, Israel, and Australia. The organization’s vision is to amplify the good in local government.

About the Position: 

The Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) Program Director manages learning and training programs for local government practitioners. The Program Director also is the liaison to ELGL’s network of academic professionals. Providing timely, relevant content and welcoming new ideas  are ELGL goals for the organization and the local government profession. As a result, this position will be essential to accomplishing the items in ELGL’s strategic plan.

The Program Director manages the popular ELGL Cohort Programs, collaborative learning groups that meet and learn together about local government topics. This is a holistic process, building the cohorts from start to finish and working with subject matter experts and cohort partners on curriculum and content. This aspect of the job requires strong administrative, project management, and planning skills; knowledge of local government topics and issues; extensive use of technology to connect cohort members; and an upbeat and engaging communications style to create engaging and authentic connections for cohort participants. 

The Program Director manages the substantive (not logistical) session development for conferences, webinars, and special events. This includes working with ELGL staff, the Board of Directors, and event planning committees to develop themes, sessions, and speakers. This aspect of the job requires knowledge of local government topics and issues; and creativity and innovation to make ELGL events exceptional learning opportunities. 

The Program Director manages the “Academic Brain Trust,” a group of academic professionals who engage with ELGL on content, fellowships, apprenticeships, #ELGLInspire events, research, and student membership. Other ELGL staff assist or manage these programs and the Program Director is the main liaison between ELGL and the academic community. This aspect of the job requires strong administrative, project management, and planning skills. 

The Program Director is an important member of the ELGL team. Staff meets weekly and has virtual retreats bi-monthly to plan and collaborate on all aspects of the organization. The Board of Directors meets bi-weekly for updates and policy making. This aspect of the job requires exceptional writing and communications skills; the ability to work well with others; and flexibility and creativity to assist with other duties as assigned. Everyone at ELGL is both a “thinker” and a “do-er.” Practical workplace skills and abilities are expected. 

The hiring process includes an application with supplemental questions and one interview (with the Executive Director, two Board of Directors members, and other ELGL staff). The desired start date for the position is December 14, 2020 for a week of onboarding and training with the outgoing Program Director.

Other Details: 

  • Health care benefits are not currently provided but it is anticipated that a strategic staffing goal to offer benefits (or payment in lieu of benefits) will be included in the next strategic plan update. 
  • This position works remotely and is expected to engage with a distributed team during the work week. This requires strong administrative and communications skills. 
  • ELGL does not have administrative staff to assist with the important (yet more mundane) aspects of the organization’s mission. This may include things like scheduling, mailings, logistics, web posting, social media posting, etc.
  • The concept of “other duties as assigned” is an essential part of every job at ELGL given our organizational mission to be agile and nimble in response to members’ requests and interests.
  • The concept of flexible or unlimited vacation assumes that ELGL employees are achieving all expected outcomes as set by the team and the strategic plan. Flexible work hours are expected, however the time zones and needs of the team must also be considered.
  • A laptop can be provided if the selected applicant requires one. Internet and phone access are the responsibility of the employee.

The application period ended on November 15, 2020.


These are questions asked by applicants, and this list will be updated as new questions are submitted.

What would the average work day look like?

Managing the cohorts program has two almost-constant phases – the first is the planning and preparation of the cohort, working with partners and subject matter experts on curriculum, scheduling, and marketing upcoming cohorts. The second is the implementation of the cohort programs and this includes cohort meetings, coordination, connection-making, and maintaining the engagement landing pages for each cohort. The reason we say that ELGL staff are both thinkers and do-ers is because we expect all of our staff to be self sufficient with technology and administrative skills as we do not have administrative assistant positions, choosing instead to hire for program positions.

What are the expectations on PTO?

We operate on an unlimited PTO basis with the expectation that the work that needs to get done, will get done. With managing ELGL programs, there’s a defined output that needs to be produced – five cohorts per quarter, assistance on major events, managing the Academic Brain Trust, and engaging as a full and present member of the ELGL staff team. We have technology to be able to do work from anywhere and if that means at the park while your kid plays on the swings, that’s cool. If you want to work on behind-the-scenes work at 10:00 at night, that’s cool. If you’ve planned ahead and have everything on track and want to take a few days off, that’s cool.

How do YOU like working for ELGL?

From Kirsten: the thing I like most about ELGL is how nimble and agile we are, and how we can be adaptive and creative based on what our members want and need. The cohort program grew out of members wanting new ways to learn. Our fellowship programs and Academic Brain Trust grew out of members wanting new ways to provide learning and connection. I also just genuinely like our staff and our board. They are delightful and inspiring people who make this job fun and interesting.

How much, if any, travel would be involved?

Ideally, the staff will meet up once a year for in-person goal setting and learning, likely at the annual conference (scheduled for September 23 and 24, 2021 in Texas). Regional travel should be expected to represent ELGL at events and locations that are geographically convenient to you. Examples would include #ELGLInspire events on college campuses, speaking at other local government conferences, and #ELGLPopUps (regional conferences). Travel can be negotiated based on your life schedules.

Would the majority of business be conducted in the Pacific time zone?

The language we use is “*Please note: My working hours may not be your working hours. Please do not feel obligated to reply outside of your normal work schedule.” As a fully distributed team with members in every time zone, we are constantly working on time zone differences. Generally, cohorts are meeting between 9PT – 2PT (Noon ET – 5ET) so members and participants in both PT and ET time zones can participate during their workday. For this position in particular, that will be a time consideration. And of course, it will be expected that if there’s an emergent need to meet in a time zone that is not perfectly aligned to your day’s 8-5 schedule, that you’ll be flexible and accommodate that in your day.

What do new employees joining the team find most challenging, and how can we aid them through that process?

Working on a distributed team is an adjustment for some people and so we will work in the first months on the job to make sure you feel connected to other staff and board members, and have the tools and resources you need to be successful. And, as a newer organization, we are still developing internal processes and policies. Much of our work and process is ad-hoc. For people who require a lot of structure or a “rule book” for working, this job may feel too fast-paced or freewheeling. Basically, we’re building the professional organization that we’ve always dreamed about or hoped for. We are not a decades-old institution (yet).

How does this role fit with others in the organization and what are some skills, knowledge, abilities the team might need, but were not specified, from the person selected to fill this role?

This is a team player who is expected to chime in and contribute wherever there’s a need. While the position is primarily responsible for cohorts and trainings, it should be expected that the position will be a full and participating partner in all aspects of ELGL’s work. We like people who aren’t shy about sharing their opinions, speaking truth to power, push the envelope, etc.

From Emily: This position also requires a significant ability to be adaptive, creative, and responsive to the needs of our members and the goals of a start-up organization. You may be required to wear multiple hats, support other staff members, and be flexible in your programming and scheduling around other organizational priorities.

I would want to know if there was expectation for growth of this particular role or room in other areas for personal growth and development. Does ELGL support participation in the programs it provides for others?

Yes, and we send all of our staff to all of our events, as well as support staff in their own preferred professional development paths. We also do annual retreats (live, when travel comes back) and bi-monthly virtual retreats to maintain connection between staff.

Would my position as an elected official be a problem for this position? I would like to continue in my elected capacity if hired.

No, we love elected officials! But we would ask that you exercise appropriate restraint in political statements that could make members feel uncomfortable or politically pressured.

From Emily: It may also be difficult – but not impossible! – to schedule around the needs of cohort events and programs scheduling, so be conscious that there may be meeting time and date conflicts.

The job description lists most of the responsibilities as virtual, aside from the initial week of training. Are there opportunities for travel and/or in-person training?

Yes, see above question regarding travel.

Are there any other staff in the Kansas City area?

Not yet!

What kind of professional development and growth do you see for this position?

We’re open to whatever training you would want to pursue to make yourself as effective as possible.

How is performance measured in this role, and who guides position reviews/goal setting/etc.?

Performance is measured in the number of participants and sessions, and success of the cohort program. It’s also measured in the ability to authentically connect and engage with our members. Which is is harder to quantifiably measure, but can be observed in the connections that the position makes with the members who participate in cohorts and trainings. Emily was particularly good at this aspect of her job which is why the cohort programs became so popular so quickly.

What can you tell me about your new plans for growth?

ELGL is growing incredibly fast. In Emily’s tenure in this position, we doubled our membership numbers and built out the cohort concept. I anticipate this rapid growth to continue. We do not do targeted membership “drives” or outreach, relying instead on word of mouth and referrals. As ELGL grows, the number of referrals grows. We want this growth to continue while still maintaining real and authentic connections with our members. All of our work is guided in our strategic plan, and an update to that plan is expected in the coming calendar years.

What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months? What is that review process?

We operate with a “continuous review” mindset, offering feedback and perspective in real-time. Annually, you may be asked to write a self-review for discussion with the Executive Director. Or not – depending on how that continuous review is going.

Who will I work most closely with and who do I report to? What’s the company and team culture like? 

You’ll report to Kirsten Wyatt (executive director) but you will work closely with the entire team. We are not a hierarchical organization. While this role is full time, it is not more important than a part time position or an intern. We are equals and work alongside each other. Delegation of work occurs based on who is best for a job, and we do not have administrative staff to take care of the “busy work” that is inevitable in a work environment. This means that while you may be running a complex cohort curriculum, there will be times that you also have to do a mailing and put envelopes on labels.

From Emily: In addition to the above notes, the culture is very growth-focused and creative – it means we try new things, sometimes fast, and there will be times when you need to adapt to the needs of the organization. You will be responsible for your portfolio of work, as in a small organization, there’s no redundancy to cover your position – but you’ll also be surrounded by a great team of other independent, confident individuals who also manage their own work and support one another in getting our jobs done!

What would the ideal candidate look like? Is years of experience imperative to the job?

Key traits: curiosity, kindness, problem solving, strong writing skills. Years of experience is not important. We are literally building a brand new way of local government learning and networking and so we definitely eschew a “we’ve always done it this way” kind of mentality.

What is the most valuable trait for a program director? Why?

Curiosity. We never run a program or series on autopilot. We’re constantly looking for the new topic areas, interest areas, skills areas that our members want and then we develop partnerships and curriculum around that. Asking “what if,” “why,” and “how” are key skills for this position so our content doesn’t get stale.

What do employees say their least and most favorite parts of working for ELGL are?

From Kirsten: least favorite is fundraising to keep the organization running (we have very strong values that guide how we accept sponsorship dollars, and a focus on keeping dues low), and most favorite is building the organization that our members have always wanted but never had access to previously.

From Emily: least favorite is not being able to do everything we want to do for our amazing members, due to capacity restraints; most favorite is the friendships you make with thousands of local government friends <3

How have employees feel they have made an impact in their positions with ELGL?

From Kirsten: we’re building something brand new! From scratch! It’s super exciting.

From Emily: see above! It’s super fun. Scary sometimes, but fun.

What are some of the challenges that new members to this role face? What type of training is there for this role? What are some of ELGL’s top priority action-items?

We expect staff to hit the ground running and “just figure it out.” There’s not a rulebook or guidebook for how to do the job. We expect our employees to Google/search for answers and find the new best way to develop processes. Again, people who are very regimented or rule oriented may feel flustered by this approach to work.

The job posting I received listed this position as remote, is there a central location from which you all operate or where you’d prefer your staff be generally located? Is there any travel involved?

We do not have a central location. Two employees are in North Carolina, one is in Vermont, and one is in Oregon. We have no preference on where you work from, as long as the work gets done.

What role does this position play in organizing the annual conference?

Historically, this has not been a program director job function but starting in 2021, the program director will be part of the “thought leadership” team on the annual conferencing, contributing session ideas and speaker ideas. This role is not anticipated to handle logistics (e.g. menus, lodging etc.) though.

How might this role grow or expand in the future?

It’s totally up to the person we hire. ELGL is growing so fast that there’s lots of room for this role to evolve and grow too.

Who does this role report to/what is ELGL’s staff reporting structure?

It’s a flat organization with the technical or formal reporting to the executive director, but we expect all of our employees to work together and be accountable to each other.

At this time, what are members asking to learn about? What are their hot topics? How do we predict what topics may become hot in the future?

Our focus areas for 2021 are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Engagement
  3. Data Citizenship
  4. Resiliency
  5. Justice & Equity

We all see ELGL staff personalities online, but what are the personalities of ELGL staff in the virtual workplace? What are your communications styles/what’s the vibe of this team?

From Kirsten: I probably send way too many GIFs to staff via text and also do jazz hands A LOT when we have staff calls. My preferred method of motivation is through joy and encouragement. I can be impatient and expect employees to be problem solvers and not require a lot of hand holding. I value creativity and strong writing skills. I’ll let employees know if something isn’t working, and if a new approach is needed. In managing remote teams, my philosophy is that micromanagement never works, and so I give you a ton of freedom to get the work done, but with that freedom comes an expectation of responsibility and self sufficiency.

My primary questions, not already answered by the job description and job posting, are around deliverables and the work team. 1) Even if I’m a team of 1, who can I expect to collaborate with to determine deliverables, expectations, and standards? 2) Who can I expect to collaborate with in the development of programs. 3) What are the first deliverables expected of the selected candidate? 4) When is the start date expected?

  1. Everyone on the staff and board, plus considerate inclusion of our members
  2. See #1
  3. January 2021 (yes it’s fast, but we will have many models and templates pre-built for you)
  4. Ideally, mid December to train with Emily before she leaves the organization but this can be negotiated.

Why do you all love ELGL?

From Kirsten: I love ELGL because we have the most creative and inspiring members and so working to support them is truly a dream job!

How do you know if someone fits the culture of ELGL?

We do not subscribe to the idea that “fit” can be defined. The right person in this role might act and think very differently than current staff. However, as it relates to culture – we need someone who is a self-starter, confident, bold, curious, creative, and fun.

With the uncertain and ever changing climate of local government (especially right now), how does ELGL remain adaptable to change?

Will answer your “adaptable” question with two more “A” words – authenticity and affordability. We prioritize the relationships that our members have with each other, and then we ensure that everything we do (EVERYTHING) is affordable out-of-pocket for anyone at any stage of their careers (from big city mayor to graduate student). This approach requires more hustle and work, but it means that ELGL can sustain what we do even when there’s uncertainty, cuts, or limitations.

With one of your strategic goals focusing on promoting equity and inclusion in mind, how have you worked with Indigenous and Native folks (specifically BIPOC) and included them in your long-range planning?

We did not specifically work with demographic groups on our first strategic plan. Our approach was to invite everyone in our membership to work in the shared working document to make edits and changes. Looking ahead to the next update for the strategic plan, I could anticipate the Program Director playing a major role in the approach/mechanism we use to ensure that the plan includes the voices of all of our members, above and beyond our previous “everyone is welcome to participate” approach.

How do you encourage self-care and work/life boundaries amongst each other?

Given the flexibility of our schedules and the fact that we work across timezones, we try to build in deadlines and work times that work for our employees. This includes standing meetings that can be relied upon, scheduling far in advance things like our virtual retreats, and giving each other grace when we need some time to regroup or recoup. Some of us have children, all of us have lives outside of work, and we honor those other priorities in conjunction with getting ELGL’s work done.

Has COVID-19 impacted your organizational goals and priorities, aside from needing to move in-person events online?

Yes, the most noticeable impact has been on our live events. We have also noticed that our value/approach of being extremely nimble and responsive is impacted. In the first months of COVID, we were hosting multiple online learning events per week to respond to our members’ requests for information. It also fine tuned or honed our approaches to crowdsourcing information because we know that now more than ever, our members need to learn from each other in a fast and reliable way.

To the person leaving this role, what has been your favorite aspect of this position?

We’ll let Emily answer here! 🙂

Are there opportunities to build new content or programs outside of what has been established?

Absolutely. The person we hire will be expected to add “thought leadership” to our training and education space. Nothing is prescribed, and everything is open to creativity and curiosity.

What is the participation rate from members?

It’s very high. From our Facebook and Slack groups, to our event planning committees, to our Morning Buzz writers group, to our regular content series contributors, to our RSVP rates for events, to our participation and completion of Cohorts – we’ve found that our members are wonderfully participatory and best of all – they follow through when they say they’re going to do, attend, or participate in something.

What is the biggest challenge in this position?

There’s significant demand for ELGL content and learning right now. Our members want us to be quick and nimble in the cohorts and training we offer, and so that means that as we plan for Q1, we’re already looking at Q2 and Q3. It’s a lot to keep track of an managing, and sometimes as a well-laid plan comes to life, a new opportunity presents itself (like a new subject matter expert/partner or trending issue…) and we have to figure out how we accommodate that while also keeping on with the plans we’re working on at that point in time.

Is there any work/life balance in ELGL?

From Kirsten: I hope so! It’s my intent that there is. Working from home helps but it also means setting boundaries so there’s not a sense of living at work. I have kids and for me, spending time with them and my family is really important so I personally try to shut off the work at a certain point each day or weekend. Yet, I am also guilty of texting the team at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon with an idea that I don’t want to forget for the week ahead. Overall, my hope is to always give our team members grace and room to successfully have a life and a career with ELGL.

Where do you see ELGL in the next 5 years?

From Kirsten: we will be wrapping up our second strategic plan in five years. I’m hopeful that we see the cumulative effects of our first and second year plans in motion. This will likely mean some more staff to accommodate all the work we want to do. And new technology to continue to keep our members connected no matter where they live. I could see our Board of Directors growing by a few members to continue to reflect the members we serve, as our membership grows. At the rate our membership has grown, we’ll potentially double in size in five years if that’s something that the Board wishes to do, although we do often have conversations about what an idea organization size is to ensure that the authentic and personal connections remain.

Since the position is remote, what kind of processes and technology is used at ELGL to work collaboratively?

We use G-Suite (Google products), Slack, text messaging, Bizzabo (online event software), ProudCity (CMS), PublicInput (Diversity Dashboard), Engagement HQ (online engagement software), MailChimp (newsletters), and JoinIt (membership software).

What is the top priority issue that you would like your program director to address?

Launching the Q1 2021 cohorts, and then finalizing planning for Q2 2021 cohorts. And then easing into Q3 and Q4 planning.

Are there any social program topics ELGL would find challenging to address?

From Kirsten: this is a tough question because we obviously work with our Board of Directors to determine what our focus areas are each year (in 2021 it’s justice & equity; resiliency; creative placemaking; community engagement; and data citizenship). We are a nonpartisan nonprofit and so we would not dive into any program topics that were associated with a specific political party’s beliefs or ideologies.

What are the three accomplishments that you would expect within the first 6 months?

  1. Launch and manage Q1 Cohorts
  2. Launch and manage Q2 Cohorts
  3. Find comfortable footing with the rest of the ELGL team

What is a skill or strength you believe your current team to be missing that you would like to see in a new team member?

From Kirsten: this is a great question; we have a fabulous team and they make me proud every single day. I guess the only thing that comes to mind would be expertise or experience in a new subject area that we have not yet explored (or not explored as fully).

What is the first project or task that should be tackled in this role?

See above.

Can you elaborate on the program development process?

It’s very collaborative – basically we listen to our members and hear about topics they’re interested in learning about and then we put into motion a calendar to offer that topic as a cohort program. ELGL works as the convener – bringing people together – and we find partners who work as the subject matter experts – putting the cohort curriculum together.

How has this role grown and changed overtime?

From Kirsten: so, so, so, so much! It’s hard to remember but Emily started at 10 hours per week managing our membership database, and now she’s running national programs at an almost-full time schedule! My philosophy is to hire amazing people and then let them grow and adapt in their roles based on where life and their expertise takes them.

Is there room for this role to evolve and change in the future? 

See above.

When can I expect to hear back in regards to this position?

We will contact people about next steps the week of November 16, 2020.

What is the estimated timeline for when you would like to have a candidate hired?

We would love to have someone start on December 14, 2020 so there is overlap with Emily before she leaves the organization.

What are the team-building exercises used most from the organization?

From Kirsten: we haven’t done many team-building exercises beyond frequent meetings and checkins with each other. If we were not in a pandemic, the goal would be two in-person staff retreats per year.

How would you describe the organizational culture at ELGL?

From Kirsten: it’s very fast-paced with the expectations that people are getting work done in an efficient manner. We don’t have guidebooks or checklists to follow; we look for people who can figure out what needs to be done and how to do it, asking questions if needed but not expecting approval for every single step.

Your posted questions were very comprehensive and answered the questions I had except, what do you do for fun at ELGL or teambulding since everyone is in different locations?

At our former retreats (when we could meet in person) we combined a rigorous agenda with eating a lot of delicious food and drinking interesting drinks while staying together in AirBnBs.

A genie grants you three wishes for the Program Director position. What are they?

  1. A stable wi-fi connection that never lets them down
  2. Patience and grace in the face of tight deadlines
  3. National recognition for their creativity and insightfulness

When the new Program Director walks into the boxing ring (or let’s say Zoom meeting), what song is playing?

From Kirsten: “We are the Tide” by Blind Pilot

For travel to #ELGLInspire and other events are travel expenses paid or reimbursed?


What does a successful day at work look like for you?

Noticeable progress on a to-list; authentic connections with members and partners; big and exciting emotions as new ideas and projects become a reality.

As the supervisor, how is Kirsten’s management style?

I’ll Emily, Allie, Hallee, or Brian answer this one! 🙂

Since you created ELGL what are you most proud of with the program?

From Kirsten: I’m really proud that ELGL has grown at the direction of our members and the very organic approach we take with everything – from content to programming to events. And I’m proud when our members say they’ve found “their people” or their place in local government because of ELGL.

Why is this opportunity available? Sounds like an amazing opportunity!

Please check out Emily’s blog post.

What are some of the greatest challenges that the organization has faced in recent years? How did you, as individuals and as a collective team, work to overcome or adapt to the challenges?

We constantly face challenges with funding to keep pace with the programming we want to offer. There’s a limited universe of sponsors and partners and there are so many local government professional associations at the state and national levels. We’ve realized we can either spend our time chasing money or creating content – but we can’t do both without sacrificing the quality of our content so we choose to focus on content first, and then finding partners who align with our values and vision for the organization.

What was your greatest success – your proudest moment as a team?

From Kirsten: we had a retreat this past Friday and it was pretty amazing to see the other team members’ faces on screen as we talked about everything that’s happened in 2020 and how we’ve collectively risen to meet the challenges. I love our employees – they’re so smart and creative and funny and kind. Just making it through 2020 together and keeping the organization growing and thriving feels huge right now.

Do you provide any type of retirement savings/401K?

Yes, employees can contribute to a 401k plan after three months on the job. The default employee contribution is 6% but employees can choose the amount they contribute. At this time, we do not offer an employer match but will hopefully add something in the next round of strategic planning/staffing.

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