The Northwest Power and Conservation Council is seeking a Communications Specialist with a focus in electric power to be the lead member of the Council staff in communicating the Council’s work in energy planning for the Pacific Northwest. The intended audience for external communications about the Council’s work is broad: federal, state and tribal policymakers, public agency staff, regional utilities, environmental and conservation staff, local governments, public process stakeholders, the general public, and print and digital media. The work of this person will also be internally focused – helping the Council itself and other members of the staff be more effective in the way they communicate their work. This position will work alongside another Communications Specialist focused on the Council’s Fish & Wildlife work – a position the Council is also hiring for. Depending on candidate qualifications, one of the two Communications Specialists hired may be designated the Council’s Communications Lead.
The Council is an interstate compact agency formed by the states of Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho under the Northwest Power Act of 1980. Under this Act, the Council develops, with broad public participation, a regional conservation and electrical generation power plan, as well as a protection and mitigation program for fish and wildlife affected by the hydropower facilities on the Columbia River. The Council’s power plan and fish and wildlife programs are largely implemented by agencies of the federal government, especially the Bonneville Power Administration, although the energy work of the Council has relevance and influence far beyond federal agencies.
The Council consists of eight members, with the governors of the four states appointing two members each. The members are supported by the central office staff based in Portland, Oregon and several staff located in each state office. The Communications Specialist we are seeking will be part of the Council’s central staff, officially part of the Council’s Public Affairs team, but essentially embedded with and closely working with the staff of the Council’s Power Planning Division on a day-to-day basis.
Primary Duties & Responsibilities
- Partner with the Council’s Power Planning Division staff in particular to synthesize complex information, issues and decisions relating to energy and communicate the key points to target audiences in a manner that resonates with the audiences. Requires demonstrated skill in distilling key points out of complex technical and policy materials and conveying those points in a clear manner.
- Develop and communicate in a wide variety of methods and media key points about the energy work of the Council.
- Work with the Council’s Director of Power Planning, and other staff and members as needed, to develop strategic communication plans for large deliverables, such as the Council’s power plans, and identify other communication priorities for the ongoing work of the division.
- Work closely with the Council’s Power Planning Division staff, other members of the staff, and the Council members to help them be more effective in communicating their work within the Council and to others outside the Council.
- Coordinate with the Council’s Communications Lead on fish and wildlife program planning in communicating matters about the Council’s work that involve both energy and fish and wildlife considerations.
- Exhibit a willingness to maintain and develop new relationships with key energy personnel in government and the private sector, industry media representatives, and relevant information sources.
- Assist in responding in a timely and useful manner to requests for information about energy matters from media and others. Work closely other Council staff to identify the best technical or policy spokesperson for relevant issues.
- Create opportunities for the Council to take a leadership role in communicating to the public on key issues relevant to the Council’s work in energy.
- Be one of the staff primarily responsible for producing the Council’s required annual report to Congress.
- As a subset of communications work in general, develop a communications strategy and communications methods and products and methods for informing other government agencies and personnel about the energy work of the Council. Develop and maintain relationships with key government personnel for this purpose. This includes executive and legislative personnel in federal, state, tribal and local governments. Government Affairs experience is a plus.
Essential Skills and Qualifications
- A degree in a Communications field, preferably including a master’s degree.
- At least 3 years’ experience working in the field (or working closely with people in the field) of communications about the energy sector of the economy.
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
- Experience in public speaking and/or media engagements along with willingness to give in-person and virtual presentations to various audiences and to assist Council members and staff prepare virtual and in- person presentation material.
- Desire to learn about power system planning to ensure effective understanding and communication. Demonstrated previous experience in the field is preferred.
- Critical thinker with a curious mind and a demonstrated ability to learn, absorb and summarize highly technical power information and communicate it to others in a clear and concise manner while making apparent the relevant connections from the Council’s work and responsibilities to the issue being discussed.
- Ability to seek out and develop new communications paths and strategies to get the Council’s message out to new and diverse audiences.
- Strong interpersonal skills and a willingness to develop relationships with Council members, staff, relevant personnel in government and non-government entities, and the public.
- Demonstrated ability to be an effective team player as a key member of the Council staff.
- Willingness to travel to meetings and other engagements to promote the work of the Council.
- Managing external resources such as consultants as needed.
The Council is also seeking a Communications Specialist for the Fish and Wildlife work of the Council. One of the Communications Specialists hired may be designated the Communications Lead for the Council, supervising the work of the other communications specialist as well as the other two members of the Council’s Public Affairs division. This Lead position will report directly to the Council’s Executive Director.
Desired skills and qualifications for Communications Lead position include:
- Ability to perform all primary duties and qualifications (listed above) independently.
- Minimum 3 years recent work experience supervising professional staff and managing a budget.
- Ability to synthesize and distill meaningful strategic themes and direction, in cooperation with the leadership team, from complex subject matter that needs to be understood by decisionmakers with various levels of expertise with power and fish and wildlife issues.
- Ability to make the Council’s work tangible and vivid for people who are not experts in the area of power and fish and wildlife.
- Will include responsibilities around assessing the Council’s communications portfolio (e.g., website, social media, Spotlight newsletter) and will make recommendations on how to amplify its effectiveness.
Start Date / Location / Compensation and Benefits
Start date for the position is flexible, though preferably as soon as available.
While ideally the person filling this position lives in Portland, Oregon, the location of the Council’s central office, the only requirement is that the person live within the Council’s four-state region of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington and be available to travel to Portland to work from the Council’s central office on occasion.
The Council provides a competitive structure of compensation and benefits. The starting salary for the Communications Specialist position (power or fish) will range from $87,000 to $102,000 depending upon experience. Starting salary for the Communications Lead position will range from $105,000 to $121,000 depending upon experience. Benefits information available upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Apply
Interested applicants should submit a letter of interest, resume, writing sample, and references electronically as a single PDF to email@example.com.
Position will remain open until filled. Applications will be reviewed in the order received on a rolling basis beginning October 4, 2023. Interested candidates are encouraged to submit their applications promptly.
The Council is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The Council does not discriminate on the basis of 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. For more information, see the Council’s Inclusion Statement.