Communications Director

South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL)
Nevada City, CA, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Mid-Level (5-7 Years)
Degree Required: 
Bachelor's (Or Equivalent)


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TITLE:                       Communications Director
REPORTS TO:        Executive Director
JOB STATUS:         Full time, exempt
LOCATION:             Nevada City, CA

The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL – pronounced circle) was founded in 1983 by grassroots activists determined to protect the South Yuba River from dams. Ultimately, SYRCL won permanent protections for 39 miles of the South Yuba River under California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Today, SYRCL is the central hub of community activism to protect, restore, and celebrate the Yuba River watershed. With 36 years of achievements, 3,500 members and 1,000 active volunteers, SYRCL is doing great things for the Yuba watershed. SYRCL is a leader in the Sierra headwaters for addressing statewide and regional issues – challenging new dams, recovering endangered species, addressing climate change and drought, water security and water quality. Together, we are extending our powerful coalition from the summit to the sea.

People Can Save a River is SYRCL’s guiding principle. Since our founding, SYRCL has defended the Yuba River time and again. Engaging the community and working with partners has always been central to our success and we are seeking a Communications Director who is a seasoned professional and strategic thinker with experience leading a successful team and demonstrated excellence with external communications, and outstanding writing skills. The Director will be highly skilled in using communication and engagement tools encompassing our policy, advocacy, legal, and scientific work to unite and protect the watershed.

The Director will also be experienced at community organizing, coalition building, engaging volunteers, mentoring and overseeing program staff, and raising funds. This position will directly manage our River People and Education staff and will coordinate closely with SYRCL staff across all departments.

This position is based in Nevada City, CA. The position may require occasional travel within California (Sacramento and Bay Area).  Available to work some nights and weekends.


  • Bachelor’s degree required; an advanced degree in communications, environmental science, or a related field a plus.
  • A minimum of six years of experience in communications, community engagement, science communication, public relations, or a related discipline.
  • Effective leader with strategic vision and excellent judgment that combines political savvy and strategic acumen with analytical, communications, and messaging skills.
  • Demonstrated excellence in research, writing, and public speaking skills.
  • Demonstrated experience with grassroots environmental campaigns and mobilizing volunteers.
  • Ability to build consensus, develop effective coalitions, and collaborate with diverse interests.
  • Demonstrated ability to solve problems, raise funds, and manage internal budgets.
  • Experience communicating science to the public.
  • Ability to manage multiple, complex projects in varying stages of development under time pressure with minimal supervision.
  • Experience messaging for youth outreach and engagement opportunities
  • Working knowledge of today’s web platforms, email newsletters, and social media platforms for education, advocacy, fundraising and general communications. 
  • Skilled in using social media, technology, and innovative digital storytelling tools.
  • Proven success with media relations including the ability to write press releases and Op-Eds, organize press conferences and public relations events, and cultivate media coverage by working with reporters and editorial boards. 
  • Experience managing and directing staff as well as participating as part of a leadership team.
  • Strong collaboration, time management, organizational, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills, and a track record of working effectively across race, gender, sexual orientation, and other social identities.


  • Graphic design and photo editing skills, using Adobe Creative Suite
  • Web development experience, including building new sites and editing content


General Responsibilities

  • Provide vision and leadership for SYRCL communications and education programs
  • Lead SYRCL’s River People and Education teams and supervise staff, currently consisting of 2.6 FTE plus an AmeriCorps member.
  • Develop and implement annual communications goals and plans in collaboration with other department leads, including establishing budget needs, fundraising and advocacy goals, list growth objectives, and other department priorities.
  • Participate on the organization’s Leadership Team and help guide a positive culture for the organization.
  • Create and adhere to departmental budgets.
  • Ensure effective cross-departmental coordination for effective program content and implementation.


  • Supervise Community Engagement Manager who is tasked with volunteer recruitment, retention, and recognition for SYRCL-wide events and activities.


As SYRCL’s chief storyteller, strategize and oversee the organization’s overall communications strategy aimed at raising SYRCL’s profile, our campaigns, programs, projects, and events. This will include:

  • Identify significant media, science, education, and policy issues that can be leveraged to showcase SYRCL’s work and create and implement plans to build on campaigns, as well as breaking news in order to achieve advocacy, science, education, and fundraising goals.
  • Develop materials for outreach and engagement, such as brochures and an annual report.
  • Lead organizational media relations; cultivate relationships with key reporters, editorial boards, media and news outlets, and actively pitch stories, spokespeople, and events during new cycles and campaigns.
  • Oversee management of the organizations’ website(s), action alerts, event programs and remarks, press releases, op-ed pieces.
  • Provide leadership for urgent and timely communications to SYRCL’s various constituent groups, follow stories as they develop, use discretion, and employ good judgment with sensitive information.
  • Work closely with the Development Director, Policy Manager, River Science Director, and Wild & Scenic Film Festival Director to create a communications schedule that complements organization-wide efforts.
  • Oversee management of bi-monthly SYRCL e-newsletter and Dam Watchdog e-newsletter.
  • Oversee management of SYRCL’s social media channels with a goal of staying relevant and meaningfully engaging the public.
  • Establish goals related to engagement and reach. Track analytics to measure success across channels and platforms and use data to inform communications strategies.
  • Work with Executive Director on speech writing and presentation creation as needed.

Outreach and Events

  • Strategize SYRCL’s community outreach efforts and work with staff to implement goals.
  • Ensure a successful River Ambassador program, strategizing expansion opportunities.
  • Ensure successful events, such as the annual Cleanup, State of the Yuba, and Quiz Night, in coordination with Development and other key staff.
  • Develop a turnkey SYRCL outreach booth that can travel to events.
  • Support production, branding, and media engagement for events.


  • Provide leadership for SYRCL’s Education Program, including expansion, fundraising, and partnership opportunities.
  • Oversee River Education Manager who is tasked with leading SYRCL’s educational programming across all departments including Salmon Tours, youth field science, Wild & Scenic Film Festival school program, etc.

Policy and Campaigns

  • Work closely on communications strategies with SYRCL’s Policy Manager who is tasked with day to day operations of our policy work on our current campaigns: Stop Centennial, Growing Green, Hydropower Reform, and Yuba Salmon Now.
  • Assure participation in various stakeholder meetings and collaborative processes on topics that impact the watershed in coordination with Executive Director, Science Director, and River Policy Manager.


  • Support the Development Director on semi-annual mail fundraising campaign and digital fundraising appeals.
  • Participate in fundraising, including submitting grant proposals and reports, identifying and cultivating potential donors, and ensuring grant obligations are met for areas of oversight.


  • Able to work on a computer, including sitting at a desk for extended periods; to read a computer screen; and manual dexterity to operate a keyboard.
  • Able to speak clearly on the phone and in person and be understood by others.
  • Able to occasionally lift objects weighing up to 30 pounds.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.  Preference will be given to those received by 11/15.
First contact will be a phone screen interview; finalists will be invited to an in-person panel interview.
Anticipated start date will be January 2, 2020 or earlier. Applicants will be expected to provide two to three writing samples and participate in a timed writing exercise.

Salary and benefits are competitive with other Northern California not-for-profit conservation organizations; salary is commensurate with experience plus paid time off (PTO) and 100% individual health insurance benefits.

SYRCL is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other protected status.