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Chicago Lights Urban Farm
Direct the operational success of the Chicago Lights Urban Farm through community involvement, infrastructure, crop production, and programming.
The Chicago Lights Urban Farm is a ¾ acre farm in the Near North community of Chicago. The Farm is dedicated to cultivating a thoughtful and engaged community of youth and adults through economic and educational opportunities, hands-on learning, and access to fresh, local, and sustainably grown produce. The Farm provides a safe sanctuary for community members, grows a variety of annual and perennial crops, offers programming for youth, distributes produce to the community, hosts volunteers, holds several community events, and provides space for community gardening.
The Director of the Chicago Lights Urban Farm is a full-time position responsible for the operational success of the Chicago Lights Urban Farm, including the Farm’s community involvement, infrastructure, crop production, and programming. The Director ensures seamless program design and delivery, strong team management and development, responsible fiscal oversight, and meaningful quality control and evaluation. The Director will represent the Urban Farm in the community, maintaining positive relationships within and beyond key partners, Chicago Lights, and Fourth Presbyterian Church.
The primary responsibilities of the Director include, but are not limited to:
- Execute the vision for the Urban Farm and implement the strategic goals as outlined in the current Chicago Lights strategic plan.
- Oversee program operations and services, provide effective and inspiring leadership, and ensure that activities operate within the mission of Chicago Lights. Support all programming as needed.
- Oversee community outreach activities which include planning Community Cookouts and organizing Community Gardening.
- Consider community needs as identified by community residents and engage residents in envisioning how the Farm may address any gaps in service.
- Manage all Urban Farm vendors and utilities, including the trailer rental, water department, electricity, garbage disposal, internet, restrooms, snow removal, etc.
- Oversee the maintenance and improvement of relevant Farm infrastructure which may include working with skilled volunteers or hiring outside contractors as needed.
- Manage the measurement and continuous improvement plan. Oversee the use of evaluation as a tool in accomplishing program objectives and ensure that data is collected accurately, analyzed appropriately, and adapted as needed. Stay informed on research-based best practices and data driven outcomes to ensure that the programs are serving the community in the most effective way.
- Uphold a trauma informed care plan, ensuring that program environments are safe, inviting, and demonstrate best practice. Ensure that all staff are implementing care regularly and appropriately.
- Use the S.P.I.R.I.T. principles of hospitality when interacting with visitors, guests, members, and staff of Fourth Presbyterian Church and Chicago Lights.
- Attend staff meetings as required. Explore collaboration with all Chicago Lights programs.
- It is impossible to convey every single task into one job description. As the role evolves over time, this job description will be adjusted accordingly.
- Attract, develop, coach, and retain high-performing team members. Supervise the Associate Director, Program Coordinator, and the Head Grower.
- Facilitate the development of a cohesive team through weekly meetings, team-building activities, and other regular elements.
- Develop staffing plans that meet the changing needs of the program. Facilitate professional development opportunities and goal development and attainment for staff.
- Work with the Executive Programs Director and the Human Resources Department in dealing with all personnel issues to implement the process of evaluation, raises, and termination in compliance with Fourth Presbyterian Church’s personnel policies and the Chicago Lights annual budget.
- Collaborate with other organizations, collectives, community groups, political leaders, and businesses to form meaningful partnerships that leverage information and resources that promote community building, youth development, and healthy, sustainable growing practices. Interface with architects, contractors, and city officials, as needed.
- Maintain regular communication with the Chicago Housing Authority, who owns the land.
- Effectively communicate program success, goals, needs, and challenges within Chicago Lights and Fourth Presbyterian Church and externally with funders, donors, and partners.
- Work with the Chicago Lights Communications team to implement communication strategies that will broaden programmatic reach and deepen impact, as well as fielding outside inquiries for interviews, media stories, and other external exposure.
Development and Fiscal Oversight
- Partner with the Executive Programs Director to develop accurate and visionary budgets for submission to the Executive Director and approval by the Chicago Lights Board of Directors.
- Manage budget adherence for the Urban Farm, including the various projects.
- Collaboratively plan and track how the Farm will meet its earned revenue goals each year.
- Work with the Chicago Lights development staff to advance the program’s revenue through collaboration on compelling grant proposals, activity reports, and stewardship.
- Bachelor’s degree and five years of experience in the field of agriculture, education, social work, community organizing, social activism, or another related field.
- Strong skills in managing complex, multifaceted projects resulting in measurable successes and program growth.
- Proven ability and experience in nonprofit programming and budget management. Direct experience in urban farm operations, outdoor youth programming, and/or navigating relationships/policies with the Chicago Housing Authority and City of Chicago preferred.
- Strength in recruiting, managing, developing, and retaining individuals and teams.
- Collaborative leader with a management style that includes others in decision-making.
- Proven track record with establishing and maintaining positive working relationships with community partners and residents, youth, parents, and staff, especially underrepresented communities and communities of color.
- Passion for food justice, youth development and urban farming. Knowledge of and experience addressing the issues of food access and food sovereignty in communities of color preferred.
- Knowledge of food systems, organic sustainable farming, Urban Agriculture, and/or Community Gardening in the Chicago region preferred.
- Understanding of and commitment to providing trauma informed care.
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills with exceptional attention to detail.
- Strong work ethic, judgment, and a commitment to Chicago Lights’ mission.
- Commitment to racial equity and social justice: Recognize the role of race, income, age, immigration status, and other identities in shaping disparities, and work toward amplifying community voices to advocate for equity. Recognize how your own identities show up in the work, and welcome, reflect on, and act on feedback with an eye toward continuous learning about race, ability, and other lines of difference.
40 hours per week
Growing and programming season is March through December, so daytime hours onsite at the Farm are required. January and February allow for more flexibility. Occasional weekday evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays may be required for special events.
Please send cover letters and resumes to email@example.com. No phone calls, please.
Fourth Presbyterian Church and Chicago Lights are committed to equal employment opportunity for all qualified persons, without regard to race, color, citizenship status, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, age, creed, physical or mental disability, marital status or familial status, veteran status, military status, source of income, political affiliation, or any other factor protected by law.