Employment - Metropolitan Planning Council

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MPC is currently accepting applications for a Vice President for Philanthropy and for Research Assistants. In addition, we offer two paid fellowships, The Allard and Wayfinding Fellowships (details below). In 2016 MPC will host a Wayfinding Fellow.

Vice President for Philanthropy

The Opportunity

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), a Chicago based non-profit, seeks a highly skilled Vice President for Philanthropy to maintain and cultivate valued relationships with individuals, businesses and communities who together invest in MPC’s effort to make the Chicago region more sustainable and prosperous.

Position Overview:

Staffing and properly capitalizing the development team is a high priority for MPC. The VP for Philanthropy would be responsible for the oversight, execution, and growth of a comprehensive development plan. A Development Associate and an Administrative Assistant support the VP for Philanthropy. The VP for Finance and Administration also commits 20% of his time in support of the development goals.

As part of MPC’s executive team, the VP for Philanthropy contributes to the development of organization wide strategies and direction and ensures development objectives are aligned with MPC’s strategic plan. This position reports directly to MPC’s President.

MPC is largely privately funded with approximately 40% of its annual budget from foundations, 40% from corporations and the remainder from endowment earnings individuals, and the occasional modest government grant. MPC is a financially robust organization that enjoys a $10 million endowment. In addition, a popular annual luncheon grossed $805,000 in 2015.

MPC looks to its VP for Philanthropy to engage board and staff in identifying, cultivating and maintaining donors. This includes encouraging and facilitating board members’ efforts to share their passion for the work of MPC with others and engaging program staff in conversations with donors and prospects.

Over the next five years, MPC seeks to steadily grow its annual operating budget –ambitious and sustainable financial growth that remains out ahead of MPC’s equally ambitious programmatic agenda. In reaching this goal, it is expected that the development strategy would focus on creative efforts to increase corporate support and support from new, current and lapsed foundations. Increasing annual and planned gifts from individuals is also a promising area for advancement. Organizational expectations include a recently established $25,000 annual minimum ‘give or get’ aspiration for each board member.

The successful candidate will be a dynamic extrovert, passionate about being a part of a highly motivated team working to create a competitive, equitable and sustainable metropolitan Chicago. S/he will have demonstrated experience leading fundraising efforts and confidence in soliciting gifts from a diverse set of donors. S/he must be independent, a strategic thinker, highly organized and personable, comfortable with public speaking, and possess excellent written communication skills.

Key Responsibilities:


  • In partnership with the President, Executive VP and VP of Finance and Administration and other senior staff, contribute to the development of MPC’s strategic plan, and remain versed in MPC program areas and projects to identify funding sources and trends that will help position the organization and build new funder relationships
  • Create and implement a comprehensive fundraising plan that includes individual, foundation, corporate, planned gifts, and special event contributions
  • Track and evaluate all fund development activities and provide regular reports to the President, Board of Governors, and senior staff advising on areas of concern and providing strategies to accomplish goals
  • Prepare annual development budget and revenue projections and track throughout the year in collaboration with President and VP of Finance and Administration
  • Prepare and staff the President to optimize her time and talents in meeting development objectives


  • Build, supervise and support a creative, energetic and high-performing development team of staff (both direct reports and others) and interns in carrying out the strategic development objectives
  • Work closely with MPC’s staff to understand and support program needs and identify fundraising opportunities
  • Build staff’s capacity to identify and assist with strategic development opportunities


  • In partnership with the President, enhance Board engagement in donor identification, cultivation and fundraising activities
  • Prepare and present regular updates to the board on development efforts

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • BA/BS degree required, advanced degree preferred, Certified Fund Raising Executive certification a plus
  • 6+years of development, fundraising, executive-level non-profit management, or related experience with demonstrated experience in annual fundraising in addition to experience in all aspects of donor development, including planned giving, major gifts, corporate and foundation giving with a proven track record of donor identification and solicitation success
  • Familiarity and experience with the Chicago philanthropic community
  • Strong analytical, strategic thinking and management skills, including an understanding of nonprofit financial statements
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills and ability to make compelling public presentations
  • Experience managing complex programs and balancing multiple priorities effectively
  • Experience with donor database and fundraising software a plus

Search and application Proces:

The search process will reinforce MPC’s belief in the diversity of people and ideas.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so interested parties are encouraged to apply early. Applications must include:

1) a cover letter that speaks to the ideal qualities and skills outlined in this position description;

2) a resume.

Applications should be sent to MPCphilanthropy@gmail.com with the subject line containing only the applicant’s name.

Allard and Wayfinding Fellowships

The Allard Fellowship, named for longtime MPC President Jean Allard and generously seeded by Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal in her honor before Allard passed away in 2012, is designed to attract young talent not currently in a position to volunteer at MPC. The most competitive candidates will submit applications and nomination letters that establish why they deserve and need a paid fellowship at MPC. This fellowship will help the organization achieve economic and racial diversity goals.

The Wayfinding Fellowship, supported by a fund generously seeded by a longtime MPC Board member, is designed to cultivate and retain an established, well regarded MPC Research Assistant. Current MPC Research Assistants who have been with the organization for a minimum of two months, as well as those whose tenure with MPC ended within ten months of the application deadline, are eligible; all applicants must be nominated by an MPC Board, committee or staff member. Because the Wayfinding Fellow must have proven high performance at MPC, the most competitive candidates will identify how they plan to lead a discrete project articulated in MPC’s work plan.

Fellows will work three to four days per week for six months, compensated by a $10,000 stipend. Fellows also will benefit from structured and informal networking and mentorship opportunities with MPC staff and volunteers, as well as recognition on MPC’s web site.

In 2016 MPC will offer a Wayfinding Fellowship. The application deadline has passed.

How to Apply

Please send the following materials by e-mail to Josh Ellis, program director and research assistant coordinator, at jellis@metroplanning.org:

  • For the Allard Fellowship, the applicant must submit a current CV, a writing sample of no more than 5 typed pages, and other supporting evidence as the applicant sees fit (e.g. evidence of quantiative analysis, GIS work, renderings, articles, etc.). The applicant must also submit a cover letter that articulates specific interest in MPC, how this Fellowship opportunity will position the applicant for professional growth, and why, but for this Fellowship, the applicant would not be in a position to volunteer at MPC. Finally, the applicant must also be nominated by a non-family member. The nomination letter should be included in the application materials, should articulate the nominee's potential for a career in urban and regional development policy, and should establish why the nominee deserves and needs a paid fellowship at MPC.
  • For the Wayfinding Fellowship, an MPC Board, committee, or staff member must nominate a current MPC Research Assistant who has been with the organization for a minimum of two months, as well as those whose tenure with MPC ended within ten months of the nomination deadline. Both the nomination letter and a cover letter by the nominee should articulate how the nominee's work at MPC has contributed substantively to MPC's mission, and how a paid fellowship would foster that nominee's professional growth and further MPC's work plan. The nominee must also submit a current CV.

No phone calls please. For more information on MPC, please visit our website: www.metroplanning.org

MPC is an equal opportunity employer.

Research Assistant

Starting Date: Rolling start dates

Current needs

Research assistants play an important role at MPC, offering essential support for our projects, working with staff on a daily basis, attending meetings, and learning about how planning policy works in the real world. We especially like RA applicants who are talented writers, investigators, communicators, and/or GIS users.

We’re currently recruiting RAs for Summer 2016, who are interested in the following priority projects (as of March 2016):

  • Great Rivers Chicago. This project is working to develop an exciting vision for the next 100 years of Chicago’s rivers, and in the summer of 2016 will shift from planning to implementation. 
  • Transform Illinois. This project is identifying ways to make our governmental bodies more effective by streamlining delivery and consolidating services.
  • Cost of Segregation. This project is looking to quantify the negative impacts of our economically and racially segregated region.
  • Transportation policy. This project focuses on ways to improve our transportation network, including by identifying new funding sources, better planning existing services, and prioritizing investments.
    • Equitable transit-oriented development. This project works to encourage more of the region’s development to occur in areas near our public transportation lines, so as to reduce congestion, eliminate pollution, and boost economic development. We are currently examining opportunities for infill station development and suburban TOD.

Overall program

MPC’s volunteer research assistants are a vital part of the organization’s success. Depending on the project at hand, RAs conduct original research, write blog posts and case studies, organize community meetings, perform GIS and quantitative analysis, and a range of other work.

You may apply for an RA position at any time, but as a general guideline new RAs start around May 1, September 1, and January 1. Candidates receiving school credit or compensation through a fellowship program will receive preference in staffing decisions, but all are welcome to apply. As a general rule of thumb, fall and winter RAs are expected to commit at least two full days of work per week, and summer RAs at least three.

How to Apply

Please send the following materials by e-mail to Josh Ellis, program director and research assistant coordinator, at jellis@metroplanning.org:

  • a current resume;
  • a cover letter articulating your specific interest in MPC, the current projects you have the most interest in and what you believe you can add to them, and a proposed schedule;
  • a short (2-3 page) writing sample, and if applicable, examples of geospatial analysis or design work

No phone calls please. For more information on MPC, please visit our website: www.metroplanning.org

MPC is an equal opportunity employer.

Notices for available positions at MPC are posted here.

Submit applications by e-mail or mail only; no phone calls please.

MPC is an equal opportunity employer.

This page can be found online at http://www.metroplanning.org/about/Employment0.html

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
312 922 5616 info@metroplanning.org

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