Employment - Metropolitan Planning Council

Skip to main content


MPC is currently accepting applications for a Director of Transportation, Outreach Associate/Manager, Research Associate and for Research Assistants. We also offer two paid fellowships, The Allard and Wayfinding Fellowships (details below), but the 2016 deadlines have passed. 

Director of Transportation

The opportunity: 

The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) seeks a highly skilled Director of Transportation to advance and shape the direction of core initiatives and contribute to the organization’s growth and impact.

Position overview: 

MPC has expanded its commitment to the development, analysis and advocacy of policies that will lead to an improvement of the condition of the Chicago region’s infrastructure.  Recent research has shown that Illinois needs to invest $43 billion in its transportation infrastructure over the next decade due to years of neglect. With the state’s fiscal condition in disarray, and with many competing priorities, MPC is a leading voice in pushing for a long term solution to Illinois’ capital investment to unlock growth.

MPC executes its work plan through a variety of mechanisms. Our Board of Governors  and three Program Committees drive the organization’s policy development. The Director of Transportation will lead the activities of the Regional Planning & Investment Committee. MPC also frequently partners with other entities and leads coalitions and working groups; the Director will oversee the Accelerate Illinois coalition, comprised of over 30 entities from the private and civic sectors, which articulates the urgent need for investment in transportation infrastructure.

We also believe that investing in equitable transit oriented development (TOD) will help reverse the trend of stagnant growth across Chicagoland. MPC’s Grow Chicago initiative is an interdisciplinary approach that combines sound research, community engagement and outreach to elected officials to cluster balanced growth near transit.

As part of MPC’s management team, the Director of Transportation contributes to the development of organization-wide strategies and direction and oversees the execution of objectives in alignment with MPC’s strategic plan. This position reports to MPC’s President and is a member of the Management Team.

MPC is largely privately funded with 40% of its annual budget from foundations, 40% from corporations and the remainder from endowment earnings and individuals, and the occasional modest government grant.  MPC is a financially robust organization that enjoys a $10 million endowment.  

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 managing teams and working on an interdisciplinary basis with peers.  S/he must be independent, a strategic thinker, highly organized and personable, comfortable with public speaking, and possess excellent written communication skills that appeal to diverse audiences, including both the private sector and government officials from the entire geography in which MPC works – Chicago, the tri-state region, and across Illinois.

Key responsibilities:

  • Strategic planning, implementation and tracking;
  • Build, supervise and support a creative, energetic and high-performing team (both direct reports and others) in carrying out transportation objectives;
  • Board and Committee engagement;
  • Resource development; and
  • Market ideas and solutions to a variety of constituencies.

Knowledge, skills and abilities:

  • BA/BS degree required, advanced degree preferred;
  • Familiarity with the Chicago region and its public and private transportation players, including railroads, logistics and professional associations;
  • 6+ years of experience on land use development, transportation planning and infrastructure investment issues;
  • 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; and
  • Experience managing complex programs and balancing multiple priorities effectively.

Search and application process:

Please send the following materials by e-mail to: Skyler Larrimore at SLarrimore@metroplanning.org

  1. A cover letter that speaks to the ideal qualities and skills outlined in this position description;
  2. A résumé and salary history;
  3. A writing sample; and
  4. Three references.

No phone calls please. MPC is an equal opportunity employer. 

Outreach Associate/Manager

Position overview:

MPC is hiring a full-time associate or manager to enhance community outreach, especially in urban neighborhoods and inner-ring suburbs. This individual will be a part of developing outreach and engagement strategies for MPC initiatives and the organization as a whole. At the outset, Equitable Transit-Oriented Development and the Cost of Segregation projects will be priorities.

MPC is seeking a highly motivated individual with outreach and organizing experience and an interest in policy or planning. Strong public speaking, relationship, project management and facilitation skills are essential. Candidates should be comfortable in a range of settings from community forums to one-on-one meetings across the region’s geography. Relationships with elected officials, community organizations, business and civic leaders and media in the City of Chicago are a plus.

The position will report to MPC Director Marisa Novara and will work closely with the communications team.  

Key responsibilities:

  • Facilitating outreach and informed dialogue to address specific communities’ and neighborhoods’ concerns;
  • Conducting in-depth neighborhood outreach with a handful of communities to advance MPC’s agenda. This would include researching neighborhood challenges and opportunities, identifying and securing the participation of key stakeholders, developing materials to communicate best practices and principles, and facilitating convenings;
  • Engaging and educating elected and appointed officials to become strong proponents of MPC policies;
  • Developing and maintaining a comprehensive database of projects, neighborhoods, major stakeholders, key meetings and dates;
  • Tracking major developments or policies related to MPC goals in communities and identifying the key ways in which MPC can intervene to be impactful;  
  • Preparing self and/or appropriate staff to address issues through collecting materials, assigning staff to meetings, and communicating with local leaders;
  • Attending community meetings, testifying at City Council or other major events and/or preparing other staff to do so, and have one-on-one meetings with public officials;
  • Talking with reporters and other media producers to provide well-researched information;
  • Working with MPC’s communications team to write about and share materials with a variety of audiences, including via social media;
  • Assisting MPC colleagues with translating lessons learned from outreach into policy reform recommendations, to be communicated through original reports, policy briefings, and dialogue with elected officials;
  • Engaging external partners in ongoing and new policies and projects;
  • Assisting with MPC community-based planning efforts through the Corridor Development Initiative, in which community members work with a team of development professionals to create specific, finance-ready proposals; and
  • Coordinating public roundtable events and workshops to further MPC’s initiatives.

Knowledge, skills and abilities:

MPC seeks an organized, high-energy individual who thrives in a collegial work environment and can juggle multiple deadlines at once. The ideal candidate holds a master’s degree in a relevant field, and has at least three years of relevant organizing and outreach experience.

A qualified candidate:

  • is an analytical and creative thinker able to help expand MPC’s outreach;
  • is a self-starter, able to prioritize, handle concurrent tasks and projects, and work in a fluid environment;
  • is able to communicate directly and work collaboratively with staff colleagues and external partners;
  • is passionate about the body of issues that MPC addresses and committed to supporting the organization’s mission;
  • enjoys a fast-paced, intellectually-stimulating workplace;
  • is an excellent writer and an articulate speaker in a range of settings;
  • is both entrepreneurial and executes skillfully on assigned work;
  • has a working knowledge of relevant actors and institutions in the Chicago region; and
  • has experience communicating complex ideas to a diverse audiences.

Search and application process:

Please send the following materials by email to: Angie Leyva at ALeyva@metroplanning.org    

1) A letter detailing how your experience relates to the job being filled;

2) A résumé and salary history; 

3) A short writing sample (2-3 pages); and

4) Three references.

No phone calls please. MPC is an equal opportunity employer. 

Research Associate

Position overview:

MPC is hiring a full-time Research Associate to assist in both qualitative and quantitative research and data analysis to better illuminate pathways to sensible, equitable and sustainable growth for the Chicago region.

MPC is seeking persons with strong interests in, and aptitude for, designing and conducting policy research across a range of substantive areas. The Research Associate will be responsible for designing data collection protocols; assisting in management of the organization’s data inventory and the execution of a multifaceted research agenda; performing comprehensive data analyses; advising staff on their research needs; utilizing data visualization to convey findings; and translating data to develop sound public policy in the areas of housing, community and economic development, transportation, infrastructure finance, water resources, stormwater management and other planning issues. The position offers the opportunity to work closely with multiple colleagues, functions and teams both internally and externally. The ideal candidate will have a strong track record of working both collaboratively and individually on research and data analysis to support organizational goals.

This position reports to MPC’s Director of Research and Evaluation, Alden Loury, and will work closely with him to ensure that organization-wide strategies and research objectives are aligned with MPC’s strategic plan.

Key responsibilities:

  • Design data collection and management protocols;
  • Acquire, clean and manage publicly available datasets; ensure quality control;
  • Create unique datasets to serve MPC’s public policy and urban planning needs;
  • Conduct primary (surveys, interviews, focus groups, etc.) and secondary data collection and research; perform data analysis;
  • Perform spatial data analysis in GIS programs and produce map-based findings and products;
  • Produce blog content, social media posts, policy briefings and reports for publication to communicate and disseminate findings;
  • Monitor peer research, follow trends and produce high-quality research reports and presentations to share internally at weekly staff meetings and monthly staff brownbags;
  • Produce research results in a number of formats, including MPC publications, journal articles, conference presentations, social media and donor reports;
  • Work closely with MPC’s communication’s team to share primary research and articles with a variety of audiences, including public officials and the media; and
  • Engage and partner with business, government, academia and other civic sector leaders.


MPC is seeking a highly motivated individual with a background in public policy, research, finance, journalism or urban planning. Strong relationship, project management, analytical and policy development skills are desirable. The ability to work in teams is essential. The ideal candidate will be an organized, high-energy individual who thrives in a collegial work environment and must be able to juggle multiple deadlines at once.

A minimum of two years project management experience that demonstrates the ability to manage multiple competing priorities and deadlines in a policy-driven environment is strongly preferred. The ideal candidate will have a master's degree in an area requiring integrative and analytical thinking (e.g. Social Sciences, Economics, Finance, Statistics Public Policy, or Urban Planning)

Knowledge, skills and abilities:

  • Strong quantitative and analytical skills;
  • Knowledge of datasets and the ability to quickly gather data and analyze large datasets;
  • Ability to establish credibility by building an innovative portfolio of research and program work that advances MPC’s mission;
  • Ability to multi-task among competing, often changing needs;
  • Experience and training in data visualization theory and practice; proficient in Adobe creative suite;
  • Experience with GIS programs such as ArcMap or QGIS and online mapping libraries (Google maps, Cartodb, etc.); strong spatial analysis and mapping skills;
  • Visual thinker; excellent graphics and communications skills, both oral and written, to convey complex data to the public and audiences with different levels of expertise; ability to tell stories with data;
  • Entrepreneurial self-starter who can work independently and in teams to deliver high-quality work in a fast-paced environment;
  • Enjoys a fast-paced, intellectually stimulating workplace;
  • Ability to be successful working in an entrepreneurial environment where limited resources are leveraged to produce maximum results;
  • Curious about challenges facing the Chicago region and ideas for solutions;
  • Passionate about the body of issues that MPC addresses and committed to supporting the organization’s mission;
  • High degree of professionalism, with a demonstrated ability to manage responsibilities with alacrity, integrity and tact; displays mature judgement; and
  • Strategic thought partner adept at interacting with staff at all levels and comfortable developing research agendas, approaches and communications opportunities.

Search and application process:

Please send the following materials by e-mail to: Skyler Larrimore at SLarrimore@metroplanning.org

  1. Cover letter describing how your experience relates to the job description;
  2. A résumé and salary history;
  3. Three writing samples showing evidence of comprehensive data analysis, geospatial analysis and data visualization; and
  4. Three references.

No phone calls please. MPC is an equal opportunity employer. 

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 2017 MPC will once again offer a Fellowship. We are no longer accepting applications or nominations for 2016.

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 Fall 2016, particularly for the following priority projects (as of August 2016):

Great Rivers Chicago. This project is working to implement an exciting vision for the next 100 years of Chicago’s rivers, and in the summer of 2016 will shift from planning to implementation. Community engagement, GIS, research and design skills needed.

Cost of Segregation. This project is looking to quantify the negative impacts of our economically and racially segregated region. GIS, qualitative and quantitative research and writing skills needed.

Transform Illinois. This project is identifying ways to make our governmental bodies more effective by streamlining delivery and consolidating services. GIS, qualitative and quantitative research and writing skills needed.

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. Community engagement, GIS, research and writing skills needed.

Stormwater management: This program includes a number of discrete projects, including facilitation of the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative, research into stormwater infrastructure financing and more. GIS, qualitative and quantitative research and writing skills needed.

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. 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

Sign up for newsletter and alerts »