We seek a highly motivated individual to lead the Alliance’s volunteer programs, which involve about 15,000 people each year across all five Great Lakes. The ideal candidate is a self-starter, a collaborator who works easily with many different types of people, and an extrovert with a passion for empowering others to make a positive change in the world.

The Volunteer Engagement Manager is on the front lines of engaging with and cultivating volunteers across the Great Lakes region. They will lead the Adopt-a-Beach program, which includes the Alliance’s flagship volunteer program that involves about 15,000 volunteers per year on all five Great Lakes and all eight Great Lakes states, and the Ambassador program, a growing “speakers bureau”-type program that currently involves about 200 volunteers per year. They will develop strategy for maintaining the Alliance’s regional volunteer leadership and manage program implementation.

They will also represent the Alliance at events across the region, speaking at community events and supporting large volunteer groups. The role is very hands-on with lots of contact with volunteers, nonprofit organizations, and business partners across the Great Lakes region. The Volunteer Engagement Manager is core member of the Alliance’s Communications & Engagement Team and will work closely with the Alliance’s fundraising team.

A typical day for the Volunteer Engagement Manager might look like this – The day begins with the Communications & Engagement Team’s daily 30-minute check-in video call, where the team shares out key updates from the previous day and discusses any key project changes. They may hop on a call with a member of the Alliance’s fundraising team and a potential new Adopt-a-Beach business sponsor. They might then gather supplies and run out to a Chicago-area beach to meet a large Adopt-a-Beach group to support the cleanup event and give a short thank you speech to the group about the impact of their clean up. In the afternoon, they might meet with the Volunteer Engagement Coordinator, their direct report, to brainstorm ideas for upcoming Ambassador training sessions and sort through Adopt-a-Beach questions and requests. And they might end the day in a meeting with the Alliance’s Database Manager to discuss options for fixing some technical bugs in the Adopt-a-Beach Salesforce database.


Management and Strategy

  • Develop strategy for and manage the implementation of the Alliance’s volunteer programs, including the regional Adopt-a-Beach program comprised of 15,000+ volunteers in 8 states and the Alliance Ambassadors program, a network of over 100 volunteers trained to speak to groups about Great Lakes issues.
  • Manage the Adopt-a-Beach program, with a focus on ensuring regional participation and maintaining program participation and visibility.
  • Support the growth and implementation of the Adopt-a-Beach business sponsorship program in partnership with the Alliance’s Development Team.
  • Lead the growth of the Alliance Ambassadors program, with a focus on expanding the program to become a regional presence.
  • Identify and cultivate relationships with high performing volunteers to deepen their relationship with the Alliance, either by increasing their volunteer leadership role or engaging them in other areas of the Alliance’s work.


  • Manage and facilitate external outreach opportunities to audiences critical to supporting Great Lakes and water protection, such as opportunities for public speaking, tabling, and presentations as appropriate to support Alliance priorities.
  • Mobilize and recruit volunteers from communities (i.e., geographic, racial/ethnic, etc.) not currently represented in Alliance volunteer programs to ensure a wide diversity of people are engaged in Great Lakes protection efforts.
  • Identify expansion opportunities for the Alliance’s volunteer programs that align with the Alliance’s strategic goals.
  • Conduct trainings for volunteers to become environmental leaders, so that they have the skills and knowledge to address relevant Great Lakes issues and take action to improve the ecosystem.
  • Speak publicly for large and small groups, and occasionally the media, about the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Alliance’s volunteer opportunities, and Great Lakes issues.


  • Manage volunteer data and identify strategic uses of the information for internal and external partners.
  • Manage program supply inventory, ordering, and relationships with key vendors.


  • Manage the Volunteer Engagement Coordinator, and seasonal affiliates as needed.

Knowledge, Skills, & Competencies

  • Associate’s degree with relevant experience or Bachelor’s degree in social sciences, environmental sciences and/or communications.
  • Three to five years of experience in volunteer coordination and training, community outreach, developing stakeholder partnerships in the public, private, or nonprofit sector.
  • Demonstrated experience connecting with a wide variety of stakeholders of all ages and backgrounds, including civic groups, schools, agency staff, businesses and community-based environmental organizations.
  • Specific ability to manage volunteers with a positive and nurturing attitude to produce measurable results.
  • Experience leading volunteers in outdoor, hands-on activities a plus. Must be comfortable managing volunteers in outdoor settings in variable weather and crowded settings.
  • Excellent listening, writing, and speaking skills. Must be able to speak publicly in a clear, compelling, and engaging manner. Experience speaking with the media a plus.
  • Database management skills, specifically Salesforce, desirable.
  • Adaptive leader who is open, creative, and flexible in thought and practice with skills to lead both from the front and behind as needed.
  • Able to manage multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Knowledge of Great Lakes or water issues a plus.

Job Parameters

  • This position is full-time exempt and consistent with Alliance employment policy. Salary to be commensurate with experience.
  • Excellent benefits, including health, dental, and paid leave. Employees are eligible for participation in our retirement plan after 1 year of employment.
  • This position is based in the greater Chicagoland region. Applicants must be able to occasionally (or more frequently if preferred) work from, access supplies, and host meetings at the Alliance’s downtown Chicago office when it is safe to resume normal office operations.

Application Process

Please e-mail a cover letter, resume and references to: Include job title in the subject line.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, with a desired start date of July 1, 2021. Materials should be compatible with Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat. Applicants will receive confirmation of receipt of their materials and further guidance and updates about the hiring process by e-mail, with interviews provided for finalists. No phone inquiries please.

About the Alliance for the Great Lakes

The Alliance for the Great Lakes is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The search process will reinforce the Alliance’s belief that achieving diversity requires an enduring commitment to inclusion that must find full expression in our organizational culture, values, norms, and behaviors.

The Alliance’s vision is a healthy Great Lakes for people and wildlife, forever. Its mission is to conserve and restore the world’s largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts, ensuring a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife. For more information about the Alliance’s programs and work, please visit us online at