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Community Engagement Specialist At City of Evanston

Location: Evanston, Illinois

Job Description

Nature of Work/Essential Functions

  • Starting salary is dependent upon qualifications, but in most cases is no higher than the midpoint for range.

The Community Engagement Specialist provides information to the public on a range of programs, services, issues and policies through in-person, electronic, print, and other mechanisms of written and verbal communication.
Plans and conducts public relations programs and activities and special events designed to create, improve, and maintain interaction between the public and the city. Prepares press releases, creates informational materials on city programs, and organizes educational efforts to better inform residents as needed. Coordinates external communication, enhances internal communications, and works with outside agencies, including the media, to build and improve relations. Plans, develops, organizes, manages and administers significant programs and activities that support city goals and community engagement, including in the areas of community information, outreach and social media. Works cooperatively with all levels of city staff as well as partner entities to achieve goals in the area of program development, community engagement/outreach and external partnerships.
This role encompasses the breadth of community communication and engagement activities including the planning, development and delivery of effective community engagement strategies to support the diverse programs delivered by the City of Evanston. As part of a small team, must be adept at juggling multiple projects and identifying priorities.

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS (Specific assignment will include some or all of the following):
  • Gathers data, assembles information for press releases and/or publication and disseminates appropriately.
  • Coordinates research and data collection with staff on various city projects and determines what information needs to be disseminated to the public and the appropriate timelines.
  • Updates information on the city website, including managing the calendar, news and other site pages.
  • Develops and coordinates the research, data collection, and writing of articles, reports, editorials and other material for publication in city e-newsletters.
  • Utilizes data to improve engagement through city e-newsletters, social media and website content.
  • Prepares press releases, creates press packets and meets with reporters to answer questions about City Council decisions and city operations.
  • Provides information about and promotes Evanston to the general public through various public relations activities. Coordinates promotional events, including ground-breaking and ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
  • Evaluates access to city and community services for various population groups.
  • Develops and maintains a positive and cooperative relationship with local media.
  • Develops and implements programs designed to increase community awareness of programs and services within the community, targeting community-based organizations, the faith-based community, and special needs immigrant populations with limited English language skills.
  • Encourages and facilitates collaboration, coordination and communication between agencies that provide services for the special needs of specific cultural and ethnic groups.
  • Evaluates media effectiveness and modifies communication sources as needed.
  • Assists with outreach and content creation for social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and updates said outlets as needed to ensure information distribution to community.
  • Coordinates special projects and efforts aimed at assisting Aldermen with ward communications, including creating and distributing ward e-newsletters.
  • Responds as appropriate to inquiries sent via website by residents, organizations and businesses. Refers to appropriate staff member, responds with resolution, or creates a service request to offer resolution of issues.
  • Coordinates with community partners and city staff as needed on collaborative efforts.
  • Participates in public forums to promote use of city services.
  • Evaluates the internal communication structure and advises on ways to improve organizational communication.
  • Maintains confidential information as part of the City Manager’s Office staff.
  • Performs other duties as requested or assigned, which are reasonably within the scope of the duties listed above.
  • Be able to respond, if called upon, during various city emergencies to provide essential information to the public.

Minimum Requirements

  • Must possess a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university in journalism, marketing, communications, public relations, project management or related field. Possession of a Master’s degree is preferred.
  • Must possess three (3) or more years of work experience in marketing and public relations. Experience working with faith-based and community-based organizations with ethnically diverse populations, particularly Spanish speaking populations, is preferred.
  • Must possess a valid driver’s license and a safe driving record.
  • Knowledge, skills, and abilities in the following areas:
  • Spanish language fluency is preferred.
  • Demonstrated experience in writing, public speaking, planning, graphic design and layout.
  • Excellent communication skills including writing, speaking and listening; skill in developing communications and presentations applicable to the desired audienc
  • Working knowledge of the field of marketing and community relations.
  • Ability to understand public policy, services, practices, plans and problems in order to develop an effective marketing and communications program.
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with a diverse group of individuals and staff working for the City of Evanston and outside of the organization.
  • Ability to perform occasional weekend and evening work if required.
  • Knowledge and use of personal computer and software.
  • Ability to solve problems and deal with a variety of variables in situations with limited standardization; the ability to interpret information and instructions furnished in written, oral, diagrammatic or schedule form.
  • Ability to read, understand and interpret policies, procedures, statutes, local ordinance, rules and regulations, journals, newspapers, memos, letters, reports, financial reports and legal documents.
  • Demonstrated skill in word processing, spreadsheet, database management, presentation, calendar and email.
  • Demonstrated skill taking digital photographs; using electronic newsletter programs; using image editing and graphic design layout software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign.
  • Demonstrated skill creating and editing digital video for distribution through social media and other outlets.
  • Demonstrated skill in the use of the internet, social media and other electronic means of communication and distribution of municipal information.
  • Ability to supervise, train and effectively manage volunteers and part-time staff.

The employee works in a primarily sedentary position, with the occasional need to use force to exert up to 25 pounds to lift, carry or otherwise move objects, books, materials, etc.

The employee is subject to inside environmental conditions, protection from weather conditions, but not necessarily from indoor temperature changes. The employee moves between worksites in different locations, and to other locations in order to conduct portions of the position.

There are no environmental hazards associated with this classification.

Additional Information

General supervision is provided by the Communications Manager. The employee works closely with management on issues ranging from daily operational activities to major projects, such as coordinating the City’s public information activities during emergencies, including providing timely updates on the city’s cable channel, e-newsletter, website, social media outlets, and radio station. Employee also must be able to respond during snow events/emergencies or any disaster which would require the city to activate its Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Employee is expected to represent leadership within the organization, to create a problem-solving environment in which to engage both the immediate and long-range goals of the organization. Guidance is provided via the City Code, city policies and procedures, department directors and other city staff, and applicable state and federal laws and regulations. Performance is reviewed through observation, completion of projects, status reports, conferences and meetings. Work is evaluated at least annually with respect to leadership, management skills, communication skills, customer service, ability to work productively and effectively with employees at all levels in the organization, as well as the City Council, community, business and other similar groups and the general public, and performance in accordance with this classification standard.

The employee has regular and consistent contact with citizens, service providers, community and other similar groups, as well as the City Council, committees, boards and commissions. Presentations to a variety of groups throughout the community and city staff are developed and delivered regularly by the employee. The employee will also have daily contact with city employees. Excellent verbal, written and presentation and interpersonal skills are required, including the ability to occasionally deal with adversarial situations.

Structured Oral Interview
Qualifications Assessment

To apply for this position, please apply online at on or before the closing date.

Chosen candidates will be required to provide proof of licenses, certifications, and education required for this position. Candidates will also be subject to qualifying pre-employment processes, including medical examination, drug/alcohol screen, employment verification, and criminal background check.

The City of Evanston is an equal opportunity employer and ensures against discrimination in employment on the basis of a person’s race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, military discharge status, source of income, housing status, or gender identity. The City of Evanston is also committed to accessibility for persons with disabilities. Any person needing mobility or communications access assistance should contact Human Resources at 847-448-8204 (voice) or 847-448-8052 (TTY).