Program Director, Tennessee and Georgia Lands and Trails Program


Building on 30 years of conservation and park leadership in Tennessee and Georgia, the Trust for Public Land seeks a Program Director to design and lead a new Lands and Trails Program. The Program Director leads transactions to secure trail corridors and protect land, creating close-to-home access to nature and the great outdoors. Through this new trail development and land protection program, the Director will work to enhance connectivity and recreational access, improving health, wellness, and economic opportunities throughout Georgia and Tennessee.

To implement this vision, the Director will partner with rural and urban communities, special districts, the States of Georgia and Tennessee, federal agencies and non-profit partners to identify, acquire, catalyze and accelerate the acquisition and development of trails and land protection important to partner communities. In addition to identifying and pursuing public funding for the Program, the Director, in collaboration with TPL philanthropy staff, will foster relations with institutional and individual donors who support this work to secure both operational and capital support.

The Lands and Trails Program Director will draw upon Trust for Public Land’s national leadership and longstanding regional partnerships, applying best practices for land protection and trail access.

The Director will hold primary responsibility for directing and managing the Lands and Trails Program to meet the organization’s goals for enhancing connectivity and equitable access to trails, parks and other public lands.

We are open to location - either in our Chattanooga or Atlanta office.

  • Build and strengthen organizational collaborations and partnerships with federal, state, county and local government and non-profit partners with an interest in land protection and trail development, especially around the Chattahoochee RiverLands and the Chick Chatt Trail.
  • Independently manage land acquisition projects by overseeing all aspects of the acquisition and conveyance of property, including negotiating purchase agreements, contract for and review appraisals and environmental assessments; assist with legal document preparation; manage public review processes; organizing grassroots political support; complete internal approval documents/procedures, maps and photos; and related administrative tasks.
  • In partnership with the Tennessee program staff and TPL philanthropy staff, manage a Chick Chatt Trail Steering Committee, a committee of private and public partners designed to provide strategic guidance, advice, connections and philanthropic resources to advance program goals and projects.
  • Collaborate with TPL philanthropy staff to develop and implement operational and capital fundraising strategies in support of the Lands and Trails Program.
  • In partnership with the Georgia program staff and TPL philanthropy staff, manage land acquisition efforts in Georgia, particularly those associated with the Chattahoochee RiverLands and other work along the Chattahoochee River.
  • Serve as a regional trail and land protection advocate, evangelizing about the important role trails play in linking communities, enhancing local economies, reducing carbon emissions, and connecting people to nature and the outdoors.
  • Act as a spokesperson for the program and The Trust for Public Land in the media, at public meetings and events and with current and prospective donors and other supporters.
  • Collaborate with The Trust for Public Land’s national program teams, as well as other core organizational functions, to advance priority trails segments and program goals.
  • Manage on-the-ground projects and oversee partnerships to deliver tangible, lasting and measurable results.
  • Track budgets, contracts and other program commitments.

  • Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s preferred, in landscape architecture, planning, natural resources or a related field.
  • 6+ years’ experience working in conservation, outdoor recreation, community engagement and/or land use planning.
  • Knowledge of and experience with public funding sources for conservation and recreation, including the grant process and experience using public and private grants to fund work.
  • Experience working with political jurisdictions (town, city, county, state and federal), and experience building partnerships and facilitating positive working relationships.
  • Experience in public speaking.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to travel around Georgia and Tennessee, with occasional out-of-region trips, up to 30% of the time. Evening and weekend work can be expected.

  • Excellent presentation skills, both written and oral.
  • A passion for active community engagement and outreach.
  • Sound understanding of real estate principles and economics.
  • Expert knowledge of real estate due diligence process and government real property acquisition review process.
  • High-level familiarity with public agency land acquisition departments.
  • Excellent working knowledge of the processes for obtaining public funding for land acquisition.
  • Knowledge of park, trails and open space issues, growth management, urban and rural planning and development, or a related field, preferably with a statewide perspective.
  • Knowledge of conservation, recreation and land use policy and funding issues, preferably specific to trails, park and open space issues.
  • Proven ability to organize and manage multiple projects with diverse and numerous public and private partners and processes to develop programs and use resources of the organization to accomplish larger initiatives

As a full-time exempt employee, you will be eligible for Trust for Public Land’s comprehensive benefits program which includes medical, dental, and vision insurance, vacation, ten + holidays, and a 403(b) retirement plan, currently with an up to 5.5% company match. We offer competitive salaries commensurate with experience; the hiring range for this position is $75,000-85,000.

The Trust for Public Land’s active goal is to be an inclusive and equitable place to work and build community. As the organization actively works to eliminate racial and other disparities it welcomes candidates with diverse backgrounds and/or multicultural skillsets and experiences.