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Senior Public Affairs Specialist

Des Moines Area Regional Transit (DART)

Job Posting
Aug. 27, 2020

Position Summary:

The Senior Public Affairs Specialist position is ideal for someone who is able to make the complex clear, uncover and convey stories that emotionally connect, and create an image of mobility that elevates public transportation as both an essential service and an economic advantage for the Greater Des Moines region. This exceptional writer and strategic communications professional reports to the Chief External Affairs Officer.

The person in the Senior Public Affairs position will enjoy working in a fast-moving, collaborative culture where giving and receiving feedback is an important and valued skill. The ideal candidate will also possess an emotional intelligence that enables him/her to engage with a broad range of people such as business leaders, elected officials, riders, community members, government agencies, corporate partners and fellow employees. This is a newly created position that speaks to the organization’s belief that enhanced public affairs is both valuable and strategically essential to the vision of facilitating and providing mobility options that support economic prosperity for all.

Essential Functions of this Position:

The Senior Public Affairs Specialist will lead the development and implementation of strategic initiatives that reinforce the importance and value of public transit. An essential function of this position is being able to craft compelling content (both written and verbal) conveying the value of public transportation to stakeholders and central Iowa residents.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Leading the development and implementation of a public affairs plan that helps drive the achievement of overarching organizational goals to improve public perception and overall public support for DART.
  • Participating in legislative advocacy sessions with DART senior leadership and DART lobbyists.
  • Creating news releases, talking points, legislative affairs materials and occasional communications from the CEO to DART Commissioners and other local, state and federal elected officials.
  • Developing stakeholder presentations that follow a compelling storyline and help achieve specific communications objectives.
  • Attending and as needed conducting presentations to stakeholder groups that may have meetings at night and on weekends.
  • Managing select sponsorships and community partnerships that support public affairs initiatives.
  • Staying abreast of news and information related to transit and the local community.
  • Contributing to social media as a strategic deployment element within the public affairs plan.
  • Researching and preparing fact sheets and necessary communication to advocate and educate elected officials or others on key issues.
  • Assisting in the creation of clear, concise and compelling language that helps explain complex data and information to elected officials, news media and our region’s taxpayers.
  • Engaging riders in discussions that uncover personal and powerful stories. This sometimes requires riding the bus and being comfortable asking strangers to have a conversation.
  • Facilitating interviews with business and community leaders, DART’s leaders and others that glean both factual and emotionally compelling content.
  • Assist in responding to requests from media.
  • Assist with building and maintaining relationships with key government stakeholders in the community – both elected offices and with public sector departments – including holding regular meetings, drafting written updates, leading tours of DART facilities and networking at events.
  • Maintain relationships with organizations leading advocacy efforts related to issues impacting public transportation and overall mobility.
  • Ensure accurate and up-to-date contact information in CRM for elected officials and key stakeholders.


Additional Functions of this Position: 

  • Participate in strategic planning and provide expert recommendations for long- and short-term public affairs initiatives.
  • Serve as support and back up for media relations.
  • Manage assigned projects and ensure cross-functional collaboration and adherence to deadlines and budget.
  • Collect and analyze data for public affairs initiatives, online tools and social media to assess effectiveness and continuously improve.
  • Provide reports and use analytics to support recommendations and future investments.
  • Represent public affairs in the budgeting process and ensure recommended plans are well substantiated, creative and support stated goals.
  • Help build and maintain the organization’s image and identity.
  • Build relationships with public affairs professionals and talented writers at other organizations and companies.
  • Enable outside partners to do their best work by providing clear direction and well-managed internal review and approval processes.


Education and/or Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in PR, communications, journalism, political science or relevant field.
  • Minimum of five years’ experience in public affairs or comparable area responsible for the image of an organization through corporate communications or external relations.

Knowledge, Competencies and Interpersonal Skills:

  • Hands-on experience with public affairs plans and strategies
  • Talent for simplifying complex issues
  • Ability to think both creatively and strategically
  • Masterful storyteller with applicable knowledge of copywriting and editing
  • Outstanding organizational and time management skills
  • Resourceful problem solver
  • Knowledge of PR-related metrics and consumer engagement best practices
  • Experience with diverse communication platforms and channels
  • Passion for people and storytelling
  • Attention to details
  • Research analysis and practical application of findings
  • Project and budget management skills
  • Work independently and within a team
  • Quick and enthusiastic learner; effective and supportive collaborator
  • Respond well under pressure and provide positive energy
  • Confident communicator
  • Working knowledge of AP style
  • Passionate about “Enriching Lives, Connecting Communities, Expanding Opportunities”
  • Advantage if you also have video and video editing experience
  • Advantage if you have worked in the public sector, i.e., government-related agencies
  • Advantage if you have event management experience


Physical Demands:

On a normal workday, this position requires:

  • Prolonged periods of sitting, standing and/or walking.
  • Extensive use of hands, fingers and arms in operations requiring constant handling of paper documents, computing and entering data using a keyboard and operating graphic tools and equipment.
  • The ability to hear normal verbal conversation with or without corrective devices, to communicate with co-workers and customers.
  • The ability to speak, read and write the English language clearly and concisely.


Work Environment:

Work is performed in a general office environment. 



This is not necessarily an exhaustive list of responsibilities, skills, duties, requirements, efforts, or working conditions associated with the position. While this list is intended to be an accurate reflection of the current position, the DART Commission reserves the right to revise the functions and duties of the position, or to require that additional or different tasks be performed when circumstances change (e.g.,  emergencies, staff shortages, work load changes, rush jobs, or technological developments).

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