Community Manager, Rural Innovation Initiative

Rural Innovation Strategies Inc.

Location: Hartland

Type: Full Time

Education: Batchelor's Degree

Experience: 3 - 5 Years

Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc (RISI) is a social enterprise working to advance inclusive economic opportunity and investment in small towns across the country. We are seeking a Community Manager who is looking to join a fast growing team committed to shifting the narrative about what’s economically possible in rural America.

Guided by a strong belief in rural ingenuity and small-town potential, RISI and its sister organization, the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), provide strategic support to rural communities wanting to develop inclusive, resilient digital ecosystems. CORI and RISI’s comprehensive systems approach to digital economy ecosystems involves building a nationwide network of local economic change agents; using mapping and data to highlight rural opportunities; making direct investment in underserved rural entrepreneurs; and closing the digital divide so all Americans can participate in the 21st century digital economy.

As part of our Rural Innovation Initiative team, the Community Manager will play a key role coordinating and delivering a range of technical assistance activities in support of our comprehensive strategy to develop digital economy ecosystems in small towns across the country. They will work to support our team in delivering our model to diverse communities across rural America. Their responsibilities will include coordinating complicated schedules, engaging with community members to carry out thorough assessments of existing community assets, working with the team to analyze economic and demographic data, creating and delivering presentations, and managing documentation and communication of all assessment and technical assistance activities. This position will also contribute to envisioning new approaches to support our work and to our thought leadership efforts that aim to broaden the conversation about what’s possible in rural America. This person must display a strong commitment to building and implementing technical assistance programs that center equity and inclusion.

RISI is headquartered in a historic general store building in the village of Hartland, Vermont, a part of the Upper Valley and greater Dartmouth College region. For more information, please visit our website:


Supporting the development and implementation of the Rural Innovation Initiative’s comprehensive strategy for engaging rural communities in developing Digital Economy Ecosystems

Provide direct capacity building support to communities, managing community relationships and working directly with community leaders to

Deploy and refine communication and assessment tools for helping rural communities understand what is needed for a rural digital economy ecosystems to thrive

Achieve fundraising, board development, and partnership goals and applying to EDA’s Build to Scale grant program or other federal or private grant programs

Assist with facilitation of virtual and in-person strategy sessions for communities across the nation to develop regional strategies for building digital economy ecosystems

Coordinate community assessment and technical assistance activities including (but not limited to) building schedules, managing community and project documentation, tracking project activities, analysis of existing assets, and strategic planning

Contribute to CORI/RISI’s efforts to build a thriving network of rural innovation hubs to increase local capacity, enable collaboration among innovation hubs, and facilitate investment in rural communities and entrepreneurs

Coordinate administrative functions that support technical assistance to communities, including adhering to all RISI policies such as travel policy requirements, managing expense filing, establishing and maintaining proper filing systems, and program reporting.


Our organization is growing our team to support more communities looking to develop their digital economy ecosystems with the support of our assessment and technical assistance process, called the Rural Innovation Initiative. CORI has developed a model for building digital economy ecosystems in rural America that introduce remote work strategies, scalable tech entrepreneurship development programs, and computer science training to small towns. In 2018 CORI piloted the development and implementation of its first digital economy ecosystem strategy in Springfield, VT. In 2019 and 2020, CORI launched the Rural Innovation Initiative to scale this model to other rural communities around the country and to assist them with strategic efforts to diversify their economies through a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. In 2021, we are expanding the Rural Innovation Initiative program to diverse rural regions across the country. We are seeking an exceptional strategist and change agent to help support our growing team and network of communities as they implement the Innovation Hub model and work creatively to close the rural opportunity gap.


Passionate and demonstrated belief in our mission, vision, and potential to improve Rural America through this social enterprise

Ability to organize multiple tasks/projects, as well as prioritizing tasks, intellectual curiosity, and ability to present complex ideas and analysis of ideas

Solid analytical skills with exceptional attention to detail

Exceptional writing skills with experience developing powerful deck presentations

Excellent interpersonal and relationship management skills; demonstrated ability to interact well and respect a diverse range of people, experiences, and constituencies

Ability to handle sensitive and confidential information with discretion and judgment

Ability to be self-directed, as well as succeed and thrive in a collaborative team environment

Ability to lead, inspire and motivate others, and assume leadership on a team when appropriate

Effective verbal communication skills, including active listening, small group facilitation, and public speaking

Ability to work comfortably in a fast-paced and entrepreneurial environment

Track record of relentless problem-solving and overcoming barriers to success


4-year degree from an accredited college or university preferred, but not required

2 or more years in program management

Experience with facilitating meetings and workshops and/or giving presentations

Strong computer skills, including use of Google Suite, web based collaboration and project management tools, and virtual presentation platforms

Essential job functions and requirements are subject to possible modification to reasonably accommodate individuals with disabilities.


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