Assistant Director of Sustainability and Working Lands

The Colorado State Land Board is looking for an Assistant Director of Sustainability and Working Lands to join our leadership team. You’ll oversee all surface uses of three million acres of trust land. This management position leads $30+ million annual leasing revenue and is responsible for the long-term stewardship of trust assets. Your work has a statewide impact on natural resources. 

This posting will remain open until 9/29/23. We will begin contacting candidates the week of 10/2/23.

Apply now!

What is the State Land Board?

The State Land Board is a constitutionally created agency led by five Governor-appointed Commissioners who are supported by agency Staff. We manage a $4.7 billion endowment of assets for the intergenerational benefit of Colorado’s K-12 schoolchildren and public institutions. The agency is the second-largest landowner in Colorado and we are proud to generate revenue on behalf of beneficiaries — Colorado public schools — by leasing trust land and mineral estate assorted uses. Trust assets must be stewarded to retain their long-term value for future generations of schoolchildren. We hold our customers accountable to strict stewardship expectations. We achieve our work with only 48 employees dispersed across seven offices across the state. We are proud to be an entrepreneurial agency that takes a patient, long-term approach to land management. 

What does our Sustainability and Working Lands team do?

Under the leadership of the Assistant Director, the 20+ members of the sustainability and working lands team are responsible for leasing and stewarding three million acres of trust land for the following uses: agriculture, rangeland carbon sequestration, ecosystem services, recreation, and water. This work has a significant impact on the state of Colorado. We are the second-largest landowner in the state and 97% of our working land is leased for agriculture. Our teams work collaboratively together because we layer leasing on trust land to optimize revenue. We continuously innovate our suite of stewardship tools to ensure our land retains its long-term value for future generations of beneficiaries. 

These lines of business generated $30+ million in fiscal year 2023 from 3,000+ contracts. Our staff proactively inspects all trust land parcels, collaborates with lessees on best land management practices, negotiates new leases, and presents new leasing recommendations to our Board of Commissioners at monthly public meetings. 

It is important to note that the State Land Board is not a regulatory body; our customers must comply with all local, state, and federal regulations. Neither are we an operator of any of these businesses. Rather, we receive rent and royalty payments as a property owner leasing these assets for use or development by others. We additionally hold our customers accountable to stewardship stipulations and reclamation bonds: lessees must remain in compliance with our  lease terms and management requirements.

The Job opportunity

This isn’t your typical government job. 

We want you to share in our excitement over intergenerational stewardship of working lands and share in our pride of providing significant financial support to Colorado’s public schools. Here’s a more detailed look at your duties:

  1. Be a forward-thinking sales director. 40%
    1. Oversee five interrelated work units: agriculture (rangeland grazing, dryland crop, and irrigated crop), ecosystem services and mitigation banking, recreation, real estate, and water. Have a deep knowledge of these industries, market trends, and accretive real estate acquisition or disposition opportunities. Understand the federal and state regulatory parameters for these industries. Be responsible for setting and fulfilling revenue goals.
    2. Oversee the strategy of caring for 2.8 million acres of trust land. The parcels are as small as tens of acres to as large as 80,000 acres — you will get your boots dirty occasionally on field visits. Coordinate uses/impacts of your work units on four million acres of trust mineral estate. Understand the role of these assets as components of the School Trust valued at $4.7 billion.
    3. Balance multiple priorities and innovatively manage leasing activities to optimize revenue, particularly by renting working trust land parcels for multiple uses. Negotiate complex transactions with multiple parties to meet the best interests of the trust. Be responsive to the challenges and opportunities posed by both established and emerging industries.
    4. Fulfill the agency’s dual mission to earn income while maintaining sound stewardship of all trust assets. Be a champion for the vital role of working lands in our state and advocate for land management best practices.
  2. Be a leader. Be a manager. (And understand the distinction.) 40%
    1. Supervise five direct employees. Be a mentor to a team of 20+ subject matter experts. On any given day, your busy team members might be inspecting rangeland to determine stocking rates, coordinating access issues among multiple lessees, managing auctions, closing on a contract, or any number of tasks. 
    2. Be a thought partner to the agency’s Director and significantly contribute to the agency’s strategic planning and annual goal-setting. (Pro tip: review our strategic plan and annual report online at slb.colorado.gov/about)
    3. Collaborate regularly with senior leadership, particularly the Assistant Director of Energy, Carbon, and Minerals. A perk of this job is getting to interact with nearly everyone at our agency (and we think the people who work here are pretty great). 
  3. Do outreach. 10%
    1. Attend and actively participate at all of the agency’s monthly public Board meetings with our Governor-appointed Commissioners. These meetings occur at locations all across the state and include tours of our assets. Present regularly and prepare your staff for presentations. (Pro tip: attend a meeting or review a recent board packet at slb.colorado.gov/meetings.)
    2. Serve as an agency representative at external functions and partner with stakeholder organizations regularly.
    3. Support your team in negotiating and liaising with leasing customers. Maintain a high level of customer service and professionalism. Troubleshoot and mitigate conflicts.
  4. Be a jack of all trades, aka ‘other duties as assigned.’ 10%
    1. No job description would be complete without this ubiquitous line, right?

NOTE: our agency follows a hybrid workplace model. This position is expected to work in the office (located at 1127 Sherman in downtown Denver) a minimum of two days per week. This position is expected to visit the field operations teams at all six district offices annually. Additionally, this position attends all monthly board meetings and will be expected to travel in-state occasionally as needed.

What can you expect from us in return for your hard work? 

We are a lean team of 48 staff members that places significant emphasis on promoting and maintaining a positive work environment. We get our work done, and we have fun doing it.  The qualities of our environment include transparent and open communication, work-life balance (we mean it), and a focus on training and development. You’ll regularly explore and travel our state on day trips or multi-day trips. Out-of-state travel is uncommon. As a state employee, you have access to a suite of HR benefits and holidays, including professional development funds and tuition reimbursement. And you can feel good knowing your work is directly supporting Colorado schools.

Desired Characteristics and Attributes

The ideal candidate has extensive experience building and sustaining large programs related to working lands. You have experience managing revenue-generating businesses, stewarding landscape-scale properties, strategizing outdoor recreation opportunities, and complying with complex regulations or policies. The successful candidate has strong leadership and management skills, is adept at mentoring teams, and sees the big picture while also understanding the details to get the goals accomplished. We seek a person who’s comfortable at the podium because you’ll be presenting to our Commissioners at Board meetings regularly.  The candidate should demonstrate the following characteristics and attributes:

  • Excellent written and oral communications skills (Pro tip: during the interview process we will ask for writing samples that demonstrate your persuasive writing skills. We will also ask you to do a presentation for our staff.)
  • Player/coach; ensures team success through personal contribution; mentors, motivates, gets the best from their teams
  • Team builder; gets energy from collaborative work
  • Customer-service mindset, respectful, helpful
  • Proactive, takes initiative, self-motivated
  • Excellent critical thinker; possesses good problem solving skills, seeks to understand alternatives, uses good judgment
  • Self-confident and self-aware
  • Great work ethic, disciplined, conscientious, thorough and diligent
  • Honest, trustworthy, dependable
  • Enthusiastic, energetic, optimistic, positive attitude
  • Organized and professional; gets things done without drama
  • Adaptable and open to change

At a minimum, you need all of the following:

  • 10+ years of demonstrated professional experience in landscape-scale land management or natural resources, or a related field, including five years of leading teams, managing people and generating revenues.
  • Graduation from an accredited college or university with a bachelor's degree in business, law, or other disciplines that demonstrate familiarity with business planning and plan execution, project management, contract development, management, and budgeting.

A combination of work experience in the occupational field or specialized subject area of the work assigned to the job, which provided the same kind, amount, and level of knowledge acquired in the required education, may be substituted on a year-for-year basis for the bachelor's degree. Part-time work will be pro-rated.

Does this sound like you?  We hope so! Apply now!

Questions? Contact Kristin Kemp at kristin.kemp@state.co.us or 720-666-0437.


PS: We compete in the private-sector markets every day and operate somewhat independently from state government. But not from HR. So please follow the lengthy prompts to apply for this position through the state hiring portal. Only candidates who apply through the state portal will be considered. The online application form is long. Be sure to complete it fully. “See resume” statements will not be accepted. You must complete each section of the form even if it is duplicative of your resume. Think of it as an endurance test. We hope to see you at the finish line.

PPS: This position has an important counterpart: the Assistant Director of Energy, Carbon and Minerals. We are simultaneously recruiting for both positions. You can view that posting on the state’s website as well. 

Watch our recruitment video for application tips and to hear more about why we think this Assistant Director position is so important: