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Public Engagement Program Manager

Posted: February 8, 2024 Expired: March 7, 2024
John G Shedd Aquarium
Bachelor Degree 2 Year

John G Shedd Aquarium

Public Engagement Program Manager

The Public Engagement Team is responsible for developing and delivering participatory, audience-driven experiences to guests to achieve Shedd’s mission of sparking compassion, curiosity, and conservation for the aquatic animal world. The team is also responsible for developing and facilitating, in collaboration with partner departments and vendors, engagement trainings that build the skillsets of their staff members and volunteers, so we can create a seamless, joyful, and engaging Shedd experience no matter the staff member guests encounter. These trainings are part of a workforce development strategy to help develop team members across Shedd to advance into engagement or learning-centered roles.  

This position manages the Public Engagement program portfolio. The Public Engagement Program manager uses creativity and evidence-based decision-making to develop and manage a programmatic suite that works towards goals and learner outcomes aligned with the institutional strategic objectives and the mission framework. Programs in the suite enhance learning and engagement opportunities for school groups, families, and general guests. The manager has expertise in interpretation and engagement strategies and program development. They supervise Public Engagement Specialists, Coordinators, and Facilitators and respond to evaluation and research trends as they relate to programmatic and audience needs.  The manager collaborates with other departmental and organizational team members to implement Shedd-wide programs, projects, and experiences, while also cultivating innovative practices and enhancing programmatic and back office effectiveness and efficiency. Qualified individuals will have experience in improv, theatre, and/or informal education settings, as well as demonstrated leadership experience. 

Time Commitment: 

Approximately 40 hours per week; Monday-Friday with potential schedule shifts as needed.  
This position may require work on evenings, weekends, overnight hours, and holidays.  
This position must be able to work at Shedd Aquarium and in offsite locations.  


As a member of the Public Engagement team, each individual should possess the following qualities which will enable the team to achieve Shedd’s mission to spark compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world. 

  • Positive attitude 
  • Inclusive and supportive of other team members 
  • Proactive in bringing forward solutions to challenges 
  • Maintain positive working relationships 
  • Guest focus on all activities, passion for people 
  • Ability to proactively engage guests 
  • Valuing diverse perspectives 
  • Creativity 

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:   The requirements listed are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions. Other duties may be assigned. 

  • Demonstrate leadership following Shedd’s mission and values 
  • Plan a programmatic suite by utilizing evaluation results, science standards, and current educational trends and research. Facilitate programs as necessary 
  • Manage Public Engagement Specialists, Coordinators, Facilitators, departmental resources, materials and programming spaces 
  • Support Shedd’s audience development and DEAI goals through program and staffing decisions. 
  • Ensure the team is meeting program standards and goals by contributing expertise and critical review of programs and trainings as needed 
  • Create an environment that empowers staff to contribute to a culture of collaboration and enact high-quality standards for program development and delivery 
  • Supervise Public Engagement Specialists throughout the program development process. Coach towards improved efficiency and effectiveness of program planning and implementation, including interpretive strategies and evaluation 
  • With Sr Director, Public Engagement and Director, Engagement Training and Development, and staff, plan and monitor professional growth opportunities and training plans 
  • Review team processes and protocols to increase operational efficiencies  
  • Develop and deliver reward and recognition strategies 
  • Design and conduct program training and certification process for team members 
  • Deliver key messages to the team in alignment with the strategic plan and team plans 
  • Manage project phases to ensure goals and objectives are being met and communicate the status of projects effectively 
  • Work closely with the Research and Evaluation department on evaluation plans in alignment with strategies for reaching program and learner goals. Apply assessment strategies and data capture techniques. Collect, analyze, and communicate relevant information 
  • Maintain strategic relationships with collaborative partners and other pertinent organizations to inform program development  
  • Build and nurture intra- and interdepartmental relationships to maximize collaborative opportunities and broaden understanding of organizational assets 
  • Collaborate with aquarium-wide teams to execute programs, projects, and events 
  • Track department spending of the operating budget in conjunction with the annual plan and communicate fiscal status updates to the Sr. Director as appropriate. Contribute to the development of the department’s operating budget with the Sr Director 
  • Prepare, review, and submit budgets and reports with development and finance staff as needed. Track spend-down against budgets. Meet with funders and donors as needed  
  • Demonstrate a commitment to professional and personal growth by initiating dialogue with colleagues, attending trainings, engaging in self-directed learning, and focusing on professional development goals 
  • Utilize independent judgment and discretion in the exercise of supervisory responsibility and authority over Coordinators, Specialists, Senior Facilitators, and Facilitators in the Public Engagement department, including assigning and directing work, evaluating job performance, resolving job concerns and problems, implementing or effectively recommending decisions concerning hiring, transfer, reassignment, promotion, merit or other compensation increases or rewards, layoff, recall, discipline and/or discharge 
  • Other duties as assigned 

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions.  


  • Bachelor’s degree in science/environmental studies, education, museum studies, or a related field or equivalent experience 
  • Minimum 3 years of experience in planning, development, budget management, implementation, teaching/facilitation, and evaluation of programming, preferably in an informal setting 
  • Minimum 2 years acting in a supervisory role 
  • Experience working in team-based environments  
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills  
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills 
  • Bilingual (Spanish/English) preferred 


  • Ability to read, write, speak, and comprehend English fluently. 
  • Ability to read and comprehend complex instructions given from written and oral sources.   
  • Strong interpersonal and verbal/written communication skills   
  • Ability to write professional business correspondence.   
  • Ability to effectively present information to and collaborate with employees, donors, community partners, and guests. 
  • Ability to execute excellent public speaking skills and science teaching aptitude. 
  • Ability to comfortably interact with the public and animal care staff. 


  • Proficient with Microsoft Office suite, especially Outlook, Excel, and Word. 
  • Ability to use multiple software applications for accounting, employee management, and interdepartmental business operations. 
  • Ability to learn new technology and computer applications. 


The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions. 

  • Lift up to 30 pounds  
  • Sit 
  • Stand 
  • Stoop 
  • Walk 
  • Climb stairs 


The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions. 

This person may be exposed to: 

  • Water 
  • Heat 
  • Cold 
  • Air particles (or potential allergens) 
  • Low noise 
  • Moderate Noise 
  • Loud Noise 


As One Shedd, the Public Engagement team is expected to deliver an exceptional experience for other team members, staff, volunteers, and internal and external guests. Each team member should demonstrate the Shedd Way charter qualities including but not limited to: 

  • Professional appearance 
  • Positive body language 
  • Seeking out guest contact 
  • Listening and responding to others needs 
  • Taking pride in Shedd 
  • Delight in the animals in our care 
  • Learning about and respecting those you work with 

We strongly encourage people of color, LGBTQ+ community, veterans and active duty military, parents, individuals with disabilities, and individuals from all cultural backgrounds to apply. Shedd Aquarium is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes everyone to our team.

If you need a reasonable accommodation at any point in the application or interview process, please let us know. In your application, please feel free to select which pronouns you use (For example – she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs).



How to Apply

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John G Shedd Aquarium
1200 S DuSable Lk Shr Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605

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