Director, Government & Civic Relations
Port of San Diego - San Diego, CA

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The Port of San Diego is recruiting for a Director of Government & Civic Relations to lead the agency’s governmental affairs program and shepherd policy initiatives relating to maritime, tourism, water and land recreation, environmental stewardship and public safety and other issues affecting tidelands under the Port’s jurisdiction. The Port is committed to increasing engagement at local, regional, state, federal and international levels of government with robust outreach, transparency and effective advocacy.

The successful candidate will direct a comprehensive governmental relations program, provide policy analysis and guidance, help shape legislative strategy, advise the Board of Port Commissioners and executive team, represent the Port on legislative, regulatory and intergovernmental matters, manage an engaged, dedicated staff, direct consultants, and perform other related duties.

To be effective, the Director will need to foster productive relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders, demonstrate a high degree of political acumen and solid judgment, communicate simply and clearly on sometimes complicated topics, and accurately assess business implications of policy issues.

Candidates must have a track record of successful executive leadership and effective management skills that encompasses strategic planning, government and community relations, financial management, personnel and performance management. A background in Port-related industries, transportation, goods movement and/or land use planning is a plus but not required.


Under policy direction, plans, organizes, directs and implements comprehensive District-wide governmental relations programs and activities; manages and participates in representing the District on legislative, regulatory and intergovernmental issues and initiatives; provides expert professional assistance and guidance to District board members, executives, managers and others on legislative, regulatory and intergovernmental relations matters; and performs related duties as assigned.


Director, Government Relations is responsible for directing, coordinating, facilitating, evaluating and integrating accomplishment of the District’s legislative and governmental affairs objectives. The incumbent is responsible for assuring that the District, all of its operations and resources are protected from external legislative and regulatory threats. The incumbent is responsible for mobilizing and managing District staff and outside lobbyists to advocate for legislative and regulatory positions, for encouraging and persuading elected state and federal policymakers to work for District interests and for effectively utilizing officials of other governmental agencies and interest groups to support and advocate for District positions. The incumbent is expected to develop effective relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders, community groups and external interests to achieve District objectives. Responsibilities are broad in scope, require a high degree of political acumen and judgment, the ability to work effectively in a highly complex, sensitive and confidential field and are evaluated in terms of overall effectiveness.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

The following statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required of personnel so classified.

1. Plans, organizes, controls, integrates and evaluates the work of the Government Relations Department; with staff, develops, implements and monitors work plans to achieve department mission, goals and performance measures; directs the development of and monitors performance against the department’s budget; manages and directs the development, implementation and evaluation of work programs, plans, processes, systems and procedures.

2. Plans, organizes, directs and evaluates the performance of assigned staff; establishes performance requirements and personal development targets; regularly monitors performance and provides coaching for performance improvement and development; provides compensation and other rewards to recognize performance; takes disciplinary action, up to and including termination, to address performance deficiencies, in accordance with federal, state and local laws and regulations, District human resources Standards and Procedures and labor contract provisions.

3. Provides leadership and works with staff to create a high performance, service-oriented work environment that supports achieving the District’s mission, objectives and service expectations; provides leadership and participates in programs and activities that promote workplace diversity and a positive employee relations environment.

4. Participates in setting overall direction and strategy and manages the District’s legislative program, including development and recommendation of tactics, methods and resources to advance District objectives and protect it from external threats; develops and proposes a legislative agenda, including soliciting and integrating departmental legislative priorities, conducting executive and board work sessions to establish priorities and objectives within the context of the local state/federal legislative and political environment; ensures representation of District interests at legislative sessions, at interim committees, work groups, negotiations and discussions.

5. Works with board members, District executives and managers to develop information and materials for use in advocating for District positions; develops or approves position statements; coordinates the involvement of District officials and retained outside lobbyists in promoting legislative positions.

6. Develops and maintains effective relationships with members of the legislature, other state elected and appointed officials, members of Congress, other units of government, representatives of state and federal agencies, business and citizen groups, public and private sector associations and the media for the purpose of advancing matters important to the District; participates in applicable lobby coalitions.

7. Serves as a central clearing house and participates in analyzing proposed local, state and federal legislation and regulations for their impact on District operations and sources of revenue; proposes revisions or new legislation consistent with the needs and interests of the District; drafts and/or coordinates development of position papers and public testimony; testifies before public bodies when requested; serves as a sounding board to other District staff on political and legislative advocacy issues.

8. Assists as needed on special assignments and projects dealing with legislative issues; monitors trends and developments in areas of responsibility; recommends and implements policy and procedure changes consistent with new requirements; recommends appropriate actions and implements programs.

9. Works to build a broad and inclusive stakeholder and community relations program with all segments of the community to create, maintain and promote an open and transparent public process.


Knowledge of:

1. Local, State and/or Federal political systems and the legislative process.

2. Legislative methods, techniques and procedures of state and local political subdivisions.

3. Federal, state and local laws, regulations and court decisions applicable to areas of responsibility.

4. Public agency functions and operations and associated governmental relations issues.

5. Local, state and federal law, regulations and trends affecting the operation and control of Ports.

6. Principles and practices of civil and administrative law, especially as they relate to a large port authority.

7. Principles, methods and techniques of legal research and investigation.

8. Responsibilities and obligations of public officials and administrative agencies under state and federal law.

9. Effective business communications and correct English usage.

10. Principles and practices of effective management and supervision.

11. District Personnel Rules and Regulations, policies and labor contract provisions.

12. Methods for community grassroots stakeholder activation and participation and public process.

Ability to:

1. Plan and manage a legislative program and activities, applying sound political and legislative acumen to the development and execution of legislative representation strategies and approaches.

2. Define complex legislative and regulatory issues, perform difficult and complex analyses and research, evaluate alternatives and develop sound conclusions and recommendations.

3. Understand, interpret, explain and apply local, state, and federal policy, law, regulation and court decisions applicable to areas of responsibility.

4. Analyze, interpret and explain proposed legislation and regulation, programs and other intergovernmental initiatives in terms of impact on the District’s operations, service development strategies, programs, policies, activities and sources of revenue and recommend appropriate courses of action.

5. Present proposals and recommendations clearly, logically and persuasively in public meetings.

6. Represent the District effectively in negotiations and other dealings on a variety of issues.

7. Prepare clear, concise and comprehensive correspondence, reports, studies and other written materials.

8. Exercise sound, expert independent judgment and political acumen within general policy guidelines.

9. Exercise tact and diplomacy in dealing with highly sensitive, complex and confidential issues and situations.

10. Establish and maintain effective working relationships with all levels of District management, board members, other elected and appointed governmental
officials, media representatives, business and community leaders, employees, the public and others encountered in the course of work.

11. Establish and maintain effective working relationships with a broad and diverse cross section of the community and district stakeholders and provide public participation opportunities for these stakeholders in every aspect of the District's public decision making process.


Education, Training and Experience:

Graduation from a four-year college or university with a major in business or public administration or a related field; and at least ten years of experience in legislative research, legislative representation and/or intergovernmental affairs, or an equivalent combination of training and experience. Experience in a governmental setting is preferred. Time served as a District Intern will count towards the years of experience.

Licenses; Certificates; Special Requirements:

A current, valid California Class C driver’s license may be required at time of appointment and, if required, be maintained at all times thereafter in order to operate a vehicle on District business.

Supplemental Information:


Persons with disabilities may be able to perform the essential duties of this class with reasonable accommodation. Reasonable accommodation will be evaluated on an individual basis and depends, in part, on the specific requirements for the job, the limitations related to disability and the ability of the hiring department to accommodate the limitation.