The Program Manager, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, will lead Heartland Forward’s work for its
program advocacy and public policy activities in one of four program areas 1) Regional
Competitiveness, 2) Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 3) Human Capital and 4) Health Risks and
Disparity. The Program Manager will report to the Chief Program Officer and will work closely with
the Heartland Forward team to establish the agenda for policy engagement and advocacy in innovation
We desire to transfer our applied research into policy actions at the state, regional and local
levels. This position will be a key point of contact with the “do” part of the “think and do” tank,
responsible for developing a strategic plan with the goal to support Heartland Forward
research, helping develop creative content and new partnerships, as it relates to innovation and
This position will play an integral role in helping turn our research into action by increasing
brand awareness, creating new partnerships, positioning Heartland Forward as a leader on policy
solutions and a resource to help strengthen Heartland communities. Much of the initial program
effort will need to be directed toward state-level initiatives to support policy in innovation and
entrepreneurship, with the goal to improve university engagement in these areas. The
Program Manager will also assist Heartland Forward and its leadership team to engage leaders,
policymakers, investors, education institutions and our broader Heartland network.
The Program Manager must be extremely effective in developing, communicating and pitching a
strategy that creates opportunities for Heartland Forward to advocate for adjusting public policies
and practices consistent with our research findings.
• Design a program-specific strategy that develops and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship
by generating and sharing insights, recommending policy solutions with a simplified/accelerated
approach and serving as a resource to strengthen communities - all while engaging leaders,
policymakers and our broader Heartland network.
• Help establish and meet goals by which we measure program and policy impact.
• In coordination with the communications and research teams - develop and manage
presentations, one-pagers/white papers, collateral and written/digital communication to support
program focus area.
• Identify speaking engagements for Heartland Forward and its leadership that align with the
specific program area.
• Support leadership team to build and maintain relationships with elected officials at a
local, state, and national levels and with other key stakeholders.
• Coordinate with broader programs team to develop a policy toolkit to gain the participation
of policymakers and stakeholder groups – providing a resource to advocate and adopt Heartland
• Ensure cohesive coordination/collaboration between program workstreams and the broader
• Effectively communicate with leadership and Heartland team by providing ongoing updates and
relevant content to ensure full alignment with overall team.
Who we are looking for:
Basic qualifications required for the role:
• Bachelor’s degree
• 5-7 years of experience in policy, government affairs and/or economic development
• Entrepreneurial and/or start-up research experience.
• Understanding of regional economic and demographic data.
• Demonstrated policy experience in a “think tank”, corporate, consulting or government
• Experience in developing PowerPoint presentations and managing complex data with Excel
• Outstanding written and oral communication skills. Must be able to translate complex economic
and planning issues for an educated audience
Additional preferred qualifications and helpful experience includes:
• Master’s degree in related field.
• Experience working in small to medium-sized companies or a start-up environment.
• Demonstrated record of working and implementing initiatives by running a successful
political, issue advocacy, electoral and legislative campaign.
Characteristics that support success:
• Unquestionable ethics and integrity. Demonstrated ability to protect privacy and maintain
discretion in dealing with highly confidential information.
• Very strong interpersonal skills, professional demeanor, and ability to maintain grace under
pressure when adapting to a rapidly changing environment, including reprioritization or
reassignment of responsibilities.
• Must be a self-starter who takes initiative.
• Ability to meet deadlines, prioritize assignments, and juggle multiple tasks simultaneously.
• Resourceful team-player, solution-oriented, intellectual agility and the ability to analyze
and think critically.
• Effective independently and in a semi-remote environment.
• Remain accessible and responsive beyond business hours.
About Heartland Forward
Heartland Forward is a 501 (c) (3) nonpartisan, nonprofit “think and do tank,” focused on improving
the economic performance in the center of the United States by advocating fact-based solutions to
foster job creation, knowledge-based and inclusive growth and improved health status. Most research
and policy efforts by existing think tanks in the Heartland are focused on their individual state
or metro areas within a state. We think a cross-cutting view is critical to solving the region's
challenges, and Heartland Forward will fill this void. While recognizing the differences between
places in the center of the country, we will analyze the region holistically to identify common
issues and solutions.
The Institute will pursue its mission through independent, data-driven research, action-oriented
convenings, and impactful policy recommendations. Its flagship convening is the Heartland Summit, a
two-day summit where policy leaders, entrepreneurs, elected officials, and economic development
officials come together to meet in the middle and pursue solutions to strengthen the Heartland’s
Heartland Forward is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to building and maintaining a
culturally diverse workplace. We encourage women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and
veterans to apply. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without
regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age,
status of protected veteran, among other things or status as a qualified individual with a