Vice President, Communications
In this momentous time, with health, political, and social pandemics surging, the Institute for Citizens & Scholars is expanding our mission and rebuilding how we develop citizens in our country. Building upon our 75-year legacy, you will lead our communication strategies which focus on building bridges across the political spectrum, increasing awareness of our work, protecting our reputation, and ensuring alignment of communication deliverables with our current and rapidly growing portfolio of work. Through different programs, Citizens & Scholars and our partners are tackling critical national issues. We are leveraging the “fierce urgency of now” to bring together the nation’s most respected progressive and conservative funders who view issues from different vantage points — that difference is our strength.
As the VP, communications, you will report to the president, lead a team of two, and be supported by external resources as needed. Ultimately you will ensure consistent, cohesive, inclusive, and effective messaging. As the VP, communications, you will have the opportunity to manage all aspects of our integrated communications and marketing strategy, grassroots engagement, including earned media and pitching major news outlets, government relations, strategy and branding initiatives, and more. Your effectiveness will flow from your ability to listen, synthesize, and centralize communication so that we portray credible and compelling messages to key audiences. The impact of your success will be transformative.
The Institute for Citizens & Scholars (formerly the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation) is a 75-year-old organization that has played a significant role in shaping higher education. From generations of college professors to thousands of K–12 teachers to policymakers and education leaders, we have prepared, engaged, and enriched education leaders at all levels. Over the years, more than 27,000 fellows have contributed to creating a better educated, more thoughtful, and more inclusive America. With an expanded mission, Citizens & Scholars is rebuilding how we develop citizens in our country. We do this in three distinct ways:
- we support young people to be better citizens,
- we network civic leaders to ensure a resilient democracy, and
- we prepare a diverse and responsive next generation of college faculty and educators.
Four Interconnected Pillars of Responsibilities
- Develop strategy for, oversee, and contribute to all aspects of communication and branding strategy and efforts, including press relations, hard-copy and digital publications, online and social media presence, multimedia presence, and branding initiatives.
- Provide thoughtful, nuanced counsel on complex communications and branding challenges.
- Promote our programs and new initiatives, engaging both internal and external stakeholders including current and potential funders.
- Manage the central communications budget.
- Manage vendors as needed.
- Manage issues and crisis communications efforts, providing timely and effective talking points and media training for leadership.
- Position Citizens & Scholars for strategic earned media coverage; guide and develop a portfolio of owned media and shared media assets.
- Maintain a visible and effective role as a media liaison and spokesperson.
- Develop and share best practices in new media technologies and tools; develop metrics and other assessment tools to measure the effectiveness of our communications efforts.
- Promote our mission and raise our visibility with blogging, social media, and other channels.
- Oversee branding and identity initiatives, based on a sophisticated understanding of marketing strategies and trends that align with our goals and mission.
- Drive efforts to continue to distinguish and enhance our brand.
- Write and edit a range of communication materials.
Integrated Communications Support
- Provide strategic support for government relations initiatives in partnership with members of the senior team.
- Collaborate with the vice president, chief development officer, and others as needed to support board communications, development communications, and program communications.
- Manage a strong in-house communications team of two, ensuring effective team building, high-quality outcomes, and appropriate opportunities for professional development.
- Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and/or 10+ years of communications experience, ideally developing communications for legislative and/or issue advocacy.
- Ability to think creatively and develop strategic messaging.
- In-depth knowledge of communication strategies, tools, techniques, and technology (including social media, grassroots, and earned media channels).
- Exceptional writing and editing skills including content creation, copy editing, and line editing required, along with the ability to shape and improve content for a variety of target audiences and repurpose material for multiple uses.
- Proven track record of project management, preferably in coalitions or network-centric organizations. Demonstrated leadership and management skills.
- Experience monitoring and analyzing news coverage, writing press materials, developing media strategies, and successfully securing earned media stories.
- Proactive and self-motivated. Flexible and able to adjust to changing priorities and operate effectively in a fluid and fast-paced environment.
- Strategic. You see the big picture, anticipating issues long before others. You can effortlessly frame the issues and set priorities that advance multiple agendas. You think flexibly and can reprioritize on the fly as new information or opportunities arise.
- Respectful. You value different points of view and listen, digest, and synthesize information, even when you disagree. You work effectively with people at every level of the organization and every kind of background.
- Collaborative. You recognize the goals of stakeholders. You share your insights, seek out other opinions, and demonstrate respect for the needs and concerns of others. You strategically invest time in building trusting relationships.
- Credible. You are known as an honest broker, earning the respect of friends and foes alike as a formidable advocate who works in good faith to find common ground.
- Campaign mentality. You have an excellent sense of timing, knowing when to go forward with a calculated risk and when to temper passion and hold back. You are able to pivot based on political realities and resources. You think critically about message and messengers, and how to leverage both to drive impact toward a goal.
- Self-aware. You know how you are perceived, understand the impact of your actions, and take full responsibility. You know perception is reality.
- Curious. You enjoy learning about new issues, relish the opportunity to challenge your own thinking, and prefer to ask a question rather than assume you know the answer.
What’s Attractive to the Right Candidate?
- This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a difference on issues that matters deeply to every American.
- You have the flexibility of an office location or remote work, depending on your preference. You will need to be in the office two days a week and at times on other days as specified by the president.
- You will be working with, and supported by, an experienced, outcomes-oriented team – people who have a long track record of successfully launching breakthrough social enterprise initiatives. Together we’re working on fresh solutions to meet urgent education needs. Our senior management team has experience in program design and operations, higher education, communications, fundraising, financial management, IT/data systems, and research and evaluation. They also bring experiences ranging from the classroom to the quad and from Main Street to Wall Street in both the nonprofit and private sectors.
Our Core Values
- We are constantly learning and improving. We test and refine new ideas and learn from our mistakes. We dare to question old solutions. We seek opportunities to collaborate with our diverse team; different backgrounds, skill sets, and thinking styles give us valuable new perspectives. We share knowledge and insights with each other to help us grow as individuals and as an organization.
- We are gracious and grateful in all that we do. We invest in our relationships with warmth and a sense of humor. We express gratitude to all our colleagues and stakeholders. While we strive for excellence, we recognize that no one is perfect. We give others the benefit of the doubt and act with kindness and integrity.
- We are attentive and intentional. We are aware of the needs of the world and those around us so that our work has a real impact. Our work is mission-driven and we know the “whys” – both large and small – behind what we do. Recognizing that details matter, we are equally committed to quality.
Internally this position is titled Chief Communications Officer
Simply email your resume to Aileen Hedden at firstname.lastname@example.org with “C&S – VP, Communications #2020-2592 SA” as the subject of the email. Please include your resume as a Word or PDF attachment to the email and paste your cover letter in the body of your email.
Alternative Titles: Vice President of Communications, Chief Communications Officer, Senior Director of Communications, Vice President of Communications and Marketing, Director of Public Relations
Please note: our practice is to not disclose the salary ranges our clients would consider. Any salary information included in this posting was estimated without our input.
Staffing Advisors is committed to reducing bias in every aspect of the hiring process. We have long recommended an evidence-based approach to hiring. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. This position may require pre-employment screening potentially including a criminal background check, verification of academic credentials, licenses, certifications, and/or verification of work history. You can learn more about our actions on our blog.