The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago.
MacArthur is one of the nation’s largest independent foundations. Organizations supported by the Foundation work in about 50 countries. In addition to Chicago, MacArthur has offices in India, Mexico, and Nigeria.
About the Communications Team
The Communications team collaborates with program teams and other colleagues across the Foundation to create and implement strategic communications plans that enhance the impact of MacArthur and its grantees in all fields of work. The team is responsible for the Foundation’s strategic efforts to communicate with the press, public, and policymakers, leading media relations, creating web and social media content, producing grantee stories, and planning public events. The team also provides communications support and advice to MacArthur’s leadership, staff, and grantees.
Team members include the Managing Director; three Communications Officers, who lead program communications; three Associates, one each focused on Web, social media, and writing/research projects; an Administrator; and outside consultants/firms as needed.
This new position joins three other Communications Officers on the team and reports to the Managing Director for Communications. He/she will be responsible for managing communications and creating and implementing strategic communications plans for a portfolio of MacArthur’s programmatic work. Candidates should be willing to work on communications for any MacArthur program. Specific program assignments will depend on the candidate selected and the Foundation’s needs. This is not a journalism-focused position; candidates must have experience in strategic communications.
The Communications Officer will be challenged to:
- Manage communications for a portfolio of MacArthur programs;
- Design and execute comprehensive communications strategies to advance the work of the Foundation and its grantees in select fields;
- Work closely with program directors and staff, communications colleagues, grantees, and other stakeholders to develop and carry out these strategies;
- Manage and partner with external communications firms and other vendors engaged in support of the Foundation and grantees;
- Develop consistent, updated, and accessible messaging about these fields of work; support the adoption and use of that messaging; and create and implement tactics to connect that messaging to key audiences;
- Write press releases, Web and social media content, op-eds, talking points briefings, and program updates for the Foundation’s Board and President, media, the public, and other audiences;
- Build relationships with, pitch stories to, and respond to inquiries from relevant media;
- Represent the Foundation and its perspective in these fields to outside audiences, including the media, grantees, and the public;
- Work closely and collaboratively with Communications colleagues to determine shared priorities, consistent messaging, and overall Foundation communications strategy;
- Be a good MacArthur colleague by effectively managing competing priorities and deadlines; respecting others’ time and work needs; proactively keeping others informed; treating others with respect and courtesy; collaborating effectively with others; communicating in a clear and effective manner; and being open, collegial, forward-thinking, and positive; and
- Meet other responsibilities, as needed and as assigned.
The Communications Officer should ideally possess the following professional qualifications and personal attributes:
- Seven to ten years of full-time communications work experience;
- A Bachelor’s degree at a minimum;
- A track record of success developing and executing comprehensive strategic communications programs in a highly complex, multi-layered, intellectually charged work environment;
- Experience working in or with the nonprofit sector and an understanding of the sector’s role in social change;
- Some marketing experience is helpful, given the anticipated needs of some developing areas of MacArthur’s work;
- Experience responding to challenging media inquiries and proactively securing coverage;
- A strategic and creative thinker who can get things done under time pressure and despite multiple competing demands;
- Sophisticated understanding of social media channels, and tactics;
- Significant experience writing and talking about social challenges and public issues in a style that respects their depth and complexity, but is accessible to a well-educated, general audience;
- An effective communicator and listener with superb organizational and interpersonal skills; and
- An agile, self-motivated, team player