Minneapolis, MN

Communications Manager, McKnight Foundation

The Organization

The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. Established in 1953, the McKnight Foundation is deeply committed to advancing climate solutions in the Midwest, building an equitable and inclusive Minnesota, supporting the arts in Minnesota, neuroscience, and international crop research. The Foundation has approximately $2.3 billion in assets and grants about $90 million a year.

Position Overview

The McKnight Foundation seeks an experienced communications manager to help us leverage the power of strategic communications to advance the mission of the Foundation and our program goals. This person will be joining at a critical moment in the Foundation’s history to contribute to an exciting new strategic direction, grounded in the values and approaches outlined in our Strategic Framework. As a sophisticated navigator of the digital ecosystem, an astute and caring steward of trusting relationships, and a perpetual solutions-finder, this person will have an opportunity to work in partnership with the communications director and other colleagues to enhance the department’s work for maximum social impact. Given our new grantmaking shifts, the team will offer more strategic counsel and narrative execution support to advance our major program goals, while maintaining the institution’s high levels of positive credible influence. In addition, our nimble communications team contributes to the Foundation’s commitments to transparency, knowledge sharing, thought leadership, and good governance.

The communications manager will join a highly regarded private family foundation with a culture that is mission-oriented and highly collaborative. McKnight staff take on meaningful, challenging work and receive excellent benefits, including opportunities for professional development and ongoing learning. This person will work in a four-person team as well as manage outside firms and freelancers.

Key Areas of Responsibility

  • Support the various external communications needs of the entire organization, including the Foundation’s recently announced grantmaking direction.
  • Supervise the editorial operations of our digital platforms, including our website, email, social media accounts, as well as third-party sites where we have a brand presence.
  • Manage media relations, issues monitoring, and brand stewardship.
  • Respond promptly to external requests from grantees, reporters, and other stakeholders.
  • Offer strategic counsel and execute narrative strategies that build public will and support our programs, in particular our expanding Midwest Climate & Energy program and an emerging program to build an equitable and inclusive Minnesota.
  • Support the board and senior leadership on various institutional initiatives, including internal projects and board governance presentations and materials.
  • Advise the communications director on developing communications plans, policies, guidelines, process improvements, and staff resources.

Qualifications of an Ideal Candidate

  • Excellent writing and editing skills to prepare or oversee a wide variety of communications content, including public announcements, reports, internal memos, speeches, infographics, videos, and social media content.
  • Experienced and wise discernment handling dynamic, sensitive, high-stakes assignments with multiple stakeholders and diverse viewpoints.
  • An advanced understanding of how to best navigate and leverage a rapidly evolving digital ecosystem, including proficiency in visual storytelling, user data analytics, and emerging media technology trends.
  • A conscientious, detail-oriented project manager who can move initiatives forward in a collaborative and effective manner.
  • Strong analytical skills to develop thoughtful, impact-oriented communications plans with a firm grasp of audiences and messaging needs.
  • A sophisticated understanding of social, economic, and political systems and the role of communications in influencing cultural understandings, market conditions, and public policy outcomes.
  • Willingness to take on new opportunities and challenges with a sense of urgency and positive energy.
  • High cultural competence to effectively work in partnership with diverse communities, including an appreciation for historical context, discernment of relationship nuances and power dynamics, and a keen understanding of social, racial, and ethnic differences.
  • A background in one of our major funding areas, such as environmental communications, is strongly desired.

Required Education and Experience

Bachelor’s degree and a minimum of seven years in communications, public relations, marketing, public affairs, or another related field at a managerial level, or a combination of equivalent experience and training.

The position closes on December 18, 2019.  Apply now.

How To Apply

In addition to submitting your CV and cover letter, please 1) submit three writing samples, preferably of different types of communications collateral, and 2) answer the three questions below. While there is no strict word limit, we recommend responses be no longer than 300 words for each question. The writing samples can be of any length. They can be published articles, internal memos, communications plans, speeches, statements, etc. They can also be web links, video scripts, or a social media account you manage.

  • Tell us about a recent communications plan you developed and the process you used to prioritize goals, audiences, and messages.
  • What is one emerging digital innovation or trend that you are monitoring? How can public interest communicators advance their work using this emerging innovation or trend?
  • Share an example of a time when your communications work contributed to a positive social impact. What lessons did you learn that may be applicable in this new role?
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