The Ford Foundation is seeking a communications executive passionate about social justice who will partner with a dynamic and engaged president, an energized and collaborative leadership team and inspiring grantee partners to advance the foundation’s mission by developing and leading a high-impact communications strategy. Overseeing a staff of 20 professionals, the vice president will devise approaches that strengthen the foundation’s voice, identity and brand with key audiences, policy makers, the media and other strategic stakeholders. As the foundation’s chief communications strategist, the Vice President, Global Communications (VPGC) will lead and oversee all internal and public communications including reputation management, media and public relations, digital and social strategy, and strategic communications that support and advance program work in the US and internationally. The VPGC also oversees a creative team of storytellers - visuals artists, writers, multimedia and content producers - who contribute to the foundation’s brand expression.
As a member of the foundation’s nine-member Executive Leadership Team, the VPGC will occupy a critical leadership position at the intersection of the foundation’s programs and operations.
For a leader passionate about social justice and skilled at the art and science of strategic communications, this role presents an extraordinary opportunity to harness energy, intelligence, creativity and a bold vision in support of the Ford Foundation's mission, and play a critical role in helping to advance meaningful change in communities around the world.
Reports to Darren Walker, President
Direct reports Will lead a team of 20 + project consultants
Other key relationships Executive Leadership Team, Board of Trustees, Community peers and influencers, Grantee partners, Global media influencers, External stakeholders and consultants
As the lead communications counselor to a highly visible president and collegial leadership team committed to advancing the Ford Foundation’s influence and impact, the VPGC will offer strategic counsel and advice ensuring their message, priorities and vision are effectively communicated with internal and external stakeholders. She/he/they will:
- As brand champion, advance the foundation’s reputation and voice around the world and develop a high-impact institutional strategy that builds brand equity in diverse settings and among key audiences.
- Develop and lead proactive and responsive messaging strategies that ensure a consistent and compelling portrayal of the foundation, its work, and the impact of the organizations it supports and the communities they serve.
- Employ modern, high-impact strategies and technologies including cutting-edge web design, multimedia, social and digital media and other creative content channels.
- Manage and lead the communications team in a way that inspires trust, collegiality and a sense of professional excitement that motivates high levels of achievement, creates opportunities for members to develop, and supports execution of a world-class, cohesive, forward-thinking communications strategy.
Media and Public Relations
As an organization supporting courageous individuals and organizations around the world, the foundation is keen to build and strengthen engagement with key audiences to advance its mission. The VPGC will support this objective by developing and executing sophisticated communication strategies to engage those audiences with targeted, resonant messages that tell a compelling story of the foundation’s work and that of its grantees and partners. She/he/they will have comfort with and enthusiasm for new technologies and platforms that can enhance and expand the effectiveness of public engagement in both proactive and reactive communications.
As the foundation’s leading communications advocate supporting the president and leadership team on issues of social justice generally, the VPGC will help deepen institutional understanding of the power and value of strategic communications to driving change. The VPGC will help strengthen the integration of strategic communications into the foundation’s work - along with that of its grantees - by leading and convening efforts to develop effective capacity, research, messaging and strategy in organizations and amongst staff that can increase the impact of the work Ford supports. She/he/they will also identify opportunities to advance the foundation’s social justice agenda by leveraging Ford’s convening power and facilities to engage key audiences on issues we care about.
The nature of the foundation's work may result in vocal public discourse, and sometimes the foundation and/or its grantees become engaged in high profile controversies. The VPGC will be required to think strategically and act rapidly and decisively to support the foundation’s work and protect its reputation in the countries in which it works. The VPGC may also be called on to offer strategic counsel and advice to grantee and partner organizations facing similar crisis. A key requirement of this role is to ensure that the foundation is alert, poised and ready to support its mission and values, in some cases under pressure and in the midst of potential controversy.
- Integrate successfully into the Ford Foundation and earn the trust and confidence of the President and Board of Trustees by providing insightful advice and counsel and developing strategies that effectively tell the Ford Foundation story.
- Establish effective leadership of the communications team and contribute to the strengthening of the foundation's culture.
- Successfully manage a high performing team, building an esprit des corps, and collegial and collaborative work environment which encourages professional growth and development.
- Earn a reputation as a thought leader and influencer within the sectors that Ford Foundation operates.
Strategic Communications Excellence
The successful candidate will have deep experience with storytelling, message development, and narrative building in regions throughout the world. S/he/they will have concrete and vibrant examples of successfully communicating messages on a global scale and engaging both external and internal stakeholders through strategic communications.
Advice and Counsel
This leader will have a well-established record of providing advice, counsel and strategic coaching to a high profile senior executive and leadership team. S/he/they will be well known, admired and highly regarded in their field.
This leader will have a proven record of developing, inspiring, promoting and motivating a team of professionals, including creatives, and providing opportunities for personal and professional growth, while also managing poor performance with appropriate urgency and resolution.
The VPGC will have proven crisis management experience, with a record of sound, prudent judgement, thoughtful decision making, and hands-on engagement that results in accurate coverage and minimal damage to the foundation’s reputation.
The VPGC will have hands-on experience with the most advanced communications, strategies and technologies available to build brand, expand share of voice, and engage stakeholders through their preferred mediums of communication.
Knowledge of the Nonprofit Sector, Philanthropy
The VPGC will have a sophisticated understanding of the unique attributes, character, culture and features of mission driven, nonprofit organizations.
CRITICAL LEADERSHIP CAPABILITIES
- Understands how global social trends, economic factors, and political developments affect the foundation and its grantees.
- Translates foundation strategies into clear, specific objectives and plans.
- Creates plans that address specific objectives and foundation strategies.
- Thinks 2-3 years ahead.
- Acts to surpass goals, seizing opportunities to push the envelope.
- Sets continually higher goals that are ambitious but realistic.
- Focuses on new that tell the Ford Foundation story in a vibrant and effective way globally.
Leading & Managing Team
- Collaborates and openly engages with the team to manage projects, solve problems, discuss challenging issues, and learn more about critical issues as a group.
- Delegates roles thoughtfully to work at a more strategic level.
- An effective coach, motivator and fair manager who holds himself and team accountable for high performance.
- Collaborates with each employee to establish clear, challenging performance goals and metrics.
- Designs a performance management process to monitor projects and deliver results that exceed expectations.
- Periodically reviews team progress against plans, focuses attention beyond the project to ensure big-picture alignment.
- Strong written communications skills
- Dynamic and compelling verbal skills, excellent at public presentations
- Flexible, adaptable leadership style
- A natural team player and active listener
- Low ego leader with a joyful spirit
- Personal humility and ambition for the organization
- This position is primarily a sedentary role. However, the person in this position may need to occasionally move about inside the office to liaise with internal staff, access files, office machinery and a copy machine/printer. Additionally, domestic/international travel will be expected.
Alignment to Culture and Values
- Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and core values of equity, openness, collaboration, trust, accountability and urgency
- Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and a sense of humor
- Discretion and ability to handle confidential issues
- Action-orientated and entrepreneurial self-starter who can work well independently and in teams
- Medical and dental benefits for employee and immediate family on first day of work
- Retirement savings account with matching company contributions of up to 13%
- Three weeks’ paid vacation in first year of work; four weeks in subsequent years
- Tuition Reimbursement
- Office closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day
- Professional development initiatives for growth
- Generous parental leave (maternal and paternal) during new child’s first year (born into family or adopted)
Salary: Salary is based on experience and on the Foundation’s commitment to internal equity. A generous benefits package is provided.
How to Apply
Please apply online:
Equal employment opportunity and having a diverse staff are fundamental principles at The Ford Foundation, where employment and promotional opportunities are based upon individual capabilities and qualifications without regard to race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation/affectional preference, age, national origin, marital status, citizenship, disability, veteran status or any other protected characteristic as established under law.