Strategic Communications Officer

Ford Foundation | New York, New York

Job Summary

The Strategic Communications Officer (SCO) plays a key role on a dynamic team that is harnessing strategic communications to expand the influence and global impact of the Ford Foundation, one of the world’s largest social justice philanthropies.  

As a member of a small, specialized team of communication officers that serves as the brain trust for the foundation’s strategic communications efforts, the SCO reports to the Director of Strategic Communications and works closely with program directors and teams for which they serve as a primary communications partner. These relationships provide important direction for the SCO and in turn allow the SCO to meaningfully contribute to wider foundation communications.

 A critical role of the SCO is acting as a day-to-day communication thought and action partner for assigned program or regional teams, helping them to realize the greatest potential impact of their work. The SCO builds deep, supportive relationships with program teams; provides excellent ongoing communications counsel; and helps teams deliver on their communications ambitions in smart, effective ways.

The work involves, among other things, helping teams identify the ways communications can be harnessed to advance program goals, and developing appropriate comms strategies and plans; supporting each team with messaging and guidance on how best to use it; guiding the selection of communications consultants and ensuring successful objective-driven relationships between outside comms firms and program teams; acting as a liaison between program and the Office of Communications storytelling team to develop creative content (web content, social media, written works, videos, etc.); teaming with the Media Relations Chief to undertake media outreach where appropriate; advising teams through crisis situations; and working with the VP of Global Communications and Director of Strategic Communications to establish and deliver on strategic communications priorities for the foundation as a whole.   

As part of larger foundation communications, the SCO will help curate compelling stories that speak to the work and impact of grantees, demonstrate how change happens, and inspire others to join the fight against inequality.

The SCO will be a superior writer who can produce and edit key communications materials (including one-pagers, opinion pieces and messaging materials) that advance the communications strategies of the teams and offices. An easy and confident speaker, the SCO will help plan and lead workshops for program staff - and sometimes for grantees - and build the overall comms awareness and capacity of teams.

Knowledge and experience in the fields of either economic justice or democracy and rights is an advantage.


  • Researches and writes key communication materials, including messaging, fact sheets, opinion pieces, press releases, speeches, and other marketing material that communicates the foundation’s work
  • Works to strengthen the communications capacity of all foundation program staff by developing, enhancing and delivering key learning tools, resources and workshops
  • Prep and support for media interviews, speaking engagements, and more 
  • Leads efforts to identify and curate stories that fit with institutional priorities
  • Seeks proactive opportunities to enhance the reputation of the Ford brand, and coordinate engagement as required
  • Works closely with the Office of Communications’ storytelling team to develop storytelling efforts that demonstrate impact, expand our influence, and highlight the work of our grantees
  • Project manages deliverables and ensures institutional stories can be clearly communicated to target audiences within and outside the foundation
  • Manages the selection of communications consultants and partners with program teams to manage these relationships.  
  • Helps to shape the scope of work, and act as a thought partner throughout the life of the contract
  • Manages and maintains an online resource of preferred communications consultants
  • Acts as the strategic communications focal point for key program areas or offices, and advises on communications strategies for these teams 
  • Provides risk and crisis management, on an ongoing and as needed basis 
  • Creates and implements opportunities to communicate the foundation’s work around key program initiatives
  • Maintains strong relationships inside and outside the foundation that help advance our communications work 
  • Stays abreast of evolving trends and tactics in the communications field
  • Acts as the focal point for executive leadership’s communications efforts, including speaking engagements and written products related to programmatic priorities
  • Drafts briefing memos, develop key messages, and ensure effective marketing and distribution of content to target audiences 
  • Helps plan and lead communications workshops for program and regional staff along with grantee teams to build communications plans and strengthen communication capacity 


  • At least 7 years’ experience in public interest communications, with experience in fields related to the foundation's mission and grant making
  • Strong knowledge of strategic communications and media
  • Experience developing and implementing successful communications strategies to advance social change work 
  • Strong understanding of digital platforms related to communications; and the range of media outlets, including web-based and social media
  • Superior written and verbal communication skills 
  • Proven analytical, research and project management skills 
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills, particularly working on a fast-paced team
  • Ability to travel for business purposes  


  • Journalistic or government public affairs experience
  • Knowledge and experience in economic justice or democracy and rights related fields
  • Strong understanding and experience of US social, economic, and cultural issues and contexts 
  • Master’s degree in a related field or equivalent combination of education and experience
  • Familiarity with philanthropy, foundations and the nonprofit sector


  • 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.

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.  

Ford Foundation


Organization: Foundations