Chief Communications Officer

Innocence Project | New York, New York


The Innocence Project is committed to freeing the staggering number of innocent people who remain incarcerated, and to bring reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment. Founded in 1992 by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck, it exonerates the wrongly convicted and reforms the criminal legal system to prevent future injustice.

To date, 367 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 21 who served time on death row. The Innocence Project has provided direct representation or critical assistance in the majority of these cases. Using policy reform and strategic litigation, the organization works through the courts, academia, and legal and legislative systems to address and eliminate the leading causes of wrongful conviction, such as flawed forensics, false confessions, eyewitness misidentification, unreliable jailhouse informant testimony, government misconduct, inadequate defense, and implicit and explicit bias throughout the criminal legal system. The Innocence Project also advocates for laws that compensate innocent people for the harm experienced by wrongful conviction and incarceration and works to meet the varied and individualized needs of each of our clients upon their release.

The Innocence Project is the headquarters of the Innocence Network, a group of 68 independent organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions. Currently, the Innocence Network consists of 56 U.S. based and 12 non-U.S. based organizations.

Job Summary

TheInnocence Project is seeking a Chief Communications Officer to develop, manage, and implement strategic and creative communications, including long-term strategy, annual and project specific plans, rapid response, press outreach, publications, events, and digital outreach. The Chief Communications Officer is also responsible for all media programsincluding voice, printed and published material pertaining to the public image and voice of the organization.

As the head of the Communications Department, the Chief Communications Officer is responsible for all organizational communications planning and leads a dedicated communications team of seven+ including the Deputy Chief Communications Officer, Digital Engagement Director, Media Relations Manager, Digital Content Strategist, Manager of Engagement and Special Events, Communications Associate, and Fellow(s). The Chief Communications Officer directly supervises the Deputy Chief Communications Officer, Digital Engagement Director, and the Media Relations Manager.

The Chief Communications Officer reports to the Executive Director and builds alignment and collaborates with program leaders, attorneys and policy advocates, the development team, Board members and the Co-Founders, as appropriate. The Chief Communications Officer is part of the senior leadership team and is involved in the strategic planning process.

This position is full time and is based in New York City.



  • Develop, manage, and implement effective communications strategies (both responsive and proactive) that help achieve organizational goals and build support for the Innocence Project. This includes communications initiatives driven by the Communications team and as well as frequent collaboration across departments to ensure delivery of cohesive messaging and infusion of communication strategies into their work.
  • Collaborate with legal, science and research and policy teams to generate media attention for Innocence Project priorities. Create attention and media interest in ongoing legal cases, as needed.  Promote legal victories to support policy change and create media exposure for legislative campaigns including strategic efforts to drive stakeholder action and engagement. Generate media coverage that supports advocacy in many states and at the federal level. 
  • Oversee the organization’s print, audio, digital, visual, and brand communications, publications, and other related content and material.
  • Establish, build, and leverage key relationships with external partners, e.g., NBA Coaches Association, NBA Voices, documentary filmmakers.  Develop and maintain a vision for projects across various modes of media that best further the IP’s mission and priorities and elevate the profile of the organization. 
  • Consult with Innocence Network member organizations to maintain consistent voice and coordination of IP and brand messaging and to help strengthen those organizations.
  • Set priorities and budget for the Communications Department, in close coordination with other senior leadership and other teams across the organization.
  • Define and oversee activities of outside consultants, as needed



  • No fewer than fifteen (15) years of experience in a leadership position in communications. Experience at nonprofits preferred.
  • At least five (5) years of supervision. This includes exceptional people management skills with the ability to manage highly-skilled individuals with diverse working styles.  Recognized ability as a supportive leader with thevision and demonstrated ability to direct and mentor dedicated, forward-thinking communications staff, coordinate cross-department teams, and manage relationships with executive and Board leadership.
  • Understanding of the criminal justice system, the legal and political processes that can improve it, complex policy issues, and the ways in which creative communications strategies engage various audiences to advocate for a fairer and more just society. Experience with legislative campaigns preferred.
  • A proven track record advancing progress in the policy and/or legal realms.
  • Strategic mindset and experienceleveraging both traditional and creative communications tactics across disciplines (digital, media, profile and brand building, partnerships and community engagement) to meet measurable objectives and long-term goals.
  • Extensive experience in earned media relations, with proven success in framing and placing stories that support varying organizational needs and reach target audiences.
  • Collaborative nature and desire to engage thoughtfully with a team of world-class lawyers, scientists, and advocates passionate about their work.
  • The capacity to understand and distill complex policy, legal and technical issues and materials. Resourcefulness and initiative; a bias for action and an orientation towards measurable results.
  • Track record of good judgments about communications priorities and management of resources.


  • A passion for justice.
  • Exceptional writing, editing, presentation, and analytical skills.
  • Ability to analyze data
  • A lively, creative intellect.
  • Strong organizational skills and commitment to serving our clients.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and an ability to get along well with others.
  • A supportive work style that motivates staff to deliver superior work and work well together.
  • A commitment to the professional development and job satisfaction of people being supervised.
  • An ability to work under tight deadlines and the flexibility to respond effectively to unexpected developments in an often-changing landscape.
  • A willingness to compromise.
  • Experience and willingness to handle projects from soup to nuts (developing a strategy and implementing ideas).
  • Attention to detail, factual accuracy, messaging and framing.
  • A serious reader of newspapers, watcher of TV, surfer of the Internet.


The salary for this position is competitive and the Innocence Project offers an excellent benefits package, including health, dental and vision insurance, Flexible Spending Account, 401k plan with company-match, and paid Transitcheks.



The Innocence Project considers the diversity of its workforce to be vital to our organization’s success in meeting its mission.  We strongly encourage applicants from all cultures, races, educational backgrounds, life experiences, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, age, gender, and physical abilities to apply. 

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is our policy not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, actual or perceived domestic violence victim status, unemployment status, caregiver status, or any other category protected by law.

How to Apply

To apply, please visit Paycom. Upload your cover letter and resume as (last name. first name. cover letter/resume).  Only applications including a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications will be considered. Information submitted through this secure site is kept confidential. Due to the large volume of applications, we are unable to give applicant updates by phone.

Innocence Project

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Organization: Nonprofit organizations