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Director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives
Research Foundation of The City University of New York in New York, New York
Date Posted 06/16/2022
Employment Type Fulltime
Application Deadline Open until filled

Director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives

Full Job Description

General Description

As a champion of racial justice and institutional, structural, and personal transformation, the John Jay College Institute for Justice and Opportunity (the Institute) opens doors and eliminates barriers to success for people who have been involved in the criminal legal system. We create access to higher education and pathways to satisfying careers, and advocate for the right to housing, employment, healthcare, and other human rights too often denied people with criminal convictions.

The Institute, previously known as the Prisoner Reentry Institute, has a diverse portfolio of projects that focus on what it takes for people to live successfully in the community after being involved in the criminal legal system, and on increasing the effectiveness of the professionals and systems working with them. The Institute’s comprehensive and strategic approach includes direct service, research, technical assistance, training, and policy advocacy. We consider both the individual barriers and needs of people involved in the criminal legal system and the structural conditions that create or exacerbate obstacles encountered by criminal legal system-involved people. We convene students, faculty and staff across the university through the CUNY Justice Learning Collaborative to work together to make the City University of New York more accessible and supportive to students who have been under correctional supervision. As a highly regarded institution working to transform the criminal legal system, we also convene and consult with colleagues and policy makers throughout the U.S. To learn more, visit our website: https://justiceandopportunity.org/

The Director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives is a newly created position that will be a member of the executive team and be responsible for the Institute’s communications and fundraising strategies, and for development of new collaborative initiatives within CUNY and the larger community. The Director will supervise three staff: the Communications and Development Manager and Communications and Development Coordinator, and a new position TBD.

We seek a seasoned social justice professional who is skilled at storytelling and who will lead the development of a shared compelling narrative about our work and generate interest and support from colleagues, funders, elected officials and the press.

Other Duties

  • Create a consistent internal and external Institute narrative and brand identity appropriate to key stakeholder groups, including CUNY students, faculty and staff; higher education and social policy thought leaders; government officials and non-profit colleagues at the national, state and local levels; funders and the media
  • Consult with Institute leaders to identify funding needs to sustain existing programs and to expand our programs into new areas
  • Generate resources for Institute activities through prospect research, cultivation, proposal writing, and managing relationships with funders and potential funders
  • Develop goals and a strategic plan for Institute communications including digital and online media efforts, including management of the Institute website and social media
  • Develop materials to increase awareness of Institute services, priorities and accomplishments
  • Build relationships with CUNY communications staff, the press and allies to amplify the messages and impact of Institute initiatives
  • Ensure broad dissemination of Institute reports, toolkits, and work product to maximize impact on the field
  • Establish Institute as a thought leader by identifying opportunities to participate in national and local conversations on equity, access to opportunity and other critical issues facing people who have been involved in the criminal legal system
  • Train Institute staff and students to optimize their communications skills and and ensure consistency of message and quality of presentation across platforms
  • Other duties as assigned.


The ideal candidate will have some combination of non-profit, governmental and higher education experience in progressively responsible positions, and, specifically, have had responsibility for fundraising, communications, and managing relationships with important external partners. Knowledge of higher education issues and passion for criminal justice reform are highly desirable.

  • Bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, public administration, English or other relevant field
  • Minimum five years of experience, including program and leadership experience, in non-profit, higher education, or philanthropic organizations
  • Proven strategic thinking, project planning and management skills that combines thinking about big ideas with attention to details
  • Strong communications and marketing skills, and ability to translate complex ideas into clear, concise and compelling narratives for various audiences
  • Ability to engage effectively with broad range of stakeholders, building mutually beneficial relationships and strategic partnerships
  • Demonstrated success in fundraising from governmental and philanthropic funders; experience with individual and corporate donors is desirable
  • Strong writing and presentation skills
  • Excellent inter-personal and communications skills
  • Team player with a co-operative approach to colleagues
  • Proven team leadership and project management skills
  • Ability to balance a high volume of incoming requests from multiple constituencies across the organization
  • Agility and endurance in managing within a large and complex organization
  • Flexibility and sense of humor.

Individuals with relevant life experience are encouraged to apply. Please include resume with cover letter describing your interest and qualifications

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