ERS is a national non-profit that partners with district, school, and state leaders to transform how they use resources (people, time, technology, and money) so that every school prepares every child for tomorrow, no matter their race or income. We are a highly regarded and well-established organization with fifteen years of field leadership and maintain a strong entrepreneurial spirit that embraces teamwork and innovation.
ERS is seeking a Director of External Relations to lead efforts that elevate ERS as a thought leader, field builder, and essential partner in school and system transformation. Reporting to the CEO, this hire will oversee all aspects of communications – inclusive of content creation and dissemination, thought leadership, and field building – as well as fundraising and foundation relations. This hire will work across program teams to create high-quality reports, tools, and other communications, engage a variety of targeted audiences, and ensure that ERS communicates with a singular voice and vision.
ERS is seeking a Director of Communications and Partnerships to lead efforts that elevate ERS as a thought leader, field builder, and essential partner in school and system transformation. Reporting to the CEO, this hire will oversee all aspects of communications inclusive of content creation and dissemination, thought leadership, and field building. The Director of Communications and Partnerships will manage a team of communications professionals including a communications function leader, two communications professionals, and a number of vendors supplying support for content creation. The Director of Communications and Partnerships will also oversee a development function lead who is responsible for our foundation relationships and broader fundraising efforts with the support of a half a full time operational staff member. Our annual operating budget is 10mm and our annual fundraising goal is 4mm with the remaining operating budget funded through earned revenue. Our philanthropic funds primarily come from 10 foundations. While our fundraising is stable, this person will be responsible for leading the team to foster and establish relationships with new funders.
This Director of Communications and Partnerships will work across program teams to create high-quality reports, tools and other communications, engage a variety of targeted audiences, and ensure that ERS communicates with a singular voice and vision. We are eager to hire a Director of Communications and Partnerships who is first and foremost a seasoned communications professional with experience communicating complex ideas about education to audiences with a high level of context. The ideal candidate does not need to have experience leading fundraising but does have experience writing to foundation audiences in service of funding and forging strong external relationships regardless of whether they are for funding or other purposes (e.g. educational leaders, press contacts, etc.).
Specifically, the Director of Communications and Partnerships will:
Design, implement, and oversee a comprehensive strategy for communications and partnerships
- Evolve, strengthen, and articulate a strategic vision that leverages ERS’ unique position as a leader in the field of school system transformation.
- Oversee the creation and distribution of compelling content to ERS’ various audiences, inclusive of funders, district leaders, school leaders, researchers, think tanks, policymakers, and other actors.
- Author, edit, or manage production of a range of written and multimedia communications, inclusive of reports, interactive tools, podcasts, videos, white papers, presentations, opinion pieces, grant proposals, and grant reports.
- Oversee management of ERS website as core platform for dissemination, including search engine optimization, user experience, design and messaging.
- Collaborate with program staff and leverage ERS’ research and knowledge in content creation. Translate complex information in ways that clearly convey the meaning behind ERS’ work.
- Pursue strategic ways to convene the collective brain power of funders, researchers, educators, and other actors to build two-way connections between ERS’ work and the larger education field.
- Lead media relations, pursue relevant sources and outlets at education trade publications (e.g. EdWeek, the 74, Chalkbeat), and maintain relationships with media, thought leaders, and other influencers to pitch and place stories.
- In partnership with CEO and the Associate Director of Partnerships and Development, oversee efforts to steward the philanthropy of current national foundations and cultivate relationships with new institutional and individual funders, taking an approach that reflects a deep understanding of ERS’ work and connects it to the education world and funders’ specific interest areas and goals. Take ownership of an annual fundraising goal of $4M in 2021.
- Support the CEO, Managing Director for Consulting, and other public speakers in developing content and tools for events, conferences, and research projects, and other field-building activities.
- Ensure that ERS’ communications reflect an understanding of the patterns of structural racism and oppression that impact under-resourced school districts and a commitment to enacting transformational change that drives towards equitable resource allocation.
- Become a knowledgeable ambassador for ERS with an understanding of the broader educational landscape. Keep a finger on the pulse of trends and news within the educational field, and ensure the ERS remains relevant and central in the broader conversation about school system transformation.
- Ensure monitoring, learning, and reporting is accomplished by close tracking of metrics, milestones, and goals.
- Oversee the management of ERS’ brand, supporting communications team staff in creating and maintaining high-use branding assets e.g. style guide, key messages, templates.
Serve as key senior organizational leader and department manager
- As a member of ERS’ Leadership Team, contribute to overall leadership of the organization and build an organizational culture that is focused on our Core Values and Diversity, Belonging, Inclusion & Equity (DBIE) Theory of Action.
- Build and manage a team of high-performing communications and fundraising staff. Add new positions as needed over time. Foster a team environment of collaboration and producing high-quality work product. Support individual direct reports’ professional development and career goals.
- Manage external contractors and vendors as needed, inclusive of editorial writers, grant writers, designers, and digital marketing consultants.
The Director of External Relations calls for a strategic, forward-thinking, and versatile communications professional with at least 10 years of professional experience, ideally at an educational services, education policy, think tank, or similar organization. Strong candidates will possess demonstrated knowledge of how to build and promote an organization’s brand as a thought leader and field builder. They will bring the ability to deeply understand issues and work with subject matter experts and practitioners to translate complex ideas into clear and compelling content.
The strongest candidates will thrive in a collegial and fast-paced environment that values teamwork, candor, learning, work-life balance, service, and impact. They place a high value on relationships and collaboration, and bring strength in working with and through others. Above all, they will bring enthusiasm for ERS’ mission, and an authentic commitment to racial equity in education and ERS’ role in transforming the structures, policies, resource decisions and cultural messages in order to drive equitable outcomes in the education system.
In terms of performance and personal competencies required for the position, we would highlight the following:
- Strategic Acumen and Tactical Execution: Strong candidates will approach communications and fund development through a strategic lens informed by metrics and data. They are skillful at seeing the big picture, noticing patterns, and drawing connections. They leverage the wisdom of themselves and others, along with best practice, resources, and insights from the field when making strategic decisions. As a member of a senior leadership team, they will have the skills and perspective to contribute to and deliver on an organization’s vision and strategy.
- Content Creation and Dissemination: Strong candidates are excellent writers and editors with experience producing content for print, web, and external relations (e.g. media placement, thought leadership.) They are attuned to the context surrounding an issue area and are skillful in articulating the “why” behind an organization’s mission and impact for a range of audiences. They stay current on industry trends and bring a forward-thinking mindset in determining the best ways to communicate a message. Grant writing and grant reporting experience is a plus.
- People Leadership and Influence: Strong candidates bring a warm, energetic, and authentic personality that translates to building lasting relationships, both internally and externally. They prioritize partnership and collaboration, and bring success at working with and through people, namely subject-matter experts within and outside of the organization. They are cognizant and appreciative of asks for others’ time and talents. As a supervisor, they bring a management style that reflects the needs and goals of each direct report. They demonstrate experience attracting, retaining, and motivating a diverse and talented staff.
- Commitment to Equity and Inclusion: The ideal candidate will have an understanding and recognition of systemic racism and how it impacts education in this country and a demonstrated commitment to eliminating systemic inequities in education and within ERS. The ideal candidate will be able to engage in ongoing learning to continually develop the team’s skills to discuss race and equity – internally and externally – and to create a more inclusive and equitable culture.
Interested in joining the ERS team? Please submit your resume and thoughtful cover letter to our Careers Page.