Director, Thought Leadership & Communication
 

Work. Serve. Thrive.

Imagine a place where your talent can make a meaningful difference in peoples' lives. Working at Feeding America is a uniquely rewarding experience in which our employees work together as vital parts of a much larger mission. We are innovative, mission-focused, diverse, collaborative, values-driven and focused on results.

We are a national, nonprofit organization and the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, our mission is to feed America's hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.

The Opportunity
To lead implementation of Feeding America’s thought leadership strategy which will promote the organization, its executives and subject matter experts, and issues relating to hunger in America, and to develop and implement Feeding America’s public policy-related media relations strategy for federal and state capital communities. Collaborate closely with the Communications team and participate in all aspects of Feeding America’s External Affairs and Advocacy efforts, including communicating with consumer press regarding legislative issues, and work closely with the Communications, Marketing and Government Relations teams as well as executive leadership.

Responsibilities:

  • Initiates, plans, develops, and manages the execution of thought leadership communications strategies to support organizational objectives.
  • Leads the outreach strategy and develops media briefing materials for executives and subject matter experts for thought-leadership-related activities and stories.
  • Works with senior management to identify topics of interest and speakers to market as keynote and session speakers at major association, education, government meetings and conferences.
  • Researches and secures speaking engagements for senior-level executives to help increase the organization’s thought-leadership positioning.
  • Ensures thought leadership media and communication strategies are targeted toward key audiences and achieve measurement objectives.
  • Drafts and edits communications materials including media statements, topline messages, backgrounders, fact sheets, speeches/presentations, press releases, media pitches, editorial pieces, social media content and other communication materials for targeted audiences.
  • Assists with maintaining and increasing the organization’s awareness among key constituencies, including mass and trade media, grasstops, regulators and lawmakers on the state and federal levels.
  • Works closely with Communications and external consultants to design and implement communications strategy, including strategic media relations planning as well as swift response execution.
  • Conducts outreach to federal and state capital community publications and reporters who cover issues that align with Feeding America’s legislative priorities.
  • Supports the VP of Advocacy in executing the organization’s advocacy communications strategy to help shape messaging for the general public and drafts or reviews consumer-facing advocacy messaging and digital copy for related policy issues and media toolkits.
  • Plans and supports policy-related media events and briefings.
  • Consults with teammates and network members on consumer or mass media outreach activities, story development, local advocacy strategies and issues management, as needed as well as builds and cultivates strong partnerships with cross-functional and network partners, providing strategic counsel on day-to-day issues, as well as help foster a team environment by collaborating with teammates and other colleagues.
  • Serves as an organizational spokesperson, demonstrating a strong executive presence with media partners and provides temporary coverage by serving as primary media contact for Feeding America as requested by the Communications team.
  • Directs, prepares and/or coaches staff in advance of news announcements to promote the activities and programs.
  • Travel: Moderate - up to 20%.

Foundational Requirements

  • Mission Focused – Demonstrates a commitment to Feeding America’s mission through word and action. Is committed to keeping people facing hunger at the center of our work and strives to translate this commitment into action on a daily basis. Willing to advocate for people facing hunger and serve as an ambassador for Feeding America inside and outside of work.
  • Embraces Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – Demonstrates a personal commitment to valuing different backgrounds and life experiences through word and action. Takes personal actions to build an inclusive culture that ensures everyone can fully contribute based on their unique talents, skills and perspectives and feels welcomed and valued. Commits to driving equitable solutions to address root cause issues by incorporating an equity framework in their daily work.  Committed to continuous personal EDI development.

Required Leadership Competencies

  • Leverages Functional Expertise: Leverages deep knowledge of industry and function to shape operational decisions and project plans.  Uses prior technical experience to improve processes and procedures within the organization. Tracks latest practices and innovations and ways these could improve processes within the organization.
  • Communicates Effectively: Effectively communicates project and operating priorities to key stakeholder audiences that may include staff, network food bank members, donors and other audiences.  Adjusts message and content based on feedback provided.  Communicates clearly and effectively through verbal and written communication across individual, small group and large audience settings.
  • Fosters Innovation: Develops projects and solutions that incorporate new ideas, innovative solutions and best practices.  Leverages continuous improvement tools and mindset when designing and implementing projects and processes.  Committed to team and personal learning.
  • Understands Our Business: Understands operation of own department within the broader context of Feeding America’s mission and strategy. Actively develops a knowledge of, and relationships with, key stakeholders external to the department.
  • Translates Strategy to Operational Goals: Translates department strategy into SMART project goals for teams and individuals. Ensures highest and best use of allocated resources.  Empowers team members to execute projects.  Defines clear project deliverables and monitors and reports against progress.  

Required Technical Competencies, Experience, Certifications & Education

  • Eight plus years of media relations experience in a major human service organization, public relations firm, government role or major corporation.
  • Superb oral and written communication skills, specifically for interacting with the media, donors, the general public, member food banks, community groups and senior management, and as evidenced by an excellent track record of placed stories, op-ed columns, features, etc.
  • Proven ability to manage media interviews for senior executives, including national television, radio, print, online media and trade publications.
  • Strong understanding of thought leadership concepts, including strategy, planning and implementation.
  • Strong project management skills and ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Strong news sense and proficiency in the use media clipping searches, PR Newswire, and emerging tactics.
  • Strong understanding of and experience in public policy and advocacy including communication at the grassroots, state and federal levels.

Feeding America embraces a philosophy that recognizes and values diversity.  Our goal is to attract, develop, retain, and promote a talented diverse workforce in a culture where all employees will contribute to their fullest potential.