Director of Communications
Founded in 1853, the California Academy of Sciences is a leading science institute dedicated to regenerating the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Within a generation, the Academy seeks to foster a natural world that grows healthier, more resilient, and wilder each year. From the 1.4 million visitors who walk through its doors each year to the 46 million scientific specimens in its collection, the Academy’s impact starts at its museum in San Francisco, California and reaches far across the globe through scientific research, public engagement and environmental literacy programs, digital media, and sustainability education. The Academy is the Bay Area leader in STEM experiences for K-12 students and teachers, and an innovative pioneer in efforts to increase scientific and environmental literacy in classrooms worldwide.
As a beloved institution that has stood for nearly 170 years and seen countless social and environmental challenges in its history, the California Academy of Sciences is entering a bold and exciting new phase—one that will help to meet the world’s most pressing challenges head on. Key to our mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration are three ambitious initiatives, Hope for Reefs, Thriving California, and Islands 2030, each of which aims to protect and regenerate some of Earth's most important and critically endangered ecosystems. At the same time, the Academy is also deepening its commitment to equity and inclusion in every aspect of the work we do, from our leadership structure to the partners and voices that influence and elevate our research and educational efforts. This position will have an active role in shaping messaging around these crucial and timely initiatives and will help to establish the Academy as a leader in all of them.
Learn more about the California Academy of Sciences at https://www.calacademy.org
Reporting to the Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer and serving as an integral member of the Academy Leadership team, the Director of Communications will lead the institution’s highest level communications functions and contribute creative, dynamic, and forward-thinking communications strategy to promote the fulfillment of a cohesive vision and mission. The Director of Communications will enhance and develop a robust, multi-channel communications program, and directly manage activities that enhance the Academy’s position as a thought leader and actor in regenerating the natural world through science, learning and collaboration.
The Director of Communications will lead the Academy’s communications with a focus on public relations, crisis communications, media strategy and conveying complex issues in understandable, accessible ways. Working closely with the senior management team, the Executive Director, the Director of Communications will develop and execute the Academy’s communications strategy and drive consistent and compelling narratives that communicate the Academy’s mission, perspective, work, and results to a range of audiences. The communications strategy will be designed with a broader view than the Academy alone; the Academy can and should be a compelling storyteller that inspires public, private and policy actions to address the protection of nature. The communications strategy will be focused on shifting the public perception of the Academy from a place to a place with a purpose.
More specifically, the Director of Communications will be responsible for:
- The development, implementation, and ongoing assessment (with metrics) of a comprehensive, integrated strategic communications program that will leverage new and traditional media and public relations to elevate the profile of the Academy
- Leading all aspects of institutional communications and a multi-platform content strategy
- Building and maintaining strong media relationships to improve the breadth and depth of media coverage about the work and impact of the Academy and its partners
- Working in collaboration with others, identifying new and innovative opportunities to showcase the work and leadership of the Academy and its partners
- Positioning the Academy to influence a broader audience of those interested in conservation, sustainability, and equity
- Overseeing a communications team, ensuring Academy communications are strategic, insightful, and effective
- Overseeing the day-to-day activities of the communications function, including budgeting, planning, and staff development; managing the use of consultants as needed
- Serving as a thought partner to the Executive Director, supporting communication materials as needed including drafting talking points for speaking engagements and other materials
- Collaborating with creative teams on long and short-form visual media to extend and shape narratives
- Developing marketing content for outreach and other public events
- Guiding and implementing dynamic website, and email communications strategies
- Ensuring the quality and professionalism of all the Academy’s communications collateral
- As a member of the Academy Leadership team, participating in planning, managing, and evaluating the Academy’s overall performance
Profile of the Successful Candidate
The Academy seeks an accomplished leader with proven experience building and leading a communications function within an organization. This person must be skilled at developing creative marketing and communications initiatives and know how to craft influential messaging for a variety of audiences. The Director of Communications must have strong strategic and story-telling capabilities, excellent judgment and interpersonal skills, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a willingness to take on a wide range of responsibilities. As the Academy’s communications will be in service of its mission, a genuine commitment to and passion for science and regeneration of the natural world is essential.
More specifically, the Academy seeks a professional who has:
- A Bachelor’s degree and 10-15 years experience, with progressive leadership responsibilities in communications management
- Ability to nurture a strong central communications function working with a small internal team
- Ability to translate the Academy’s mission and strategy into relationships and results that fulfill the Academy’s communications goals
- Ability to work effectively and flexibly with a broad range of diverse groups, excellent listening skills, balanced, reasoned problem-solving approaches, and openness to differing viewpoints
- Broad experience communicating across platforms and audiences
- Experience in collaborating with a wide variety of professionals, both inside and outside an organization
- Outstanding writing skills, with an ability to create compelling, persuasive narratives that are strategically focused
- Fluency with communication technologies and platforms, including website editorial
- Ability to make decisions in a dynamic environment, with an appreciation for how future needs may affect those decisions, especially with respect to evolving communications platforms, themes and styles
- Exceptional interpersonal, relationship building and listening skills
- Collaborative management style with the ability to teach, mentor and develop a committed team
- Willingness to iterate a strategy and approach, with the ability to recognize the need to course-correct as necessary
- Residency within California and able to be on-site at least two days per week
The candidate may have:
- Cause-marketing experience
- Experience in the areas of sustainability and environmental justice (desired)
- Sophisticated communications experience around policy issues (desired)
- Familiarity with climate change issues and connecting the stories of communities and populations most affected (desired)
- Journalism or publishing experience
- Advocacy experience
We seek to have someone in place by Early Fall 2022.
This position offers a competitive salary and includes a comprehensive benefits package. We actively welcome all candidates from a wide range of backgrounds who have the skills to fulfill this role – regardless of compensation history.
All applications are held in strict confidence. Please submit your credentials and a letter of interest through our private applicant portal to The 360 Group at:
Applications should be directed to the attention of Maureen Capitolo, Principal. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Earlier applicants may receive priority consideration. To be considered, The 360 Group encourages all interested candidates to submit their applications promptly, via the confidential applicant portal linked above.
At The 360 Group, we know that a richly diverse mix of professionals makes organizations more effective. Using that principle as our “North Star,” we make diversity a hallmark of our firm, and all of our search engagements.
Learn more about The 360 Group at the360group.us