Employment Opportunities

Communications Director

Chicago IL

Organization Overview

Advance Illinois is a not-for-profit policy and advocacy organization that works toward a healthy public education system that prepares students to achieve success in college, career and civic life. We are committed to an aligned education system that strives for equity, stresses college and career readiness and completion, and supports the whole child from the earliest years through adulthood. We believe every child should have access to a high-quality education regardless of geography, income or race.

Advance Illinois’ Communications team works to create a cohesive strategy to raise the visibility of key education issues and the organization as a whole.  We maximize e-mail, social media and web assets. We develop timely, compelling materials for multiple audiences, while emphasizing storytelling and inspiring action from public and education stakeholders. We are seeking an exceptional communications leader with expertise in public awareness campaigns to develop communications and public relations strategies and content for the organization across all channels including earned media, paid media, digital media, and print.

Advance Illinois is an independent, objective voice promoting a public education system that prepares all students to be ready for work, college, and democratic citizenship.  Advance Illinois is a nonpartisan non-profit that shapes the debate, builds powerful coalitions, and grows the grassroots to achieve meaningful outcomes for students.

To help improve the state’s public education system, Advance Illinois develops and forwards a comprehensive policy agenda that calls for systemic reforms that:

  • create rigorous learning environments with high expectations;
  • hire, develop, and retain great teachers and leaders;
  • give schools the resources they need;
  • engage families and provide necessary student supports; and
  • promote continuous improvement and innovation.

Position Summary

The Communications Director sets and guides the strategy for all strategic communications, including messaging, media relations, public relations, and digital media, in order to consistently articulate Advance Illinois’ mission, goals, and brand.  The Communications Director will leverage their expertise in communications strategy to ensure that we continue to grow our brand recognition and increase our campaign effectiveness.  The Director will be a strategist with robust knowledge of how to craft an effective message that will resonate with our diverse network, coalitions, and constituent base. They will also work closely with Advance leadership to devise communications strategies and provide strategic advice to help them meet each of their annual goals.

Responsibilities

  • Develops, implements, and evaluates an annual communications plan in collaboration with Advance Illinois senior management that aligns with annual organizational goals and priorities;
  • Develops and executes a robust marketing and communications strategy in collaboration with Advance Illinois colleagues to ensure high-impact communications, earned media, and strong support of all Advance Illinois efforts;
  • Develops and implements a comprehensive public relations strategy to strengthen and elevate Advance Illinois’ brand, elevate and effectively message our policy campaigns across the state including, Advance Illinois website, Real Learning for Real Life campaign, Funding Illinois’ Future campaign and create content and workplans for these coalitions;
  • Develops and implements communications campaigns that tie to each of the organization’s advocacy goals to create momentum, awareness, and action using earned media, social media, and grassroots communications tactics. Monitor online metrics and analyze results on audience demographic trends, preferred content and to identify opportunities for targeted engagement;
  • Creates compelling, persuasive, relevant, and accurate communications content that will increase the public’s engagement with the organization and build community support for improving schools across the state;
  • Drafts presentations, testimonies, op-eds, letters to the editor, media alerts, one-pagers and press releases;
  • Cultivates and maintains media relationships for disseminating information, positioning Advance as a media source and leveraging public relations opportunities;
  • Works closely with colleagues, including Development, Policy, Government Affairs, Outreach and Project directors, to produce collateral material to support their work;
  • Edits a range of campaign-focused written materials to ensure clarity, conciseness, effectiveness, and alignment with Advance Illinois’ brand; and
  • Supervises the Communications Associate, interns, and other contract staff.

Qualifications

  • Strong commitment to and alignment with Advance Illinois’ mission of improving our state’s public education system; 
  • Minimum of 8 years’ experience in a communications, public relations, or marketing role (online writing or marketing-related writing experience a plus);
  • Outstanding and fast writer and editor;
  • Ability to grasp and effectively communicate complex, detailed information in a clear, concise manner for a variety of audiences;
  • Comprehensive strategic thinking and rapid problem-solving skills to effectively handle crisis communications;
  • Extensive knowledge of public education issues and/or experience creating high-impact advocacy campaigns;
  • Experience in a fast-paced environment and comfortable working in an ever-shifting political environment, familiarity with state political and legislative environment highly preferred;
  • Knowledge of and experience using social media in today’s media landscape, including Twitter, Facebook, and enthusiasm for emerging technologies as tools for social change;
  • Experience determining and analyzing metrics to evaluate and improve communications strategies;
  • A tremendous drive and strong ability to achieve outcomes. Ability to set and adhere to strict deadlines.  Excellent planning and organizational skills as well as an exceptional attention to detail;
  • An entrepreneurial, learning orientation and an ability to embrace and incorporate direct feedback;
  • Existing press and media relationships within Chicago and Illinois preferred; particularly both political and education reporters covering Springfield and Chicago.
  • Sincere commitment to work collaboratively with all constituent groups, including staff, board members, and other supporters from all backgrounds and cultures;
  • Assist Communications Associate to grow and expand their knowledge and expertise of Advance Illinois policy areas as well as communications skills sets;
  • Comfort pivoting between high-level, strategic work and smaller tasks. No job is too big or too small;
  • BA/BS; and
  • Spanish fluency, both written and conversational, preferred, but not required.

Compensation

Competitive salary that is commensurate with experience along with excellent benefits such as: health/dental insurance; short-term/long-term disability plans; 401K with a company match plan; flexible spending account; holidays and vacation accrual.

Commitment to Diversity

Advance Illinois is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to engaging the skills and leadership of people of color, low-income persons, LGBTQ+ persons, differently-abled people, and other people from diverse backgrounds. People from these and other historically marginalized backgrounds and communities are strongly encouraged to apply.

To Apply

Submit a resume and cover letter to communications@advanceillinois.org. All submissions will be acknowledged, and you will be contacted if you are selected for an interview. No phone calls please.

Advance Illinois is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to engaging the skills and leadership of people of color, low-income persons, LGBT persons, differently-abled people, and other people from diverse backgrounds. People from these and other historically marginalized backgrounds and communities are strongly encouraged to apply.