Associate Director of Program Communications

11 Mar, 2021


Associate Director of Program Communications

San Francisco, CA/Los Angeles, CA/New York, NY/Washington DC

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We take on the biggest environmental legal battles across the country. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health; to preserve magnificent places and wildlife; to advance clean energy; and to combat climate change.  We partner with thousands of groups, supporters, individuals and communities to engage the critical environmental issues of our time, and bring about positive change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Founded in 1971, Earthjustice has a distinguished track record of achieving significant, lasting environmental protections. We achieve this by hiring people who share a passion for justice and a healthy environment.  Our headquarters are in San Francisco with offices in Anchorage, Juneau, Los Angeles, Tallahassee, Honolulu, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Bozeman, and Washington, DC.

In addition to a talented cadre of environmental lawyers, legislative advocates, and other staff, Earthjustice has a highly creative and savvy communications team that works in strategic partnership with every department at the organization, helping to move the needle on important issues while building robust public support for our work. The Associate Director of Program Communications helps lead the Program Communications team within the Communications Department, which consists of national and regional communications strategists and press secretaries with expertise in advocacy campaigns, media relations, and storytelling. The team is spread out between offices in New York, Washington, DC, and the organization’s headquarters in San Francisco. This position will work closely with colleagues in each of those offices, and oversee direct reports.

The Associate Director works in partnership with the Senior Director to oversee communications strategy and execution in our regional office work. The Associate Director will directly manage the regional communications teams, while working closely with the Senior Director who will manage national communications staff. The Associate Director will also oversee parts of the budget and contractor relationships. The entire Program Communications team currently amounts to 18 full time employees, while the Communications Department as a whole numbers around 40 employees.

In addition to overseeing the Regional Communications team, the Associate Director will play a leadership role in managing relationships, partnerships, and work flows with the Brand Communications team within the Communications Department (consisting of editorial, marketing, digital, multimedia, social media and graphic design staff) as well as with attorneys, policy staff, and senior leadership within the organization.

To succeed in this role, candidates must be seasoned strategic communications leaders with exceptional communication skills and strong emotional intelligence. The Associate Director of Program Communications must be able to serve as a respected leader, an inspiring mentor, and a trusted partner for her/his team, forging successful partnerships within the doors of Earthjustice and beyond.


Management (60%)

      • Ensure prioritization and alignment of work between Program Communications and litigation and policy staff on key issue areas
      • Work with Senior Director to foster collaboration between national communication staff and regional communications staff, including the formation of cross-cutting teams on high priority projects
      • Partner with Brand communications in content strategy meetings to plan and prioritize the execution of major storytelling endeavors that serve both program and brand communication needs
      • Directly manage a growing team of regional communications strategists, as well as press contractors as needed
      • Deliver annual performance reviews for staff; provide ongoing coaching and mentoring; co-lead team meetings and retreats
      • Develop strategy documents, work plans, schedules, budgets, and reports; co-manage the overall Program Communications budget, including contracts, expenses, and spending projections.
      • Recruits and hires qualified candidates who fit position requirements and the work environment.
      • Promotes change in terms of the expected benefits, as well as removing or lowering the impact of potential obstacles.
      • Sets clear team direction that aligns with Earthjustice strategy, mission, and vision.
      • Develops staff by providing career development opportunities with appropriate training, encouragement, and supervision.
      • Promotes inclusive work environment for team and models inclusive behavior.

Management (Essential Functions)

Flexible depending on number of direct reports and assuming dedication of approximately 10% of time for each direct report

      • Provides staff with consistent performance feedback – both positive and constructive — and acts as a coach and mentor.
      • Creates a learning culture, by encouraging debriefing after completion of significant stages of projects.
      • Ensures that any direct reports who have supervisory responsibility are properly executing those functions.
      • Creates a respectful and inclusive work environment for team and models respectful and inclusive behavior.
      • Promptly addresses micro-aggressions and other concerns brought to their attention.
      • Resolves interpersonal conflict among team members and brings in outside facilitators as needed.
      • Communicates regularly with existing employees and encourages staff to raise concerns and to provide ongoing feedback.
      • Creates or identifies strategic opportunities for team building and individual and overall staff engagement with one another in order to strengthen teamwork, interaction and collaboration.
      • Values and uses individual differences and talents to improve employee satisfaction and the quality of collective work.
      • Celebrates successes and helps team members to understand and manage setbacks.

*Supervisory Responsibilities: Five direct reports

Strategy Development (30%)

      • Provide strategic leadership and guidance in the development, execution, and evaluation of communications plans and media strategy among Program Communications and litigation and policy staff. Strategies include earned media, digital storytelling, community organizing, coalition building, events, online advocacy and other audience engagement tactics.
      • Work with communication strategists to develop talking points and narratives around key issue areas
      • Oversee all media efforts pertaining to priority issue areas; work with Senior Director to manage media strategy for regionally significant casework; oversee the tracking, reporting, and analysis of media relations strategies to the organization and board.
      • Work with staff to develop initiatives aimed at movement-building and expanding our partnership with diverse clients and partners; work with Brand Communications and Development on initiatives to expand our supporter base through our program work.

Communications Leadership Team (10%)

      • Work with communications leadership team to cultivate a positive and welcoming culture within the department, and serve as a positive ambassador for Program Communications to other departments.
      • Build systems and strategies for ensuring team members are aligned on core organizational values and goals; develop metrics for tracking progress.


      • Bachelor’s Degree required. Concentration in communications, marketing, political science, or environmental studies preferred.
      • 3+ years of experience in management of staff or contractors
      • 7+ years of experience working in communications departments in nonprofit/advocacy organizations, media, or other NGOs.
      • Background in environmental issues, environmental law, social justice, and other progressive advocacy preferred.
      • Data science and analytics expertise a plus
      • Exceptional leadership skills; enthusiastic about leading a highly motivated, advocacy-oriented team with a wide range of skills and interests, spread across multiple locations
      • Proven experience overseeing national advocacy campaigns and major press initiatives involving a broad range of internal and external stakeholders
      • Deep knowledge of the current political and media landscape, as well as comfort with social media and other digital advocacy tools
      • Ability to manage key stakeholders in the handling of fast-changing political and legal situations requiring rapid response
      • Excellent verbal and written communication skills with demonstrated experience in public speaking. Ability to speak persuasively and to build strong relationships internally and externally
      • Outstanding organizational skills with demonstrated ability to maintain oversight and prioritize a broad range of communication and administrative activities
      • Demonstrates an awareness and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of individuals from diverse cultures, backgrounds and orientations
      • Contributes to recruiting, hiring, developing and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce. Experience managing stakeholders, staff, and vendors in a positive, collaborative team environment, and exhibits outstanding team building/collaborative skills.
      • High level of emotional intelligence.
      • Candidate may be asked to provide a writing sample as part of the job application process.

Management (Essential Skills)

      • Ability to effectively manage and lead a diverse team with emotional intelligence (self-awareness and understating of the impact of their behavior) and cultural humility (an understanding of the need for additional learning about different cultures, backgrounds and orientation and implementation of that learning daily management practices).
      • Ability to give and receive regular formal and informal feedback in a timely, constructive, respectful, and consistent manner and to incorporate debriefing into the team’s operations.
      • Strong team mentorship and communication skills
      • Understands the individual and team strengths and areas for development and develops plans accordingly.
      • Commitment to and experience in developing team skills and talents to meet the evolving needs of an organization.

Ability to travel periodically to Program Communications staff in other offices.

We offer a mission- and employee-focused work environment and a competitive compensation package, including excellent benefits.  Earthjustice is an equal opportunity employer and highly values diversity.

Salary is based on experience and location.

Salary range in Washington DC and Los Angeles, CA: $134,000 – $148,900

Salary range in San Francisco, CA and New York, NY: $141,000 – $156,700


Earthjustice has retained the services of ThinkingAhead Executive Search. Please submit your resume and expression of interest to Chris Spagnola, Partner, at and Jessica Martinez, Senior Recruiter, at

No phone calls, drop-ins, or hard copies.

Earthjustice is driven by a passion for justice, partnership, and excellence. Our core values lead us to seek a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds to achieve our mission and to maintain an inclusive environment where all staff are valued and respected. As an equal opportunity employer, we are committed to employment practices that ensure that employees and applicants for employment are provided with equal opportunities without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, religion, physical or mental disability, medical condition, veteran status, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, or any other factor that is not related to the position.

For positions located within the City and County of San Francisco Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment-qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

For positions located within the City of Los Angeles:We will consider qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring.

Job posted: 2021-03-11