Director, Public Relations & Communications

11 Sep, 2023


Director, Public Relations & Communications

Cleveland Foundation
Cleveland, OH

Position:  Regular, Fulltime, Exempt

Department:  Marketing & Communications

Reports to:  Chief Marketing Officer

Supervises: Media Relations Officer

Strategic Communications Officer

Organizational Background

For more than 109 years, the Cleveland Foundation has worked with donors, nonprofit organizations, and community partners to enhance the quality of life for all Greater Cleveland residents. With a focus on Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties, the foundation builds community endowment, addresses needs through grantmaking and social impact investing, and provides leadership on vital issues. The Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with approximately $3 billion in assets.

Summary: The Director, PR & Communications is responsible for strategic communications, media relations, and thought leadership for the Cleveland Foundation. The person in this position oversees external and internal communications, identifies and pursues external speaking engagements and awards, manages and supports department planning, and provides strategic PR counsel to the Marketing & Communications team and colleagues throughout the organization.

Responsibilities and Expected Outcomes:

· In partnership with the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), develop a PR & Communications strategic plan inclusive of media relations, thought leadership and public affairs, and support the Media Relations Officer and Strategic Communications Officer in implementing the plan.

· Support the CMO by working with the Director of Experiential Marketing and Events (ExME) and the Director of Integrated Marketing to develop annual department plans, campaigns and content that motivate key audiences through paid, owned and earned media and align with key business priorities, brand, and customer needs.

· In partnership with the Media Relations Officer, develop ongoing relationships with reporters, and pitch and respond to media opportunities at the community, regional and national levels.

· Work with the CMO and the Strategic Communications Officer to develop core messaging about the Foundation and its long-term initiatives as a part of the brand strategy and annual marketing and communications plans.

· Ensure that all Foundation spokespeople receive regular media training and are equipped with key messages and talking points for all media opportunities.

· Manage and develop direct report(s) to provide them with increasing responsibilities and professional development. Create an inclusive, equitable and rewarding environment that focuses on proactive, regular and clear communication and removes barriers to success.

· In partnership with the Director of Integrated Marketing, develop a complementary earned media strategy for showcasing grantee stories, significant grants made, institutional news, and results and findings of various Foundation projects.

· Support the Foundation’s advocacy initiatives by developing a concurrent communications strategy and providing communications guidance to those on staff responsible for outreach to community stakeholders.

· In collaboration with the Strategic Communications Officer, help develop remarks and scripts for the Executive team and board members for events and speaking engagements.

· Partner with the Director of Integrated Marketing and the Director of ExME to create or promote earned media content or manage crisis communications using the Foundation’s social media channels.

· In support of the Director of ExME, prepare for and work at Foundation-hosted events, including pitching and hosting reporters.

· Support the Strategic Communications Officer in implementing a thought-leadership program including preparing/securing white papers for the Foundation’s website, identifying media and speaking engagements for the President and other staff; and partnering with HR to identify and nominate staff for awards sponsored by other organizations.

· Oversee the use of media measurement tools and support the Media Relations Officer in conducting metrics analyses to assess the communications team’s effectiveness and to keep abreast of the how the Foundation is represented in the media; prepare and submit metrics and analysis for quarterly board report.

· Maintain relationships with communications officers from other community foundations, sharing “best practices” information and participating on mutually advantageous collaborations.

· Act as the liaison for external resources and vendors for communication services including but not limited to agencies, contractors, etc.

· Oversee the maintenance of the Crisis Communications Plan as led by the Strategic Communications Officer and assist in the development of other plans and policies related to public relations.

· Provide public relations guidance to Grantee organizations on occasion.

· Perform other duties as assigned.



· A successful candidate should have 15+ years work experience in public relations, public affairs, communications, journalism and/or a related field. A bachelor’s degree, graduate degree or related certifications in communications, journalism or a related field are welcome, but not required.

· Demonstrated project and team management experience, with a minimum of five years of supervisory experience.

· Exceptional verbal and written communication skills. AP Style writing and proofreading ability required.

· Ability to produce communications in multiple formats, including print, digital, broadcast, presentations, and multimedia.

· Demonstrated success managing communications campaigns and special events, along with the budgets supporting them.

· Experience working with a multidisciplinary team and working effectively with persons and communities from diverse cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds and age groups. A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion across all work.

· Excellent interpersonal skills and strong client service mindset, including ability to build cross-departmental relationships, determine communications needs, drive consensus on deliverables and outcomes and work strategically to affect positive change for the organization.

· Advanced proficiency in Microsoft Office and social media platforms.

· A strong commitment to professional development as demonstrated through involvement in professional associations, training programs and workshops.

· Ability to maintain confidentiality when working with sensitive information.

Other highly desirable qualifications include:

· Familiarity with Cleveland and its nonprofit sector.

· Passion for philanthropy and making a positive impact on the lives of others.

· Demonstrated community involvement.


The Cleveland Foundation exists to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of Greater Cleveland. The ability to carry out our mission and to foster our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion can best be pursued if our workforce, grantees, donors, partners, and governing body are inclusive of individuals of diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and perspectives.
We believe that diversity encompasses, but is not limited to, age, color, education, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental abilities or characteristics, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, and/or other characteristics that make an individual unique. The Cleveland Foundation is committed to equal employment opportunities for all.

Employees are not just employees at the foundation. They are thought partners and contributors that provide the passion, creativity and effort behind the success and impact we have with our partnerships and initiatives in the community. The foundation encourages collaboration and sharing within and across teams and has benefited from the innovative ideas and work that has resulted from this collaborative workplace mentality.

Each employee is valued for the expertise and experience (lived and learned) they bring to the foundation and encouraged to bring their genuine selves to their work. All employees understand and tie their work back to our mission, values and strategic direction and have been included in the decisions and design of many of our programs and strategies, including the design of our new headquarters building. Most importantly—they have fun at work!

To ensure the ongoing ability to attract, engage and retain the most talented and diverse employees, the foundation has made it a priority to understand and support its internal community in every way. The comprehensive and regularly evaluated array of programs and benefits offered are designed to ensure that every employee is cared for and has resources available with respect to physical, mental/emotional, financial, social, family and professional wellbeing.

Employees share with the foundation how they feel about the work culture, pay and benefits on an annual basis—and the foundation listens, shares and responds! As a result, and based on ongoing feedback, the foundation has been named a NorthCoast 99 Award winner 21 years running and a Plain Dealer Top 100 Workplaces Award winner 11 years running.


Based on the foundation’s compensation program, estimated annual salary for this position may be anywhere between $87,000 and $115,000 with some flexibility, based on the academic, professional and community experiences and credentials of a candidate.

The foundation offers an exceptional benefits package including medical, dental, vision, identity theft, and life and disability coverage, a comprehensive wellness program, an employee assistance program, a fully vested 403(b) retirement plan, ten paid holidays and, for exempt positions, 15 days of vacation and 12 sick days, prorated the first year of service based on date of hire.


If you are interested in applying for this position, please submit your resume and cover letter as soon as possible. This posting will remain active until on or around September 29, 2023. We regret that we cannot respond personally to each applicant.

Note: Our flexible workplace policy provides for one day of remote work per week.

Salary Description
$87,000 to $115,000

Job posted: 2023-09-11