Public Affairs & Policy Manager

24 Aug, 2020


Public Affairs & Policy Manager

Headwaters Foundation
Missoula, MT

About Headwaters Foundation:

Headwaters Foundation is a community-driven foundation that believes our neighbors have the answers to the deepest issues facing Western Montana’s children and families. Every day, we work side-by-side with community leaders to guide the region’s resources to improve the well-being of all Montanans, especially those who have not had the chance to be heard. We believe that by discovering solutions together, we can build a healthy and thriving Western Montana.

Overview of Role:

The Public Affairs & Policy Manager is primarily responsible for:

  • Providing strategy, leadership and implementation of the Foundation’s policy and public affairs efforts that address social determinants of health issues in Western Montana;
  • Ensuring the program work of the Foundation is highlighted through effective, consistent, and relevant external communications in order to support the mission and goals of the Foundation; and
  • Developing, implementing and supporting internal processes for effective communication efforts among and with staff, board, and other stakeholders.

This is a full-time exempt position reporting to the CEO and accountable to the Program Director.

This role will challenge you and help you grow professionally and personally. To be successful, you must have high expectations for yourself and be willing to put in the time, effort, and sweat equity to meet the role and organization’s expectations.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Public Affairs:

  • Lead the Foundation in strengthening its brand and reputation by developing and implementing campaigns to increase awareness of the Foundation’s mission, priority issues, and impact with target audiences. This includes the development of clear and compelling messages that advance the Foundation’s mission and Theory of Change.
  • Direct and execute local, state, regional, and national communication efforts including branding, reputation, thought leadership, media relations, and digital communications to support the foundation’s priority issues and programs. This includes developing and implementing strategies for the Foundation’s digital channels, including website, social media, and email marketing. Develop and implement an annual editorial strategy, set goals for and monitor key performance indicators, and define audiences and issues to prioritize across channels.
  • Develop and implement efforts to support the policy, public affairs and communication efforts of grantees.
  • Create and implement an approach to regularly highlight grantee stories of impact, aligning with the Foundation’s goals and desired outcomes from the Theory of Change.
  • Deliver substantive, engaging and informative learnings from the Foundation’s evaluation work with grantee partners to support their work and keep them updated about the Foundation’s work.
  • Share evaluation learnings with the philanthropic field, especially findings related to trust-based philanthropy.
  • Maintain relationships with philanthropic public affairs leaders and organizations in order to bring innovative public affairs approaches to the Foundation.
  • Develop and execute a social listening and sensing strategy to monitor conversations and evolving trends that may be relevant to the Foundation’s work, with an eye towards evaluating narrative change.
  • Develop and manage processes for the CEO and Program Director to cultivate and build powerful relationships with key policymakers and influencers in Montana and specifically leaders in the Foundation’s service region.
  • Develop an approach to track and report on effectiveness of the Foundation’s communication efforts; this includes tracking of media stories, social media outreach, emails, and website.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with journalists and bloggers that help advance the Foundation’s work. Effectively maintain a thorough, accurate and quality media contacts database. Proactively develop press releases and pitch media stories, respond quickly and with exceptional professionalism to all media inquiries and manage all messages in the public arena.

Public Policy:

  • Provide leadership in the development and implementation of the Foundation’s policy priorities and strategy. This includes informing the policy and initiative grantmaking portfolio for the Foundation.
  • Conduct and oversee assessments and background research to track policy developments and help determine how the Foundation should respond to emerging social determinants of health issues.
  • Write publications including fact sheets, issue briefs, data briefs, infographics, blog posts, and policy reports, as well as reviewing and editing grantee policy reports as requested by grantees.
  • Conduct and/or coordinate policy briefings and trainings for Headwaters board, staff, grantees, and key stakeholders.
  • Proactively identify potential ‘hot’ issues and develop strategies and messages to manage and address those issues from the Foundation’s perspective.

Internal Communications:

  • Coordinate publication and release of grantee stories. Serve as first point of contact for program staff to develop grantee publications, advising on framing, audience, and key messaging. Provide this support to grantees as requested.
  • Prepare Foundation staff and board members to speak with press and other audiences.
  • Support CEO, Program Director and board in developing written communications.
  • Lead reputation management for the Foundation. Act as a strategic communications advisor to the Executive Team by keeping track of public attitudes, flagging possible consequences of prospective decisions, developing key messages and managing issues and crisis communications plans.
  • Develop and manage internal staff communications to ensure flow of information across the organization.
  • Support Executive Team efforts to produce board meeting materials and presentations.

Miscellaneous Duties:

  • Perform duties or other obligations that may arise as the Foundation’s size, operations and staffing evolve.
  • Perform other duties assigned by the CEO, as needed.

Minimum Education & Experience Requirements:

  • A minimum of bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs, Public Policy, Public Relations, or related field.
  • A minimum of five years of work experience in public affairs, public policy and/or public relations.
  • A minimum of three years’ experience in strategy development, as well as project and/or client management.
  • A minimum of five years’ experience in developing multimedia and other innovative approaches for communicating information and social change messages.
  • A minimum of three years’ experience with digital marketing, including website, email, and social media platforms.
  • A minimum of two years’ experience and comfort working customer relations management tools.
  • Experience working in upstream system change efforts related to health and/or social determinants of health.

Knowledge and Skills Required:

  • Passion for the Foundation’s mission is essential and knowledge of health and/or social services is preferred.
  • Demonstrated ability to look at the big picture and develop strategic ideas into action plans for short-term and long-term implementation.
  • Proven ability to manage complex projects in collaboration with multiple points of contact, including in-house staff, consultants, grantees and other outside vendors.
  • Excellent writing and public speaking skills and demonstrated ability to translate technical information, complex concepts and statistics into accessible, audience-specific materials.
  • Ability to establish collaborations and strategic partnerships to support promotion and dissemination of research and other projects.
  • Strong organizational skills, detail-oriented, and able to handle and prioritize multiple projects.
  • Knowledge of, and contacts with, the news media is desirable.
  • Expertise and prior experience in developing and assessing the effectiveness of public relations campaigns (media, direct mail, HTML, WordPress, etc.) and planning relative to target audiences.
  • Ability to exercise good judgement and take initiative.
  • Strategic thinker who will serve as an advisor to the Foundation’s leadership team.
  • Advanced research, analytical and critical thinking skills.

Required Soft Skills:

  • Acting as a team player
  • Flexibility
  • Effective communication
  • Problem-solving and resourcefulness
  • Accepting of feedback
  • Confidence
  • Creative thinking


Headwaters Foundation offers a competitive salary and benefits package.
How to apply:
Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume and writing sample via email to:

Brenda Solorzano, CEO (

Headwaters Foundation

The writing sample may be any document that demonstrates the applicant’s expertise at developing materials referenced in this Position Description.

Application review will begin on September 21th, 2020. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their completed application by 5 pm on September 18th, 2020.

Job Type: Full-time

Job posted: 2020-08-24