Senior Director for Communications and Engagement, Harvard College

10 Jan, 2022


Senior Director for Communications and Engagement, Harvard College

Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

Job Summary

The Senior Director for Communications and Engagement, Harvard College leads a fast-paced communications organization that advances the strategic vision and priorities of Harvard College through internal and external communications, media relations, and community engagement strategies and tactics targeted to large and complex audiences both on and off campus. Serves in very visible, demanding role that requires 24/7/365 availability and deep commitment to the mission and community of Harvard College.

The Senior Director provides leadership, mentorship, and respectful management to the team, promoting collaborative, interdisciplinary teamwork, open communication, and responsible self-direction and creates a shared mission and goals in support of Harvard College communications that drives a collaborative, creative team environment and culture.

The Senior Director for Communications and Engagement, Harvard College, reports to the Associate Dean for Communications, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, with a dotted line to the Danoff Dean of Harvard College. This role works in close partnership with the Dean’s Chief of Staff. They serve as a member of the Harvard College Senior Staff and the FAS Communications Senior Leadership Team. They will sit with the Harvard College communications team.

Job-Specific Responsibilities

Internal and External Communications Strategy: Provides strategic communications counsel to the Dean, Chief of Staff, and the senior leadership across Harvard College. Sets the strategic direction of Harvard College communications consistent with the Harvard College mission and working closely with the Chief of Staff and the Associate Dean for Communications.

Communications Planning and Services: Partnering with the Director of Communications and Engagement, develops annual and initiative-specific communications plans, from strategy to tactics to implementation, to advance internal and external Harvard College announcements and opportunities across the College’s main offices, including: the Dean of Students Office, the Office of Undergraduate Education, the Office of Academic Integrity and Administration and Student Conduct, the FAS Registrar’s Office, the Phillips Brooks House Center for Public Service & Engaged Scholarship, and Administration and Finance. Partnering with Communications and Engagement Manager and Digital Communications Manager, regularly convenes College communications affinity group, providing administrators who implement local communications activities with best practices, trainings, and communications guidelines, tools, and resources.

Internal Communications: Develops and implements internal communications strategies and tools to share information and engage staff and faculty in the mission and activities of Harvard College. Develops internal communications plans and drafts messages on behalf of the Dean and his senior leadership team. Supports Director of Communications and Engagement, who leads student communications, to ensure alignment across internal communications strategies and plans.

Media Relations Strategy and Issues Management: Serves as chief spokesperson for Harvard College, providing strategic advice and guidance on issues management, crisis communications, strategic communications planning, and message development. Works closely with the Associate Director of Communications and Engagement, who supports College media relations directly, to acknowledge and align internal communications and media relations strategies and plans. Also partners with the Director of Media Relations and Communications, FAS to meet and ensure alignment with FAS and University media relations efforts.

Digital and Social Media Strategy: Supports the Director of Communications and Engagement, the Manager of Communications and Engagement, and Digital Communications Manager on digital planning and social media strategy for Harvard College. Builds understanding of the digital and social landscape and key audiences. Provides strategic counsel and resources to incubate and/or pivot to new ideas and technologies or to address gaps.

Team Leadership and Administration: Manages a team of three, including two direct reports, the Director of Communications and Engagement, Harvard College, who leads a team of two communications staff and the Associate Director of Communications and Engagement, Harvard College, as well as one indirect report, the Director of Athletic Communications, Harvard Athletics, who leads a team of seven communications staff. Manages College communications budget with input from and support from Associate Director and FAS Department Administrator.

Engaged Citizenship: Cultivates and nurtures deep trust and partnership with Harvard College Dean, Chief of Staff, and senior leaders, as well as with leaders across the FAS, including Harvard Athletics and Harvard College Admissions and Financial Aid, and the University overall. Requires exceptional responsiveness, engaged listening, sound judgement, persuasiveness, and the ability to convene and lead by influence in a respectful and collaborative manner.

Basic Qualifications

Bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 15 years progressive experience in public relations, communications, and/or marketing communications required. Must have direct experience serving as a spokesperson and building strong relationships with the media. Experience working within and across multiple highly complex organizations, while understanding and addressing the needs of both is critical.  Supervisory experience required.

Additional Qualifications and Skills

  • Strategic communications leader with a successful track record of progressive experience in directing an organization’s public relations or communications efforts, including media relations, internal communications, and marketing and digital communications. Experience with a leading institution or major brand is ideal.
  • Must have direct experience serving as a spokesperson and building strong relationships with reporters.
  • Must be a self-starter with high-energy who is able to lead and influence in a large, decentralized, and complex, mission-driven organizational environment.
  • Must be adept at implementing change, while also understanding and acknowledging unique needs and constraints, in a diverse community.
  • Experience leading in a complex environment that requires skillful engagement of multiple stakeholders and successful, resourceful, and creative navigation of ambiguity.
  • Must have the proven ability to advise senior leaders effectively, and to understand and navigate the higher education environment.
  • Must have excellent oral and written communication skills and experience with responding to and effectively managing communications around sensitive issues and crises.
  • Must possess strong skills in the areas of leadership, persuasion, negotiation, decision-making, and personnel and fiscal management and be adept at leading, motivating, and developing a diverse team of strategic communications professionals.
  • Must be able to respond to feedback in real-time and as needed, adapt or pivot strategies and plans.
  • Must have superior interpersonal and organizational skills, along with a demonstrated ability to think strategically and critically and consistently exercise sound judgment.
  • Proven track record of coordinating multiple programs simultaneously, moving projects forward, and developing and implementing creative, solution-oriented strategies while anticipating future demands and opportunities.

Working Conditions

This position will be based on our campus in MA, with the possibility to have a hybrid in-person/remote schedule.  The selected candidate will need to be on campus as business needs require (minimum two days per week).  All remote work must be performed in a state in which Harvard is registered to do business (CA, CT, MA, MD, ME, NH, NY, RI, and VT).

Harvard will require COVID vaccination for all Harvard community members who will have any on-campus presence. Individuals may claim exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons. More information regarding the University’s COVID vaccination requirement and exceptions may be found at the University’s “COVID-19 Vaccine Information” webpage:

Additional Information

All formal written offers will be made by FAS Human Resources.

Learn more here

Job posted: 2022-01-10