Strategic Communications Director

25 Jan, 2021


Strategic Communications Director

Innocence Project
New York, NY


The Innocence Project recognizes the immense power of strategic communications to advancing legal and policy reform and, more specifically, the importance of exoneration stories to further the work of preventing wrongful convictions and achieving criminal legal system reform. Reporting to the Chief Communications Officer (CCO), the Strategic Communications Director will be a big picture communications strategist who understands how to use communications to drive change.

 The SCD will join a talented and creative team and will play a key role in developing smart proactive and reactive media strategies that advance the Innocence Project’s (IP) mission. They will work closely with IP’s program teams – the Post-Conviction Litigation, Policy, and Strategic Litigation departments – as well as IP’s leadership, to create and implement strategic communications plans to enhance the impact of the work. They will have experience developing and implementing strategic communications plans for campaigns and advancing policy reforms with a keen eye for activating new and existing audiences to achieve results.

 The SCD will have particular responsibility for elevating the profiles of IP leadership and key staff – developing comprehensive positioning strategies across a range of platforms and outlets. They will cultivate media partnerships to amplify and advance the institutional and programmatic work of the organization in powerful ways. They will provide support and advice to leadership, staff, and clients across the organization. Together with the Media Relations Manager the SCD will strengthen relationships with key journalists and influencers in a range of local and national outlets in the print, broadcast, and online sectors. They will also play an important role in crisis communications and departmental management.

The SCD will work with communications colleagues to support the daily operations of the department – working on both quick turnaround and long-term projects in areas of public affairs, media relations, and executive positioning. They will draft and place op-eds and other written works for staff and clients. Working with the Media Relations Manager, they will develop a suite of messages around key issues

The SCD will be a smart strategic thinker and an excellent writer, who is quick to grasp and distill complicated concepts into easily accessible language, a confident speaker and manager, and a collaborative colleague and team player. They will have a passion for the work of the Innocence Project and will be well connected in the racial justice and criminal justice fields.  


  • Works closely with the CCO to craft smart strategic communications to advance programmatic and institutional goals.
  • Develops strong working relationships with IP leadership and programmatic teams along with a deep understanding of their work and communications ambitions.
  • Drives the development of communications plans for program teams and leadership 
  • Works with communications colleagues to develop thoughtful media relations strategies and related plans that include proactive and reactive goals and tactics. 
  • Works closely with colleagues to maintain a suite of messaging documents for the organization’s work across departments, specific high-profile issues, and client-related news.
  • Serves as an organizational spokesperson.
  • Pitches and places stories in regional and national print, broadcast, and online outlets.
  • Cultivates relationships with key journalists and influencers and in particular the editorial boards of major media outlets.
  • Identifies and creates opportunities to build partnerships with an array of print, digital, and broadcast platforms to grow the reach and impact of IP’s work.
  • Serves as an evangelist for communications in the organization, building and strengthening relationships across departments, leading workshops, and strategy sessions to ensure strong impact and outcomes from the work.
  • Has particular responsibility for executive positioning – ensuring that the executive leadership team has a clear voice and profile in key outlets and platforms and a steady drumbeat of the associated content.


  • Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Media, or related field.
  • 9+ years of communications experience, preferably working with a nonprofit with involvement in political or advocacy campaigns.
  • Experience developing communications strategies and campaigns to support institutional goals as well as policy and other reforms.
  • Experience drafting succinct and incisive op-eds, backgrounders, and releases, and other materials.
  • Experience developing and maintaining professional relationships with journalists and in particular journalists of influence and profile.
  • Deep experience in media relations, a successful track record pitching and placing stories across all media platforms along with skills in shaping the story and controlling the message.
  • Proven ability to serve as an organizational spokesperson.
  • Attention to detail and superior writing, communication, and interpersonal skills.


  • Experience authoring articles or white papers on criminal law reform and/or public policy.
  • Experience developing materials for policy initiatives or campaigns.


  • Strong interpersonal, diplomacy, and communication (verbal & written) skills: the ability to interact effectively and sensitively with a wide variety of people of diverse professional and cultural backgrounds. (Interpersonal Skills; Communication Skills; Embraces Pluralism and Diversity of Perspectives)
  • Strong organizational and planning skills along with attention to detail. (Quality Focused)
  • Flexible and collaborative work style, ability to function effectively in a demanding environment, and to juggle multiple tasks under pressure and deadlines. (Flexibility/Adaptability; Project Management)
  • Ability to grasp legal and criminal justice issues and translate them into persuasive and easy-to-understand language. (Analytical Skills)
  • Demonstrated initiative and reliability. (Initiative/Self Motivated; Accountability)
  • A passion for the organization’s work. (Organizational Awareness)


The salary for this position is highly competitive and the Innocence Project offers an excellent benefits package, including health, dental and vision insurance, Flexible Spending Account, 401k plan with company match.  While the office is currently remote in consideration of the ongoing pandemic, once commuting into the office (located in downtown Manhattan, New York) becomes again viable we will also offer company-paid transportation benefits.

The salary range is between $97,750 -$115,00. 



The Innocence Project considers the diversity of its workforce to be vital to our organization’s success in meeting its mission.  We strongly encourage applicants from all cultures, races, educational backgrounds, life experiences, socio-economic classes, sexual orientations, age, gender, and physical abilities to apply. Individuals with personal connections to the criminal legal system are strongly encouraged to apply. 

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, it is our policy not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, familial status, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics, actual or perceived domestic violence victim status, unemployment status, caregiver status, or any other category protected by law.


To apply, please visit Paycom. Upload a cover letter expressing your interest in the role and the organization’s work, and a resume titled with your name (last name. first name. cover letter/resume). Only applications with cover letters will be considered complete applications. Information submitted through this secure site is kept confidential. Due to the large volume of applications, we are unable to give applicant updates by phone or direct email. 

**Applications for the Strategic Communications Director position will be considered on a rolling basis until the post is filled.** 

Job posted: 2021-01-25