The Institute for College Access & Success — Communications Director

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The Institute for College Access & Success Published: September 21, 2016
Oakland, CA or Washington, DC, United States
Job Type


The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), a national nonprofit, nonpartisan, research and policy organization widely respected for its expertise on financial aid and student debt issues, is looking for a talented Communications Director. Our mission is to make higher education more available and affordable for people of all backgrounds, nationally and in California, so that more students can complete meaningful college credentials without burdensome debt. One of TICAS’ national initiatives is the Project on Student Debt, which works to increase public understanding of student debt and the implications for our families, economy, and society.

TICAS is looking for a Communications Director to work collaboratively with our senior leadership to develop and implement communication and messaging strategies that advance TICAS’ mission and policy goals. The Communications Director reports to the President and manages one staff position and outside contractors. The position could be based in TICAS’ Oakland, CA headquarters or Washington, DC office.

Key Roles and Responsibilities

  • Develop and manage national and California media and public relations strategies to increase TICAS’ effectiveness.
  • Identify efficient and strategic opportunities to raise the profile of TICAS’ findings, recommendations, and/or spokespeople.
  • Oversee TICAS’ websites, social media presence, publication design and production, subscriber engagement, and online fundraising.
  • Working closely with project teams, take communications plans from start to finish in a high-input, fast-paced, and fluid environment.
  • Write and/or edit press releases, op-eds, letters to the editor, and other public-facing content such as blog posts, fact sheets, and testimony.
  • Monitor the news environment for proactive and reactive opportunities, and ensure responsiveness to media requests.
  • Ensure that all media and promotional materials meet high standards and effectively and accurately represent TICAS’ mission, policy positions, and findings.
  • Cultivate and maintain relationships with key media outlets and journalists, including ethnic and online outlets.
  • Work in partnership with communications staff at other organizations to advance shared policy goals.
  • Assist with online and in-person events and presentations, and serve as a media representative as required.

Qualifications include:

  • At least six years of directly relevant experience, including experience in a policy-oriented environment.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, with proven ability to describe complex policy issues clearly and accurately for different audiences.
  • Experience supervising and developing staff, collaborating with content experts, and supporting senior spokespeople.
  • Skilled at both setting and adjusting priorities while managing multiple projects and responding to changing needs.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to work well with people at all levels, inside and outside the organization.
  • Ability to work effectively both independently and as a member of a team.
  • Highly detail oriented and at ease with both data and text.
  • Comfort with asking and answering questions, flexibility, patience, and a good sense of humor.
  • Highly interested in higher education policy and financial aid, with direct experience in the field preferred.
  • Pluses: Spanish speaker; experience with Salesforce, CQ Engage, InDesign, and/or Drupal.

Application Process

TICAS is an equal opportunity employer. Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume to, with "TICAS Communications Director" in the subject line. No phone calls please. This position will remain open until filled.


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