John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — Communications Officer

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Published: August 18, 2016
Job Type


About the Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy; the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago; and generating new knowledge about critical issues.

MacArthur is one of the nation's largest independent foundations. Organizations supported by the Foundation work in about 50 countries. In addition to Chicago, MacArthur has offices in India, Mexico, and Nigeria. To learn more about the Foundation please visit

About the Communications Team

The Communications team collaborates with program teams and other colleagues across the Foundation to create and implement strategic communications plans that enhance the impact of MacArthur’s work and the work of grantees. The team is responsible for the Foundation's strategic efforts to communicate with the press, public, and policymakers, including media relations, Web and social media efforts, printed materials, and events. The team also provides communications support and advice to MacArthur’s leadership, staff, and grantees.

Team members include: Managing Director, three Communications Officers, Senior Electronic Communications Specialist, Social Media Associate, Communications Assistant, and outside consultants/firms, as needed.

The ideal candidate for this position is an experienced communications strategist looking for the next opportunity in his/her career. This person is entrepreneurial but also a collaborative colleague who can help program teams at the Foundation build and execute strategic communications plans that contribute to the programs’ goals and overall impact. He/she will have seven to ten years of experience and proven success working in communications for social impact.

Communications Officer

This new position joins two other Communications Officers on the team and reports to the Managing Director for Communications. He/she will manage communications for a portfolio of MacArthur’s programmatic work. Specifically, the Communications Officer will be challenged to:

  • Manage communications for a portfolio of MacArthur programs;
  • Design and execute marketing and communications strategies to advance the work of the Foundation and its grantees in select field;
  • Work closely with program directors and staff, grantees, and other stakeholders to develop and carry out these strategies;
  • Develop consistent, updated, and accessible messaging about these fields of work; support the adoption and use of that messaging; and create and implement tactics to connect that messaging to key audiences;
  • Write press releases, Web and social media content, op-eds, talking points, briefings, and program updates for the Foundation’s Board, President, staff, media, the public, and other audiences;
  • Build relationships with, pitch stories to, and respond to inquiries from relevant media;
  • Manage and partner with external firms engaged in marketing and communications for Foundation and grantee work in select fields;
  • Work closely and collaboratively with Communications colleagues to determine shared priorities, consistent messaging, and overall Foundation communications strategy;
  • Be a good MacArthur colleague by effectively managing competing priorities and deadlines; respecting others’ time and work needs; proactively keeping others informed; treating others with respect and courtesy; collaborating effectively; communicating in a clear and effective manner; and being open, collegial, forward-thinking, and positive; and
  • Meeting other responsibilities, as needed and as assigned.

The Communications Officer should ideally possess the following professional qualifications and personal attributes:

  • Seven to ten years of full-time communications work experience;
  • A Bachelor’s degree at a minimum;
  • A track record of success developing and executing comprehensive strategic communications programs in a highly complex, multi-layered, intellectually charged work environment;
  • Experience working in or with the nonprofit sector and an understanding of the sector’s role in social change;
  • Experience responding to challenging media inquiries and proactively securing coverage;
  • A strategic and creative thinker who can get things done under time pressure and despite multiple competing demands;
  • Sophisticated understanding of social media tactics;
  • Significant experience writing and talking about social challenges and public issues in a style that respects their depth and complexity but is accessible to a well-educated, general audience;
  • Some marketing experience is preferred, given the anticipated needs of some new and developing areas of MacArthur’s work;
  • An effective communicator and listener with superb organizational and interpersonal skills; and
  • An agile, self-motivated, team player.

To Apply

Candidates are encouraged to apply online at


The John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and benefits from the talents of a diverse staff.


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