Job Title: Communications Director
Reports to: Co-founder and Partner Evan Gillespie
Salary: $135,000 - $155,000
Heavy industry is the foundation of modern society -- literally. From steel and cement to paper, glass and more, these globally traded goods are essential to modern life. Unlike fossil fuels, we don’t want to stop using steel and cement; we need these materials more than ever. But we need them to be cleaner in order to ensure community health and safety and to get industrial emissions on a 1.5 C-aligned trajectory.
In the U.S., the climate advocacy community does not invest sufficient time, resources or attention to the industrial sector. Most foundations and advocacy organizations are focused on the not-so-minor tasks of decarbonizing power, transportation and buildings. Heavy industry is perceived as “hard to abate,” so we’ve let the sector off the hook. But the climate movement can no longer afford to delay a focus on industry. The handful of advocates and funders pushing forward critical work in the industrial sector know this already, but they are few and far between, and they don’t yet have the weight and momentum of a resourced, strategic movement behind them.
Who We Are:
Climate Strategies Lab (placeholder name while “CSL” works through a branding process) aims to decarbonize heavy industry around the globe by 2045. Three seasoned Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaigners – Victoria Chu, Evan Gillespie and Nachy Kanfer – have joined forces to build an organization focused on cleaning up heavy industry and remaking the sector to be a better partner to communities, workers and the environment.
CSL provides open-source advocacy-focused data, communications, campaign strategy and execution while building a global network of strategists, advocates, community leaders and foundations to drive campaigns necessary to influence national and international policies that shape corporate and public procurement, redirect financial markets and drive investments in zero-emission industrial production.
CSL is a financially strong start-up rooted in and being built through our shared values, namely:
- We believe that the big, necessary change we strive for is possible and still will be incredibly hard to reach, requiring us to be resilient and to prioritize our whole health, including seeing our work as a piece of our lives, not our entire lives.
- Our work to clean up industry requires understanding how we got here and in particular how environmental racism shapes the footprint of industry today. When we do our work well – ensuring that communities most impacted by climate change have resources, access and decision making power; seeking solutions that don't perpetuate oppression; and committing to an ongoing awareness of how the identities we hold impact how we see and are seen by the others – our work supports broader efforts to build a more just and equitable society.
- We’re focused on developing and supporting innovative solutions at the intersection of science, storytelling and politics, creating new campaign playbooks, taking risks, making mistakes and learning from them. We’re constantly testing our own theories to make sure we're collaborating better, moving faster and getting closer to achieving our mission. We are prepared and curious, rigorous and creative.
- We are not the only ones in this fight, and we will not win if we work alone. Our work builds upon the efforts and successes of others, and we continue a long tradition of collaborative change-making. Building a well coordinated, durable, diverse and inclusive field focused on cleaning up heavy industry is critical to achieving climate justice.
In this newly-created position, the Communications Director will lead the development and implementation of Climate Strategies Lab’s internal and external communications strategy. This includes solidifying our organizational brand/identity and building a strong internal communications function. CSL and our partners are designing campaigns to transform American industry (e.g., Aluminum, Steel, Waste) into models for zero-emission industrial activity, reshoring union jobs in the process and leveraging U.S. progress to clean up global heavy industry. To do so, the Communications Director will work with partner organizations around the country to develop compelling narratives around cleaning up the industrial sector, leveraging tools and tactics for effective campaigns, including a strong earned media strategy, in a complex and rapidly-evolving environment.
The Communications Director plays an essential role in the evolution of Climate Strategies Lab, from its start-up phase to a more mature organization. The inaugural Communications Director holds key responsibilities that will evolve over time as the team grows from a one-person team with consultant support and functions are distributed. During the first year, we anticipate a focus on the following:
Strategy Development & Implementation
- Partner with the co-founders to determine a comprehensive communications strategy and to define short- and long-term goals and objectives related to Climate Strategies Lab’s visibility, credibility and growth.
- Ensure that CSL’s brand value and brand position are clear, compelling and consistent across platforms.
- Work with graphic designers and brand specialists to develop CSL’s visual identity, including website and social media identities, if appropriate.
- Develop CSL’s thought leadership plan and identify opportunities to enhance the organization’s position in the landscape among relevant constituents, including advocates, public policymakers, funders and the media.
- Ensure the organization’s brand and value proposition resonate with and inspire increased investment and engagement of funders.
Campaign Communications & Coalition Capacity Building
- Oversee the communications aspects of advocacy and direct action campaigns/initiatives, ensuring that these efforts meet stated goals and advance the broader vision of CSL and our partners.
- Convene coalition partners to refine our approach and ensure strong cohesion of message and collective action.
- Build new organizational relationships and alliances that reflect our priorities around equity, diversity and climate justice.
- Identify new partners with aligned efforts to accelerate action and leverage resources, relationships and research.
Messaging & Media Relations
- Develop CSL’s messaging architecture, talking points and messaging for distinct internal and external audiences, ensuring consistency of brand position and value.
- Serve as a key spokesperson, standing in for the co-founders when necessary, and provide media training for staff and coalition partners.
- Enhance current and build new relationships with journalists, bloggers and other media influencers and opinion makers in order to promote CSL and/or our partners’ position as experts.
- Identify opportunities to boost CSL’s visibility and thought leadership through writing and speaking opportunities such as opinion editorials, keynotes and expert panel participation.
Creative Direction & Content Development
- Identify and manage writers, editors, data visualization designers and storytellers, directing the creation of compelling content for emails, websites, social media, speeches, opinion editorials and advocacy materials.
- Oversee the development of CSL’s communications to external stakeholders, ensuring that the team develops and maintains an editorial calendar of targeted correspondence.
- Test, evaluate and iterate new communications technologies, platforms and email marketing techniques, using analytics to improve strategy.
- Oversee the development and maintenance of CSL’s website and social media identities, leveraging these platforms for campaigns and ongoing community engagement and movement building efforts.
- Oversee the development of published reports, data visualization and other storytelling tools, ensuring clarity of goals and on-time and on-budget production and dissemination.
- Support the co-founders in preparing for public speaking engagements and media interviews, providing talking points, speeches and presentation materials.
Organizational and Team Management
- Serve as a member of the leadership team with responsibility for the success of CSL’s overall strategy, financial strength and inclusive organizational culture.
- Lead, coach and mentor staff and coalition partners in order to build a culture of communications savvy throughout the organization.
- Determine and manage the communications budget, ensuring cost effectiveness and accurate reporting to funders.
- Manage communications-related contractor relationships, including writing/editing, graphic design, data visualization, advertising and video production.
- Develop the organizational systems and practices that support strong communications.
- Build and manage communications staff and consultant corps (#TBD), including establishing annual objectives (to support overall goals established in the communications plan), provide regular feedback and appropriate recognition, conduct annual performance reviews and support ongoing professional development.
- Develop dashboards to track progress and benchmarks against the communications plan and proactively produce reports and analyses of campaigns to inform strategies and improve results.
- Routinely report to funders and coalition partners around campaigns and other activities, providing quantitative and qualitative analyses to support their engagement.
Who You Are:
The incoming Communications Director is driven by their belief in and commitment to Climate Strategies Lab’s vision and mission. Through their track record and expertise as a communications professional, the successful candidate leads organizational branding/identity and public campaigns that advance CSL’s and our partners’ goals. The Communications Director builds authentic and lasting relationships with coalition members, funders and the media, engaging with them as partners in CSL’s mission and vision.
The Communications Director joins a deeply committed team that brings a track record of success in campaign strategy, data analysis and communications, with a particular focus on climate and clean energy. The successful candidate is entrepreneurial, excited about the prospect of building something new in the climate movement from the ground up. They have the experience of setting vision, establishing and growing/scaling successful programs with an ethos of creativity, humility and an expectation of continual learning.
This role requires a deep commitment to the principles of climate justice, proven collaboration skills and the ability to design and execute coordinated strategies that will generate change in a deeply entrenched and seemingly intractable aspect of the climate movement. The Communications Director demonstrates initiative by diving right in to take a concept from idea to implementation, navigating through internal and external barriers as they arise without getting stuck and finding and deploying resources creatively to solve problems. The successful candidate has worked in an advocacy environment and understands the movement context, possessing a strong grasp of the economic, social and political forces that shape industrial production, consumption and broader policy in the U.S.
In spite of enormous obstacles involved in decarbonizing heavy industry, the Climate Strategies Lab team operates with a spirit of possibilities and seeks a Communications Director who shares the belief that we can all do things we’ve never done before and can stretch ourselves to achieve incredible results. The Director maintains an resilient outlook and looks for ways to make ideas work before assuming they won’t. The selected candidate will also possess most of the following Core and Preferred qualifications:
- Strong commitment to the mission and goals of Climate Strategies Lab and a strong passion for solving the climate crisis.
- At least 7 years of increasing responsibility in communications, with a proven track record of accomplishments.
- Proven leadership and strategy development skills with clarity of vision, familiarity with power and community mapping processes and the ability to articulate and drive strategies to win.
- Experience developing and delivering communications strategies in a campaign context, demonstrating optimism and resourcefulness in the face of obstacles and bringing a keen understanding of how organized movements create change and accomplish policy objectives.
- Experience designing and executing communications strategies that generate visibility, credibility and thought leadership.
- Expertise in branding, messaging, media relations and myriad communications tactics.
- Outstanding people and project management abilities to ensure strong collaboration and campaigns and projects that advance on time and on budget.
- Experience pitching stories and media relationship building.
- Social media savvy with understanding of how to integrate social into comprehensive communications and movement building strategies.
- Mastery of relationship-building skills with a wide range of diverse external constituencies with the diplomatic abilities and authentic leadership skills that build the trust-based relationships necessary for stakeholders to buy in and share accountability for our collective work.
- Outstanding oral and written communications skills that demonstrate an ability to:
- Convey a compelling story about CSL’s mission and impact;
- Translate complex data and analysis into persuasive narratives;
- Communicate CSL’s strategies with accessible expertise (without jargon).
- Ability to manage a small and growing team with competing demands; excited to build from the ground-up and not easily overwhelmed by a high volume of activity and projects.
- Demonstrated experience working across lines of race, class, gender and geography and an analysis of how climate change and energy-related issues intersect with historically oppressed and marginalized communities.
- Demonstrated ability to prioritize and be flexible in a fast-paced, constantly evolving and collaborative environment, where leading a team, working on a team and working individually are all required.
- Commitment to continuous learning, hunger for knowledge and willingness to ask questions and self-correct.
- An approach that is curious, self-directed and entrepreneurial.
- Openness to giving and receiving direct, compassionate feedback.
- Background in journalism, public relations, public affairs and/or campaign communications experience; recent media/journalism experience a plus.
- Prior start-up experience as an early team member in a growing organization.
- Ability to lead through influence in a matrixed environment.
- Prior experience and content knowledge in climate, clean energy and/or the industrial sector, including manufacturing, labor and public policy.
Salary and Benefits:
The salary range for this position is $135,000 - $155,000, based on experience and qualifications as outlined above. Climate Strategies Lab offers a competitive set of benefits, including 100% of comprehensive health care coverage for employees (medical, dental and vision), work from home stipend, up to 5% employer match to 401k and 11 paid holidays plus unlimited vacation, starting with a minimum of 15 business days.
Our Commitment to Racial Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Climate Justice:
We believe that diversity in our team isn’t just a value but brings different lived experience and perspective that is essential to solving the climate crisis. If you’ve read this job description and are excited by it, if you can see yourself happily filling this role and making a difference on climate change, we really hope you apply. Climate Strategies Lab is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to transparent and equitable recruitment, hiring and promotion processes that foster inclusion and belonging. If you need a reasonable accommodation during the application or interview process, please email Cathy Schreiber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To apply or nominate a candidate, please send a resume and cover letter to search consultant Cathy Schreiber at email@example.com with “Communications Director” in the subject line. Submission in a combined PDF or Microsoft Word file is preferred. This position is open until filled, with an initial application deadline of 5PM PT on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. Candidate review and phone screens begin immediately and will be conducted throughout the search period.