Organization: The Joyce Foundation

Location: Chicago, IL

Express Interest!

About The Joyce Foundation:

Based in Chicago with assets of over $900 million, the Joyce Foundation makes $50 million in grants each year to groups working on public policies to improve the quality of life in the Great Lakes region. It has built a reputation as a consistent source of smart, well-researched policy ideas in several areas, including:

  • Education, where its grant-making has helped put such ideas as support for new teachers and meaningful evaluations of teacher performance on the policy map;
  • Employment, where it is funding major, nationally recognized initiatives to improve adult education and skills training;
  • Through its Environment program, taking a leading role in protecting and restoring the health of the Great Lakes;
  • Promoting a public health approach to Gun Violence that focuses on reducing deaths and injuries from firearms, a grant-making area where it has few peers;
  • Through its Democracy Program, protecting voting rights, fair and competitive elections, and an independent judiciary; and
  • Supporting artists and organizations that contribute to the Cultural life of the Midwest.

The Foundation was created in 1948 by Beatrice Joyce Kean, a lumber heiress. Today it is a private foundation, governed by a twelve-member board and led by President Ellen S. Alberding.

For more information on the Joyce Foundation please visit:

The Opportunity:

The Director of Strategic Communications will be the Foundation’s top communications leader.  S/he will report directly to the President and serve as a member of the Foundation’s senior leadership team, helping shape and implement a shared vision for the future.

Fundamentally, the Director will craft and implement Joyce’s strategic communications, using the assets and the resources of the Foundation to tell its stories more broadly.  With a proactive, entrepreneurial and sophisticated approach, the Director will firmly position the Foundation as a trusted resource in its areas of focus.

The Director is responsible for managing the communications, public relations and digital media initiatives of the Foundation.  Specific responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Develop and lead all internal and external communications and implement the Foundation’s communications strategy, messaging and tools.
  • Lead the development of strategic plans, messaging and materials that inform key audiences of the goals and results of the Foundation’s programs.
  • Advise President and senior leadership team on relevant matters in relation to communications, advocacy and policy issues.
  • Manage the $350,000 communications budget and help direct several million in polling and research within the Foundation’s policy focus areas.
  • Represent the Foundation to key external constituencies in both formal and informal presentations, or key meeting attendance, and on-the-record media commentary and quotes for news stories.
  • Serve as a spokesperson to press and advise leadership in addressing key audiences of opinion leaders, legislators, federal and state executives, and other key players in the policy arena.
  • Build relationships with journalists, editors, broadcasters and publishers; handle media calls, determine appropriate messaging, identify spokespersons and ensure that responses are delivered in a timely fashion.
  • Oversee coordination with grantees and partners on strategic media relations, including developing press releases and providing quotes, and/or talking points to leadership who are speaking for the Foundation.
  • Partner with the directors and program officers as a strategic thought partner offering new and innovative ideas for communicating about the work and its impact.
  • Identify and evaluate partnership and alliance opportunities in support of programmatic goals.
  • Serve as editorial review for all publications, web content and internal communications and ensure that all communications are compliant with IRS requirements.
  • Successfully manage a team of 2.5 professional staff.

Candidate Profile:

The Director must be a seasoned communications professional with significant experience in the public policy, advocacy and government affairs arena.

Specific qualifications include:

  • A minimum of 15 years of experience in a role that requires multi-disciplinary strategic thinking and leadership for a foundation, government arm, think tank, agency, association or corporation. This experience should include working in a role that has “big picture” perspective and is grounded in every aspect of messaging, advocacy and policy development.
  • A strong leader and manager with proven success in providing strategic direction to a team of highly capable professionals, with the ability to independently drive a function, collaborate as a team player and interact successfully with all levels of staff and grantees.
  • A thorough understanding of federal and state policy-making processes, both inside and outside of government, including: think tanks, associations and other nonprofit and advocacy-related organizations.
  • An understanding of how philanthropy can shape a public policy agenda and a deep commitment to the Foundation’s mission.
  • Substantive knowledge of one or more areas of grant-making is preferred.
  • A track record of solving problems with high energy and a positive attitude.
  • Knowledge and experience on public opinion polling and message development.

The Director of Communications will have:

  • A reputation for being proactive, analytical, results-oriented, energetic, bright, hard-working, enthusiastic; willing to offer opinions and judgments.
  • Outstanding listening skills.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, strong public presentation skills, as well as the ability to develop positive and productive relationships.
  • Ability to understand and communicate complex issues with depth and subtlety across a range of subject areas.
  • Demonstrated commitment to the Foundation’s core values, mission and programs and to serving the populations touched by the grantees.
  • A clear reputation for ethical conduct – shows discretion, instills confidence and is trustworthy.
  • The ability to stay calm and poised under pressure and remain focused in a rapidly changing environment.
  • A professional demeanor; being bold and politically savvy.
  • An exemplary performance record and a desire to be part of a high-performance, results-driven culture.

The ideal candidate will have the following personal competencies:

Strategic Communications Expertise: The Director will be an experienced leader in the field of communications with a curious mindset and a high level of intellectual horsepower. A natural storyteller, this leader will have a proven track record of setting and implementing innovative communications strategies and serving as a catalyst and leader. S/he will have an expert understanding of digital marketing, social media, web and mobile development and management.  Finally, s/he will understand, and have experience with, the power of a ‘campaign orientation’ in strategic communications.

Policy Orientation and Thought Leadership: The Director will have a proven ability to translate Joyce’s initiatives and goals into traditional and innovative campaigns across the broad spectrum of modern marketing channels. The Director will be a proactive leader who has a constant eye for moving policy initiatives ahead in both the short and long term. S/he will be a strategic and creative thinker who effectively and constructively leads the Foundation to consider new and innovative approaches, all the while keeping a strict eye on the Foundation’s policy initiatives.

Building Relationships and Using Influence: The Director must be able to build and sustain excellent relationships at multiple levels internally and with varied external constituencies including the Board of Directors, partner organizations and the media. S/he will be a collaborative, charismatic, high-energy leader who can talk with a broad range of people and successfully ‘tell stories’, furthering the Foundation’s work. It is imperative that s/he is able to treat others with respect and stay true to the mission of the Foundation. Moreover the ideal candidate is an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.

Passion for the Mission: S/he will have a passion for the mission of the Foundation and a commitment to effectively lead strategic communications to support the goals of the institution. S/he will embrace the culture of Joyce, notably a spirit of collaboration and a commitment to excellence.

A Bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree in a related field is preferred.


Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. This search is being led by Alison P. Ranney and Alexandra N. Corvin.

To express your interest in this role please email Alison and Alex directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

The Joyce Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained search and consulting firm that works exclusively with non-profits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit