Director of Strategic Communications and Outreach, Stanford Impact Labs

90892 Requisition #

The world’s biggest social problems are complex, multi-faceted, and stubborn. No academic center, company, or organization can solve issues like poverty, economic inequality, or political polarization. Our society needs leaders with different skills and experiences to come together to create fresh insights, evidence, and action to make progress.

Stanford Impact Labs — a major new initiative at Stanford University—invests in highly-motivated teams of researchers and practitioners from government, business, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy. These teams—impact labs—work together on social problems they choose and where practical progress is possible. With the support of Stanford Impact Labs, they can rapidly develop, test, and scale new solutions to social problems that affect millions of people worldwide.

How does Stanford Impact Labs work?

  • We focus on big social problems where progress is possible when practitioners and scholars work together to understand the issues, craft solutions, and expand promising approaches.
  • We find, train, and invest in scholars from across the university motivated to use their talents to formulate solutions to local, national, and global issues.
  • We connect scholars with a growing network of government, business, nonprofit, and philanthropic practitioners. These individuals work together—in impact labs—to generate new insights, creative approaches, and practical tools to make progress on complex social challenges.
  • We provide financial capital, training, thought-partnership, and mentoring to help impact labs turn their evidence and experience into purposeful work that benefits society.
  • We share what the labs do and learn—about the problems, solutions, and what does and doesn’t work—to create a culture of public impact at Stanford and inspire scholars and practitioners everywhere to work together to create just, fair, and equal societies.

Our approach builds on what works in the life sciences and engineering to turn academic discovery into medical advances and new technologies people use: significant investment in research and development, and close partnership with academics and leaders outside the university. Stanford is developing a new model to support the social sciences in the same way. With financial capital, professional support, and training, SIL can catalyze problem-focused research and partnerships to generate new insights and solutions to persistent social problems. In doing so, they can make social science work for society.

Position Summary

At a time of dramatic growth in the organization, Stanford Impact Labs is seeking an inaugural Director of Strategic Communications and Outreach to envision and deliver on SIL’s external engagement. Your work will build Stanford Impact Labs’ public reputation and brand, establish an institutional tone and standard for public engagement, and demonstrate a tireless commitment to rigorous research and practical partnerships for public impact.

Specifically, the Director of Communications and Strategic Outreach will:

  • Review, revise, and adapt our existing communications and engagement strategy to grow our audience and build the public profile of SIL.
  • Develop concrete goals for our external engagement strategy and establish clear metrics for evaluating progress.
  • Design new ways to make Stanford Impact Labs’ work understandable and relevant to key audiences across the university and externally, including generating core messages and language, developing timely content and analysis, and creating opportunities for engagement with key external audiences.
  • Build and maintain networks and relationships with partners and stakeholders in government, nonprofit, business, private philanthropy, and universities to inform our communications and outreach strategies and create opportunities for them to benefit from, use, and share Stanford Impact Labs’ ideas and insights.
  • Build and lead an integrated communications program, combining online engagement, media relations, events, and outreach with government, nonprofit, business, and private philanthropy to maximize the influence and impact of Stanford Impact Labs’ work. 
  • Provide coaching and training on writing, media engagement, public speaking and presentations to staff and teams to increase communications capacity and impact.
  • Develop content style guidelines for Stanford Impact Labs’ communications activities

The Director of Strategic Communications and Outreach will work under general supervision of the Faculty Director and must possess and demonstrate a positive outlook on continuous process improvement efforts while maintaining a team-based and customer-focused mindset. It is critical that this position exhibit the abilities to practice sound judgment and decision-making, effective written & oral communication, strong attention to detail and respectful relationship management. This position must also exhibit a strong desire to continuously learn new and unfamiliar business topics, policies and procedures as they relate to strategic communications – the ability to translate this information into operational successes will be critical.

Research shows that many applicants who would be successful in a position are reluctant to apply unless they meet every listed requirement. We encourage applications from candidates who do not meet all the listed requirements, but who believe they have the ability to grow and thrive as the first Director of Strategic Communications and Outreach at Stanford Impact Labs. This is a one-year fixed-term position with the possibility of renewal.


Thank you for considering employment opportunities with the School of Humanities and Sciences.

In this role, you will:

  • Provide public relations support for audiences that are both internal and external to the university, including on a national and international scale. 
  • Develop, execute, edit, and oversee written communications of complex nature, including key content messages for speeches, presentations, magazine columns, correspondence, social media posts, and opinion pieces. 
  • Develop strategies for brand management, reputation management and issues management of moderate complexity.
  • Design and implement effective media relations programs with routine outreach to local and national news organizations.
  • Design and implement effective constituent communications programs. 
  • Design and implement social media strategies. 
  • Liaise with staff responsible for a variety of community outreach activities. 
  • Leverage relationships with key reporters and editors, media, community and/or government leaders. 
  • Establish relationships with key reporters and editors at top-tier and influential media outlets. 
  • Participate in strategic planning, financial and business planning, special projects, and other assignments pertaining to the mission of communications and PR functions. 
  • Develop strategic comprehensive communication plans to meet the needs of key audiences. 
  • May supervise others.

To be successful in this role, you will bring:

  • Bachelor's degree and seven years of relevant experience. Eight years of experience preferred, or combination of education and relevant experience.
  • Excellent written communication skills, outstanding research and analytical skills, and skills in conceptual editing, copy editing, and proof reading. 
  • Ability to work collaboratively with internal communications groups across campus. 
  • Demonstrated interpersonal skills in working with a variety of people. 
  • Mastery of skills in journalism and public relations. 
  • Demonstrated public speaking skills.

In addition, preferred requirements include:

  • You are excited to turn research and ideas into compelling content that inspires real-world action. You have demonstrated experience creating, leading, and overseeing inspiring communications content and external engagement to make it happen. You have experience managing communications teams as well as external vendors for website development, publications, events, and marketing campaigns. 
  • You are a skilled and professional communicator with 8+ years of experience and a track record of engaging a range of audiences. You have assumed leadership roles, demonstrated skills for external correspondence with partners, funders, and broader audiences and have experience building and maintaining relationships with senior staff at relevant media outlets. 
  • You bring rigor and fluency in communicating evidence-based social science research. You have demonstrated expertise writing about economics, social or environmental issues, political science, or other social science issues for non-academic audiences. Experience communicating quantitative research is strongly desired.
  • You are a flexible, resourceful, and well-organized project manager. You have a proven track record of coordinating multi-faceted and complex projects designed to change policies or behaviors among key audiences and networks, including the ability to anticipate issues, develop proactive solutions, and engage the right stakeholders to support and champion success.
  • You are a thoughtful relationship builder, engaging communicator, and people connector. You have a demonstrated ability to bring, build, and maintain networks and working relationships with partners and key stakeholders from one or more of the following audiences: nonprofit and community-based organizations, private philanthropy, government, business, and higher education institutions.
  • You are a team leader, invested in team members’ and other stakeholders’ growth and development. You have the ability to provide just-in-time training, coaching, and mentoring for staff and partners for events, media engagement, and other public engagement opportunities. You are excited to serve as the first team member dedicated to communications and strategic engagement. You have management experience with direct reports and are eager to grow our communications efforts with a Communications Associate (to be hired).
  • You are a catalyst for racial and social justice work. You hold an analysis of racial and social inequities and systems of oppression. You have a demonstrated track record of working effectively across lines of difference. You are committed to centering equity and inclusion in programs and practices.
  • You thrive in a dynamic, open, and collaborative work environment. You are at home in a lean start-up environment with the ability to stay focused and nimble in the face of rapid change. You believe in collaboration and including a diversity of views, experiences, and perspectives.

Why Stanford is for You

Imagine a world without search engines or social platforms. Consider lives saved through first-ever organ transplants and research to cure illnesses. Stanford University has revolutionized the way we live and enrich the world. Supporting this mission is our diverse and dedicated 17,000 staff. We seek talent driven to impact the future of our legacy. Our culture and unique perks empower you with:

  • Freedom to grow. We offer career development programs, tuition reimbursement, or audit a course. Join a TedTalk, film screening, or listen to a renowned author or global leader speak.
  • A caring culture. We provide superb retirement plans, generous time-off, and family care resources.
  • A healthier you. Climb our rock wall, or choose from hundreds of health or fitness classes at our world-class exercise facilities. We also provide excellent health care benefits.
  • Discovery and fun. Stroll through historic sculptures, trails, and museums.
  • Enviable resources. Enjoy free commuter programs, ridesharing incentives, discounts and more

Other duties may also be assigned, not all unique aspects of this job are covered by this job posting. A full job description will be shared during the interview process.

Consistent with its obligations under the law, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to any employee with a disability who requires accommodation to perform the essential functions of his or her job.

Stanford is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

We anticipate this position playing a leading role in the organization during its period of growth. We view this position as a multi-year position beginning with a one year fixed-term that may be renewed annually.


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