Communications Officer (TWF)

The Wallace Foundation -- an independent, national, New York-based philanthropy with $1.5 billion in assets – traces its origins back more than half a century to DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of The Reader’s Digest Association.

Mission and Approach

The Wallace Foundation seeks to improve learning and enrichment for disadvantaged children and foster the vitality of the arts for everyone. The foundation has an unusual approach: in each of our focus areas – Arts, Education Leadership, and Learning and Enrichment – we seek to identify, and help answer, one or more significant questions whose answers are not known but which, if known, could help propel progress more broadly. As responsible stewards of our resources, we seek to ensure that our initiatives contribute to Wallace’s dual goals: (a) benefits for our partners and those they serve in the form of increased capacity, and (b) benefits for the broader field through credible, relevant knowledge.

This “Wallace Approach” is reflected in the way the foundation develops its strategies and designs its initiatives. We begin by attempting to understand the context of the fields in which we work in order to identify important unanswered questions to address.  We then simultaneously fund programmatic work in the field by organizations (including technical assistance and peer learning communities) and research that studies the process and results of their efforts in order to generate improvements and insights that can benefit both the people served by the grant recipients and the field as a whole. The public reports emanating from this work are the basis for our strategy of catalyzing broad impact, acting as a knowledge hub for credible, useful lessons to be disseminated to key audiences.

Interdisciplinary Team Structure

The Wallace Approach is carried out in an interdisciplinary team-based structure with three disciplines: program, communications, and research.  We seek employees who are highly skilled in their professions, able to work collaboratively across disciplines to capture the synergy of diverse experience and ways of thinking, think analytically, and communicate clearly.  We value the flexibility to adapt to change, a desire to learn, and the ability to work productively both on one’s own and with colleagues inside and outside the foundation.

For more information on The Wallace Foundation and to see examples of our work, please visit

Communications strategy

All our communications efforts are designed to support our foundation-wide branding and positioning as a source of relevant, credible knowledge. We thus place a high premium on the preservation of our credibility: we say more only as we know more. Because of this commitment, the Communications Officer is expected to acquire deep knowledge of lessons learned from our initiatives, both those captured in published reports and emerging through grantee activities. She or he plays a leading role in helping members of the interdisciplinary team reach consensus on the foundation’s institutional point of view on the evidence base to inform the development of syntheses, tools, videos and infographics that help translate findings to key audiences.

 Wallace’s communications strategy supports the foundation’s overall approach by promoting the diffusion of effective ideas and practices generated through our work toward the goal of strengthening practice and policy broadly. Our dissemination strategies draw on insights from a wide variety of fields —including the diffusion of innovations, communications, persuasion theory, marketing, social marketing, and social psychology—to reach our key audiences: policymakers, practitioners and their influencers in the fields in which we work.

The work of the Communications unit is guided by our foundation-wide communications strategy encompassing four channels: direct dissemination through our Web site, conference presentations and speeches; dissemination in partnership with external membership and issue organizations who help us reach practitioners and policymakers; underwriting of coverage in non-profit trade and general media; and social media. In all cases, we use metrics to assess reach and cost effectiveness.


The Communications Officer is a key contributor to the success of the Foundation’s initiatives, bringing substantive expertise and experience in strategic communications to the interdisciplinary team’s work and the foundation’s overall communications strategy. The Officer is member of the interdisciplinary teams that design and implement the initiatives through which the foundation does its philanthropic work. The Officer leads the planning and design of multi-dimensional approaches to disseminate knowledge to catalyze broad impact in assigned areas of focus, and effectively manages a broad range of communications partners.

Reporting to the Director of Communications, the Communications Officer will support our work in Education Leadership and the Arts, serving on these interdisciplinary teams.


Membership in interdisciplinary teams

Actively contribute to both the design and implementation of the initiatives undertaken by the interdisciplinary teams responsible for the assigned focus areas.

  • Bring a communications perspective to the interdisciplinary team’s design of major strategies, both in launching new initiatives and in making course corrections. Actively contribute to the identification of learning agendas and the design of professional learning communities among grantees. Ensure strategies build on the foundation’s evidence base and sustain its reputation for credibility, and employ best practices in communications, both Wallace’s and industry-wide, to most effectively reach key audiences and contribute to nationwide impact.
  • Lead the interdisciplinary team’s development and implementation of the overall communication strategy for initiatives that helps us synthesize and share evidence and lessons as they emerge and, if appropriate, provides communications technical assistance to grantees.
  • Lead the implementation of the communications aspects of strategies and actively support program and research colleagues in the implementation of the entire strategy.

Knowledge sharing to catalyze broad impact

Support dissemination of knowledge generated through Wallace’s work with the goal of strengthening practice and policy in the fields in which we work.

  • Lead the process within the interdisciplinary team to distill, synthesize and write the key messages that constitute the foundation’s institutional point of view on relevant topics (which we call developing “message maps”). These maps are used by Wallace staff and/or grantees for meetings, speaking engagements, and media interviews, and as the basis for Wallace products expressing the foundation’s point of view and encouraging awareness, understanding and action among targeted audiences of the evidence and lessons from our initiatives.
  • Participate in staff review of draft reports and knowledge products to ensure the final versions reflect our interdisciplinary perspective and commitment to “say more only as we know more,” are respectful of the grantees whose work is presented in the report, and meet our high standards for credibility, clarity, organization and non-partisanship.
  • Lead planning, organization and execution of conferences, briefings, webinars, and workshops for the initiatives in the areas of focus, as well as Wallace-developed products including publications, videos, podcasts, infographics and other vehicles.
  • Contribute to and/or lead aspects of the Communications Unit’s development and implementation of Wallace’s foundation-wide communications strategy and processes, e.g. guidelines for selecting and managing communication partners, and principles for our editorial review process.
  • Cultivate relationships and participate in external networks, with other funders, and professional associations.

Grants, contracts, and partnerships management

Acting as responsible stewards of our resources, ensure that the funded work of our initiative reflects Wallace’s “dual goals:”

  • Manage the work of public relations firms, grantees, communications partners and media sponsorships to advance the overall goals of the initiative: local impact and broader field knowledge.
  • Effectively build a relationship of trust, candor and transparency with grantees so that discussion of challenges and problems leads to the shared leaning and problem-solving on which progress is recognized and we build on success.
  • Fulfill stewardship responsibilities: (i) ensure grant budgets reflect the scope of deliverables; (ii) monitor spending and review financial reports to inform future funding; and (iii) review reports, provide feedback, and maintain an up-to-date grantee record in the foundation’s grants management database.


  • Demonstrated experience designing and executing strategic communications plans, preferably aimed at encouraging the spread of ideas or changing behaviors.
  • Demonstrated collaborative approach to shared problem-solving – preferably in an interdisciplinary setting – that is grounded in advancing the work, assumes good intentions, demonstrates respect, and welcomes diversity of perspectives.
  • Demonstrated experience leading or helping to lead the development and management of briefings, webinars, conferences and workshops, press releases, and other tactical communications efforts.
  • Excellent analytical skills and demonstrated ability to distill key messages from complicated research reports in ways that reflect our commitment to credibility and accuracy rooted in our evidence base, and which will be clear to external audiences.
  • Skill in managing multiple projects at the same time.
  • Ability to bring together and build productive relationships with and among external parties (grantees/partners/vendors).
  • 10 - 12 years of experience in a strategic communications, public affairs, journalism, public relations or policy analyst role, of which at least five years should include managing complex projects involving multiple stakeholders; experience can be in non-profit, for-profit or government.
  • Bachelor’s degree.

Salary is commensurate with experience. Our benefits include health, dental, vision, life and disability insurance, a 403(b) Retirement Plan and Paid Time Off (PTO).

The Wallace Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to maintaining a diverse workplace where differing perspectives are a source of strength.

To Apply

The Wallace Foundation has retained the services of Chaloner Associates to conduct this search.  Please direct all inquiries, nominations, and applications in confidence to:

Amy Segelin, Partner
Chaloner Associates
580 Broadway, Suite 600
New York, NY 10012
 [email protected]
Please put Wallace Foundation in the subject line of your emailed application

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