Director of Communications (CWF)

The California Wellness Foundation

San Francisco, CA or Woodland Hills, CA

The Opportunity

The California Wellness Foundation is seeking an experienced, creative, strategic communications professional to serve as its new Director of Communications.  Reporting to the Vice President of Public Affairs, the Director of Communications will serve as a key senior member of Cal Wellness’ new Public Affairs Department, along with the Foundation’s Director of Public Policy.  

The new Director will be responsible for developing impactful, innovative internal and external communications programs for the Foundation, working collaboratively across teams and managing major projects and outside resources. The director will also help manage a small allocation of grantmaking dollars targeting communications and public affairs activities aligned with the Foundation’s mission and strategic priorities. The position can be based in either of the Foundation’s two offices — the San Francisco Bay area or the Los Angeles area — but will be expected to travel regularly between them and across the state. The Cal Wellness office in Los Angeles is currently located in Woodland Hills but will be moving to downtown Los Angeles in the latter half of 2017.    

Cal Wellness has always valued strong communications work and policy efforts to drive meaningful social change. As one of the first foundations to invest in professional communications staff, Call Wellness understands the value of storytelling to engage people and drive action. The Foundation has also supported grantees working to reach California’s decision-makers and engage them as partners who will address, and change, health inequity. Recently, the Foundation hired a vice president of public affairs to lead a newly formed team, combining communications, community relations and public policy work. The new department is charged with better leveraging the Foundation’s strategic muscle in these areas and fostering additional collaborative work among Foundation staff in support of programmatic efforts to advocate for access and equity. The Foundation also completed a comprehensive communications audit to inform the direction and focus of the new communications strategy for the Foundation.

The ideal candidate will be well-versed in strategic communications and the full range of communications tools and tactics (e.g., branding, messaging, events, convenings, and digital, social and print media) and passionate about social justice, social change, health, wellness and the mission of the Foundation. The director will have substantial management expertise, a reputation as a connector and a strong colleague, exquisite writing skills, and exceptional interpersonal, collaboration and communication skills. 

The Foundation

Cal Wellness was established in 1992 as part of the conversation of Health Net from not-for-profit to for-profit status making it one of the earliest and largest of the health conversion funders in the nation today, and one of the largest health-focused foundations in California.  Today, Cal Wellness is a private, independent foundation governed by its Board of Directors. The Foundation’s mission is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. Cal Wellness is a nationally recognized leader for its strategic core operating support of grantees, public policy grantmaking and spotlight on violence as a public health issue. Since its founding, Cal Wellness has awarded 8,390 grants totaling more than $950 million. For FY 2015, the Foundation had an operating budget of $11.4 million and a grantmaking budget of $35 million.  In 2017, the foundation will celebrate its 25th anniversary.  To learn more about the Foundation, visit 

Key Responsibilities

With guidance from the vice president of public affairs, and in close collaboration with department colleagues, the director of communications will:

  • Reimagine and bring a fresh perspective to the communications function. Develop an innovative communications plan encompassing strategic communications, messaging and branding in support of the Foundation’s goals. Utilize the learnings and recommendations from the recently completed communications audit to create short- and long-term communications strategies for the organization.       
  • Implement engaging internal and external communications programs. Effectively communicate the Foundation’s vision, mission and key messages by identifying necessary tools and appropriate tactics and by driving outstanding execution across all relevant channels of communications – particularly digital media (web, mobile and social). Ensure internal awareness and understanding of external public affairs activities and, in collaboration with the Human Resources Department, support development of the Foundation’s internal culture through management of Cal Wellness’ intranet site and through staff meetings.
  • Develop a new online strategy and presence. Evaluate and create an online presence aligned with the short- and long-term strategic priorities of the Foundation, including reimagining and relaunching the Foundation’s website and expanding its online presence via social media and blogging platforms. 
  • Elevate our brand identity. Build on existing assets to create an effective, compelling brand identity and institutional voice that is utilized consistently throughout the organization’s written and visual communications. 
  • Develop and integrate key messaging. Develop key messaging and create tools and training to support staff and Board members in telling Cal Wellness’ story consistently and effectively. Integrate key messaging throughout communication content and revise and refresh as necessary.
  • Support the president and CEO and other key Cal Wellness spokespeople. Work with the vice president of public affairs to guide and support the president and CEO in her role as chief spokesperson for the Foundation. Work similarly with the senior leadership team, program staff and Board.
  • Work across the organization to create a cadre of communications ambassadors. Cultivate strong working relationships with staff across the Foundation. Train and support employees in their roles as external ambassadors for the Foundation in alignment with key messaging and tactics from the communications strategic plan.
  • Steward effective communications processes. Evaluate the impact of communications programs on an ongoing basis. Create internal and external feedback loops that inform the continued success of the communications function in helping the Foundation achieve its strategic goals. Support the Foundation’s commitment to evaluation and organizational learning by identifying meaningful metrics for communications work, tracking results and reporting on successes and lessons learned.
  • Envision and help lead execution of external events and convenings. Help establish a new approach to convenings. Conceptualize and manage key external events, including the Foundation’s 25th anniversary and program-related convenings. 
  • Manage, motivate and mentor two direct reports. Empower staff and foster collaboration through active communication and thoughtful delegation. Manage expectations and resources to ensure staff goals and activities are challenging, realistic and aligned with the department’s strategies and Foundation priorities.  
  • Manage external resources. Identify and manage relationships with contractors to ensure desired results are achieved on time and within budget.  
  • Stay up to date with trends and best practices. Connect regularly with other communicators outside the Foundation to learn about trends and best practices in communications. 
  • Maintain a public presence. Write and present on behalf of Cal Wellness. Represent the Foundation at meetings, conferences, events and convenings as needed.
  • Travel. Travel regularly between the Foundation’s offices and throughout the state as needed to achieve the communications goals of the Foundation. 


Core Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.
  • Ten or more years of experience working in an innovation-oriented communications role in a social justice- or social change–focused nonprofit organization, public sector entity, foundation or other organization. Demonstrated experience driving positive social change through a comprehensive communications strategy is a plus.
  • Demonstrated experience in both execution and management in communications. A strong track record working with executive management and board members.
  • Experience in the core issues related to the Foundation’s mission – such as wellness, health equity, health disparities, race, class and privilege – is a plus.
  • Substantive experience in strategic communications, communications planning, digital media, content creation and media relations, and a proven effectiveness in engaging online audiences.
  • Solid understanding of the advantages and drawbacks of new media (i.e., web-based and social media) and how best to convey information in ways that engage and excite constituents.
  • Track record of successfully working in a complex environment serving internal clients and external constituents and utilizing their communications strengths to further institutional goals.
  • Ability to build relationships and collaborate across the institution, serving as a resource to others and obtaining their input, using persuasiveness, persistence and determination. 
  • Exceptional writing, editing and presentation skills with strong attention to detail and a strong focus on a message-oriented, storytelling approach.
  • Demonstrated ability to establish strategy, develop work plans, multitask and deliver quality work on time and within budget.
  • Strong sense of priorities and objectives and a conscientious approach to problem identification and resolution.
  • Deep knowledge and understanding of California’s unique assets and needs is a plus.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills with a demonstrated ability to effectively manage staff, lead teams and work well with people at all levels of the organization.

Additional Attributes

The Public Affairs Department is a small, creative and nimble team, and chemistry is incredibly important. The following are important additional attributes:

  • You are curious and creative and an “out-of-the box” thinker.
  • You are authentic and honest, and actively foster others’ authenticity and honesty.
  • You bring a collegial orientation, eager and able to engage a diverse client base and build strong professional relationships. 
  • You are highly collaborative, flexible with your time, responsive, positive and kind.
  • You deliver high standards of execution and achieve results.
  • You understand and consider organizational culture and change.
  • You take initiative and develop solutions quickly and effectively.
  • You have a good sense of humor and perspective. You like to have fun at work!
  • You have impeccable personal integrity and work ethic.

Compensation and Culture

Salary is competitive and commensurate with background and experience. The Foundation's generous benefit package is inclusive of medical, dental, vision and life insurance, and short- and long-term disability coverage, and offers flexible spending and 401(k) plans. A positive work environment that supports excellence and values work-life balance is provided.

Application Process

Martha Montag Brown & Associates, LLC has been retained for this search. Interested and qualified candidates are encouraged to apply by sending a cover letter, resume and salary information by email to: [email protected].

The California Wellness Foundation is an equal opportunity employer. All correspondence will remain confidential.

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