Senior Communications Officer, Communications (MF)

About Us

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago.

MacArthur is one of the nation's largest independent foundations. Organizations supported by the Foundation work in about 50 countries. In addition to Chicago, MacArthur has offices in India, Mexico, and Nigeria.

The People and Culture team is responsible for the Foundation's strategic efforts to design, implement and manage innovative human resources practices and initiatives that attract, develop, engage, support and retain an energized, high-performing, diverse staff in a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

The Communications team collaborates with program teams and other colleagues across the Foundation to create and implement strategic communications plans that enhance the impact of MacArthur’s work and the work of grantees. The team is responsible for the Foundation's strategic efforts to communicate with the press, public, and policymakers, including media relations, web and social media efforts, printed materials, and events. The team also provides communications support and advice to MacArthur’s leadership, staff, and grantees.

Team members are: Managing Director, two Senior Communications Officers, Communications Officer, Content Manager, Senior Online Communications Specialist, Social & Digital Media Associate, Department Administrator, Communications Associate, and outside consultants/firms, as needed.

About the Position

The Senior Communications Officer is an experienced strategist who manages communications for a portfolio of MacArthur’s programmatic work; an entrepreneurial and collaborative colleague who helps program teams build and execute strategic communications plans that contribute to program goals and overall impact; and is a results-oriented team player who gets things done. He/She will also work with the Managing Director on special projects that benefit communications across the Foundation’s programs.


Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Leads projects to meet Foundation needs related to communications, creating new tools, approaches, and protocols (e.g., create and institutionalize best practices for program team and communications officer collaboration, design approach for program-communications evaluation/reflection activities, design protocol for representing past work on our website)
  • Participates in Foundation working groups and other initiatives, representing the Communications Department and function (e.g., strategy lifecycle development, team structure development)
  • Designs and helps execute initiatives to raise awareness internally of the support and services Communications can provide and to help train colleagues in strategic communications
  • Spearheads partnerships and projects with other Foundation departments (e.g., Evaluation) to address mutual concerns and achieve shared needs
  • Establishes and strengthens partnerships and working relationships in the communications and nonprofit sectors to benefit the Foundation
  • Helps ensure the work of the Foundation is successful and communicated clearly and strategically to its audiences
  • Protects the reputation of the Foundation
  • Serves as lead communications strategist for assigned program areas, using strategic communications to enhance grantmaking impact and contribute to positive Foundation reputation
  • Manages external firms and partner with grantees and other organizations assisting with program communications and content development
  • Responds in a timely manner to media inquiries related to assigned program areas
  • Supports communications by program staff. Strategize about, arrange, and offer guidance on interviews and statements related to assigned program areas
  • Supports presidential communications as directed
  • Handles other responsibilities and projects as assigned by the Managing Director



  • Ten to fifteen years of full-time experience working in strategic communications, preferably for social impact
  • A track record of success in developing and executing comprehensive communications strategies, preferably in complex, multi-layered, intellectually charged work environments
  • Experience working in or with the nonprofit sector and an understanding of the sector’s role in social change
  • Experience responding to challenging media inquiries and proactively securing coverage
  • Strategic and creative thinker who can get things done under time pressure and despite multiple competing demands
  • Sophisticated understanding of social media tactics
  • Significant experience writing and talking about social challenges and public issues in a style that respects their depth and complexity but is accessible to a well-educated general audience
  • Deep understanding of MacArthur’s programs and their communications strategies
  • Effective communicator and listener with superb organizational and interpersonal skills
  • Agile, self-motivated, team player


The position is currently remote but, in the future, will require commuting to the Chicago office.

To apply

Please follow instructions to apply online here.

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