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Chief Communications Officer

Location:

California

Background

California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) is driven by the vision of building great public schools of joy and rigor that prepare all California students for success in college, career, community and life. Currently, public charter schools in California serve 10% of all public school students in the state, enrolling 660,000 in more than 1,300 innovative and diverse schools of all models -- the strongest charter enrollment in the nation. In California, all public charter schools are non-profit, free, and open to all.

As the charter school movement has matured, CCSA has celebrated 25 years of strong growth and delivering results for students. Now, the Association is entering a new era in its strategic orientation, focusing even more on closing achievement gaps, increasing quality, and advocating for improving education for all students.

CCSA’s newly revised mission is: "To meet parent, educator and community need for great public school options by supporting and advocating for high-quality non-profit charter schools and sharing their successes throughout California's public schools." As a coordinating voice of over 1,300 charters, and hundreds of thousands of educators, parents, students and advocates across California, the Association focuses on ensuring all students have equitable education options so that, regardless of where they are enrolled -- in charters or traditional public schools -- all students receive a quality education.

CCSA seeks to sustain and amplify the extraordinary urgency to provide the most historically underserved and vulnerable students with the high-quality public education that they deserve and that will change lives. Going forward, the Association will partner with those in common cause, inside and outside of education, for greater equity, opportunity and access for all.

Over the past two years, CCSA has amassed significant research, polling and experience to understand public opinion, test key messages, deploy a paid campaign to increase charter favorability, and understand Californians’ knowledge and information gaps about public education. Recently, they have retained SKDKnickerbocker to help craft, hone and implement the communications campaign going forward.

The leadership commitment has been demonstrated, the groundwork for the new strategic communications agency relationship has been laid, and the internal team is poised for expansion – all that awaits is a new leader to harness the enormous potential of the cause and the organization.

CCSA is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization along with their affiliated 501(c)(4), California Charter School Advocates, which spearheads campaign-related strategies and activities. More information about the effectiveness of California charter schools can be found in the October 2019 Portrait of the Movement and the work of CCSA more broadly at www.ccsa.org.


Position Summary

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Chief Communications Officer (CCO) is a key advisor to the CEO and Board of Directors, contributing to overall strategy and the new strategic direction, as well as the ongoing organization-wide leadership of the Association. The CCO is the principal communications and marketing strategist, partnering with SKDKnickerbocker on creative and implementation of statewide re-branding efforts and campaigns. The CCO leads an internal team plus contractors to create and execute across all platforms – mass-market advertising, media relations, digital media, website, events, and toolkits to support the communications efforts of members.

As a member of the Association’s executive management team, the CCO partners with colleagues in operations, legal, research & school improvement, government relations, regional advocacy and organizing to lead the day-to-day management of the regionally dispersed Association staff. The CCO is a thought partner and collaborator on the electoral campaign-related communications and marketing investments of California Charter School Advocates. In collaboration with the Office of the CEO, the CCO contributes to the development and execution of the Association’s internal communications effort.


Essential Duties & Responsibilities

Exemplifying the adopted organizational values that prioritize passion, impact, judgment and communication, the Chief Communication Officer:

External Focus

  • Serves as the primary steward of the CCSA re-branding; establishing the Association as the state and national leader in advocacy on behalf of public school students and their access to high-quality public charter schools, and in closing achievement gaps for historically underserved and vulnerable students;
  • Provides counsel to the Board of Directors and CEO in the development and execution of CCSA’s advocacy communications and marketing strategy, and fully aligns the work of the Communications team with the goals and priorities established by the Board and Executive Team;
  • Oversees the implementation and evaluation of the SKDKnickerbocker relationship, and manages the day-to-day work to ensure maximum value for CCSA;
  • As lead story-teller and corporate communicator for the Association, serves as an organizational spokesperson and counsels CEO, board members, colleagues, and key member stakeholders as spokespeople;
  • Ensures that CCSA has strong and productive relationships with both traditional and digital media;
  • Develops and maintains strategic relationships with other public education stakeholders, and cultivates allies and partners in related fields of endeavor to amplify CCSA’s messaging through diverse voices and a robust cadre of surrogates.


Internal Focus

  • Supervises internal team, regionally dispersed. Personnel management responsibilities include structuring the communications function to ensure effective operation; interviewing, hiring, and training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; motivating, rewarding and coaching employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems;
  • Plans, manages and prioritizes the communications team budget and the communications investments for the Association;
  • Partners with internal colleagues to collaborate and advance communications and marketing strategies that support the most effective execution of organization-wide priorities. Key internal partnerships include collaborating with: Government Affairs on communication strategies, plans, and events that support public policy objectives; Regional Advocacy on communication aspects of authorization and renewal campaigns; and Legal and Research & School Performance on the messaging and communication of their work;
  • Partners with Executive Director of California Charter School Advocates to align branding and general communications strategies with campaign-related messaging and communications efforts;
  • Oversees efforts to solicit, select and manage contractors to assist with creative, ad placement, event management, collateral materials, and other needs as they arise. Ensures that CCSA works collaboratively with contractors and vendors and receives full value from them;
  • Ensures that the Communications team develops measurable outcomes for communication and marketing activities and creates an evaluation plan which will inform future investments of time, talent and resources;
  • Plans and administers the communications team’s annual budget;
  • Oversees the quality of all creative and editorial content in traditional and digital formats. Responsible for alignment of all creative and editorial content with branding and style guidelines;
  • Ensures that CCSA website and social media channels are state-of-the-art tools in brand management, messaging, and calls to action. Monitors and mines analytics for continual performance improvement;
  • Primary advisor to the Office of the CEO in the messaging of internal communications. Supports the development of internal communications toolkit, as needed;
  • Supervises efforts to train Board members and staff as brand ambassadors and effective spokespeople. Oversees efforts to train and support member surrogates as effective spokespeople for the movement;
  • Prepares/edits speeches, talking points, FAQs for the CEO and Members of the Board, as needed.


Qualifications

Education
Bachelor’s Degree (B.A.) degree from an accredited college or university in the fields of communications, marketing, public relations, education, public administration or a related academic field. Master’s degree preferred.

Experience
A minimum of ten (10) years of professional experience in cause marketing and advocacy communications and/or corporate communications of issue, social change, or political goals. A minimum of five (5) years of experience in personnel management. Experience in California campaigns, advocacy focused not-for-profits, or government preferred;

  • Experience in successfully designing, implementing and evaluating comprehensive cause communications and marketing efforts including: brand and reputation management, corporate communications, digital presence and analytics, media event effectiveness, collateral materials, and internal communications;
  • Demonstrated success at navigating a complex political landscape amid ambiguity and changing priorities, and advancing a sustainable cause, issue or campaign over time;
  • Track-record of effectively working in a fast-paced environment, and leading a hard-charging team focused on impact, leveraging internal capacity with vendors and contractors and successfully achieving organizational goals;
  • Experience with developing and implementing crisis communications strategies and tactics;
  • Reputation for producing high-caliber, media-worthy events which successfully complement
    other communications and marketing tactics;
  • Experience being a member of a team committed to modeling organizational values, applying critical thinking and analysis to the work, and holding one other accountable for organization-wide priorities;
  • Track-record of using a shared leadership approach to working with a mission-driven, well- educated, and professional team that fosters a climate of trust, facilitates relationships and promotes and nurtures collaboration both across the organization and within the communications team;


Knowledge & Abilities

  • Familiarity with current issues regarding K-12 public education, education reform and charter schools, and a broad enough perspective to recognize opportunities to move communications and marketing priorities forward;
  • Insightful strategist with reputation for internal collaboration and persuasiveness;
  • Outstanding writer and editor of all types of content;
  • Strong analytic skills to assess the most effective communications & marketing strategies and messages in which to invest;
  • Knowledge of traditional media, POC media and digital media platforms, as well as effectively dovetailing multiple platforms;
  • Understanding of digital analytics and tactics to capitalize on the Association’s robust investment in digital communications;
  • Understanding of the ethnic, cultural, geographic and socio-economic diversity of public charter school students and their families, and a track record of developing culturally relevant and compelling messages to all communities;
  • Ability to calibrate messaging for a wide range of audiences, including parents from ethnically diverse backgrounds, member schools and charter management organizations, key partners and stakeholders, opinion leaders and elected officials.


Personal Qualities

  • Demonstrated passion for and emotional commitment to CCSA’s mission to improve access to high-quality public schools for all students, with a special focus on those who have been historically underserved;
  • Ability to inspire others, catalyze teams to greater effectiveness, and persevere in the face of difficult challenges;
  • Successful coach and mentor who develops competence and confidence in others, and objectively and equitably holds people accountable for results;
  • Results-oriented with a bias toward action and strong follow-through;
  • Nimble in the face of obstacles, applies personal energy and drive to lead teams through effective problem solving;
  • Able to recognize and celebrate successes, even partial or incomplete victories, and correct quickly from mistakes and setbacks;
  • Rapidly acquires knowledge, and exercises good judgment even when information is incomplete or ambiguous;
  • Able to prioritize and effectively manages overlapping projects and deadlines; adaptable and reliable in the face of conflict, crisis, or changing priorities;
  • Politically astute and tactful; attentive to the perspectives and competing interests of various internal and external stakeholders;
  • Fundamentally respectful of others, committed to diversity and inclusion;
  • Values diversity of perspectives and encourages contributions by all team members;
  • Understands and values quality improvement, applies managerial and technical skills to measure and improve efficiency and effectiveness.


Language Skills

  • Active and engaged listener. Authentic, empathic and genuine interpersonal skills;
  • Courageous in questioning actions that do not align with organizational values, and voices concerns even if they are controversial;
  • Outstanding writer and editor of all content, and able to provide effective coaching to internal team, colleagues and contractors;
  • Able to respond effectively to the most sensitive inquiries or complaints, and retain composure even in high-stress situations;
  • Excellent clear and concise communicator, with a demonstrated success on the record and in front of the camera;
  • Language skills for working in California’s linguistically and culturally diverse communities a plus, Spanish fluency preferred.


Travel Requirements

This position requires regular statewide travel and limited national travel, as needed.

The statements in this narrative represent typical elements, criteria, and general work performed; they are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required for the position.


Compensation & Benefits

Compensation
Competitive trade association senior executive salary.

Health & Benefits

Effective with the first day of employment, CCSA makes generous employer contributions toward employee and family options for HMO, PPO and High Deductible Health Plans. There are several companies and plans to choose from for health, dental, and vision coverage, and life insurance.

Retirement Savings

Following three months of employment, CCSA currently matches employee contributions up to 100% of 6% of the employee’s salary

Paid Time Off (PTO)

Employees earn 15 days of PTO in the first year of employment. The number of days increases over subsequent years of employment. CCSA provides 13 paid holidays, in addition to PTO.

Application Process

Please direct all inquiries, recommendations and resumes to Julie Justus McGinity, Principal, Justus McGinity Executive Search at ccsa1cco@gmail.com. Interested candidates are encouraged to submit cover letters and resumes promptly. There is no established deadline for the submission of applications; resumes will be accepted until the position is filled. Only candidates who move beyond the review of submitted written materials will be contacted.

Equal Opportunity Employer

Justus McGinity Executive Search and California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) are equal opportunity employers and make all employment decisions on the basis of merit, qualifications, and abilities.

California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) shall recruit, hire, train, and promote in all job titles, including interns, apprentices, and volunteers, without regard on race, religious creed (including religious dress and grooming practices), color, national origin (includes language use and possession of a driver's license issued to persons unable to prove their presence in the United States is authorized under federal law), ancestry,physical disability,mental disability,medical condition,genetic information,registered domestic partner status, marital status, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity (including transgender identification), gender expression, age for individuals over forty years of age, sexual orientation, military and veteran status of any person, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state or local laws (“protected characteristics”).

Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.