Communications Director

Communications Washington, District Of Columbia



JOB TITLE: Communications Director

CLASSIFICATION: Professional 5

SALARY: $78,000 - $83,000

FLSA:  Exempt

DEPARTMENT:  Communications

LOCATION: Headquarters, Washington DC

REPORTS TO:  Vice President of Communications


LAST REVISED:  June 2021



The Communications Director is responsible for developing both proactive and reactive communications campaigns and strategies to inform targeted audiences and the public about Defenders of Wildlife and its conservation work and policies, and to build support for Defenders’ conservation positions with the public, decision-makers and elected officials, both nationally and locally. The director manages four direct staff members.



  • Work with management, program and field staff to develop and implement (writing, editing, pitching reporters, etc.) strategies and tactics to raise the visibility of the organization and Defenders’ priority issues with national and regional media
  • Manage earned media activities for high priority issues, such as Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Endangered Species Act or other issues of importance to Defenders
  • Maintain and continue to build relationships with reporters and writers
  • Work with media team to:
    • Develop and implement strategic plans for priority issues
    • Pitch stories and appearances to targeted media outlets
    • Prepare for reactive and longer-term responses for breaking news
    • Review draft press materials (statements, quotes, op-ed, etc.)
  • Work with program staff, legal and scientific experts in the execution of media strategies
  • Work to place advertisements for major campaigns, as appropriate within budget
  • Assist and train program staff on message development and delivery, as needed
  • Hire, manage and evaluate media staff
  • Mentor and coach media staff. Identify training needs. Prepare and deliver performance reviews
  • Perform all other related duties as assigned




Education: Bachelor’s (B.A./B.S.) degree or equivalent

Experience: 8 years of relevant experience; 3 years supervisory experience (if applicable)

An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted as a satisfactory substitute for the specific education and experience listed above.


Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for All Defenders

  1. Personal interest in and commitment to conservation;
  2. Ability and willingness to model the tenets of Defenders’ Commitment Statement: Mission, Transparency, Respect & Trust, Appreciation, Empowerment & Accountability, Professional Growth, Fairness, Diversity, Safety, Work/Life Balance, and Pride;
  3. Ability to approach work in a collaborative and inclusive style, with a solutions-oriented manner;
  4. Ability to work independently as needed, problem solve, and exercise sound decision- making skills in fluid environments to meet job expectations and achieve goals in an accurate and timely manner;
  5. Ability to represent Defenders to external entities and the public in a professional manner while exercising tact, diplomacy, and discretion;
  6. Demonstrates a willingness and ability to productively engage and collaborate with internal and external stakeholders from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives;
  7. Ability to clearly and accurately communicate with internal and external stakeholders, in both verbal and written forms;
  8. Ability to effectively navigate through change and maintain flexibility;
  9. Ability to effectively address and manage conflict;
  10. Working knowledge of Microsoft Outlook and Word.


Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for Pro 5



  1. Ability to accurately maintain electronic and physical records
  2. Anticipate and meet the needs of internal and/or external stakeholders delivering excellent service


  1. Ability to clearly and accurately communicate with internal and external stakeholders
  2. Ability to articulate complex ideas clearly, accurately and concisely
  3. Ability to convey effective messages to broad and diverse constituencies
  4. Ability and willingness to effectively represent Defenders’ interests in external environments
  5. Ability to exert influence and build consensus with internal and external stakeholders

Critical Thinking

  1. Ability to handle sensitive and confidential matters with discretion
  2. Strong research and data analysis skills, including ability to gather and synthesize information from multiple sources to produce high quality work products in a consistent, efficient, accurate, and timely manner
  3. Creative problem-solving and troubleshooting skills with willingness to experiment and innovate new methods.
  4. Facilitate and promote the integration of diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into Defenders’ work
  5. Ability to independently exercise appropriate judgment in response to complex and/or fluid environments
  6. Strategic thinker with the ability to take high-level strategy and translate into relatable points and action steps.

Project Management

  1. Ability to work well under pressure and tight deadlines while balancing competing assignments
  2. Ability to remain flexible and adaptable to shifting priorities while remaining responsive to urgent requests
  3. Ability to take ownership of a project or process and to use problem solving skills to resolve issues
  4. Ability to manage deadlines on multiple cross-functional projects in a dynamic environment
  5. Demonstrated ability in managing competing interests on complex issues
  6. Ability to independently initiate project and initiative ideas; managing projects and initiatives through to completion

Coalition and Community Engagement

  1. Strong interpersonal skills and ability to form effective working relationships with diverse constituencies including federal/state agencies; elected officials and their staff; Defenders’ members and donors; private landowners; hunters and anglers; community leaders; religious, scientific, and academic communities; and /or the general public.
  2. Ability to lead diverse stakeholders in collaborative activities, to anticipate policy issues impacting wildlife and make recommendations within Defenders, other organizations, and coalitions.
  3. Networking skills to engage with leaders in the conservation community, federal and state agencies, NGOs, and other organizations.

Conservation Knowledge

  1. Familiarity with Defenders’ legal, scientific, and/or political issues
  2. Familiarity with national and regional social, political and ecological landscapes



  1. Expert-level knowledge of Defenders’ legal, scientific, and/or political issues
  2. Expert-level knowledge of national and regional social, political, and ecological landscapes

Leadership and Management (if applicable)

  1. Ability to foster a team culture which models the tenets of the Commitment Statement
  2. Ability to connect employees and their work to Defenders’ mission
  3. Ability to set and maintain clear expectations, ensuring clarity of roles, accountabilities, and responsibilities
  4. Ability to ensure that staff have the skills and support required to perform at the highest level
  5. Working knowledge of Defenders’ business and people systems and processes

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities for Communications Director

  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Strong writing and editing skills, specifically writing for press (op-eds, press releases, editorial memos, reporter backgrounds, etc.)
  • Experience with running telepressers and other media events
  • Strong management skills
  • Excellent pitching, relationship building skills and experience with creating long-term relationships with reporters, editors and freelancers
  • Experience with communications planning and strategy
  • Exceptional time management skills as well as attention to detail
  • Ability to accomplish multiple tasks on several concurrent projects
  • Self-motivated and able to work with limited supervision
  • Experience working with media databases, specifically Muck Rack
  • Knowledge of AP Style

Visit to apply. 

All employees are required to satisfactorily perform the essential duties and responsibilities of their positions. The essential duties and responsibilities listed above are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.

Defenders requires employees who engage in in-person work activities, including business travel or onsite work, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  An applicant (i) who is disabled or pregnant or who has a qualifying medical condition that contraindicates a COVID-19 vaccination or (ii) who objects to being vaccinated on the basis of a sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice may request an exemption from this vaccination policy. This determination will be made on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with applicable law. Any medical information concerning an applicant's disability will be treated as a confidential medical record in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws.