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Opening: Vice President of Government Affairs & Strategic Communications

Publication date: 
May, 2019

Position: Vice President of Government Affairs & Strategic Communications
Organization: The Council on Foundations
Location: Washington, DC

Organization Summary

The Council on Foundations exists to help philanthropy be a strong and trusted partner in advancing the common good. Building on our 70-year history, we are charting a course for the field where funders display high integrity, earn and maintain the public’s trust and serve as excellent stewards of philanthropic resources. We imagine a world where givers of all kinds are sophisticated and vital players in creating more equitable communities and a better world.

We do this by:

  • Strengthening the existing bonds between funders who have a lot in common, while simultaneously building bridges between those whose differences provide fertile ground for learning and growth;
  • Representing our diverse and varied membership to the public, policy makers on Capitol Hill, and executive branch;
  • Listening to and having conversations with our sector’s supporters and critics whose insights can help make us stronger;
  • Offering trainings and professional development programs that build and cultivate an engaged network of philanthropic leaders;
  • Helping grantmakers across the United States navigate the regulatory environment of giving;
  • Supporting an ecosystem where giving can thrive globally.

Our community includes grantmakers of all sizes, focus areas, and geographies and increasingly, it includes those who structure their philanthropy in new and creative ways, both in the U.S. and abroad. All Council members benefit from the tools, resources, and opportunities we offer online and through virtual and in-person trainings and events.

The Opportunity

The Council on Foundations is seeking an exceptional leader to convey the impact philanthropy has had and will continue to have in the U.S. and around the globe to policy makers, executive branch agency leaders, and the public so that we can uphold a federal policy and regulatory environment that supports private giving for the public good. This visionary strategist will be the senior-most government relations, communications and public affairs leader responsible for engaging diverse stakeholders and policymakers in the creation of an environment where giving continues to expand as a percentage of GDP and philanthropy as a practice continues to become more sophisticated. The Vice President of Government Affairs & Strategic Communications (VP) will be well-versed in government relations, policy development, and issue management and will develop and implement a comprehensive, proactive government affairs strategy that advances and amplifies the mission and vision of the Council on Foundations and the sector as a whole.

Reporting directly to the President & Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the VP will lead and provide integrated management of public policy, federal partnerships and communications functions for the organization. This means that in addition to serving as the primary voice for government relations, the VP will also be responsible for the overall communications and marketing strategy including messaging, branding, web content, public and media relations, social media, collateral, and support materials.  The VP will manage institutional brand identity across all communication channels to present the organization to an expanded and engaged audience as the Council looks to continue to act in the common good.


  • Develop and execute a strategic approach to advocacy that reaches key audiences such as members of Congress, government, thought leaders, and think tanks
  • Ensure Government and Public Affairs activities are timed and positioned with other functional areas within the Council to provide a cohesive voice and ensure a smooth intersection of programs
  • Position the Council as a key partner with all branches of the federal government and liaise with lobbyists and lobbying firms in support of the Council’s work
  • Responsible for development and management of advocacy strategies, policy development, and public affairs, as well as oversee stakeholder mapping, ally development, and coalition building
  • Identify critical opportunities and challenges in the government policy environment
  • Ensure member engagement by serving as lead staff to the Public Policy Working Group
  • Develop and manage an overall integrated marketing strategy that proactively supports the Council’s mission with its local, national, and global audiences
  • Develop an annual strategic marketing and communication plan that supports the Council’s mission and long-term strategic goals
  • Advise senior leadership on issues key to the organization; work closely with CEO to manage important media-related and internal messaging issues
  • Serve as a key spokesperson and lead point person on media interactions that help promote and/or impact the organization and the cause; develop media opportunities for the organization to become a valued and respected voice on relevant topics
  • Regular communication, information sharing, and collaboration with regional, national and global charitable sector infrastructure partners
  • Partner with Council leadership to identify partnership opportunities consistent with the Council’s audience goals to increase the Council’s mission reach and impact
  • Build, coach, mentor and guide the policy and marketing & communications teams in an effort to increase team capacity, encourage professional growth, and improve the effectiveness of the team to provide a proactive, customer-focused resource for the Council and its members
  • Supervise a team of five – seven individuals

Candidate Profile

This ideal candidate for the Vice President of Government Affairs & Strategic Communications role will be a:

Strategic LeaderYou translate organizational objectives into coalition-building strategies. You build relationships and gain insight from diverse groups of people in a variety of disciplines to weave together a strong narrative and consistent brand across the organization. An innovative and solutions-oriented problem solver, you lead strategic conversations to help rethink and reimagine the way the Council communicates with various audiences, members and stakeholders. Forward-thinking and results-driven, you refine and adjust strategies based on analysis of data and trends.

Strategic Communications Expert: You possess the curiosity and drive to stay ahead of trends in the communications space and stay apprised of foundation, philanthropic, and public sector trends and research in order to identify new and unique opportunities to serve the mission. You conceptualize and analyze solutions and problems in a proactive, constructive and creative manner, as well, as foster a sense of responsibility and accountability across departments along with the ability to effectively multi-task.

Team Builder and Manager: An engaged manager, you will educate, motivate and lead a dynamic, creative team. You will ensure a robust and highly functioning department that serves the needs of the organization and the sector today and into the future.

Collaborative Leader: You are a natural and proactive relationship builder, with the ability to lead through influence. As a member of the senior leadership team, you understand how to partner with others to shape and integrate policy and communications into an organization’s overall strategy. You have the ability to effectively lead a function in a complex organization with multiple layers of stakeholders, including directors and their teams. You understand how to build collaborative relationships and effectively share information to create consistency and fidelity across messaging while also allowing flexibility to meet each program and department’s unique needs.

Additional key characteristics:

  • Demonstrated experience of serving as a catalyst and leader within organizations; this person knows how to gain buy-in and build a network of support.
  • Demonstrated experience working in a fast-paced environment and skilled at project management and deadline management. The VP will bring a proven track record in managing complex plans, projects, budgets and deadlines that require coordination across multiple stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated experience in an organization that does substantial and effective work in public policy, advocacy and government affairs.

Compensation & Benefits

Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. Council on Foundations has an excellent package of comprehensive benefits.


Kara Teising and Alicia Salerno of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role, please apply here.  All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

The Council on Foundations is invested in fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce and welcomes a diverse pool of candidates in this search. The Council on Foundations is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). Accordingly, the Council promotes equal opportunity in the areas of recruitment, hiring, employment, training, development, placement, transfer, promotion, wages and benefits, terminations, and working conditions.

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