Managing Director of Communications Drug Policy Alliance New York, NY 10001

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the leading organization in the U.S. promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. We envision a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights; in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies; and in which the fears, prejudices, and punitive prohibitions of today are no more.


We have played a pivotal role in transforming the national conversation about drug policy. We heightened conversations at the federal and state level around the role of race in shaping drug policy and moved vital issues – like legalizing cannabis, ending mass incarceration, and prioritizing health and harm reduction responses to the overdose crisis – from the fringes of U.S. politics to the mainstream.


We are ambitious risk takers and unrelenting advocates with radical imaginations, fighting to change hearts and minds and build a world that centers on justice, communities, and dignity. With more than 40 staff in New York, California, New Mexico, and Washington, DC, we have an annual operating budget of approximately $12 million, 12,000 dues-paying members and 170,000 active online subscribers.


About the Position

The Managing Director, Communications will craft the organization’s communications strategy, marketing, public voice and messaging, media relations, brand management, and communications with key stakeholders. Under the Managing Director’s leadership, the communications department will ignite our base into action, strengthen our collective capacity for social change, and tell the story of our work, our affiliates, and our vision for the world as it could be.


We are looking for a leader ready to take on the challenges and opportunities of developing a team, designing new practices of internal coordination with other departments, and driving innovative communications strategies that serve bold ambitions for progressive change in a dynamic and fast-paced organization that is home to a diverse network of organizations and grassroots advocates.


The ideal candidate is a senior level communications professional with strong management skills and experience overseeing strategy and narrative development, with a special focus on growing a digital approach with traditional media relations, and creative content development.


The Managing Director, Communications will play an active role on DPA’s senior management team, shaping and driving overall strategic direction, both within the organization and in broader society. While the Managing Director, Communications is not expected to be a policy, advocacy, or organizing expert themselves, they must have a campaign-oriented mindset and an ability to work in close coordination with policy, campaigning, and/or organizing professionals in order to integrate communications strategies to advance our work.


The Managing Director, Communications provides leadership and mentorship to a talented staff of five professionals, enabling the department to be an innovative, nimble and strong team. This position reports to the Executive Director and oversees a $1.2 million communications budget.




Communications Strategy and Narrative Building

  • Develop a strong strategic communications plan designed to promote DPA’s vision, mission, and values and that includes issue-based campaigns, framing DPA’s agenda for multiple and diverse audiences
  • Work in close collaboration with the organization’s executive director, policy experts and leadership team to unite DPA behind the strategic plan, implementation process and execution strategy
  • Hone and shape DPA’s organizational voice to establish subject matter expertise and serve as a strong driver of systematic change
  • Ensure the use of effective, well-researched messages throughout the organization
  • Create and oversee DPA’s marketing and brand management strategy, ensuring consistency of messages, images, and materials


Digital Advocacy and Capacity Building

  • Manage digital communications and ensure that DPA utilizes a cutting-edge approach to social media and other emerging media channels and technologies
  • Cultivate and support DPA spokespeople, training staff on communications strategies, key messages, and use of materials
  • Oversee (and participate in as needed) proactive, rapid response and reactive media relations to maximize exposure in print, broadcast, and digital media channels
  • Build an ethical storytelling practice that Cultivates key voices to help lift up campaigns and garner organizational exposure, including leveraging relationships with influencers and amplifiers


Strategic Leadership and Management

  • Act as the strategic communications focal point for key program areas and cross departmental coordination
  • Coordinate closely with the Executive Director, the Development Director, and other staff to support DPA’s fundraising efforts
  • Manage and mentor communications staff and oversee budgets for all DPA communications functions
  • Contribute to DPA’s overall management by serving on the senior management team
  • Maintain strong relationships inside and outside of the organization that help advance DPA’s communications work
  • Secure and oversee DPA’s representation at regional, national, and international conferences, symposia, and other events
  • Stay abreast of evolving trends and tactics in the communications field


Who You Are:

  • An experienced (7 – 10+ years) communications, public relations, or public affairs professional who has worked with an effective, visible advocacy organization or public policy campaign
  • Someone who understands the value of fully integrated communications across all channels, online and offline
  • Committed to DPA’s mission and strong social justice orientation, passionate about the complex issues related to drug policy work and understanding of how drug policy is inextricably intertwined with a host of connected issues
  • An intersectional thinker, with a perspective that includes strong political analysis and understanding of connections across movements and organizational practice
  • A calculated risk-taker, able to create and operationalize innovative approaches to communications and advocacy in support of the organization’s mission
  • Experienced in generating media interest in and coverage for policy issues and a proven track record of maintaining relationships with national and local media
  • A proven leader who has built and managed high-performing teams with a deep understanding of what it takes to produce and sustain great results


Chaloner has partnered with Drug Policy Alliance on a search for a Managing Director of Communications.


All interested candidates should apply by using the application form on the Chaloner website. Chaloner will review all applicants, and upon qualification will be contracted to determine next steps.

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