Smith College — Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs

Smith College, one of the largest independent women’s colleges in the country, is seeking a visionary and strategic Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs (VP) to play a pivotal role in shaping and sharing the story of the college’s work. In this role, you will serve as the chief communications officer and senior marketing strategist responsible for communicating and building awareness of Smith College. Reporting directly to the president and serving as a key member of the cabinet, you will provide strategic thought leadership to the college and lead communications strategies to inform and inspire people about the impact Smith students, alumnae, and faculty are having on campus and around the world. 

For almost 150 years Smith College has provided women of high ability and promise an education of uncompromising quality. Today Smith stands as one of the top 20 liberal arts colleges in the nation and continues to meet the mission of educating women for lives of distinction and purpose. While much has changed since its founding in 1871, the constants of an uncompromising defense of academic and intellectual freedom, an attention to the relation between college education and the larger public issues of world order and human dignity, and a concern for the rights and privileges of women, endure at Smith today.

Guided by a clear strategic plan and strong commitment to financial sustainability, Smith is actively preparing to face the opportunities and challenges of the future. The VP of Communications will join Smith at an exciting moment in its history. 

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Creating and implementing an innovative and compelling integrated marketing, communications, and branding strategy consistent with Smith’s culture, academic mission, and long-range, strategic goals that will enhance visibility and increase awareness, relevance, and revenue;
  • Leading and developing a talented unified campus communications team; creating annual department management plans for marketing, communications, and engagement activities, with objectives, goals, strategies, tactics, measurements, and outcomes;
  • Leading brand implementation for Smith, including strategic brand positioning, identity, brand supervision, and execution across multiple platforms; 
  • Overseeing media relations and effectively leveraging earned media, helping amplify the voices of faculty and students in the media and public discourse; developing proactive and responsive strategies for print, broadcast, and social media;     
  • Leading the college on the logistics, strategy, and execution of issues management and crisis communications; 
  • Developing and implementing standards and policies for marketing and communications activities across the campus; creating metrics-driven strategies to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of Smith’s marketing activities; 
  • Overseeing admission and development marketing campaigns; donor and alumnae engagement outreach, including the award-winning ​Smith Alumnae Quarterly;      
  • Collaborating with the alumnae relations and development team to provide strategies and materials for fundraising initiatives, such as the new Maya Lin-designed Neilson Library; through consistency and coordination of efforts, help drive increased and diversified revenue streams;      
  • As a member of the president’s cabinet, serving as a strategic thought-partner, offering new and innovative ideas for communicating about the college and its impact; ensuring consistency of key organizational messaging and developing and executing an internal communications plan to engage the staff; serving as co-liaison to the External Engagement Committee of the Board of Trustees;
  • Fostering an equitable, diverse, and inclusive culture across all campus constituents and stakeholders, by ensuring that messaging is inclusive and reflective of Smith’s values. 

An engaged manager, the VP will educate, motivate and lead a team of 21 dynamic and creative individuals in applying best practices, with a particular focus on brand strategy, marketing, digital communications, and data-driven approaches. The VP will ensure a robust and highly functioning department that serves the needs of the college today and into the future. This person will manage an annual operating budget of approximately $1 million and a total budget of $3.7 million.

Additionally, the VP will be:

  • Committed to continuous improvement; 
  • A bold thinker with innovative ideas and creative problem-solving approaches;
  • Flexible and nimble, able to respond quickly to and integrate new information. You possess the confidence and directive to prioritize, reprioritize, and adapt as needed;
  • Calm under pressure and a clear thinker and measured decision-maker in moments of urgency;
  • Empathetic and able to tell stories with respect and dignity;
  • Deeply metrics-driven with a belief in measuring impact whenever possible;
  • Passionate and mission-driven;
  • Energized by the prospect of working for a college focused on educating generations of women leaders; and
  • In possession of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or will have an equivalent combination of education/experience. 

The full position profile can be found here. 

Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. Molly Brennan and Tom Phillips are leading this search. To express your interest in this role, please submit your materials here. To make recommendations for this role, please email Tom directly here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Smith College is an equal opportunity employer encouraging excellence through diversity.

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