Chief Communications Officer
(New York or London, other locations will be considered)
Application Deadline: Open Until Filled
Human Rights Watch is seeking an outstanding communicator, manager, and strategist to lead brand, reputation and media operations in the role of Chief Communications Officer. The position will report to HRW’s Deputy Executive Director/Chief Program Officer and may be based at its headquarters in New York, or in London, or other locations where HRW maintains a substantial presence.
The Chief Communications Officer will direct HRW’s Media Department, including its units, on communications, multimedia, digital, and public engagement, to generate maximum attention and impact for the organization’s research and advocacy, and for its global brand and presence as one of the world’s leading human rights organizations. The position oversees a large group of dedicated communications experts based around the world, all engaged in promoting and disseminating HRW’s work through traditional and social media worldwide and in producing material for direct engagement with the public.
HRW's Media Department ensures that the organization’s message is presented in compelling and engaging form and made readily available in the ever-tightening news cycle on a variety of platforms. Through raising the expectations and sophistication level of communications efforts and outcomes, this person will work with the organization’s Program, Advocacy and Development departments to ensure that its content reaches its target audience, effectively and urgently communicates HRW’s message and leverages public outreach. Because of HRW’s global footprint, regular international travel is required.
1. Formulate and lead strategies for maximizing the impact of HRW’s research and advocacy, as well as for navigating the rapidly evolving global marketplace for information.
2. Ensure that HRW’s international voice and perspective are heard in public conversations on rights-related issues, and that opportunities are seized for injecting a human rights perspective into global public-policy conversations.
3. Prioritize among the growing number of platforms strategies for reaching key audiences, keeping in mind the widely varying media consumption habits of different countries and regions, and staying abreast of new media developments and technologies.
4. Speak to diverse audiences, both inside and outside the organization, about necessary investments for HRW to keep pace with changes in the media environment.
5. Develop strategies and tactics that demonstrate digital savvy with a sharp understanding of the most effective tools available to leverage.
6. Develop advocacy campaigns for public engagement to advance policy goals and promote human rights values.
Brand Building and Reputation Management
1. Develop a broad and strategic approach to Human Rights Watch as a global brand that will allow stakeholders to fully understand how HRW operates in the world, how it makes a difference and has meaningful and critical impact.
2. Leverage and manage the brand to create greater short and long-term social impact and tighter organizational identity and cohesion.
3. Reinforce and leverage HRW’s brand strength, including in a manner that has a positive impact on fundraising efforts and outcomes.
4. Defend the organization against threats to its reputation, proactively identifying threats and reactively managing incoming issues and concerns.
Organizational Management and Leadership
1. Serve as a critical, sought-after leader and counselor throughout the organization.
2. Create opportunities to demonstrate the importance of early thought about and inclusion of communications in planning and supporting organization-wide initiatives.
3. Develop deep internal relationships, with a finger on the pulse of organizational priorities.
4. Attract, develop, motivate and retain an outstanding, diverse, high-performing, global group of communications and content professionals through effective leadership, recruitment, training, development and succession planning.
5. Build relationships with board members and donors to keep them informed of the latest developments and successes and to help identify additional prospective donors.
6. Collaborate with other senior executives within HRW to ensure the integration of a communications perspective into all HRW projects at early stages.
7. Drive, build and nurture consensus among passionate, internal stakeholders, garnering support to synthesize insights and galvanize action.
The successful candidate will be an accomplished, proven, and constantly evolving communications leader, with deep mission alignment, advocacy orientation, and a track record of aggressively and creatively positioning organizations, initiatives and campaigns. This person must be able to create large, ambitious ideas and plans, while also being hands-on in the execution of the work. Thinking on one’s feet is necessary, and experience working within global, complex organizations, along with operating in a fast-moving, pressure-tested environment with an outcomes-oriented culture will be critical.
This leader will have the demonstrated ability to partner with, counsel and influence an executive leadership team to drive strategic outcomes; the leadership experience to attract, retain and motivate a highly engaged and high-performing team of 50 individuals across 8 countries; fluency with new and emerging communications models, strategies and techniques; and a track record of operating at consistently high standards in dynamic, global organizational and policy environments. Moreover, while this individual is not expected to be a policy, legal or advocacy professional themself, they must have a campaign-oriented mindset and an ability to work in close coordination with policy, legal and advocacy professionals, seamlessly integrating with and supporting that work.
Functionally, the ideal candidate will have senior level experience running the communications department of an advocacy organization or a major media operation, deep knowledge about the rapidly changing media and social media environment, a vision for maintaining a leadership position within that environment, experience with brand strategy and reputation management, and the drive to press the organization to maximize its potential for visibility and impact. The successful candidate must be able to manage a large array of information for different platforms, in different formats, and in multiple languages.
To meet critical objectives, HRW seeks a leader of significant vision and breadth with an innovative temperament and a record of accomplishments. In terms of the performance and personal competencies required for the position, we highlight the following skills of the ideal candidate:
Strategic Acumen and Leadership
1. A strategic leader with a high metabolism and comfort in an extremely fast-paced environment with many competing priorities, big picture understanding and persuasive communication style, poised to see potential pitfalls and capitalize on opportunities by developing and executing communication strategies. The person would also serve as a trusted advisor to and member of the senior staff running the organization.
2. Demonstrated experience in the development of multi-pronged external communications, content and advocacy campaigns designed to inform opinions and ultimately influence outcomes.
3. Outstanding judgment and independent, critical thinking, with the ability to make both intelligent decisions and accept appropriate risks.
4. Proactive leadership, with experience making strategic decisions efficiently in a complex environment that are inclusive of diverse opinions.
5. Capability to develop approaches that ensure HRW’s brand is differentiated, unique and understood among diverse constituencies.
Cross-Cutting Relationships, Credibility, and Expertise
1. Character and background to command credibility, legitimacy, and respect across the media, Board members, donors, and other key stakeholder groups.
2. Deep understanding of journalism, global media, social media markets; exposure to, and ideally a credible understanding of, international rights-related issues.
3. Strong network of external relationships, especially with the media; experience strategically leveraging relationships and networks to meet objectives.
4. Charismatic, articulate and diplomatic approach, with the ability to deliver HRW’s story, value and insights, internally and externally in a convincing and compelling manner that drives results.
5. Understanding of and ability to support all fundraising efforts.
Values and Personal Attributes
1. An unshakeable commitment to human rights with the energy to execute on this commitment.
2. The character and background to command credibility, legitimacy and respect across the diverse external stakeholder groups and those in the communities and countries that HRW is committed to support.
3. An understanding of the regions affected and served by HRW and the geo-political dynamics surrounding them.
Russell Reynolds Associates
1700 New York Ave., NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20006-5208
Russell Reynolds Associates
1700 New York Ave., NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20006-5208
Russell Reynolds Associates has been exclusively retained for this search and prospective candidates are invited to contact Russell Reynolds Associates directly. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
Human Rights Watch is strong because it is diverse. We do not discriminate in hiring practices and actively seek a diverse applicant pool. We encourage candidates of all abilities, ages, gender identities and expressions, national origins, races and ethnicities, religious beliefs, sexual orientations, and those with criminal records to apply. We welcome all kinds of diversity. Our employees include people who are parents and nonparents, the self-taught and university educated, and from a wide span of socio-economic backgrounds and perspectives on the world. Human Rights Watch is an equal opportunity employer.