Executive Director, DAR Marketing and Communications

Pennsylvania, United States
28 Oct 2018
End of advertisement period
28 Dec 2018
Contract Type
Full Time

The University of Pennsylvania, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, is a world-renowned leader in education, research, and innovation. This historic, Ivy League school consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey. Penn has 12 highly-regarded schools that provide opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, all influenced by Penn’s distinctive interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and learning.

Penn offers a unique working environment within the city of Philadelphia. The University is situated on a beautiful urban campus, with easy access to a range of educational, cultural, and recreational activities. With its historical significance and landmarks, lively cultural offerings, and wide variety of atmospheres, Philadelphia is the perfect place to call home for work and play.

The University offers a competitive benefits package that includes excellent healthcare and tuition benefits for employees and their families, generous retirement benefits, a wide variety of professional development opportunities, supportive work and family benefits, a wealth of health and wellness programs and resources, and much more.

The Development and Alumni Relations organization at the University of Pennsylvania is one of the premier development organizations in the world.

Penn’s Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) team members benefit from an exceptional work environment where professional excellence and individual pride in achievement are grounded in a strong institutional commitment to integrity and collegiality as we strive for collective success. For talented and innovative individuals, a career at the University of Pennsylvania offers the chance to be part of an exceptionally exciting environment at the nation’s first university.

We seek talented individuals who will constitute a community that draws on the strength that comes with a substantive institutional commitment to diversity. Diversity is prized at Penn as a central component of our mission and helps create an educational and working environment that best supports the University’s commitment to excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship.

Penn’s commitment to achieving eminence through diversity is ultimately a commitment to creating a more vibrant university so that our employees will be both stimulated and empowered to shape a better world. http://darrecruiting.upenn.edu/why-choose-penn/about-dar

The University of Pennsylvania’s Development and Alumni Relations Marketing and Communications (DARMAX) Department is responsible for conceiving and executing communications strategies to advance the goals of Penn’s Development and Alumni Relations office (DAR) and the mission of the University.


The University of Pennsylvania is a premiere research university-historic, urban, a member of the Ivy League-recognized throughout the world for the quality of its faculty, students, programs, and campus. Its founder, Benjamin Franklin, articulated the goal of educating graduates to serve humankind, a mission that Penn has taken to heart by always looking at and for practical applications to theoretical knowledge. The fact that all of its schools and centers are located on one contiguous campus makes Penn unique among its peers and an ideal environment for interdisciplinary education, a tradition that also distinguishes Penn from its peers.

In addition to the University’s 11,000 undergraduates, another 11,000 students are enrolled in Penn’s 12 graduate and professional schools, many of which are leaders in their fields.

Penn is an enormously cosmopolitan university with a large population of international students, who enliven the community by sharing their global perspectives and aspects of their cultures.

Research is a substantial enterprise at Penn. Penn’s research centers and institutes bring together investigators from multiple departments, schools, and disciplines. Research in health, natural science, technology, society, and business help Penn lead the way in topics ranging from sleep disorders to women’s health, from business ethics to public policy, from cancer to American history. Undergraduates have countless opportunities to participate in research, another distinguishing feature of the University.

In her inaugural address in 2004, President Amy Gutmann launched the Penn Compact, her vision for making Penn a global leader in teaching, research, and professional practice, as well as a dynamic agent for social, economic, and civic progress. The Compact’s focus on increasing access for the very best students, recruiting and retaining the very best faculty who will integrate knowledge across multiple disciplines, and promoting more dynamic engagement locally and globally already has made Penn a more powerful transformational force throughout the region and nation and around the globe.


Led by John H. Zeller, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at the University of Pennsylvania plays a critical role in providing the resources that maintain the University’s current strength and support its vision for the future. Excellence in education, research, and service to the community requires continued investment, and Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) work together to secure the funds needed.

One of the great things about Penn is its integrated approach to institutional advancement, which recognizes that a large part of success in fundraising is due to the strength and commitment of alumni, who number more than 290,000 worldwide.

Fundraising responsibilities are shared among schools, centers and a centrally based staff. Penn Development and Alumni Relations looks for people who can demonstrate imagination, compassion, and persistence while keeping a clear eye fixed on the University’s fundraising goals. DAR’s unique collaborative and cooperative professional atmosphere has helped place Penn among the top fundraising institutions in American higher education completing the very successful Making History, The Campaign for Penn in 2012, and having launched the Power of Penn Campaign in April 2018.

Reporting to the Associate Vice President, Campaign & Advancement, the Executive Director of Marketing and Communications (ED) formulates strategy and policy and supervises the execution of University development marketing and communications efforts for the Development and Alumni Relations department. The primary role of this position is to develop, implement, and inform strategic communication efforts that support the overall and the specific goals of Penn Development and Alumni Relations.

The Executive Director assigns and oversees day-to-day operations of a 19 person communications staff (DARMAX). She or he has 6 direct reports including the Director of Strategic Communications, Director of Donor Relations, Director of Digital Communications, Director of Graphic Communications, Director of Strategic Special Projects, and an Administrative Coordinator. The Executive Director has a high degree of visibility and serves as a primary contact for fundraising staff, donors, top University staff and faculty, students, and colleagues across the University on issues related to Penn’s development marketing and communications.


In consultation with Development and Alumni Relations senior management, and specifically with the Associate Vice President, Campaign and Advancement Services, general responsibilities include:

  • Development and oversight of a results-driven, multi-platform communications strategy and program.
  • Creation of a dynamic and fully integrated cadre of communications tools including publications, websites, apps, content development across channels, social media, event communications, fundraising proposals, donor gift reports and gift acknowledgement letters, and executive speechwriting.
  • Integration of strategic marketing approaches into all key aspects of the departmental operations while emphasizing market research and analytics and working closely with DAR’s prospect research and donor relations management operations.
  • Lead and direct a staff of managers and individual contributors to achieve optimum results by:
    • Communicating financial and key performance indicators and results to direct reports
    • Establishing priorities and goals for each Director and ensuring goals cascade to all staff
    • Managing staffing needs and identifying areas for organizational development updates or changes
    • Guiding the talent identification and professional development needs, processes and outcomes within the entire unit in line with the University’s diversity and inclusion priorities
    • Setting clear performance expectations and holding staff accountability for outcomes through frequent feedback and coaching
    • Ensuring open communications among team members, engaging in team building efforts and holding regular staff meetings that embrace and support the group’s diversity
    • Inspiring and motivating staff to achieve optimum results for direct reports and their teams
  • Oversight and day-to-day management of the departmental budget.
  • Generation of communications materials and remarks to support the activities of the University Board of Trustees, particularly the development and alumni relations committees.
  • Key communications responsibilities include:
  • Assess communications needs and create communications plans for fundraising campaigns, engagement objectives and initiatives
  • Work with communications colleagues across campus to ensure integration and consistency of messaging
  • Employ market research to create appropriate and effective communications.
  • Direct the execution of all aspects of approved communications plans, including formulating messages, writing, editing, and production management.
  • Select vendors and manage ongoing relationships in a fiscally responsible manner.
  • Devise and employ methods to measure the successes of the communications plans and make recommendations for improvements based on the results.


  • Master’s degree in liberal arts, journalism, business, communications, English, or related field; advanced degree preferred
  • A minimum of ten years senior level communications experience designing and implementing comprehensive communications strategies and plans for large organizations or institutions with special focus on the writing and development of fundraising materials, including proposals, case statements, donor and volunteer stewardship and marketing materials; complex higher education, development, and/or non-profit experience is strongly preferred.
  • Strong and effective supervisory experience; demonstrated experience as a manager and supervisor of staff with at least five years of leadership experience, including the ability to motivate and nurture people, lead teams through change, measure and manage performance, facilitate meetings, and develop processes and policies designed to optimize the effectiveness and productivity of the department and its members; propensity to reward and inspire staff while building a truly team oriented departmental culture.
  • Must have a history of outstanding success working with print and digital communications, with significant expertise in digital, social, Web-based, and new media tools.
  • She or he should be an accomplished and published writer; demonstrated ability to write and report persuasively, as well as possess extensive knowledge of fundraising, sales or marketing communications.
  • Natural inclination to think and act institutionally as opposed to individually; a team player who works to promote the institution as a whole.
  • Superior interpersonal skills; an engaging manner, and the capacity to inspire and motivate staff, University leaders, alumni volunteers, donors, and prospects; ability to work collaboratively with colleagues across the University while demonstrating sensitivity and a strong respect for differences.
  • A self-starter with a sense of urgency, a clear set of priorities, a strong work ethic, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances in a highly collaborative environment; must have a creative approach to problem solving, and the ability to take advantage of emerging opportunities while galvanizing broad support.
  • A good sense of humor, a high level of energy, self-confidence, a positive ‘can-do’ attitude, presence, diplomacy, and the ability to function at peak in a high expectation environment are essential.; a profound client service orientation with a high touch, supportive approach.
  • Excellent project management skills (including demonstrated ability to manage complex and long-range projects); ability to manage multiple projects effectively, collaboratively and on time.
  • Strong analytical skills and demonstrated ability to support data driven decisions and manage metrics-based communication performance.
  • Production management experience (Design, layout, copyediting, full publication production)
  • Significant expertise in stewardship and development communications within a higher education setting desirable
  • Writing samples and other select relevant work required.

Penn adheres to a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class.