Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

Pennsylvania, United States
06 May 2019
End of advertisement period
06 Jul 2019
Contract Type
Fixed Term
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.

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.

Reporting to the Executive Director, Strategy, Engagement and Campaign, the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications creates stategy, work plans 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 communication efforts that support the overall and the specific goals of Penn Development and Alumni Relations.

The Senior Director assigns and oversees day to day operations of a 18 person communications staff (DARMAX). She or he has 5 direct reports including the Director of Strategic Communications, Director of Stewarship Communications, Director of Digital Communications, Director of Graphic Communications, and an Administrative Coordinator.


This position works in consultation with Senior Management and with the input of the fundraising, alumni relations, and campaign areas and under the direction of the Executive Director, Strategy, Engagement and Campaign. The general responsibilities of this role are:

Development and oversight of a results driven, multi platform communications program that directly supports the highest priorities of the Development and Alumni Relations Department.

Creation of a dynamic and fully integrated cadre of communications tools including publications, websites, apps, content development across channels, video production, social media, event communications, fundraising proposals, donor gift reports and gift acknowledgement letters, and executive speech writing.

Lead and direct a staff of managers and individual contributors to achieve optimum results by:

  • Developing priorities and goals for each area director and team and ensuring goals cascade to all staff. This will be done through a collaborative and iterative planning process.
  • Managing staffing needs and identifying areas for organizational development updates or changes.
  • Guiding the professional development needs, processes and outcomes within the entire unit in line with the University’s diversity and inclusion priorities.
  • Manage to both qualitative and quantitative performance standards. Setting clear performance expectations and accountability. Manage, encourage and grow staff through frequent feedback and coaching.
  • 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 and other leadership volunteer groups as needed.
  • Grow and maintain relationships with key program and unit areas across the university and that provide valuable information, perspective, and resources. Represent DAR, and assure DARMAX is represented at formalized and ad hoc communication groups.
  • 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
  • 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.

B.A. or B.S. in liberal arts, journalism, business, communications, English, or related field; advanced degree preferred

Seven to ten years of 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

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.