Emma Willard School has been a pioneer in girls’ education for 207 years. Located on a 137-acre campus on Mount Ida, above the city of Troy, New York, the school is built on a remarkable history, a responsibility that has propelled it forward as the standard-bearer for girls' education. Today, that responsibility includes an unwavering commitment to balancing academic rigor and wellbeing and a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Founded in 1814, Emma Willard School continues to proudly foster in each student a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, and the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape her world. For the 2020-21 school year, Emma granted $4.5 million in financial aid to 46% of its diverse community of 357 students, 227 boarding and 130 day. Emma students currently hail from 21 states, and over 30 countries.
Honoring their founder’s vision, Emma Willard School proudly fosters in each young woman a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, and the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape their world.
Building off this incredible foundation, the Board of Trustees and Head of School initiated a strategic planning process that was completed in May 2021, resulting in an ambitious five-year plan that will allow Emma Willard to emerge as an ever stronger and truer version of itself.
Chief Communications Officer
Head of School
As a key member of the senior leadership team, you will have the opportunity to provide vision and direction for an innovative and comprehensive communications platform in support of Emma Willard’s newly created Strategic Plan and upcoming Capital Campaign. You will play a pivotal role in deepening the engagement with all constituents, and raise Emma Willard School’s profile as one of the nation’s leading independent boarding schools.
Through your leadership, the Communications team will develop and execute a deliberately designed, modern marketing and communications strategy that will ensure that current and prospective students and their families, faculty and staff, alumni, trustees, the media and the local community receive targeted and relevant messaging regarding Emma Willard and its contributions, locally and globally. You will support the Communications needs from key groups within the School including the Head of School’s Office, Advancement, Admissions, Academics, DE&I, Arts, and Athletics.
• Conduct a thorough review of current communications efforts, publications, and social media in order to create a deliberately designed, state-of-the-art, and unified communications platform for the School. Develop a deep appreciation for the history, achievements, aspirations, and contributions of Emma Willard School, and the ability to effectively and eloquently articulate the Head of School’s vision to diverse audiences.
• Solicit feedback and input from trustees, faculty, parents, and alumnae to ensure the School’s communications and messaging are effective and reflect the values and aspirations of Emma Willard.
• In partnership with the leadership team, develop and implement a comprehensive plan for the School’s communications strategy that supports the School’s strategic priorities. The plan will include all messaging and a clear and consistent brand identity that extends across all media and vehicles in ways that appropriately support and reflect the values, identity, and aspirations of the School.
• Lead the development of and direct the implementation of Emma Willard’s re-branding strategy that will articulate who Emma Willard is with authenticity and clarity. Drive the adoption of this brand promise across all departments and communications vehicles, resulting in increased brand awareness and engagement.
• In partnership with the Head of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, bolster internal and external communications regarding Emma Willard’s initiatives on DE&I.
• Work in concert with the Head of Enrollment Management and Admissions team to ensure coordinated, timely, strategic, and compelling recruitment marketing and messages to support enrollment.
• Partner with Head of Advancement, the Advancement team and external partners in support of alumnae and donor engagement. This includes the public phase of a transformational campaign, including messaging for fundraising initiatives.
• Guide and support the Head of School in her role as chief spokesperson for Emma Willard School, serving as a co-strategist on messaging. Ensure that she is well-briefed and that her communications activities are productive and efficient. Develop thought leadership campaigns to highlight the position of Head of School as a leader in the independent school category.
• Set clear direction and priorities for the Communications staff. Support the continual growth and success of each member of the team. Ensure that excellence characterizes the work of the office in terms of client collaboration, customer service, responsiveness, and problem-solving.
• Effectively use data to inform strategy and apply data insights to develop and evolve communications strategy. Leverage market research and other market data to develop communications strategies and plans designed to support various programs.
• Create outstanding communications vehicles that are on par with or ahead of best-in-class programs in independent schools and liberal arts colleges. This includes the content and design of the website, all marketing materials, press releases, social media, Signature magazine, annual report, parent newsletters and communication, as well as internal communications. Devise metrics to analyze and asses the effectiveness of programs and deliverables.
• Serve as media contact for the school, strengthen relationships with various media outlets, and collaborate with the Emma Willard School community to determine appropriate opportunities for outreach. Working with the Head of School, lead and manage crisis communications in partnership with outside consultant.
• On an ongoing basis, assess the website and other delivery channels for relevance, consistency of brand and messaging.
• Establish a formal communications planning process that reflects the needs of the school, the Offices of Admission, Advancement, DE&I, and other principal partners, in order to create a strong yet flexible communications program with key themes and messages that can be adapted to suit various constituencies.
• Recognize the importance of addressing internal audiences as part of these efforts through the development of an internal communications strategy that is considered as part of all communications initiatives.
Professional and Personal Profile:
• Proven experience envisioning, developing, and implementing comprehensive integrated marketing and communications programs, with multiple constituencies and a variety of audiences. Independent school or higher education experience a plus but will consider other industry experience. Passion for and desire to work in an all-girls boarding school community.
• Broad experience in strategic integrated communications planning for consequential brands, and at least some exposure to media relations and crisis management.
• Experience working in a complex, matrixed environment serving many internal clients and external constituents. Ability to build relationships and collaborate across the institution, serving as a resource to others and obtaining their input; persuasive, persistent, and determined.
• Excellent writing skills and the demonstrated ability to craft substantive and cohesive messages based on strategic priorities, communicate successfully to key audiences, and adapt and adjust as appropriate over time.
• Superior strategic thinking skills with a strong grasp of industry best practices and a holistic understanding of all aspects of communications, positioning, and messaging (exposure to admissions, fundraising, and alumni relations, also a plus). Substantial experience evaluating the strengths of existing communications and identifying opportunities for improvement.
• Excellent management skills, including the ability to delegate appropriately to ensure excellent interdepartmental communication and collaboration; and ability to guide colleagues' individual professional growth. Management of outside agency partners is highly desirable.
• Keen creative and design sensibilities, with a strong understanding of the communications process from creative concept through production and fulfillment. Ability to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the communications process without sacrificing quality and impact.
• Deep understanding and mastery of digital engagement in conveying information and content in ways that leverages storytelling and engages and motivates constituents.
• Demonstrated commitment to diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness through actions, interactions, and communications with others. Ability to make strategic decisions with regards to communications.
• Collaborative and collegial orientation, eager and able to engage a diverse client base, and able to build strong professional relationships. A convener who is able to synthesize many ideas and produce excellent work about a wide range of diverse topics.
• Superlative interpersonal skills with a demonstrated ability to work well with people at all levels of an organization. In addition to individuals with strong personal integrity, high energy, flexibility, and warmth are highly desirable attributes.
• Sense of humor.
• Bachelor’s degree required; advanced degree preferred.
The school encourages candidates from under-represented groups and individuals who have demonstrated experience with diverse populations who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through their service to apply.
We seek to identify, recruit, and develop employees who bring a diversity of experiences, perspectives, talents, and backgrounds. Emma is an equal opportunity employer.
Emma Willard has retained the Executive Search Firm, The Ward Group, to lead the search efforts. Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and resume to: email@example.com and reference "Emma Willard" in the subject line.