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Director of Communications, MacArthur Justice Center

Washington, D.C.

About the MacArthur Justice Center
The Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center (MJC) is a national, nonprofit civil rights law firm. We advocate for people harmed by America’s criminal legal system to vindicate their rights, hold people with power accountable, and transform the system. Our advocacy includes cutting-edge litigation across the country, addressing end-to-end issues in the criminal legal system: from police and prosecutorial misconduct to mass incarceration, to the conditions of jails and prisons, to wrongful convictions.

MJC is a 501(c)(3) organization that uses the U.S legal system to work with and for communities affected by institutional racism and oppression by standing with communities, ending the punishment of poverty, holding police and prosecutors accountable, and advocating for the rights of the incarcerated. We have a total operating budget of approximately $10M, a team of 50 dedicated legal professionals, and offices in Chicago, Illinois; St. Louis, Missouri; New Orleans, Louisiana; Oxford, Mississippi; and Washington, D.C.

For more information about MJC, visit www.macarthurjustice.org.

Position Summary
MJC seeks a seasoned, strategic, and creative Director of Communications to lead our growing communications team and function—a core part of our work toward creating a more just, equal, and humane legal system. As part of senior leadership, the Director of Communications reports to the Executive Director and will be the lead architect and executor of all aspects of MJC’s communications, including media relations, issue-based campaigns, thought leadership, events and partnerships, rapid response, and overall visibility. This senior-level role leads communications across our expansive list of cases, campaigns, and initiatives.

In consultation with MJC’s Executive Director, the Director of Communications will formulate the organization’s long-term communications vision and strategy and set its short-term priorities. The Director of Communications must be comfortable working in a highly nuanced communications environment and will be responsible for developing and executing a comprehensive communications strategy, messaging and planning special communications events/programs across our five offices. This includes the full scope of communications operations, including creating and evaluating short and long-range strategies, managing high-pressure media demands in rapid response situations, attracting high-profile coverage locally and nationally, driving a robust social media and digital operation, and executive communications, including speechwriting.

Notably, the Director will lead and work in partnership with others on the communications team. We seek a working director who is energized by both thinking and doing. The successful candidate will be someone who places value on the contributions of the entire team and takes seriously the opportunity and responsibility to develop and mentor the team and individual team members. This is an exciting opportunity to grow the communications team and impact at a pivotal moment in MJC’s work.

The ideal candidate will be based in Washington, D.C. Occasional travel is required, including to our offices in Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Missouri, as well as other places where our clients and cases are located. 

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

Develop and Oversee Communications Strategy

  • Build, onboard, and supervise the communications team, including hiring a Communications Manager and additional team support as needed; create the structure and protocols that will support the department and its engagement with the rest of the organization applying communications best practices to this unique organization and mindful of the national and local political environment.
  • Lead the development and execution of the overall narrative, advocacy, and brand awareness of MJC, working with all stakeholders, including the Executive Director and other organizational leaders, in developing, refining, and expanding our core messages and reach. 
  • Supervise all internal/external communication efforts.
  • Design and implement comprehensive external and internal communication strategies that elevate MJC to varied audiences using tactics and channels, including earned media, digital media, events, partnerships, campaigns, and more. 
  • Lead strategy and execute approval for all earned media, including articles for publication, press releases, media advisories, letters-to-the-editor, and opinion pieces.
  • Provide strategic guidance and execute approval of all communications, including but not limited to internal and external newsletters, press materials, digital campaigns, and other collateral produced by the Communications team or outside vendors. 
  • Collaborate on the execution of communications strategy for events and objectives in coordination with our programs and other functions.
  • Develop and oversee content for varied platforms, including speeches, talking points, website materials, media, and internal communications. 
  • Leverage and maintain strong, trusting working relationships with key local and national reporters, editors, producers, and journalists.
  • Work internally and across MJC’s offices and partners to develop and implement consistent messaging, create the strategy, and lead response for crisis communications and issues management. 


  • Set quantitative and qualitative metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of communications strategies and seek new ways to improve outreach to MJC target audiences.
  • Manage relations with external communications consultants as needed. 

Serve as MJC’s Communications Expert

  • Develop and manage the MJC’s communications budget in coordination with the Executive Director and finance department
  • Manage rapid response communications needs, including identifying relevant breaking news, strategizing on possible responses, and executing communications strategies on short notice. 
  • Offer a keen understanding of the political environment, the concerns of the Center and its various parts to inform ongoing and emerging strategies and tactics
  • Act as an on-the-record spokesperson to the media on behalf of MJC when necessary.
  • Serve as the internal expert on communications content for MJC.

The criminal legal system disproportionately harms people of color, people from low-income communities, the formerly incarcerated, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ individuals.  We strongly encourage those who identify within these and other communities underrepresented in the legal profession to apply.  

The successful applicant should have the following experience and qualifications:

  • At least 10 years of previous communications experience required, including experience in a leadership and management capacity.
  • Minimum three years of experience managing an internal communications team as well as external consultants preferred.
  • Knowledgeable in organizational or nonprofit management, a plus.
  • Demonstrated ability to design, develop and implement communications campaigns required.
  • Experience in 501(c)(3) communications across varied audiences, including advocates, policymakers, surrogates, donors, and the broader public preferred.
  • Experience in internal communications, working in partnership with organization leaders to create and execute internal communications strategies and channels.
  • Ability to develop and drive new initiatives, work cross-departmentally, oversee projects to completion, and measure results. 
  • Knowledgeable in the application of communication metrics to measure impact.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Commitments:

  • Commitment to MJC’s mission and values.
  • Willingness to honor the diverse experiences of MJC staff and clients.
  • A passion and demonstrated interest in social justice reform; experience in the criminal legal system, public policy, or related fields is a plus.
  • Comfort leading through change when needed. Can move start-up projects from concept to completion and adapt as needed based on learning and input from others while also demonstrating initiative, responsiveness, and thoughtfulness.
  • Strong written, verbal, problem-solving, and interpersonal communications skills. 
  • Strong analytical and strategic thinking skills, high emotional intelligence, and the ability to manage stressful situations.
  • Excellent judgment, integrity, and commitment to personal responsibility and accountability.
  • Strong written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills, including the ability to make complex issues understandable and relevant to external audiences.
  • Ability to prioritize projects, meet deadlines, and work collaboratively as part of a team to support others in doing the same.

Compensation:  The salary range for the Communications Director role is $140,000 to $155,000 depending on experience, with excellent benefits including employer-sponsored health, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance, EAP programming, access to FSA plans, a retirement plan that includes employer matching, and a generous paid-time-off policy. 

Additional Information:
This is a full-time, exempt position based in Washington, D.C. Occasional travel is required, including to our offices in Chicago, IL; St. Louis, MO; New Orleans, LA; and Oxford, MS.

We are currently a hybrid organization, with all DC-based staff working together from the office each Tuesday and Wednesday and remotely for the remainder of the week, except when meetings and events require otherwise. We expect to maintain hybrid schedules in the future but may increase the number of days each week that staff are expected to report to the office. The selected applicant must reside in Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Virginia by the first day of employment. 

To Apply: MJC has retained the executive search firm LeaderFit to lead this search. Please submit the following:

  • A cover letter addressing your experience relevant to the considerations above.  
  • A resume; and
  • Writing sample.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applications will be reviewed, and interviews will be scheduled on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

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