Communications Director

Easthampton, Massachusetts, United States Full-time

Are you driven to make complex social problems easy to understand so that they can be solved? Are you excited to find new ways to transform the debate around criminal justice reform?

The Prison Policy Initiative is known for effectively using data to explain why the need for criminal justice reform is long overdue, and doing it in a way that brings in new allies and re-energizes existing supporters. Our team has grown to five dedicated staff members who, along with our network of volunteers, shape a variety of national reform campaigns and develop groundbreaking publications from our office in Western Massachusetts.

For the Prison Policy Initiative, communications is never an afterthought. It is essential to the design of successful projects that would, in another organization, be solely research or organizing. We are looking for an experienced Communications Director who can immediately take over our existing systems for working with the media and the public. Using their experience with other organizations, we hope this person will help us develop new workflows to extend our reach and efficiency as we continue to grow.

Duties include:

  • Nurture and expand relationships with traditional and new media. 
  • Serve as our resident expert and mentor on the communications potential and challenges of our work.
  • Take ownership of the management and growth of our individual donor strategy. 
  • Manage the editorial process for our periodic updates to the public (newsletters, scheduled donor updates, our annual report, etc.)
  • Manage our social media strategy and execution, including $480,000/year in in-kind advertising support.
  • Be the first point of contact for all incoming communications.

Required skills/experience/attitudes:

  • At least three years of experience working in similar social justice fields, and either a deep understanding of criminal justice or the ability to demonstrate that you are a quick study. 
  • Familiarity with effective organizing on various social media platforms. (Helpful: You have 2+ years of experience leading social media campaigns.)
  • Experience working with the press. (Helpful: You have 2+ years of experience pitching the press and responding to press inquires or 2+ years of experience working in journalism.)
  • You have some familiarity with individual donor fundraising. (Helpful: You have 2+ years of formal development experience.)
  • You have strong writing skills, a passion for making the complex simple, and know that the key to good writing is being able to identify your target audience. 
  • You are semi-fluent in HTML or you have the desire to be quickly trained. 
  • You are excited about the idea of doing more, doing it better, and doing it faster. (Helpful: When someone asks if you can do a mailmerge in Gmail, your response is either "Awesome! How?" or "Yes, I know.") 
  • You are able to start as soon as possible in our Easthampton, Massachusetts office or a potential second office in Hartford Connecticut. (Note: The collaborative structure of our work does not allow us to consider requests to work remotely from other parts of the country.)

Helpful skills/experience/attitudes:

  • Through your past paid, volunteer, or academic work, you have an understanding of where the Prison Policy Initiative fits in to the field. 
  • You are excited about the potential of being a subject matter expert who can and does produce content that can change the world, starting with short blog pieces and working up from there.
  • You have experience editing images, video and/or audio.
  • You have experience supervising non-profit staff, non-profit volunteers, or professional writers.
  • You are from a community that is overrepresented in the criminal justice system, or you have direct experience with the criminal justice system.

For more on the Prison Policy Initiative, our work, our history, and our budget, see our annual reports

Salary & Benefits

The expected salary for this position is $40,000-$55,000 depending on the depth and relevance of your experience described above. (Candidates with particular salary requirements may want to disclose that in their cover letter.) Benefits include a paid cellphone, health/dental insurance, paid sick time, two weeks paid vacation, all Massachusetts holidays, and an IRA match.

To apply
We will ask applicants to submit the following:

  • A cover letter (preferably in PDF format)
  • Your resume or c.v.
  • Between one and three writing samples/work products that show your skills and experience. 
  • Our Communications Director skill assessment form at http://www.prisonpolicy.org/CommsDirector_skills.doc


Hiring process
We will be reviewing applications and scheduling interviews on a weekly basis. We anticipate doing a phone screen, a round of Skype interviews with another staff member, and then a final round of in-person (paid) working interviews.


Please allow us to keep our daily focus on improving the criminal justice system by refraining from writing or calling the office to check on the status of your application. We'll keep the job page at http://www.prisonpolicy.org/jobs.html up to date with the status of our candidate search.