Website International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)

Together we build resilient democracies that deliver for all.

THE ORGANIZATION:                              International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)


 POSITION TITLE:                                    Director of Strategic Communications & Advocacy

 EMPLOYMENT STATUS:                         Full-time, exempt

REPORTING TO:                                    Vice President for Global Growth & Outreach while working closely with the President & CEO

LOCATION:                                           Washington, DC area 

SALARY:                                               Commensurate with qualifications and professional experience.


IFES advances democracy for a better future. The Foundation collaborates with civil society, public institutions, and the private sector to build resilient democracies that deliver for all. As a global leader in the promotion and protection of democracy, IFES’ technical assistance and applied research develops trusted electoral bodies capable of conducting credible elections; effective and accountable governing institutions; civic and political processes in which all people can safely and equally participate; and innovative ways in which technology and data can positively serve elections and democracy. Since 1987, IFES has worked in more than 145 countries, from developing to mature democracies. IFES is a global, nonpartisan nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Virginia, and registered as a 501(c)(3).


The Director of Strategic Communications and Advocacy is part of a dynamic global team tasked with advancing IFES’ mission and strategic plan. The individual in this position will be a talented, experienced communications professional capable of revamping and energizing IFES’ communication’s department.  S/he will lead a wide range of activities, while collaborating with colleagues across IFES, to produce polished and compelling content to share with key stakeholders over multiple communication channels. This individual will be a valued member of the Senior Management Team reporting to the Vice-President for Global Growth & Outreach and working closely with IFES’ President and CEO.  S/he will lead a growing Strategic Communications and Advocacy Team and will directly supervise both the Deputy Director of Communications and the Advocacy and Government Affairs Specialist. The Director’s priorities will include refining and carrying out executive and organizational communications strategies; developing a clear organizational voice; advancing strategic communications goals and initiatives; and overseeing foundational building projects such as website redesign and rebranding, S/he will develop a creative strategy that integrates video, podcasts, blogs, infographics, and social media in today’s dynamic communications environment. S/he must be a flexible leader who drives outreach projects forward in a collaborative, innovative, supportive, and effective manner.


Executive Communications

Collaborate with the President and work with the Special Assistant to the President, the Vice-President for Global Growth and Outreach, the Senior Digital Communications Officer, and Government Affairs and Advocacy Specialist to develop and carry out an Executive Communications Strategy. Specifically:

  • Draft statements, formal remarks, congressional testimony, talking points, feature articles, blog posts, podcasts, and social media posts.
  • Generate ideas for op-eds, draft, and place in leading publications.
  • Identify and secure high level speaking opportunities and domestically and globally.
  • Prepare for public appearances, media interviews and congressional testimony.
  • Provide executive communications support to the President during trips abroad.

Strategic Initiatives and Communications

  • With the Vice-President for Global Growth and Outreach, specifically:
  • Ensure alignment of executive and organizational communications and advocacy with the current Strategic Plan.
    Lead the planning and delivery of goals and priorities in the Strategic Plan under Institutional Outcome 2 (IO2).
  • Report to the Executive Leadership Team and Board of Directors progress on strategic communications targets and initiatives.

Communications Strategy, Planning, and Collaboration

  • Deliver an ambitious communications strategy for the organization that best promotes IFES’ thought leadership, program innovation and impact to influence key audiences.
  • Lead the development and deployment of the Communications’ department budget to meet the five-year Strategic Plan’s objectives, the annual communications needs and the outreach plans.
  • Monitor industry communications and confer with other IFES teams on political, policy and market trends to align and integrate into strategic communications and outreach.
  • Collaborate with the Center for Applied Research and Programs to assure well-integrated, mutually reinforcing annual communications and outreach goals.
  • Coordinate closely with the business development team to strategically position IFES for new business opportunities and growth.

External Communications, Outreach and Engagement

  • Serve as a key external spokesperson.
  • Lead IFES crisis communications, as part of an overall crisis response effort.
  • Leverage relationships in government, on Capitol Hill, and with leading think tanks.
  • Expand IFES’ media contacts, fostering key media relationships.
  • Oversee traditional media and social media outreach and engagement.
  • Lead the development of a strategy for congressional engagement and oversee efforts to expand networks and cultivate relationships on Capitol Hill.
  • Represent IFES within the InterAction’s Democracy, Rights and Governance Initiative.
  • Serve as primary liaison to peers within CEPPS, leading contributions to joint communications, outreach, and advocacy initiatives.
  • Identify and seek external engagement opportunities for staff.
  • Work collaboratively to craft or edit high-level thought pieces, marketing materials and talking points for senior leadership in preparation for outreach activities.
  • Lead planning for, and execution of, major events including IFES’ legacy events, the U.S. Elections Program, and annual Democracy Awards Dinner.

Public Image and Brand

  • Provide overall quality control of IFES communications and advocacy, ensuring professional communications.
  • Develop a unified voice for the organization.
  • Serve as the steward of IFES’ brand and assure brand alignment of all IFES publications, communications templates, and products.
  • Lead the management and direction of rebranding efforts.
  • Lead the growth of IFES’ contact database to advance targeted messaging practices.
  • Lead the redesign launch and audience growth of IFES’ website.

Capacity Development

  • Lead the hiring, on-boarding, mentoring and professional development of the communications and advocacy department teams.
  • Promote a culture of high performance and continuous improvement that values service and a commitment to quality, accuracy, and accountability.
  • Develop, train and support IFES staff at HQ and in the field to develop the communications and outreach skills that best represent the organization.


  • Deliver polished, well-written, visually compelling content that is strategically aligned.
  • Clearly communicate, effectively collaborate and positively motivate to deliver results.
  • Serve as an organization-wide model for strong strategic leadership, people management and professional development.
  • Exhibit integrity, judgment, and discretion along with a professional and interpersonal demeanor that elicits confidence and trust from colleagues and stakeholders.
  • Responsibly raise IFES’ visibility in a manner that is politically and culturally sensitive and that conforms with IFES’ do-no harm principles and IFES’ non-partisan orientation.
  • Set and adhere to deadlines and quick turnaround times for rapid response, while prioritizing and working on multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Exercise an exceptional attention to details to assure quality and accuracy.
  • Ensure compliance with IFES style and branding guidelines and donor marking requirements.


EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in a related field is required.

LANGUAGE SKILLS: Professional-level fluency in English is required.

EXPERIENCE: Minimum of 12 years professional experience in strategic communications and advocacy and demonstrated capacity on behalf of INGOs or the public sector in the fields of international development, democracy, human rights, and governance.


A successful candidate will have:

  • Exceptional verbal communication, presentation, extemporaneous speaking, and meeting management skills. Excellent design aesthetic.
  • Proven experience writing and crafting formal remarks, talking points, statements, congressional testimony, and op-eds.  Experience writing blogs and podcasts a plus.
  • Strong people and project management skills.
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Ability to work without close oversight, as a strong team player who constructively and productively engages with others at varying levels of seniority.
  • Experience working with executive and senior management teams on strategic planning and organizational change.
  • Proven success developing partnerships with media outlets, publications, think tanks, universities, and organizations active in foreign affairs and international development.
  • Ability to manage and enhance relationships and cultivate new ones with targeted, high-level external audiences, including the media, policymakers, and other key influencers.
  • A professional network that includes Capitol Hill and the Washington, D.C. policy environment.
  • Ability to manage multiple tasks and projects at the same time, managing a heavy workload and intense deadline pressures.
  • Capacity to think on one’s feet and engage in decisive and effective decision-making.
  • Familiarity with major communications and marketing tools, web-content management systems, constituent relationship management systems, press outreach databases, social media organizers, presentation, project management, and design software including Drupal 9 and Salsa.
  • Exceptionally strong MS Office and tools skills, including Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams.
  • Experience handling crisis communications.
  • Flexibility to work some non-traditional work week hours — including some evenings and weekends.
  • Experience living and working overseas preferred.

TRAVEL: Limited international travel as required.


Would you thrive in a dynamic and collaborative environment working with committed and talented people making a meaningful difference to the protection and promotion of democracy worldwide? At IFES our team members are our greatest assets. We are mission and values driven. We offer competitive benefits, pay and career development. We center the rights of marginalized people in the work we do and strongly encourage Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; women; persons with disabilities; youth; and LGBTQ+ people to apply.


  • Excellent Medical, Dental, and Vision insurance coverage
  • Monthly Benefit Allowance paid directly to all employees
  • Employer paid life and AD&D insurance at 3x base salary
  • 401(k) retirement plan with 1:1 employer match up to 6%
  • Employer paid Short and Long-Term Disability insurance
  • Generous vacation (starting at 3 weeks per year and increasing with time of service), sick leave and personal leave
  • 11 Paid Holidays
  • Paid Parental Leave
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Flexible work arrangements.


IFES provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, criminal history, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

*IFES is currently working remotely due to the pandemic and anticipates returning to its headquarters office in Arlington, Virginia several days per week in June 2022.


Please electronically send a cover letter addressing your specific qualifications with respect to the position requirements outlined above along with a chronologically organized resume to:  Thank you for your interest in the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

To apply for this job email your details to resumes@PANGBURNINTL.COM