Communications Specialist at the Institute for Child, Youth, and Family Policy at Brandeis University

We are seeking an experienced and passionate individual to set communications strategy and manage communications activities that support the Institute’s goal of reducing racial/ethnic inequities in opportunities for children and their families and communities. Reporting to the Director, this position will be responsible for the development, implementation, monitoring and refinement of the Institute’s strategic communications plans, and associated networking and relationship building. While the focus is on communications, this role will also provide support to the Director with regards to the development and implementation of the Institute’s broader impact strategy.

The Communications Specialist will represent the Institute’s in-house communications function, working with the communications staff at the Heller School and Brandeis University, as well as a high-functioning staff of 8-10 researchers.  We place a premium on working collaboratively.


The Institute

The Institute is home to (DDK), the leading indicator and policy research project dedicated to tracking progress towards greater racial/ethnic equity in wellbeing for children in the U.S.  The project maintains a state-of-the-art website (, conducts equity-focused research, and engages in a variety of dissemination, outreach, user engagement, and partnership activities.

Strategic communication is core to the Institute’s mission. Critical communication activities include disseminating knowledge products to target audiences, engaging partner users, and informing policy-makers and external media. Foundations, government agencies and academic researchers are increasingly prioritizing the impact of research and are seeking accessible data tools and analysis that can help promote positive social change.

Over the next two years, the Institute is expanding DDK, requiring an expanded communications function including:

  • Increasing the project’s targeted outreach and dissemination efforts in four key focal policy areas: family economic security, early childhood care and education, housing and neighborhoods, and health; and
  • Enhancing its data storytelling and visualization capacity, and in partnership with external communications service providers (e.g., website developers).


Essential Duties and Responsibilities

In direct coordination with the Institute Director, and through collaboration with Institute researchers and University communications staff, the Communications Specialist will ensure the expansion of the Institute’s communication function:

  • Support Institute Director in development and implementation of overall Institute impact strategy, ensuring that the communications function strengthens the Institute and team’s national visibility and reputation for rigorous, state-of-the-art, equity-focused research, and ability to direct research findings and products to key decision and narrative makers (e.g., policy makers, philanthropy, media/press) to maximize impact.
  • Develop 2-year strategic communications plan (i.e., developing key messages; creating brand awareness; identifying goals and performance measurements, as well as target audiences and key influencers) including both proactive and reactive components, building and drawing on a sophisticated understanding of the child equity field and funding environment in which the Institute operates.
  • Manage and execute smaller-scale strategic communications plans for individual initiatives and projects, including playing a central role in conceiving, writing and producing communication products.  Anticipated activities include management of communications and product development of both static (e.g., white pagers/briefs, reports, peer-reviewed publications, web management, social media, op-eds, media relations) and interactive communications (e.g., in-person and web-based symposia, conference presentations, legislative testimony) products. Conceptual work and writing is done collaboratively with the rest of the team, but the person in this role will be expected to play a major role in conceiving, writing, editing and disseminating these products.
    • Develop or bring an understanding of the breadth of external communications services available (e.g., website design, assessment of reach, branding, etc.); overseeing solicitation and implementation of vendor contracts, particularly coordination with Institute technical team. Ongoing development of data visualization skills (e.g., Tableau) and best practices in the field.
    • Develop and manage editorial calendar that includes strategic communications products as well as academic papers and research activities, in coordination with Institute researchers.
    • Draft press releases and coordinate with Heller School and Brandeis University communications staff for finalization and distribution.
    • Provide assistance to the team in the identification of funding opportunities and grant writing, e.g., strengthening grant proposals with win themes and consistency in language.
  • Monitor communication activities, including ongoing web-based activities as well as discrete products/events.
  • Coordinate and support networking and relationship building. Plan discrete activities to develop and nurture relationships with target end users (e.g., philanthropy; applied researchers) and critical intermediaries (e.g., advocacy organizations, journalists).
  • Guide ICYFP colleagues in connecting with external media, including on the development of op-eds for placement in targeted outlets and pitching in pitching Institute stories and expertise to relevant reporters. Develop relationships with key media and writers, locally, nationally and globally.
  • Serve as a key strategic partner to Heller’s communications team and the Brandeis Office of Communications. Collaborate with colleagues from other institutional units on University-wide communications initiatives as part of a coordinated communications approach.



  • BA/S in communications, media, journalism, public/social policy, social sciences or related fields with 5-8 years of progressively responsible experience in a communications role; Master’s Degree a plus;
  • Comprehensive, specialized knowledge in communications and media; experience with external communications services (e.g., website design, branding, social media, and media relations);
  • Communications experience in mission driven organizations (experience in supporting research communications in a research university setting, a plus);
  • Experience managing and social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter;
  • Working familiarity with web content management systems and monitoring tools, such as WordPress, html, GoogleAnalytics and Tableau, or interest in developing;
  • Familiarity with development/fundraising, particularly for research, a plus;
  • Excellent writing and editing skills; experience with policy-related writing and research translation, a plus;
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills, particularly across a diverse team of technical and substantive roles, departmental units and levels;
  • Ability to handle deadlines, while responding to unanticipated opportunities;
  • Demonstrated project management and time management skills.


How to Apply

Submit cover letter and resume as a single document at Elect option for “New Applicant”. Sort the job listing by clicking the Job ID column heading. Locate the desired job listing. Click the job title and then Apply Now.


Closing Statement

Brandeis University is committed to providing its students, faculty and staff with an environment conducive to learning and working and where all people are treated with respect and dignity. Toward that end, it is essential that Brandeis be free from discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, ancestry, religious creed, gender identity and expression, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, genetic information, disability, military or veteran status or any other category protected by law (also known as membership in a “protected class”).


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