Director of Strategic Communications and Policy Research
As one of the nation’s leading public health advocacy organizations, the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) is dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. Since its founding in 2001, TFAH has been at the forefront of developing and advancing policies to improve the public health system. TFAH’s strategic agenda focuses on ensuring and strengthening sufficient and sustained resources for an improved core public health system; improving the integration of the public health and health care systems to achieve better results in reducing health problems and delivering value-based results; and building partnerships and collaboration across sectors to promote effective approaches to address the social determinants of health. The organization is deeply committed to working to close the health gaps across racial, ethnic, geographic, and economic disparities.
TFAH has built an exceptional reputation by defining a vision for a new era of public health – bringing together incisive, science-driven analysis with innovative, yet pragmatic ideas for policy change. The organization regularly issues a hallmark set of high-visibility issue reports that have redefined and advanced public health issues; convenes top experts and partners with diverse views to rethink and advance priority areas; builds partnerships and coalitions to achieve mutually-beneficial goals; and serves as a strong, credible, non-partisan “go to” thought leader on public health issues for policymakers, media, partners, and the public.
With exciting new partnerships, organizational growth, and funder relationships, TFAH now seeks a new Director of Strategic Communications and Policy Research who will provide expert leadership to the organization’s policy research and communications initiatives. The new Director will develop an innovative policy research and communications plan that is grounded in TFAH’s evidence-based approach and furthers its sector wide thought leadership role, pairing cutting edge policy research with pragmatic, forward thinking policy recommendations. The new Director will serve as lead author of TFAH’s major reports, briefings, and analysis, and lead its communications team, identifying and designing the most effective vehicles for TFAH’s policy analysis that lead to impactful public health policy change. The new Director will be a seasoned communicator in public health policy and advocacy, and a creative and innovative thinker who understands how to translate complex research for a wide variety of audiences and platforms. S/he will bring a strategic approach to integrated communications and policy research, and the team orientation to advance TFAH’s mission and the field of public health broadly. A Master’s degree in public health, policy, or communications and 10-15 years relevant experience are required.
This search is being conducted by Associate Vice President Carolyn Ho and Senior Associate Cara Pearsall of Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group. More information and application instructions are included at the end of this document. More information about TFAH can be found at www.healthyamericans.org.
Founded in 2001, the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of all communities and working to make disease prevention a national priority. Originally founded to promote public health through an environmental lens, TFAH has evolved to become a leading voice for the field of public health. With equal measures of vision and pragmatism, TFAH brings attention to and positions current and emerging threats to the nation’s health and defines opportunities for prevention. TFAH educates policymakers, the media, partners, and the public about priority public health concerns and brings together experts and cross-sector partners to help build support and advance ideas for policy change. Some key issue areas for the organization have included community-based prevention, public health preparedness, obesity, infectious disease, prescription drug misuse, child and school health, and health disparities.
TFAH’s work advances the field of public health in several critical ways: (1) stakeholder education, (2) convenings, and (3) policy recommendations. To educate stakeholders, TFAH has published more than 65 evidence-based, communications-driven policy reports in the past 17 years, annually garnering more than 2,000 news articles and significant policymaker, partner, and public attention. Throughout all of its report-driven campaigns, TFAH champions recommendations for improving the overall public health system as well as issue-specific recommendations. A few highlight examples include:
- The Pain in the Nation: The Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Epidemics and the Need for a National Resilience Strategy report (2017) which calls for the creation of a National Resilience Strategy that takes a comprehensive approach by focusing on prevention, early identification of issues and effective treatment. The report highlights more than 60 research-based policies, practices, and programs.
- The annual State of Obesity report (2004 to 2016) (formerly F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future) has been instrumental in bringing initial and sustained public attention to the epidemic, including its health impact and related disparities and the need for a policy-oriented and cross-sector approach to curb the trends.
- The Ready or Not: Protecting the Public from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism report (2003 to 2016) was recognized as a leading force in defining and driving advancement of the field of public health emergency preparedness and response to modern global infectious disease threats in the era following the September 11th, 2001 and anthrax tragedies. In its most recent iteration, the report found that the nation is often caught with insufficient resources when a new threat arises, such as the Zika or Ebola outbreaks or a bioterrorist threat, which then requires diverting attention.
- The Funding Crisis for Public Health and Safety: State-by-State Public Health Funding and Key Health Facts report (2017) examines public health funding and key health facts in states around the country, finding core funding for disease prevention and health promotion programs has declined by around $580 million federally and has remained flat in states since 2010.
TFAH convenes top leaders from a broad range of sectors and perspectives to build forward-thinking policy agendas and collaborations for a revitalized health care system. These important convenings and coalitions inform and shape TFAH’s policy recommendations. In particular, TFAH has been instrumental in the development of a 900-plus organization strong coalition seeking to strengthen support for the public health and prevention provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These efforts led to the creation of the Blueprint for a Healthier America in 2008, a series of recommendations that were ultimately incorporated into the historic Affordable Care Act and contributed significantly to the development of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the National Prevention Council, the National Prevention Strategy, the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health, and the Community Transformation Grant program. TFAH later released a Healthier America 2013: Strategies to Move from Sick Care to Health Care report to assess the progress and recommendations for continuing the implementation of key aspects of the agenda, and in November 2016 released the Blueprint for a Healthier America 2016: Policy Priorities for the Next Administration and Congress, calling for a new approach that prioritizes improving health and addressing major epidemics in the United States. TFAH also works to protect the Prevention and Public Health Fund by leading a broad-based coalition and creating strategic messaging materials to build the capacity of advocates, policymakers, and community members, and in a recent report bring to light the far-reaching potential consequences of rolling back the Fund.
In addition to being a widely recognized key advocate for public health and prevention, TFAH also takes a leading role in working with public and private partners to advocate on a number of high level issues, including maintaining a working group on public health preparedness, co-managing a collaborative on education and health, co-founding a prescription drug misuse prevention coalition, and participating in a wide range of coalitions focused on chronic and infectious disease prevention, environmental health, and cross-sector activities to advance improved health outcomes. TFAH continues to grow its position as a thought leader, convening top experts to advance emerging and effective policy agendas in areas ranging from developing foundational public health capabilities, advancing population health across the healthcare, hospital, and public health systems, and exploring key topics such as substance misuse, mental health, and key social determinants impacting health inequalities.
As TFAH moves forward with a new strategic plan, new funding partnerships, and organization wide growth, it now seeks a new Director of Strategic Communications and Policy Research to play a key role in enhancing the organization’s capacity to serve its mission of protecting the health for all Americans.
Opportunities and Challenges Facing the new Director
Reporting to the President and Chief Executive Officer, the Director of Strategic Communications and Policy Research can expect to engage the following core opportunities and challenges in the first 12-24 months:
Creating an innovative policy research agenda that supports the development of effective public health policy
The new Director will work closely with the President & CEO to develop a policy research agenda that advances and supports TFAH’s mission of protecting the health of all Americans. S/he will be attuned to emerging issues in public health by cultivating and nurturing a broad network of external thought leaders and will bring an insightful and critical lens to developing new research and analysis that help frame and shape public health policy discussions S/he will synthesize and translate public health issues into cohesive and clear products for the general public and policymakers through reports, briefs, analyses, and other tools to broadly disseminate TFAH’s work and maximize its policy impact. The Director will contribute to TFAH’s thought leadership in the field by positioning the organization’s work on the leading edge of critical public health issues.
Developing and executing an organization-wide communications strategy
The new Director will oversee an integrated communications strategy that leverages TFAH’s position as a credible, well-cited source in the health policy field, including strategic advocacy planning and positioning, branding, media relations, and social and digital media. S/he will develop effective and impactful vehicles for the dissemination of TFAH’s policy reports and will constantly evaluate and adapt those approaches against set metrics and organizational goals. S/he will cultivate and manage an extensive media relations network and build and expand TFAH’s social media presence in partnership with internal communications staff and external consultants.
Leading the development of TFAH’s hallmark series of policy reports and products
The new Director will lead the creation, development, and project management of TFAH’s hallmark series of policy reports and products that are widely disseminated among key stakeholders in public health and health policy arenas. S/he will serve as lead editor and/or author of those projects and will partner with staff and consultants on the research, writing, and production. The Director will ensure rapid and high-quality production processes to sustain the organization’s impact in current debates and public health discourse.
Serving as an integral part of TFAH’s senior team and helping to shape the implementation of TFAH’s strategic plan
The new Director will partner closely with TFAH’s senior team to ensure that the strategic communications and policy research, policy development, and government relations teams operate in synergy and alignment to support the implementation of the strategic plan. S/he will work closely with senior leadership to leverage cross-organizational efforts and strategies to promote the organization’s policy agenda and goals. S/he will work to nurture a culture of collaboration, teamwork, and shared accomplishment, and manage a staff of three direct reports as well as external consultants.
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
The new Director for Strategic Communications and Policy Research will be a proven strategist and a pragmatic, results-oriented, hands-on leader with a successful track record in developing communications and policy initiatives to advance an advocacy agenda and influence policy. While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
- Minimum of 10-15 years demonstrated experience and leadership in managing strategic communications and policy research efforts that advance an organization’s mission; A Master’s Degree in Public Policy, Public Health, Communications or the equivalent is required.
- A demonstrated track-record of advancing evidence-based policy through research and analysis to improve public health; expert knowledge of public health systems, health care delivery, health financing systems, and/or understanding of the impact of the social determinants of health from the perspective of other sectors (i.e. education, housing and transportation).
- Strong research, policy, and analytic skills; ability to anticipate emerging trends and policy opportunities in the field and conduct qualitative and quantitative research including environmental scans across relevant policy and academic sources and produce “translational” summaries of public health issues for the general public and policymakers; skill in identifying, evaluating, and synthesizing relevant and timely sources and information.
- Experience crafting and executing a results-driven communications strategy; strong media relations skills and knowledge of best practices and evolving trends in digital and social media communications; comfort serving as external spokesperson for an organization
- Superb verbal and written communications skills and the ability to distill complex issues into compelling and effective messaging; proven ability to frame complicated issues in ways that draw the attention of the media, policymakers, and the general public to drive innovative and effective policy change; a balance of proactive and rapid response approaches that integrate traditional media, digital, and social media activities.
- Seasoned organizational leadership abilities including a strong team orientation and the interpersonal and managerial skills that foster a positive work culture; commitment to nurturing staff, building team capacity, and shared achievement.
- Exceptional project management skills, with the ability to manage multiple projects with staff and consultants while meeting deadlines and maintaining high quality; excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to anticipate and mitigate unexpected challenges
- An unwavering commitment to a bipartisan approach and the gravitas and maturity to engage with diverse audiences and perspectives; a proven ability to build strong professional relationships and connect diverse audiences to TFAH’s work.
- Commitment to living out the values of public health and healthy living in the workplace; A collaborative, collegial style that fosters respect, teamwork, and innovative approaches from a highly talented staff.
More information about the Trust for America’s Health may be found at: www.healthyamericans.org.
Due to the pace of this search, candidates are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applications including a cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, your resume (in Word format), salary expectations, and where you learned of the position should be sent to:
TFAH-DIR@nonprofitprofessionals.com. In order to expedite the internal sorting and reviewing process, please type your name (Last, First) as the only contents in the subject line of your e-mail.
Trust for America's Health is an equal opportunity employer. We consider applicants for all positions without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital or veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status.
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