Senior Director of Foundation Communications

Oregon, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Jan 27, 2021
Feb 25, 2021
Employment Type
Full Time

Executive Summary

Oregon Health & Science University Foundation (OHSUF) seeks a forward-thinking and innovative communications professional to serve as its next Senior Director of Foundation Communications. Working in close collaboration with Foundation leadership and advancement staff and in concert with central OHSU communications, the Senior Director will develop and implement communications strategies and integrated messaging campaigns that highlight OHSU/OHSUF’s mission, achievements, and philanthropic goals - inspiring deeper engagement with and increased financial support of one of the Pacific Northwest’s leading academic medical centers.

The Senior Director serves as a vital contributor to the OHSU Foundation’s fundraising efforts by providing vision, leadership, and a strategic framework for the OHSU Foundation’s communications activities. Core to the role will be aligning communication with drivers of philanthropy -- overseeing all communications, digital strategies, marketing, branding, and public relations for the Foundation. The Senior Director leads a team of eight communications/marketing/digital professionals focused on advancing OHSUF’s fundraising initiatives, digital presence, donor relations, and volunteer engagement activities. Working closely with OHSU/OHSUF leaders, the Senior Director will develop, manage, and execute key institutional communications priorities, partnering cross-functionally to capture, enhance, and disseminate compelling stories across multiple platforms that highlight OHSU impacts in patient care, medical research, community partnerships, and public health; all while emphasizing key imperatives for private philanthropic support and articulating the impact of those dollars.

Founded originally in 1887 as the University of Oregon Medical School, with independence in 1974 and rebranding to Oregon Health & Science University in 2001, OHSU serves as the premier center for Oregon dentistry, nursing, medicine, and public health programs. Until 2011, it was the only medical school in the state, but is one of the leading medical treatment, education, and research centers in the country. In 2018, OHSU educated more than 5,500 students and trainees, treated 300,000 patients, received over $450M in research grants, and raised more than $140M from individuals, corporations, and foundations. OHSU’s leading research centers include the Knight Cancer Institute, led by the visionary Dr. Brian Druker, the Casey Eye Institute, the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute and the OHSU Neuroscience Initiative focusing on three main areas of brain health; Neurodegeneration, Neurodevelopment and Neuro-Repair.

Nearing the close of a successful seven-year, $2B Onward Campaign, OHSU Foundation leaders are continuing to invest in Foundation talent and capacity and thinking about how to continually stretch the boundaries of its philanthropic and engagement goals while reflecting on how best to center equity and diversity in all its efforts. A member of the senior leadership team with a direct reporting line to the Foundation president, the Senior Director will drive communications across all Foundation channels and audiences in alignment with institutional priorities and fundraising strategies. They will be critical in achieving these goals by crafting a strategic and cohesive communications plan that builds off the momentum from the campaign and captures the energy of a talented, energetic, and curious team of communications professionals.

Strategic versus reactive, the Senior Director of Foundation Communications will be a creative and critical thinker capable of developing a clear vision for how best to articulate OHSU and the Foundations’ compelling areas of distinction, inspire key audiences to action, and coordinate communications and outreach across all messaging platforms including print, web, social media, events, and public relations.

The ideal candidate is expected to have at least 10 to 15 years of experience with a proven record of developing and executing multi-pronged communication strategies that uplift and enhance institutional goals, initiatives, and philanthropic gifts. Demonstrated success in leading a team of highly-qualified communications professionals is vital. Previous experience working in a complex organization, preferably in academic medicine and/or higher education, is highly desired, as is the maturity and acumen to successfully navigate and collaborate within such environments. Leading candidates will have demonstrated achievement in developing and implementing a cohesive and integrated marketing and communications strategy which resulted in measurable impact to a complex organization (e.g. improvements in market position, membership, client acquisition, funding). They will have broad experience in strategic marketing, communication planning, media and public affairs, crisis management, and new media technologies.

A collaborative and accessible leadership style, well-suited to management in a complex, rapid change environment, is a prerequisite, as is the creativity, energy and political savvy needed to prioritize and uplift new ideas and shared achievements. Strong managerial and motivational skills are required, as well as the compassion, clarity, and communication skills necessary to articulate clear philanthropic goals and empower OHSUF staff, OHSU faculty and influential supporters. An undergraduate degree is required and an advanced degree is preferred.


OHSU & Onward

 OHSU has a tradition of taking on the impossible—and delivering. Since its founding more than 130 years ago as the first medical school of the Pacific Northwest, OHSU has challenged the status quo in pursuit of better care and quality of life for the people of the region and beyond. More recently, OHSU has introduced  impactful health and science innovations that have  changed the lives of patients facing cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, macular degeneration and neurological disorders.

This bold visioning also applies to the Foundation’s fundraising approach as exemplified by OHSU’s $2 billion ONWARD campaign which is nearing its successful completion.  A rally point of the campaign has been the Knight Cancer Challenge, in which $1 billion was raised in 22 months with the support of 10,000 donors and a $500 million pledge from Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight and his wife Penny. This infusion of philanthropic dollars reinforces OHSU’s standing as a magnet for creative researchers and clinicians unafraid to take big risks and unorthodox approaches to accelerate progress.


Senior Director of Foundation Communications

 The Senior Director will report directly to and work closely with OHSU Foundation President Matt McNair, who joined OHSU in 2018 from The Ohio State University, where he served as head of the Ohio State Innovation Foundation and VP for Economic and Corporate Engagement. Similarly, the OHSU Foundation will look to this new head of strategic communications to connect the OHSU Foundation to the broader community in new and powerful ways, leveraging the award-winning talent of the Foundation communications team to capture new audiences where they are now and engage the larger OHSU community across new mediums, platforms, and technologies.

Using a strategic lens to look at the life of OHSU and the essential work of the Foundation and its advancement staff – and those who contribute to and participate in its transformative impact, including research faculty, physicians, students, current and prospective patients, donors, volunteers and corporate partners – the Senior Director will play a critical role in the design and execution of brand awareness and multi-channel fundraising messaging and case statements that will integrate and maximize Foundation, OHSU-held, and external communications and outreach platforms.

This begins with an understanding of OHSU’s and the Foundation’s development priorities and opportunities for impact through philanthropic investment as well as the qualitative and quantitative assessment of target audiences, geographic reach, and advancement offerings. This effort will result in the Foundation and OHSU clearly articulating and delivering on its brand promise, embodying a defined value system, ensuring a consistent set of core messages and stakeholder experiences, increasing its digital presence, and deepening audience engagement and loyalty.


Essential Duties

  • Develop and implement a strategic communications plan for the OHSU Foundation, especially leading institutional voices (like the President and SVP of Development), development officers, donor relations, and events, based on a thorough understanding of the Foundation’s objectives, unique voices and values, and the diverse brands, stakeholders, and audiences relevant to given initiatives/departments/events.
  • Manage a team of eight communications staff, ranging from writers to social media/digital strategists, aligning institutional priorities with strategic and tactical messaging and working to build a culture of learning across different teams.
  • Uplift and refine OHSU stories that tell the unique case for supporting OHSU in ways that have a distinctly-OHSU Foundation voice under the broader umbrella brand of OHSU. This will require coordination, planning and goal setting, and expectations clarification between the OHSU Foundation communications team and the communications/marketing/public affairs team of OHSU.
  • Oversee the development of key messaging, talking points, press releases and other materials, as needed, especially to support executive communications and board relations
  • Collaborate with communications colleagues and other internal partners to develop and disseminate consistent, clear, and effective messaging about OHSU-wide initiatives. Work, as needed, to align internal and external communication on institutional initiatives.
  • Foster the continued growth and elevation of OHSUF’s digital presence. Ensure the Foundation’s digital properties offer timely, relevant and engaging content; amplify the voices of donors and patients/families, partners and staff; and convey with openness and transparency OHSU priorities, plans, and new developments in research/care.
  • Anticipate, inoculate against and respond to criticism or in crisis context, partnering with program, legal and institutional communications staff, as needed.
  • Develop communications strategies in support of donor events, trustee meetings, other types of events when appropriate.
  • Manage and contribute to institutional communications projects, as needed, such as communications guidance and policy updates, development of tools and resources, and trainings.
  • Contribute to the ongoing learning and development of the communications team, and the wider Foundation, about best practices in the field of strategic communications. Cultivate a positive, values-based culture that thrives on continuous learning and collaboration.


Experience and Qualifications

  • A bachelor’s degree or equivalent education and experience.
  • Minimum of ten years’ experience in strategic communications and marketing for a nonprofit organization or transferrable environment, preferably in a health care setting; experience in developing/supporting communications strategy in pursuit of philanthropic support is strong preferred.
  • At least five years proven success in the management of communications teams that include portfolios of both print and digital media responsibilities.
  • Diplomacy, tact, and the ability to work across diverse internal and external constituents, building credibility and constructive professional relationships. Demonstrated facility in cultivating relationships and operating through influence rather than authority. This includes acumen for navigating the politics of a complex organization with many different constituent voices and mission-drives, as well as the understanding of OHSU’s broader responsibilities to actual state policy and governmental bodies.
  • Superb written and oral communications skills, in addition to strong interpersonal and presentation abilities.
  • Compassionate and culturally-responsive; maintains an ability to work well with diverse internal and external individuals, families and groups
  • Proven and expressed personal commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and in efforts to support and achieve institutional goals for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Justice
  • Strong degree of accountability, decision-making and ownership of programs, projects, and outcomes


Interested in Learning More?

The OHSU Foundation has partnered with Talent Citizen to assist in this recruitment. Please reach out to President Tracy D. Welsh and Senior Associate Eva Kotilinek and share your biographical materials via email at:

OHSU believes that diversity and equity are imperative to our success, which is why we are committed to creating and sustaining a culture where all employees are empowered to do great work—and where the best decisions are made because they’re informed by multiple, diverse perspectives.

The OHSU Foundation provides equal opportunities to all individuals without regard to age, color, current or future military status, disability (physical or mental), gender, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran, or any other status protected by law.