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Director of Communications

Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation
Illinois, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Closing date
Mar 4, 2023

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Director of Communications

Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

 Position Summary

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (“GDDF”) is a 70-year-old family foundation based in Chicago, IL and Charleston, SC. Our mission is to sustain resilient, vital, engaged, and equitable communities in the Chicago metro region and coastal South Carolina through grantmaking and related programs in the following areas: Artistic Vitality, Land Conservation, and Regional Collections. 

The Foundation seeks a creative, versatile, self-motivated professional to serve as Director of Communications.  This position supports the Foundation in developing and executing a multi-faceted communications strategy that articulates the vision, values, and goals of GDDF and advances the programs in each of the Foundation’s three mission areas across two distinct regions. This is an excellent opportunity for a creative innovator to build on GDDF’s existing platforms and strategies.

Our Approach

As a grantmaking foundation, GDDF has developed a proactive, collaborative approach to working in partnership with grantees, other funders and an array of other public and private partners. Beyond grant awards, the Foundation supports its grantees and programs through technical assistance programs, convenings, a cash reserve program, program-related investments (low-interest loans and guarantees), communications, policy advocacy and related efforts. GDDF strives to build deep partnerships, generate catalytic impact, and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our programs and operations.

The GDDF endowment is approximately $200 million and deploys approximately $7-8 million in grants and related services to a portfolio of nearly 300 organizations each year. Funding is divided almost equally between the land conservation and the arts and collections combined. Other mission-advancing activities are conducted by our staff of ten professionals, through consultants and other partnerships.   

GDDF is a family foundation that incorporates leading-edge philanthropic practices. It is governed by a diverse, 15-member Board of Directors. Historically, most of the Board have been non-family members, selected to provide a diversity of thought and expertise in our three grantmaking areas and across our two regions. The Board has six operating committees; each has a dedicated staff liaison.  Additional information on GDDF can be found on our website:   

Position Description

The communications director position, based in downtown Chicago, is a senior leadership role and involves working closely with the Executive Director, Director of Finance and Administration, and program staff across both regions. The successful candidate will co-curate and execute multi-faceted external communications strategies to advance each of our mission-specific programs, as well as share our approach to philanthropy and overall values. As a new position at the Foundation, it provides an opportunity to shape the direction of this work and bring innovative, creative approaches to foundation communications.  Responsibilities include:

  • Develop and execute multi-platform communications strategies to help advance the mission of the Foundation, the work of our grantees and our approach to philanthropy; overseeing program communications with grantees and other external audiences


  • Co-create strategy, develop content for, update and oversee digital content for website, social media, newsletters, email, press releases, videos, blogs and general communications


  • Manage an editorial calendar to ensure that information is posted regularly and effectively across all foundation communications channels; oversee communications database


  • Retain and manage project-specific communications consultants to be engaged by GDDF


  • Evaluate the impact of communications efforts and create analytics reports for the staff team and board of directors


  • Support the production and execution of print and electronic material, including board reports, brochures, conference materials, and other publications, as needed


  • Keep abreast of emerging communications trends and technology in philanthropy and mission-related work in our two regions


  • Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in communications, public relations, marketing, or related field
  • Eight years minimum communications experience in the public or private sectors
  • Demonstrated ability to prioritize among multiple competing projects and to meet deadlines
  • Highly collaborative with excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to work with internal and external partners, deploying creative, innovative and impactful approaches
  • Ability to distill and convey information accurately and concisely, listen effectively, and seek clarification as needed
  • Excellent written and verbal communication and organizational skills; ability to craft clear and engaging narratives
  • Experience with database systems or comparable software programs
  • Familiarity with and demonstrated passion for one or more of GDDF’s mission areas
  • Familiarity with foundation, non-profit or public agency operations desirable

Compensation and Benefits

The salary range is $95,000-$115,000, commensurate with experience. GDDF offers an excellent benefits package that includes health and life insurance, vision and dental programs, and a 403(b) plan.  

Additional Information

  • Periodic domestic travel required to our Charleston office, for board meetings and to participate in conferences and other external meetings


  • The Foundation currently has a hybrid working environment. Typically, three (3) days are in the office each week and two (2) days are remote

To Apply

The position will remain open until filled. To ensure timely consideration, please send your cover letter and résumé to:

We are unable to respond to applicants personally and have enlisted a consultant, Marcia Festen, to manage our search. Please direct questions to her at


GDDF is an equal opportunity employer and actively works to create an equitable environment for all members of its community. The Foundation is committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills, and is committed to providing employees, interns, grantees and partners with an environment free of discrimination and harassment.

GDDF employs individuals based on individual qualifications and job requirements without regard to that individual’s race, sex, age, religion or belief, color, national origin, ethnic origin, physical, mental or sensory disability, medical history or genetic information, family or parental status, past or present military status, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, HIV status, housing status, or any other non-merit factor. Equal Employment Opportunity applies to all personnel actions such as recruiting, hiring, compensation, benefits, promotions, training, transfer, termination, and opportunities for training.

 Applicants with Disabilities:

Reasonable accommodation will be made so that qualified disabled applicants may participate in the process. Please advise in writing at the time of application.


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