Director of Communications and Partnerships

Compensation: $95,000 – $115,000

To apply:

The Opportunity

Essie Justice Group (Essie) is building grassroots power to dismantle the US incarceration system, the most egregious creator of racial and gender injustice of our time. We are a loving and powerful community of women with incarcerated loved ones and include cisgender women, transgender women, formerly incarcerated women, gender nonconforming people, elders, and young people.

Building a sustainable grassroots institution that can be leveraged in the fight for a Black feminist future is a priority at Essie. Through the development of thoughtful organizing models, a vibrant organizational culture, and scalable structure our aim is to break the isolation of the 1 in 4 women who have loved ones behind bars and sustain bold decarceration advocacy through the leadership of women with loved ones behind bars. We seek a bold and values-aligned leader to join our team and drive our strategic communications and partnerships work in order to ensure Essie has the institutional power to accomplish our political aims.

The Director of Communications and Partnerships is a new, senior-level team member who will be responsible for managing and expanding Essie’s communications, brand, and fundraising efforts. The person filling this position is a sharp-minded and persuasive verbal and written communicator who skillfully directs Essie’s external representation and relishes the opportunity to strategically uplift movement work to a variety of stakeholders, from philanthropic partners to national, state, and local media, supporters, members and the general public.

The Director of Communications and Partnerships is a strategist first and a specialist second. This person is adept at identifying big and small opportunities to strengthen connections between key stakeholders and our organizing and advocacy work. The ideal candidate is an experienced and motivated manager of existing institutional relationships and developer of key strategic partnerships. As a nimble strategist, this person can ably deploy skills in setting goals, motivating a team, and writing strong plans that highlight priorities and areas of focus across both fundraising and communications areas. The Director of Communications and Partnerships possesses strong management skills and a fidelity to a big picture strategic vision thus is well positioned to support development and communications specialists.

As a senior member of the organizational leadership, the Director of Communications and Partnerships reports directly to the Executive Director and will help shape Essie’s present and future contributing to strategic decision making in the present while helping architect Essie’s communications plan in alignment with our values and Black Feminist politic. At Essie, how we work is as important as what we achieve, and our ideal Director of Communications and Partnerships approaches organizational culture and ambitious communications and partnerships goals with equal rigor and commitment.

The start date for the Director of Communications and Partnerships is April 5, 2021. The application deadline is midnight on Sunday, January 10, 2021.

Core Responsibilities

Direct Essie’s Thought Leadership & Communications Strategy: Collaboratively develop an integrated, multi-year communications plan with the Executive Director and Communications Manager and execute that plan to advance Essie’s work and mission.

  • Create and implement the narrative strategy that widens the political opportunity for Essie’s organizing and campaign work to deliver on our mission. Set year-over-year measurable goals for Essie’s communications work.
  • Ensure fidelity to the multi-year narrative strategy in all areas of our work.
  • Recruit a suite of high-level contractors to support in the implementation of the narrative strategy.
  • Consult with the Communications Manager and key contractors to make recommendations about strategy pivots and opportunistic engagement of communications opportunities.
  • Carry out the management of communications staff as well as communications contractors and specialists as needed.
  • Serve as an internal advocate for the centrality of communications work and tactics.
  • Cultivate relationships with members of the media, industry think tanks, and event forums to position Essie ambassadors as “experts” for article publication and speaking engagements

Steward Essie’s Brand and Reputation: Protect, iterate, and advance Essie’s brand across multiple audiences.

  • Lead the Communications team in its development of strategic processes to seize opportunities to advance our analysis as set forth in Because She’s Powerful: The Political Isolation and Resistance of Women with Incarcerated Loved Ones.
  • Monitor and regularly assess Essie’s reputational strength and areas of improvement with stakeholders including prospective staff hires, funders, campaign targets, advocacy partners, members, prospective members, incarcerated people, and the Black political Left.
  • Set big-picture brand goals for the organization and steward implementation.
  • Direct the type of communications data and impact tracking Essie should employ.
  • Assess the impact and make recommendations for changes to our communications systems and practices through consistently collecting feedback from the Communications Manager, communications specialists, and stakeholders.
  • Support our growing staff team and membership in acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to become confident ambassadors of our work to the audiences they regularly engage.

Co-Lead Essie’s Fundraising Efforts: Co-create and co-lead the implementation of a successful fundraising strategy with the Executive Director and development staff.

  • Substantively determine the key organizational accomplishments and aspirations we communicate in grant applications and reports.
  • Iterate and oversee development infrastructure internally, including CRM features and advising on key changes to roles and make-up of our existing structures for stakeholder engagement (including our Board and other advisory bodies at Essie).
  • Manage a Grant Writer responsible for all deadlines and workflows for LOIs, grant applications, and reports including internal deadlines for collection of information from other staff ensuring on-time submission and high rate of successful funding requests.
  • Plan and coordinate creative, strategic, and meaningful fundraising events and activities including management of project timelines, logistics, guest lists, materials, and programming.
  • Evaluate and recommend new funding opportunities in alignment with Essie’s strategic priorities and programmatic work.

Organizational Leadership: Serve on the Essie Directors’ Team in order to strategically steward organizational resources in alignment with Essie’s mission and vision.

  • Co-determine and maintain Essie’s internal standards for raising funds in a manner that aligns with our values (including serving as a key advisor on questions of conflict, member-dues, and self-generating models to consider).
  • Work collaboratively and consistently with other directors at Essie to define strategic priorities, make decisions about unanticipated opportunities, and manage to operational plan goals.
  • Develop departmental budgets and work systems, and build and manage a dynamic Communications and Partnerships staff team.
  • Establish and maintain sound stewardship of Essie’s communications materials, intellectual property, and budget.
  • Hold external relationships necessary to run the overall communications and partnerships strategy successfully.
  • Embody and promote Essie culture and values internally and externally.

Who We’re Looking For

Ideal Qualifications

  • A minimum of 4 years experience directly supervising multiple staff and a minimum of 7 years experience in either non-profit development and/or communications work.
  • Advanced experience managing a staff team and in creating and directing team-wide strategy.
  • Advanced experience in securing strategic partnership agreements to advance an organization’s mission.
  • Impeccable and effective writing, editing, and verbal communication skills.
  • Detail-oriented, yet efficient, with high standards for work products.
  • Meaningful experience supporting staff with direct experience of incarceration.
  • Significant experience supervising people in a way that acknowledges differentials in privilege and power, recognizes their gifts, encourages their confidence, supports their growth, and holds them accountable to standards.
  • Track record as a collaborative leader who excels in managing multiple projects, and is comfortable working in a fast-paced and non-traditional work environment.


  • The People’s Strategist. You’ve been around the block, and have well-formed assessments about the gaps and strengths in Black liberation and gender justice movements and organizations. Nonetheless, your strategy work is driven by your characteristic intellectual curiosity and hunger to learn what others can teach. You are a confident leader, motivated by a belief that the best strategies come from collective processes that facilitate careful listening, accurate appraisals of external conditions, and creativity.
  • A uniquely skilled, empathetic communicator You are someone who uses your highly developed sense of empathy to tap into what motivates others to act. Because of your belief that everyone benefits from the type of future for which our membership fights, you are able to find ways to make meaningful connections to our work for individuals who may not have had any direct experience with poverty, incarceration, or race, gender, or heteronormative bias. You hold central the humanity of funders, donors, media and other potential Essie partners, while carrying a healthy dose of awareness of the complexities of approaching philanthropy to fund and media to amplify movement work.
  • Sees #Woke as a verb. You are committed to continuously deepening and evolving your own understanding of systems of oppression through study, openness, and humility. And you easily recognize your own relationship to privilege and power, examining and shifting your behaviors as appropriate.
  • Discernment and honesty we can trust. You are a thoughtful team member who acts in alignment with your integrity and are unfailingly trustworthy. You earn rather than demand the trust of people by listening and making decisions thoughtfully.
  • Uplifting and additive. You see mistakes as opportunities for growth; problems as catalysts for solutions, and inspire others along the journey. You carry a positive approach, can-do attitude, a sense of humor, and authentic kindness wherever you go.

The Position

The Director of Communications and Partnerships is a full-time, salaried, exempt position. This position is supervised by the Executive Director. The salary for this position is between $95,000-115,000 depending on experience with full medical, dental, and vision benefits, optional 401(k), a substantial vacation package, and a monthly personal wellness stipend. The position is based in one of Essie’s offices in Oakland or Los Angeles, California.

To Apply

Please address a thoughtful cover letter to the “Essie Hiring Committee” and submit along with a resume through our hiring portal ( by the application deadline at midnight on Sunday, January 10, 2021.

Essie Justice Group provides equal employment and advancement opportunities to all staff members. Employment decisions are based on merit, qualifications, and skills. Essie does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, immgration status, socioeconomic status, ancestry, age, size, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, familial status, veteran status, disability, AIDS/HIV status, medical condition, prior conviction, arrest history, traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Essie values and specifically seeks applicants who are people with incarcerated loved ones; formerly incarcerated people; people of color; women; queer, transgender, gender non-conforming, and gender fluid people.

This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, performance assessment, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

About Essie Justice Group

Essie Justice Group is a non profit organization of women with incarcerated loved ones taking on the rampant injustices created by mass incarceration. Our award-winning Healing to Advocacy Model brings women together to heal, build collective power, and drive social change. Learn more at