Presidential Speechwriter and Special Projects Advisor
Teachers College, Columbia University
Location: New York City, New York
Internal Number: 510253
Job Summary/Basic Function:
Reporting to the Chief of Staff to the President, the Presidential Speechwriter and Special Projects Advisor collaborates with the Strategic Communications team in the Institutional Advancement office to implement communications according to the communications and thought leadership strategy developed by TC Generation.
These communications cover, both internal and external audiences, including the Board of Trustees, current students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, government officials, and the media. Communications developed include, but are not limited to, remarks and speeches for the President at Teachers College, Columbia University events, including Convocation, State of the College, New Student Orientation, and any event involving the President (like board meetings, conferences, alumni and faculty-driven events, such as Academic Festival, and more).
The position will also generate other documents, such as reports that originate out of the President’s Office (e.g., strategic priorities, Faculty reports, Board reports, briefing books and minutes, book forwards), and will execute other documents in response to larger college-wide strategies set by the Strategic Communications team, including Presidential social media content, op-eds, and media prep. The Speechwriter/Special Projects Advisor may also be called on to support other special projects within the President’s Office.
On occasion, this position will edit communication materials written by others to ensure that the text is accurate and appropriate. This resourceful, collaborative member of the President’s Office must have excellent writing skills; a good eye for detail; strong organizational skills; knowledge of current affairs as they relate to education, psychology and health; the ability to work well under deadline and is up to date on the current frames and positioning of DEI principles.
Work closely with the Institutional Advancement team, in particular the Assistant Vice President of TC Generation, Senior Director of Strategic Communications and Director of Executive and Internal Communications to implement the communications strategies developed by the Strategic Communications team in consultation with the College’s public relations agency SKDK. Recurring meetings with TC Generation and the Strategic Communications team will be required.
Maintain consistent branding in all Presidential communications.
Write critical communications, including speeches, remarks, presentations, briefings, talking points, reports, op-eds, letters to the editor, high-level correspondence, website and social media content for the President, targeting both internal and external audiences (such as faculty, students, alumni, prospective students, staff, and education/business leaders).
Write and/or edit remarks from other writers on the Strategic Comms team and in Advancement to be consistent with the President’s voice and proofread/fact-check to ensure that information is accurate (i.e., provide a final set of eyes and approval on all written communications from the Office of the President.)
Establish and foster relationships with key Teachers College constituencies, such as the President’s cabinet and Faculty to ensure relevant input and timely review of the President's communications that support the priorities of these groups while promoting the overarching vision, values, and brand of the President and Teachers College.
Collaborate with internal TC offices and teams, such as Human Resources, College Events, Student Affairs, academic programs and more, to develop remarks and communications as needed.
Crisis communications to be handled in partnership and collaboration with Strategic Communications and PR agency of record. Work proactively on anticipated sensitive College issues and coordinate proposed communications through TC Generation and its Strategic Communications team to ensure that all steps are consistent with the College’s wider communications strategy.
Follow workflows developed by TC Generation for trafficking messages internally to ensure accuracy, appropriateness prior to release.
Coordinate closely with members of Strategic Communications in the Institutional Advancement Office to stay abreast of emerging topics, issues, events, and opportunities for messages on behalf of the President.
Use sound judgment and work discreetly on sensitive or confidential assignments, and maintain the trust and confidence of the President.
Determine and coordinate with Strategic Comms appropriate responses to correspondence, prioritizing timing and content of messages based on changing day-to-day circumstances.
Maintain an awareness of presidential & executive communications best practices, current research about alumni audience preferences and needs, and issues in higher education that resonate with target audiences.
At least three years of experience in communications, preferably in higher education.
Capability to learn the President’s “voice” and to meet expectations for written style and content for a variety of audiences, and to accept and apply constructive criticism.
Experience collaborating directly with senior-level administrators or executives.
Extensive experience researching, writing, and editing communications content in a higher education institution, social justice organization or comparable cause-related organization under tight time constraints in a variety of styles.
Demonstrated experience writing compelling speeches for internal and external audiences that advance institutional priorities and values.
Ability to work independently and collaboratively, use sound judgment in making decisions, balance multiple priorities, and communicate proactively with stakeholders about project risks or uncertainties.
Experience compiling media briefings and media prep materials.
A deep commitment to promoting and enhancing diversity and social justice.
Superior communication skills to facilitate requests with internal constituents.
Exceptional writing and storytelling skills, understanding how to create content that draws an audience.
Keen attention to detail with strong organization and time management skills. Ability to prioritize and manage a high volume of detailed work with conflicting priorities, and deliver on a tight deadline.
Proficiency in Microsoft Office (PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Google Docs)
Proficiency in online communications tools (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.)
Experience in writing for and/or managing executive or presidential communications programs.
Experience working in higher education and on social justice topics.
Demonstrated interest in the higher education industry.
Bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or a related field
Teachers College, Columbia University, is the oldest and largest graduate school of education in the United States, and also perennially ranked among the nation's best. Its name notwithstanding, the College is committed to a vision of education writ large, encompassing our four core areas of expertise: health, education, leadership and psychology.