Director of Communications

The Water Foundation
Oakland, CA, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
Experience Level: 
Mid-Level (5-7 Years)


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Chaloner has partnered with The Water Foundation on their search for a creative, seasoned communications strategist to help drive lasting water solutions in the American West and beyond.

Position Description

The Director of Communications will join a vibrant new institution with a compelling mission to ensure reliable, clean water for people and nature. This opportunity has all the challenge and excitement of a start-up, with the distinct benefits of demonstrated organizational success, a known reputation in the world of western water policy, and existing funding resources.

The Director of Communications will provide broad leadership strengthening communications in the water field. The Director will collaborate with the program team and other leaders in their field to drive compelling water narratives that build political will to secure clean and safe drinking water for all people, restore collapsing freshwater ecosystems, and build climate resilience. The Director will also develop and lead execution of the Water Foundation’s first communications strategy.

This is a new position with extensive responsibility. It will report directly to the Chief Executive Officer and work in close partnership with the Director of Programs and Strategy and the Director of Strategic Partnerships. For a driven leader, this position provides a unique opportunity to help shape communications strategy on one of the most important issues of our time.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

The Director of Communications will hold the following responsibilities:

Guide Water Foundation’s Fieldwide Communications Strategy

  • Build communications strategies with key partners that increase the political will to advance important changes to water management across the West. This will include conveying the crisis of unsafe drinking water across the region and seizing climate change driven extreme weather—floods, droughts, wildfires, and infrastructure failure—to secure support for building resilience to these disasters.  These communication strategies will anchor focused campaigns to secure water policy, funding and governance changes and will include amplifying the voices of frontline communities most impacted by these water challenges.
  • Execute communications strategies through thoughtful grantmaking to groups and leaders across the West. This responsibility will be held in partnership with the program team and will involve grants to shape strategic communications-driven initiatives and build organizations’ communications capacity.
  • Partner with other communications leaders in the water field to establish fieldwide communications infrastructure on water, learning from efforts from leaders in other fields such as Climate Nexus, which was built to advance climate and energy goals.

Cultivate Network of Communications Leaders in Water Field

  • Serve as the Water Foundation’s main point of contact with the media. Build and maintain relationships with key contacts covering western water including water journalists, key opinion leaders, and editorial boards.
  • Develop collaborative partnerships in key strategic communications networks and organizations to exchange information, share lessons, and leverage each other’s efforts.
  • Share these relationships and networks with the organizational partners to strengthen their communications capacity and build a more cohesive network of communications leaders within allied water organizations.

Lead Organizational Communications Strategy

  • Develop an integrated communications strategy for the Water Foundation to convey the work through myriad communication channels (including earned, social, and trade-based media), galvanize new partners to their work, and establish communications protocols for their team. This strategy will be developed in partnership with the CEO and other staff.
  • Oversee the execution of this organizational communications strategy, including drafting and editing content. This responsibility includes managing design, production, and translation of public-facing materials such as website pages and features, periodic partner updates, social media content, op-eds, blog posts, and other communications collateral.
  • Oversee the website, social media accounts, and web-based communications platforms with support from their operations team.
  • Disseminate publications and publicize events in partnership with program staff.
  • Increase the Water Foundation’s capacity to respond rapidly in key moments, including quickly drafting and posting public/press statements and placing quotes with journalists.


The successful candidate will have the following minimum qualifications:

  • 8-10 years of experience working in communications field, demonstrating progressive growth in responsibilities and expertise.
  • Demonstrated success developing and implementing communication strategies through positions held in government, strategic communications agencies, water agencies, nonprofit organizations, or private business.
  • Exceptional writing and editing skills including the ability to quickly synthesize extensive information into clear, cohesive written products.
  • A strong network of professional contacts in the communications field, including experience working with journalists and new media.
  • Understanding of public policy.
  • Experience building and promoting organizational brands.
  • Strong work ethic, initiative, follow-through, and good judgment.
  • Excellent interpersonal and relationship management skills with proven ability to work cooperatively with peer organizations.
  • Capacity to receive and balance input from multiple colleagues.
  • Patience, grace, and humor under pressure.
  • Passion and commitment to the Water Foundation’s mission.

Compensation and Location

The Water Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and a competitive salary that is commensurate with experience. This position will be based in the Water Foundation’s Oakland office.

The Water Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.

About the Organization

The Water Foundation is an ambitious new organization dedicated to advancing long-term, sustainable water management in the American West and beyond. Created in 2011 as an initiative within the Resources Legacy Fund in collaboration with several major funders, including the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Pisces Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, the Water Foundation became a fully independent nonprofit organization in January 2017.

Since it was first established as the California Water Foundation, the organization has invested over $30 million to improve the long-term availability of clean, safe water for California. It has assembled a respected team of experts in water, mobilized partner organizations, and engaged diverse constituents. The foundation invests in organizations and targeted regions to advance water policy reforms, convenes, and builds coalitions to improve how water is used, and advocates for better regional and statewide policies.

The Water Foundation has a track-record of success, notably including education and analysis to support the 2014 passage of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Currently the foundation advances a broad range of priorities, from ensuring safe, reliable and affordable drinking water to balancing use of the region’s major river systems. With a talented team of staff experts and ongoing and expanding support from its funders, the foundation is poised to move to a new level of influence and impact as an independent institution.

The Water Foundation has offices in Sacramento, Oakland, and Los Angeles. More information about the Water Foundation can be found at

Interested candidates should contact: Amy Segelin at Chaloner Associates.
212-365-6645 x1