Director of Communications, Advocacy & Public Outreach

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Salary high 60s to low 70s, depending on qualifications
Dec 27, 2016
Jan 26, 2017
Job Type
Employment Status
Full Time

The American Institute of Architects Minnesota, founded in 1892, is the professional association for architects in the state of Minnesota. Our mission is to advance a vital profession, vibrant communities, and architecture that endures. As a state component of AIA National, with three local chapters, AIA Minnesota has nearly 2,400 members and a total staff team of eight individuals. AIA Minnesota provides a wide variety of programs and services, including producing a regional convention, delivering continuing education programs, publishing the award-winning magazine Architecture MN, producing public architecture-related events, organizing awards programs, lobbying on behalf of the profession at the state legislature, and fostering diversity and inclusion in the profession of architecture. For more information, please visit

Position Summary

The position of Director of Communications, Advocacy & Public Outreach is wide-ranging in nature: from communications strategy development to writing, editing, and distributing everyday member communications; from government relations strategy – in cooperation with contracted lobbyists – to ensuring ongoing engagement with members on policy issues; from maintaining longstanding awards programs to exploring new ways to connect architects with business, government, and community leaders. This position will work collaboratively with each member of the small yet mighty AIA Minnesota staff team, reporting directly to the Executive Vice President (executive director).

Duties & Responsibilities


  • Development of communications strategy for AIA Minnesota and the local chapters (AIA Minneapolis, AIA St. Paul and AIA Northern Minnesota)
  • Writing and editing regular communications to the members and partners of AIA Minnesota, which currently includes a monthly electronic newsletter (“Matrix”), e-mail blasts (via Constant Contact), marketing copy for programs and services, press releases, event collateral, etc.
  • All aspects of media relations – cultivating relationships with reporters and media outlets throughout the state and pitching stories related to architects, architecture, the built environment, and issues of concern to architects – sustainability/resiliency, housing, workforce development, the opportunity gap, etc.
  • Public relations and media relations as related to event promotion, including contractor relations, social media, and writing tasks related to the Homes by Architects Tour, the Home of the Month event, and other public events.
  • Awards program management, including promotion, call for entries, entry management, support of the jurying process, public announcement and recognition of award winners, presentation development, and support of video production
  • Social media strategy development and implementation
  • Website management and updating
  • Brand management for AIA Minnesota, the local chapters, Architecture MN magazine, and the Minnesota Architectural Foundation, in accordance with the brand standards of AIA National.
  • Presentation development (e.g., PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.)
  • Internal communications, ensuring a shared knowledge base among staff and volunteer leaders
  • Vendor / contractor relationship management (e.g., videographers, graphic designers, PR professionals)
  • Organization-wide volunteer recruitment, retention and recognition strategy development, management, and implementation, in collaboration with the Director of Membership & Operations and the Director of Events & Career Development
  • Development and implementation of new online hubs for member information sharing on topics of interest (e.g., a Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Knowledge Community)


  • Ongoing staff support to the Government Affairs Committee and related educational, advocacy, and member engagement efforts (policies advocated are determined by AIA National with advocacy strategy determined by AIA Minnesota)
  • Lead staff support for policy-related studies and research projects
  • Build and implement an overall strategy for growing members’ engagement in policy issues and advocacy at the state, local, and national levels
  • Ongoing staff support for the Committee on the Environment, the Housing Advocacy Committee, the Sustainable Regional Development Task Force, and other committees / task forces / knowledge communities as needed


  • Build and implement an overall strategy for making architecture accessible, understandable, and highly valued – growing awareness of and appreciation for the process, outcomes, and importance of the profession among the general public and key influencers of policy and public opinion
  • Build and implement an overall strategy for creating connections among AIA Minnesota members and local leaders – helping members to proactively engage with leaders of local and regional governments, business groups, and community organizations
  • Collaborating with the Editor of Architecture MN magazine, the Director of Events & Career Development, and the Director of Sales to develop and implement a plan for defining and leveraging the Architecture MN brand in the context of the AIA Minnesota brand in regard to public outreach and partnered events (such as those put on in partnership with the Walker Art Center and Room&Board)


  • Local chapter support, as consistent with other roles and responsibilities
  • Minnesota Architectural Foundation support, as consistent with other roles
  • Assist with the organization’s records retention and destruction requirement
  • Assist the Executive Vice President and other staff, as appropriate
  • Assist with coverage of the front desk / phones as needed (all Directors share responsibility for providing coverage for breaks and during staff absences)
  • Other duties as required


AIA Minnesota is seeking an individual with exceptional communications skills, political savvy, and demonstrated ability to build and maintain relationships with reporters, business and community leaders, and government officials. Must have a professional history of integrity, inclusion, empathy, and a passion for the work you do, as well as natural curiosity – especially in regard to architecture and the people involved in the profession. This position will be pivotal in shifting the organization to be more public-oriented while at the same time ensuring that members, collaborators, and supporters feel engaged, valued, and well served. An entrepreneurial spirit is necessary, as the Advocacy and Public Outreach aspects of this position are new elements (this was previously a position focused on communications). There are no direct reports for this position.  Mental agility in moving back and forth from high-level strategy to everyday tasks with ease is essential, as is the ability to engage effectively with volunteer leaders – members who work with staff in developing and implementing organizational strategy and programs.

Required Knowledge, Skills, Abilities & Attributes

  • Exceptional written, interpersonal, and oral communication skills
  • Excellent attention to detail, including editing and proofreading skills
  • Ability to switch easily from one task to another while maintaining a high level of work quality
  • A strong track record as an implementer who thrives on managing a variety of work projects and responsibilities
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively and inclusively with a diverse range of people
  • Resilience and even temperament in dealing with unexpected challenges
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and implement all aspects of initiatives, while also taking direction well and working collaboratively with team members, volunteer leaders, and other partners
  • Ability to anticipate questions and needs
  • Self-motivated to provide high-quality work, embracing a spirit of continuous improvement
  • Excellent judgment and problem solving skills
  • Excellent skills related to word processing, presentation development, social media platforms, website management and maintenance, and contact / relationship tracking
  • NOTE: writing and editing skills will be tested as part of the hiring process

Desired Knowledge, Skills, Abilities & Attributes

  • Experience working with architects, associations, nonprofits, business leaders, and/or governmental leaders
  • Knowledge of the practice, principles, or science of architecture
  • Experience with policy issues related to architecture, the building industry, sustainability/resilience, housing, workforce development, and/or the opportunity gap
  • Experience and/or skill development related to growing the intercultural competence of individuals and equity within professions or organizations
  • Facilitation skills
  • Graphic design skills

Required Education & Experience

  • Degree from a 4-year college, with strong skill in written and verbal communications in the English language
  • At least five years of professional experience directly related to the responsibilities of this position

AIA Minnesota is committed to growing the diversity and inclusion of the architecture profession and of our association, and to reflecting the public our members serve. Please view our recent Diversity Task Force Report, which includes our Diversity Commitment, at We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.


Full-time 40 hours per week, with core hours of 9am – 3pm and some meetings and events that require early morning or late evening attendance (a regular schedule around the core hours would be established with the successful candidate). During key events (e.g. the Homes by Architects Tour and annual Convention) and times of high-intensity work (e.g., management of a media relations issue, assistance with government relations), weekend hours may be required.


Health and dental benefits covered 100% for employees and available at the employee’s cost for family members. Paid vacation and sick time, and 10 paid holidays each year. Early closing time of 3:00 pm on Fridays Memorial Day through Labor Day. Retirement plan and employer contribution available after one year of employment. Free parking and a professional office environment within the International Market Square building near Downtown Minneapolis.

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