Founded in 1907 by Frank and Francis Hackett, Riverdale Country School (Riverdale) is one of the preeminent and oldest country day schools in the United States. With an enrollment of 1,200 pre-K through 12th-grade students, Riverdale is committed to empowering lifelong learners by developing minds, building character, and creating community in order to change the world for the good. The school community reflects the diversity of New York City—students come to the school from 104 zip codes, and 42 percent of students self-identify as a student of color. At Riverdale, free expression and diverse viewpoints contribute to deeper and more nuanced questioning, reflecting, and understanding of the world in which we live. To this end, the school works each day to become an anti-racist, anti-bias institution and a safe space for LGBTQIA+ community members.
Riverdale’s history is characterized by continual innovation: it ignited the “country school” movement in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, championed global education in the 1940s and 1950s, and created new interdisciplinary courses in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, Riverdale is a place where people feel strongly that one should work with a sense of purpose and be able to tell their story humbly and authentically. Community members engage in rigorous, joyful education that incorporates interdisciplinary and experiential opportunities on its two campuses which are located on 27.5 stunning acres in the Bronx.
Reporting to Dominic Randolph, head of school, and serving as a member of his leadership cabinet, the director of strategic communications (director) shares broad responsibilities to advance the mission, reputation, and capacity of Riverdale Country School in fulfillment of its strategic priorities across all three divisions—lower school, middle school, and upper school. Along with Riverdale’s senior leadership and external consultants, the director will manage and elevate the school's brand through strategic planning, market insight, and trend analysis, and consumer feedback to provide strong cohesion across the school’s activities. The director will oversee strategic planning and processes that yield integrated school-wide communications and marketing that support the school’s mission; convey its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging with authenticity and sophistication; meet the needs of multiple constituencies and departments; and advance Riverdale’s standing in the local community and the independent school community nationwide.
This senior leader will collaborate with the admission office to ensure that the school’s overall and division-specific messaging effectively communicates the value of a Riverdale education to prospective families while partnering closely with the development office to ensure that the communications for fundraising and alumni connections appropriately reflect the school’s mission and voice and support the office’s objectives. Additionally, they will collaborate closely with the head of school, senior leadership team, and board of trustees on the school’s public relations approach. This includes managing media contacts and requests while working with the head of school on communications to proactively promote the school and safeguard its reputation in moments of crisis.
The director will build, coach, and manage a high-performing communications team that is equipped to meet the needs of a dynamic and evolving school, including digital strategy, social media, print publications, brand management, and media and public relations. In addition to leading the work of the Riverdale communications team and external resources (brand consultant, WordPress developers, freelance photographers, and video production specialists), the director will have an opportunity to hire an additional staff member to ensure all needs are met.
This position is an exceptional opportunity for an ambitious and equity-minded leader who is a big-picture thinker with a track record of innovation, collaboration, and mission-driven leadership. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree (advanced degree preferred) in marketing, communications, public relations, journalism, education, or a related field, and seven years of progressive, full-time experience in strategic communications and/or public relations, with at least three years of experience managing a communications team. Preference will be given to candidates with experience in strategic communications for independent schools, colleges or universities, or social impact organizations.
Additional qualifications include experience and demonstrated success in the following areas:
Sophisticated utilization of social media, web, digital, print, and multimedia strategies in support of organizational mission, values, and priorities;
Exceptional writing, editing, and oral communication skills and proficiency in communicating and engaging effectively with a wide range of constituencies, including senior leadership, faculty, board members, parents, staff, alumni, and students;
Creating and leading integrated communications campaigns, brand awareness, and media strategy with a relevant portfolio of proven outcomes;
Knowledge of trends and best practices in brand management and public relations, as well as communication technologies;
Proactive integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion into communications and brand strategies;
The ability to develop and implement strategic campaigns and research-based communications plans;
Expertise in making presentations and communicating with the media and key stakeholders, especially in a crisis or controversial situation; and
Managing complex projects in a fast-paced organization with multiple stakeholders.
Leaders at Riverdale Country School are expected to show competence in all domains outlined in the R+ Leadership Capacities. In this position, the following capacities are prioritized: commitment to the mission of Riverdale Country School; effective communication in all forms; collaboration while leading teams through change; working purposefully; and valuing and cultivating a diverse community.
Application and Nomination
Riverdale has retained the services of Spelman Johnson, a leading national executive search firm, to assist with leading this search. Review of applications will begin Monday, August 9, 2021, and continue until the position is filled. A resume with an accompanying cover letter that addresses the responsibilities and requirements described in the position summary must be submitted via the Spelman Johnson website at https://bit.ly/3wrXKF9. Nominations for this position may be forwarded to Michel Frendian at email@example.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.
It is the policy of Riverdale Country School to provide equal employment opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, national and ethnic origin, citizenship, marital status, disability, military status, or any other basis protected by applicable law to all qualified employees and applicants for employment.
About Riverdale Country School
Riverdale Country School is a Pre-K through grade 12 independent school in New York City committed to empowering lifelong learners by developing minds, building character, and creating community in order to change our world for the good.
Riverdale seeks to reflect the diversity of the New York metropolitan area in its students, faculty, and staff. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) is the foundational core of the anti-racist, anti-bias, and transformational work that Riverdale is doing to help students, faculty/staff, families, and alumni feel seen, heard, and valued. The school enrolls about 1,200 students who collectively reside in 104 different zip codes. Approximately 42% of our student body are students of color.
We seek to employ people who engage in all aspects of work with a student-centered approach, an open mind, passion, and a willingness to support the greater community. At Riverdale we recognize that the work of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is iterative and requires a consistent commitment. Ideal candidates display that commitment in their work and in their approach to teaching and learning.
As the world faces the immense challen...ge of the COVID-19 pandemic, Riverdale Country School continues to prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of its community members. Individuals are required to wear masks at all times except when eating and our strict adherence to physical distancing guidelines means that we limit the number of students in our classrooms. We currently provide free ongoing COVID-19 testing for all employees and also require students to be tested regularly. We are fortunate to have a sprawling campus with ample outdoor space and have upgraded the air filtration systems in our buildings. These elements have allowed us to maintain a rich learning experience for students during this difficult time.
Riverdale is an Equal Opportunity Employer and complies with all federal, state, and local laws which prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, national and ethnic origin, alienage or citizenship status, marital or partnership status, caregiver status, predisposing genetic characteristics, disability, active military or veteran status, actual or perceived status as a victim of domestic violence, or any other basis protected by applicable law.