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Senior Director, Reputation and Issues Management

Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Executive Administration Jobs
C-Level & Executive Directors
Administrative Jobs
Institutional & Business Affairs, Communications & Marketing
Employment Type
Full Time
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution
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Senior Director, Reputation and Issues Management

Carnegie Mellon University is a private, global research university that challenges the curious and passionate to deliver work that matters. Our world-class institution has distinctive areas of excellence and a culture marked by ambition and a deep, practical engagement with the challenges facing society. We produce impactful alumni and draw excellent faculty and staff eager to be a part of the university’s creative, dedicated and close-knit community. We place emphasis on practical problem-solving, interdisciplinary learning, an entrepreneurial spirit and collaboration.

The University Communications and Marketing (UCM) Division at Carnegie Mellon leads and coordinates strategic marketing and communications, raising the institution’s global visibility and deepening its reputation as one of the world’s great universities. We tell stories through our own rich array of tools and platforms; cultivate ambassadors among CMU’s extended global community; and build strong relationships with influential audiences through a variety of traditional and new approaches. UCM also improves the CMU experience for faculty, staff, students and alumni by driving clear communication within the university community.  Additionally, we provide leadership, partnership and coordination for communicators across campus, partnering with other offices, colleges, schools and departments.

We are searching for a Senior Director of Reputation and Issues Management reporting directly to the Vice President of Marketing and Communications and working closely with the AVP for Communications. This is an exciting opportunity for those who thrive in a complex and fast-paced work environment.  In this position, the Senior Director will play a critical role in planning strategies and implementing tactics for both external and internal audiences to address and handle a portfolio of current and emerging issues that pose a reputational risk to CMU.  The Senior Director will serve as a primary spokesperson across local, national and international press. In this role the Senior Director will lead cross-campus crisis planning for communications, simulations, media training (for sensitive issues) and be the primary contact point with our external agency partner. The Senior Director will work directly with the VP for Communications and Marketing and other university leadership to understand, plan, act, track and follow-up on a wide variety of issues and opportunities.

Core responsibilities will include:

  • Provide strategic advice and counsel to university leadership, including president, provost, vice presidents/provosts, deans and department heads, on issues that pertain to their areas;
  • Create and distribute precise, consistent communications materials including but not limited to: media statements, Q & A’s, backgrounders, communication plans, memos, email responses or messages, post-action evaluation and reports;
  • Oversee relationship with crisis communications partner, create and implement crisis management planning efforts including building and maintaining a comprehensive crisis plan, running simulations and conducting media training. Train colleagues in crisis communications protocols;
  • Own an ongoing issue monitoring effort with the central communications team, including executive communications, internal, media relations, research and social media components. Create and maintain an issue’s playbook; 
  • Scan the horizon and evaluate priority issues and opportunities that may potentially impact the university (internal and external);
  • Collaborate and coordinate with Office of Emergency Preparedness, CMU Police, Office of Student Affairs, Office of the General Counsel, Office of Government Relations and other campus communicators and constituents to identify and address issues in a proactive manner;
  • Develop and cultivate relationships with key local, national and international members of the press, as well as emergency management agency public information officers;
  • Assist in emergency management training exercises and preparedness activities;
  • Work closely with vice president and senior staff within the University Communications and Marketing Division to shape key university messages to ensure consistent messaging across channels and raise global visibility for the university.

Flexibility, excellence and passion are vital qualities within the University Communications and Marketing Division.  A commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, collaboration and cultural sensitivity are core values at CMU. Therefore, we are in search of a team member who is able to effectively interact with a dynamic population of partners with strict and appropriate confidentiality. We are looking for someone who shares our values and who will support the mission of the university through their work.

You must demonstrate:

  • Ability to build and execute crisis communications plans with a strong understanding of best practices;
  • Deep understanding of issues management with a proactive approach to activities;
  • Strong writing and editing skills, including executive communications experience;
  • Capability to write for different audiences utilizing various forms of storytelling across a wide array of channels and mediums;
  • Remaining calm under pressure and the trait of “running toward the fire”;
  • Superior news judgement and persuasive communications skills;
  • Capacity to independently and effectively prioritize and manage multiple projects at a time in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment;
  • High levels of integrity, trustworthiness, respect, and the ability to research options, think creatively, and make sound decisions;


  • Bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, communications, business, or other relevant field; Master’s degree highly desired.
  • Minimum of eight years as a leader in crisis communications and issues management working directly alongside senior leadership; experience working collaboratively and effectively within a matrixed environment required.
  • Or a combination of education and relevant experience from which comparable knowledge
  • On-camera experience as a spokesperson or extensive experience as spokesperson in public settings highly desired; fluency in higher education crisis issues preferred.


  • Successful background check

Due to the nature of the role, the willingness and ability to work outside normal business hours will be necessary. This position is based on CMU's main campus in Pittsburgh, PA.

How To Apply: Applications received by 11/01/2022 will be given full consideration. Applications received after that date may be considered until the position is filled. All individuals interested in this position are encouraged to apply. Your application must include a complete online application and all of the required documents below to be considered complete. 

Required application materials: 

• Attach a Cover Letter of no more than three (3) pages describing how you meet the professional and desired characteristics of the position.

• Attach a current Resume, including educational background, professional experience, achievements and professional activities.

Contact: Ferra Executive Search has been retained to manage the search. If you have any inquiries or nominations, please send an email to: Kevin Ferra, Founding Partner Ferra Executive Search [email protected] Please use Senior Director of Reputation & Issues Management as the subject line when you contact Kevin.



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