Director, Office of Communications and Public Information

Location
Alexandria, VA
Salary
$108,447.82 - $196,536.08 Annually
Posted
May 22, 2022
Closes
May 31, 2022
Ref
2022-00232
Function
Communications
Hours
Full Time
Director, Office of Communications and Public Information

The City of Alexandria is known for the stories of its past; this position is an exciting opportunity to craft the story of its present and set the stage for its future. Join us and help tell the evolving story of this 272-year-old community, named #3 Top Best Small City in the U.S. in 2021 by Condé Nast Traveler magazine.

The Director of Communications & Public Information (OCPI) will be responsible for creating and executing an innovative public information, access, and community engagement strategy for the City’s many important constituencies - our residents and businesses, visitors, City employees, and the greater community. The City of Alexandria is a diverse, energetic, caring community with a city government that reflects these values. Our goal is to reach people where they are , using strategies and tactics that address language access, the digital divide, and issues around social equity. The successful candidate will work to create opportunities for all Alexandrians, as well as those who work and visit our City, to learn about, be involved in, and engage with our City government.

The Director of OCPI currently supervises a team of 11 communications professionals and coordinates the development and delivery of information to the public, employees, and the media through internal and external communications, including media relations, social media, web content, public affairs, marketing, and through departmental outreach programs and activities.

The Director of OCPI is the City’s chief spokesperson with all media outlets, requiring 24/7 availability for emergency and/or critical incidents.

The Director provides leadership and strategic direction for determining priorities, goals, objectives and opportunities for evaluation to ensure City communications are current, accurate, effective, and timely. The Director works collaboratively with the City’s senior leadership team to develop and implement communications strategies and messaging consistent with the City’s goals and objectives.

The Director develops and implements policies, procedures, standards and controls for citywide messaging and communications, and ensure that the City’s public information and communication efforts integrate across agencies and on all platforms. The Director provides guidance and direction to OCPI staff, as well as other City government communicators, to ensure strategies have the greatest impact across all channels.

The Director works to improve citywide communications, eliminate gaps in information dissemination, and strengthen skills and relationships among City communicators to facilitate a common look, feel and message, while occasionally tailoring the message for different audiences.

The Director develops and maintains strong professional working relationships with department and agency directors, representatives of the news media, and with the other public information professionals in the region. The Director provides strong leadership in establishing relationships and fostering partnerships with City staff, the community, civic and special interest groups, and key stakeholder groups, including hard-to-reach, diverse and under-represented communities.

The Director works with other key staff to plan strategies to manage emerging issues and crises.

The Director will be responsible for overseeing the expansion of the City’s Language Access Program, with English, Spanish, Amharic and Arabic the primary languages spoken in Alexandria. The Director will also be responsible for a renovation of the City’s website, from a search engine-based format to a dynamic news and information resource.

The Director is responsible for overall management of the department, including annual evaluation of OCPI staff, identifying opportunities for professional development for OCPI staff, and budget research, development, preparation and monitoring.

The Director of OCPI is appointed by the City Manager and reports on a day-to-day basis to an Assistant City Manager.

High Priority Issues

The Director of OCPI will support communications and build community awareness, in multiple languages using appropriate, tailored communications strategies and tactics, around current
major city initiatives including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Ongoing development of Potomac Yard, including the construction and opening in 2022 of a new Metrorail station
  • Transformation of the vacant 52-acre Landmark Mall site into a mixed-use community and state-of-the-art medical campus, in coordination with the Inova Health System
  • Construction of an $11 million municipal-fiber-optic network, to connect over 90 city facilities, as well as a new 1-gigabit-speed broadband network to serve Alexandria businesses and residents
  • The City’s significant long-term capital investment in an aggressive stormwater capacity program, to improve flood mitigation and the City’s stormwater infrastructure
  • Continued implementation of the City’s Waterfront Plan, including the construction of flood mitigation infrastructure
  • Construction of Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus in Alexandria, as part of the successful initiative to attract Amazon’s HQ2 to northern Virginia
  • Initiatives, programs and capital investments funded through the $59.6 million the City received in federal pandemic recovery assistance through the American Rescue Plan Act
  • Implementation of City race and social equity initiatives

  • Development in 2022 of a new six-year City strategic plan

  • Implementation of collective bargaining and an Independent Community Policing Review Board and Police Auditor

  • Protection of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic
Candidate Profile

The candidate will be an experienced communications professional with knowledge about the full range of current communications, media relations, and public involvement and public engagement strategies and an understanding of tactics, techniques, formats and platforms, and how to apply them in a municipal environment.

The candidate will demonstrate accuracy, diplomacy, discernment and effectiveness when developing and implementing public information and communications strategies for the news media, residents, the public, and employees.

The candidate will be a champion of inclusiveness and collaboration, supporting diversity, equity and inclusion in a complex, matrix organization. They will have experience engaging and communicating with hard-to-reach, diverse and under-represented communities and constituencies.

The candidate will quickly become familiar with the wide variety of programs and services that City departments and agencies provide and will develop an understanding of the most important and complex issues currently facing the City.

The candidate will have knowledge of the social media landscape and experience using social platforms and digital content to tell stories and grow awareness of information, programs and initiatives.

The Community
The City of Alexandria is in northern Virginia and bordered by the District of Columbia (Potomac River), and Arlington and Fairfax Counties. With a population of approximately 160,000 and a land area of 15.75 square miles, Alexandria is the seventh largest city in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Alexandria is a unique, historic place that is experiencing substantial transit-oriented urban redevelopment and opportunities because of a high market demand for urban living in a quality environment. The city is part of a large metropolitan area of the nation’s capital, yet it has retained its historic small-town character.

City government is responsible for 561 lane miles of roads; 185 miles of storm sewers; 240 miles of sanitary sewer; nearly 350 miles of sidewalks and shared use paths; and 900 acres of protected open space. The Alexandria Transit Company’s (ATC) DASH bus system provides bus service within the City of Alexandria and connects with other local bus systems, Metrorail, Virginia Railway Express (VRE) and Amtrak. Alexandria is home to one of the largest percentages of bicycle commuters in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Alexandria is also a culturally diverse city. Black or African Americans comprise approximately 20% of the residential population, with Hispanic or Latino and Asian residents making up 18% and 7%, respectively. Students at the City’s single public high school come from 88 different countries and speak 69 different languages. Alexandria has one of the highest per capita incomes, and one of the highest higher education attainment levels in the United States.

Alexandria was founded almost 50 years before the District of Columbia. Alexandria’s Old and Historic District (which is the third oldest historic preservation district in the U.S.), and Parker Gray Historic District are preserved with oversight by an architectural review board, which regulates proposed exterior building changes. Historic landmarks include Christ Church, where famous Virginia leaders worshiped; and Gadsby’s Tavern, a favorite meeting place of General Lafayette and President Washington and host of President Thomas Jefferson’s Inaugural Ball. In addition to its historic sites, Alexandria is home to a variety of attractions. One of the metropolitan area’s largest concentrations of international restaurants can be found in Alexandria. The Torpedo Factory Art Center, located on the Potomac River waterfront, provides an opportunity for the public to meet more than 200 professional artists. The Old Town Farmers’ Market in Market Square, at 261 years old, is the nation’s oldest farmers’ market that has been meeting continuously at the same site. The Del Ray and Rosemont areas offer beautiful tree-lined streets, eclectic shops and a variety of annual community events. Alexandria’s West End is filled with vibrant neighborhoods and will be the site of a new INOVA medical campus when the Landmark Mall site is redeveloped, which will serve as a major residential, commercial, shopping and dining attraction in the area.
Alexandria is home to over 12,000 thriving businesses and organizations which employ about 90,000 persons, including a large representation of technology companies, the fourth-largest concentration of professional and trade associations in the country, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the National Science Foundation, and a tourism industry that hosts 3.5 million visitors and brings in more than $800 million in visitor spending each year.

Organization
Alexandria has had a strong tradition of self-government since its founding in 1749. It is an independent city (Virginia cities have no county affiliation so Virginia cities provide both city and county-level services) and derives its governing authority from a charter granted by the Virginia General Assembly. Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, which means that local governments have only the authority expressly granted to them by the Virginia Constitution or by the Virginia General Assembly in the City Charter or in general law.

The City adopted the Council-Manager form of government in 1922. The governing body of the City is the City Council, which formulates policies for the administration of the City. The City Council is composed of a mayor and six additional members of council. All seven positions are elected at-large, on a partisan basis, for a three-year term (not staggered). The Mayor is chosen on a separate ballot and presides over sessions of the Council.

Civic engagement is highly valued by residents and the City government. In addition, there are 77 City boards and commissions with Council-appointed community members. These bodies compose a formal system through which the public can advise City Council on major issues. Boards and commissions are responsible to the City Council, and appointments are made by Council at their regular legislative meetings.

The City operates under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, which prohibits closed sessions of public bodies except for specific matters such as personnel, pending litigation and land acquisition. Accordingly, nearly all sessions of the City Council and boards and commissions are open to the public, and most City records are open to public inspection and copying.

The City Council appoints the City Manager, who serves as the City’s chief executive officer. The City Manager has appointment and removal authority over most department heads (including the Director of OCPI) and other City employees.

The City Manager and the departments that report to the City Manager are responsible for implementing the policies established by the City Council. The City provides a comprehensive range of municipal services including land use planning, health, welfare, housing and human services programs; public safety and administration of justice; community development, recreation, library, cultural and historic activities, and transportation and environmental services. The City budget provides for approximately 2,697 full-time employees, excluding school employees. The City’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 adopted Operating Budget is $1 billion. The FY 2022-2031 approved Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is $2.66 billion. The Alexandria City Public Schools is an independent organization governed by an elected school board and primarily funded by the City.

About the Office of Communications & Public Information
The Office of Communications & Public Information (OCPI) develops, coordinates and delivers meaningful and responsive communications for the community and for City employees. OCPI develops and directs a City-wide communications program, including content on the City’s website, and provides guidance and direction to other City government communicators.

The Office of Communications and Public Information is currently undergoing an exciting revitalization and reorganization, including new leadership, new direction from City Council and the City Manager, increased resources and a new vision for communications, public information and community engagement throughout Alexandria. We are working to build an organization that tells Alexandria’s story, builds relationships, and connects with the community using community engagement, communications planning, media relations, creative production and distribution and qualitative and quantitative evaluation tools.

OCPI’s current staff of 11 develop external and internal messaging; provide oversight and maintenance of content on the City’s external and internal websites; administers the City’s language access program; distribute routine and emergency information to employees and the public; design and layout print publications for external and internal use; develop and produce external and internal video content; coordinate with the news media; and coordinate communications with City academies, special recognition events, and City boards and commissions. OCPI has been serving as the City’s public information and communications lead during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Compensation and Benefits

The salary for this position will be negotiable and commensurate with the background and qualifications of the successful candidate. The City of Alexandria has a highly competitive executive benefits package, which includes annual leave, holidays and sick leave; a defined benefit retirement plan; health insurance, dental plan, life insurance, and long-term disability insurance; optional deferred compensation retirement plan; credit union membership; employee discount programs; tuition assistance; well-being rewards; and an employee assistance program.

Minimum & Additional Requirements

To be considered, you must have a four-year college degree in a field related to communications, public affairs or public administration; at least 5 years of experience in a complex, dynamic communications environment involving public information, communications, public relations and/or media; proven message development, writing and editing experience; web content development and social and digital media communication experience; experience communicating with the public and elected officials; ability to meet tight deadlines and work under pressure; and demonstrated experience in showing a high level of discretion and sensitivity when performing your work.

Preferred Qualifications

To be considered an ideal candidate, in addition to the above, you will have an advanced degree in a field related to communications; 10 years of comprehensive knowledge of communications, media and public affairs; proven experience with communications content development, communications strategy, and multi-platform communications, including in languages other than English; clear understanding of, and experience with, the media and news gathering; a strong management and leadership background; thorough knowledge and understanding of local government; and demonstrate strong on-the-record and on-camera experience that includes interviews with television, radio and other media outlets.

Notes

Application and Selection Process

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online at alexandriava.gov/Jobs .? Applications will be screened against criteria outlined in this brochure. Interviews will be offered by the Department Director to those candidates named as finalists, with reference checks, background checks and academic verifications conducted after receiving candidates’ permission.

For more information, please contact :

Shania Wright
Talent Acquisition and Operations Manager
703-746-3766
shania.wright@alexandriava.gov

Finalists will be subject to a thorough background check after receiving a conditional offer of employment.

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