Communications Director
XQ Institute, Oakland, CA


XQ Institute is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to rethinking the high school experience so that every student graduates ready to succeed in life. We work in communities throughout the country, with individual schools and entire school systems, to help them dream big about what high school could be, turn their innovative ideas into action, and create more rigorous and equitable schools.

We are seeking a Communications Director to lead the strategic development and daily execution of an ambitious communications agenda dedicated to the goal of high school transformation in every American community. If you’re passionate about educational and racial justice, deeply knowledgeable about the power of communications to inform and inspire, and well versed in cutting-edge tactics for messaging and engagement, we want to hear from you.

The Role

The Communications Director will articulate, amplify, and bring to life the voice of XQ, including the singular voice of XQ’s CEO, Russlynn Ali; design, lead, and drive XQ’s strategies for communications and earned media; and ensure that the stories of XQ and the XQ schools are at the forefront of our nation’s collective inspiration and work around rethinking high school.

The Communications Director will partner closely with XQ’s senior leadership team and other key stakeholders internally and externally. This leader must be a generative strategy leader, an effective manager, and a strong writer and storyteller, as well as a paragon of confidentiality around high-profile topics and individuals. The role requires an ability to forge and sustain clarity across XQ by balancing consistent language, priorities, and routines with an understanding of what it takes to remain agile, nuanced, and responsive in an ever-changing environment across a wide range of valued audiences.

Key Responsibilities

Vivify the identity and story of XQ: Articulate who we are and what we say; provide colleagues with tools and support that ensure alignment about how we all say it; enable broad visibility into “why” behind our mission. Connect our words and writing to all our other work, so that we speak and move with consistency and coherence, creating synergies across multiple platforms.

Strategize and implement: Design and execute a communications strategy across various channels, growing/leading teams to ensure integration, consistent messaging, quality, and achievement of measurable results in awareness and engagement.

Stay sharp: Closely follow the external environment regarding public opinion/trends and significant education policy issues in order to design and implement communications and public affairs solutions that build greater awareness of and drive traffic to XQ tools and resources.

Partner with amplifiers to solidify XQ’s presence: Maintain, build, and enhance XQ’s relationships with key media people across the nation and in key jurisdictions. Ensure that XQ is the “first phone call” for anyone who plans to speak or write about innovation and equity or the many issues associated with rethinking high school. See around corners in driving XQ’s reputation management.

Orchestrate, support, and inform the CEO’s public speaking and writing: Draft and iterate written communications; provide intake and disposition for incoming requests for the CEO or other team members to speak or appear; be strategic in targeting events, forums, and audiences at which to showcase XQ’s CEO and her thought leadership.

Shape the audience: Segment and define key constituencies; set messaging targets for each; identify media and channels with which to connect in ways that are meaningful and relevant. Understand potential landmines and detractors; forestall or stave off risks with anticipatory defense.

Build the team’s ability to strengthen the brand: Provide stakeholder and media relations counsel and training to colleagues and partners as needed. Proactively identify strategic opportunities for team members to engage specific audiences or events.

Maintain standards for look and feel: Contribute to developing and sustaining house style and brand standards are consistent across content and production of all public-facing documents, reports, and visuals, as well as online content for internal and external audiences. Drive consistent quality, voice, messaging, and brand adherence. Guide colleagues to ensure that XQ standards for aesthetic and content value are also reflected in XQ participation in relevant events, work produced by key partners, and customized messages for specific constituencies


  • Minimum of 8+ years of experience with progressive responsibility in marketing, communications, and writing.
  • Advanced degree in Communications, Public Affairs, Journalism, International Relations, or related field preferred.
  • Excellent writing, editing, and verbal communication skills.
  • Effective communicator, collaborator, and coordinator, with strong organizational skills and high detail orientation.
  • Strategic thinker and lover of interesting challenges.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity and working in an evolving environment; thrives while balancing multiple projects and tasks and meeting deadlines.
  • Demonstrated strong relationship building skills with internal teams and external partners.
  • Highly motivated, energetic, and enthusiastic self-starter comfortable working as a collaborative partner on a small communications team, as well as on cross-departmental projects.
  • Knowledge of the education landscape, experience in secondary or postsecondary education, and passion for educational justice are a huge plus.
  • Experience with and empathy for the high school communities XQ serves.
  • Adaptability to communicating to best reach and engage our audience—from educators to students—and to differentiate XQ.
  • A collaborative teammate, someone with positive energy and a willingness to partner with others to accomplish shared goals.
  • A strong desire to work in a lively, rapidly changing environment with a diverse team that often collaborates fluidly across projects. You are flexible and willing to perform other marketing tasks as assigned.


XQ Institute offers competitive benefits and salary for this role.

XQ is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace. At XQ, promoting, celebrating, and supporting diversity is a core value. Individuals are considered without regard to race, gender, age, sexual orientation, sexual expression, religion, color, veteran status, disability, marital status, or ancestry.


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