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Associate Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs

The Associate Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs leads the development and implementation of Rockefeller University’s communications strategy by collaborating across the University’s leadership, prestigious faculty and researchers, and staff. Reporting to the Executive Vice President, the Associate Vice President leads the Office of Communications and Public Affairs and is responsible for effectively positioning the University, faculty, and students to deliver on the University’s unique mission of science for the benefit of humanity.

The Associate Vice President will lead, manage, and align a committed team of 11 communications and public affairs professionals across editorial, digital, media, and development communications. This leader will initiate, support, and promote the external engagement of all University spokespersons, including President Lifton.

Serving as a “front door” to The Rockefeller University, the successful candidate will lead a proactive communications strategy that amplifies awareness of the University, its mission, and its impact. Specifically, the Associate Vice President will:

  • Serve as trusted counsel to the University’s leadership, including by proactively identifying and advising leadership on when (and when not) to issue statements.
  • Quickly establish relationships across faculty to develop an understanding of their work, support their public engagement (in the media and beyond), and maintain a “pulse” on newsworthy developments that exemplify the University’s impact.
  • Define clear strategic priorities that support the communications strategy and the University’s mission.
  • Operationalize the strategy with clear, achievable functional goals, in alignment with broader institutional goals.
  • Assess, align, and energize a committed team of communications professionals.
  • Partner with executive team members to facilitate critical internal and external communications.
  • Promote and protect the public image of the University.


The successful candidate for Associate Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs will be a collaborative strategic communications leader who quickly builds relationships within a close community of highly intelligent, accomplished professionals. Intellectually curious and aligned with the spirit of experimentation, this leader will have demonstrated aptitude to adapt and position complex scientific material with the appropriate audiences. With a track record of proactive engagement across many issues and constituencies, the successful candidate will be a supportive manager, responsive colleague, and engaged advisor.


  • Demonstrated success leading a modern, multi-faceted communications and public affairs strategy;
  • A track record of scalable management experience;
  • Demonstrated experience in a scientific, research, or higher education organization; and
  • An undergraduate degree from an accredited university; an advanced degree is preferred.

In terms of the performance and personal competencies required for the position, we would highlight the following:

Setting Strategy

  • The ability to create and articulate an inspiring vision for the organization, not only for the areas they are directly responsible for, but the enterprise as a whole.
  • The inclination to seek and analyze data from a variety of sources to support decisions and to align others with the organization’s overall strategy.
  • An entrepreneurial and creative approach to developing new, innovative ideas that will stretch the organization and push the boundaries within the sector.
  • The ability to effectively balance the desire/need for broad change with an understanding of how much change the organization is capable of handling, to create realistic goals and implementation plans that are achievable and successful.
  • Strong appreciation for scientific research.

Executing for Results

  • The ability to set clear and challenging goals while committing the organization to improved performance; tenacious and accountable in driving results.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty; the ability to adapt nimbly and lead others through complex situations.
  • A risk-taker who seeks data and input from others to foresee possible threats or unintended circumstances from decisions; someone who takes smart risks.
  • A leader who is viewed by others as having a high degree of integrity and forethought in their approach to making decisions; the ability to act in a transparent and consistent manner while always taking into account what is best for the organization.

Leading Teams

  • The ability to attract and recruit top talent, motivate the team, delegate effectively, celebrate diversity within the team, and manage performance; widely viewed as a strong developer of others.
  • The ability to persevere in the face of challenges and exhibit a steadfast resolve and relentless commitment to higher standards, which commands respect from followers.
  • A leader who is self-reflective and aware of their own limitations; leads by example and drives the organization’s performance with an attitude of continuous improvement by being open to feedback and self-improvement.

Relationships and Influence

  • Naturally connects and builds strong relationships with others, demonstrating strong emotional intelligence and an ability to communicate clearly and persuasively.
  • An ability to inspire trust and followership in others through compelling influence, powerful charisma, passion in their beliefs, and active drive.
  • Encourages others to share the spotlight and visibly celebrates and supports the success of the
  • Creates a sense of purpose/meaning for the team that generates followership beyond their own personality and engages others to the greater purpose for the organization as a whole.


The review of nominations and applications for the position will commence immediately and continue until the position is filled. Qualified and interested applicants should submit a resumé to For fullest consideration, materials should be received as soon as possible and preferably by October 23.


The annual salary range for this position is $300,000-360,000. This salary range is reflective of a position based in New York, NY.