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Tennesseans for Student Success

Communications Director

Tennesseans for Student Success


Job Summary


Tennesseans for Student Success is a statewide network of teachers, parents, community leaders, and volunteers dedicated to supporting, championing, and fighting for Tennessee’s students and their futures. We are committed to building on Tennessee’s historic gains in education. Having been named the fastest improving state in the nation in education, breaking ACT records, graduating more students on time, and offering early opportunities for success is just the beginning. We work every day to make sure today’s students are more prepared and have even more opportunities for success than those who graduated before them. Our organization’s efforts, including legislative advocacy, grassroots organizing, and engagement across the state, and issue advance to support high-quality public education systems across Tennessee.


The Communications Director is a seasoned communications and media strategist that works across our policy, outreach, and advocacy teams to design and implement a communications strategy that advances the organizations policy and political objectives. The Communications Director will utilize a variety of communications efforts including digital, social media, email marketing, media relations, paid-media campaigns, and other tactics to boost the organization’s awareness, brand, policy priorities, and advocacy goals. As an essential member of our team, supporting all aspects of our work, you will also be responsible for growing the structural capacity and sophistication of the organization’s long-term communications efforts. You will work closely with the senior leadership, as a trusted advisor, to create and implement a communications strategy that aligns with the mission and vision.



The mission of the Communications Director is to lead the organization’s communications and public relations strategies, leveraging their media-savvy and superior industry expertise to influence policy and political debates. The Communications Director is an essential member of the Tennesseans for Student Success team, working with staff and the CEO, engaging at every level to leverage our external communications to engage partners and stakeholders, influence debate, and ensure the issues, solutions, and successes of Tennessee students are front and center so our state’s public education system and policymakers respond to the diverse needs of students.

Job Responsibilities


The Communications Director will have the following primary responsibilities:


  • Develop and implement a statewide communications and media strategy for the organization and its major program areas
  • Create earned-media moments, develop a paid-media strategy, conduct rapid response, dispute inaccurate coverage, and create compelling narratives
  • Create and manage a crisis communications strategy
  • Proactively identify potential media risks and craft responses, ensuring the reputation of Tennesseans for Student Success is protected and enhanced while also advancing the organization’s policy agenda
  • Create, execute and measure strategic and effective communications and social media programs including the development, integration, and implementation of a broad range of public relations and social media activities relative to the strategic direction and positioning of TSS and its leadership
  • Lead website maintenance—ensure that new and consistent information (articles links, stories, and events) is posted regularly
  • Build and maintain positive working relationships with the press and partners, creating two-way channels of information and sourcing.
  • Use creative storytelling to create, share, and frame problems and solutions impacting Tennessee’s students



You are a proactive and persistent problem solver. You hold yourself personally responsible for results and are patiently persistent as you follow up and follow through. You find ways to get the information you need to meet your goal. You get the job done and are allergic to excuses. You do not wait to be told what to do. You’re adept at laying out a project plan that reflects the organization’s expectations as well as the team’s skills and then driving the team toward successful implementation, ensuring that key deadlines are met along the way and navigating unexpected challenges or changes in the environment. You think of the needs of other team members and their projects, constantly anticipating and problem-solving in advance of deadlines.


You are a “details” person. Your inbox and hard-drive are well-organized, and you can find documents in just a few seconds. You also thrive on organizing others, creating and implementing systems to ensure every moment is well spent. You make sure things don’t fall through the cracks. You would be embarrassed to go into a meeting unprepared. You think five steps ahead, anticipating legislator, staff, partner, or stakeholder needs.


You understand the world of politics and political strategy. You have an exceptional ability to identify and articulate the macro- and micro-level political dynamics that shape a given situation​. You have significant ​experience working in politics, policy, and advocacy, such as communications, legislative and policy advising, coalition-building, campaigns, or lobbying. ​You have a strong ​understanding of the art and science of building and exercising political power and influence toward specific policy outcomes. You can synthesize qualitative and quantitative data quickly to formulate insights and draw conclusions about the political dynamics of any given context. You can articulate concrete recommendations on how to organize and deploy resources to achieve policy and political goals. You understand the significance of relationships and events independent of prevailing attitudes, or your own biases.


You are able to set a clear vision and strategy. Once you set a goal, you can establish a clear vision for others and create a set of strategies likely to achieve that goal. You’re also able to adeptly adjust your strategy as needed, recognizing it as a tool and not an implementation plan. You can quickly shift from strategy to execution when it comes to getting things done. You are grounded in and capable of setting the big picture goals and strategy. Still, you are ruthless about getting the details right and navigating nuance.


You have credibility as an expert. You demonstrate mastery on a wide range of topics. Your opinion and perspective in areas where you have expertise and experience is respected and sought out. You have a probing mind that seeks to resolve problems based on their priority. You are able to absorb new information quickly. To stay informed, you continually seek out new information, data points, and ideas.


You are an excellent communicator.  You use clear and concise language without being overly verbose or talkative, your writing is concrete and actionable. You’re comfortable writing proposals and memos and building presentations from scratch. Others have said that your writing is concrete and actionable. You use examples to back up your claims. You understand the context in which you are communicating, and respond professionally and effectively, tailoring your message depending on the audience. You are skilled in communicating with a wide-range of critical stakeholders and are comfortable drafting anything from a proposal to a PowerPoint presentation. You also know how to present data graphically, in a logical and visually appealing way, that allows those not as familiar with the data to understand the story behind the numbers. In responding to inquiries, you understand how to be honest and strategic, while navigating legal and political implications, as well as the news readers perception of your quote and how it will fit into the larger story.


You are innovative and have an entrepreneurial spirit. You understand that the only constant in life is change and you are able to adjust quickly to changing priorities or a new direction entirely. You are skilled at taking pieces of the original plan and molding them to the new one, remaining organized even in the face of change. You rise to the challenge of dealing with the unfamiliar, effectively coping and staying calm and composed. You find early-stage efforts invigorating and respond to challenges in a positive and proactive way. You are resourceful, have a creative approach to problem-solving, and believe in the continuous improvement of processes. You are excited to come in near the ground level and build something whose impact (if successful) will last well beyond your lifetime.




Education: Bachelor’s degree required. Graduate-level degree preferred.

Experience: At least five (5) years of communication experience, ideally as an in-house lead

Physical: Ability to stand or sit for prolonged periods.

Job Type: Full Time, Salaried (with killer benefits)

Travel: 25% (As of March 16, 2020, all work-related travel has been suspended by Tennesseans for Student Success)

Additional Information


Killer Benefits: Employer paid Medical, Dental, Vision; 401(k) Employer Matching

How to Apply


To apply, please send cover letter and PDF of your resume via email to brooke@tnsuccess.org.

  1. Cover letter and PDF of your resume.
  2. A writing sample (memo, presentation, or other material) similar to that which may be produced in this job. The sample should reflect your analytical, research, and communication skills.


  • Date Posted: January 6, 2021
  • Type: Full-Time
  • Job Function: Communications / Marketing / PR
  • Service Area: Education