Organization:  Southwest Key Program
Position:  Chief Communications Officer
About the Organization:

As a national, nonprofit organization, Southwest Key exists to create opportunities and improve the quality of life for thousands of youth and families each day by providing safe shelter, alternatives to incarceration, career development and quality education. This is done through three areas of programming: Immigrant Children’s Shelters, Youth and Family Services and Workforce Solutions. We are a nonprofit, charitable 501(c)(3) social service, education, and community development organization. Our mission is focused on opening doors to opportunity so individuals can achieve their dreams. Our vision is to help ensure that every person has an opportunity to thrive in a community that fosters success and social equity.

For over 20 years, Southwest Key has been an integral partner in the U.S. response to the immigration crisis at our southern border, sheltering immigrant children under 18 years of age who arrive in this country without a parent or guardian, and working to reunify them with a parent, relative or sponsor. The majority of youth in our care are 13-17 year olds from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who’ve come here on their own, escaping dangerous conditions in their homeland. During the short period of time they are with us, we work to share the building blocks for their future success. After unification, we work to ensure safety and wellbeing in their new homes while connecting them to community services. Through our Home Study and Post Release Programs, support staff across 18 states serve youth nationwide who have been referred by ORR.

Job Description:

The Chief Communications Officer (CCO)will work in close consultation with the President and CEO, making recommendations, and seeking approval for all essential functions of the Chief Communications Officer position. The Chief Communications Officer is responsible for the development and implementation of all internal and external communications strategies for Southwest Key Programs. The Chief Communications Officer will lead the communications staff, suggest and conceive internal and external communications strategies and design efforts that drive broader awareness as well as positively influence the direction and positioning of the organization and its leadership among both employee and key external stakeholder groups. The Chief Communications Officer also will direct and supervise all the agency’s social media, present and future, and oversee its web site as well.

As needed, the Chief Communications Officer will lead the organization through a potential rebranding. This individual is responsible for directing all media relations, issue management, litigation support and crisis communications activities and plans. This individual will serve as the government relations subject matter expert and provide thoughtful advice and strategy at the local, state and federal level to the President and CEO.

This individual must have experience developing and implementing community initiatives on behalf of the organization and carries the responsibility of representing the organization in communications with and involvement with external audiences. The position will supervise the communications department, various project teams, freelancers and vendor relationships, and is accountable for department budgeting and staffing. This individual is part of the organization’s senior leadership, interacts with Board members and reports to the President and CEO. This individual is expected to have excellent professional judgement and initiative, under the clear guidance and direction of the President and CEO. This position will require travel.


  • Identifies opportunities, challenges, threats and emerging issues; work with the leadership team, outside consultants and staff to recognize internal and external risks regarding legislation and policy on a local, state and federal level. Create solutions and define and implement strategies.
  • Serves as a government relations subject matter expert and provides thoughtful advice and strategy at the local, state and federal level. The person will lobby or supervise others who lobby.
  • Develops and implements strategic marketing and communications plans to advance brand identity; broaden awareness; and increase visibility with external audiences. Position will not perform, supervise or advise on fundraising.
  • Identifies challenges and emerging issues, works with leadership team and staff to recognize opportunities and solutions, and defines and implements appropriate strategies, upon approval of the President and CEO.
  • Serves as marketing and communications subject matter expert and provides thoughtful public/media relations advice and strategy to the President and CEO. This includes community relations and activities dedicated to maintaining the agency’s image and promoting favorable relations with the key stakeholders.
  • Recommends marketing strategy for the cultivation of meaningful relationships with targeted, high-level external audiences, including media and key corporate, civic, not-for-profit, community and government partners. Adjusts strategy as needs change or evolve.
  • Foster key external relationships and represent the organization at community, business, civic, media, and various government settings.
  • Oversees development of all print, video and social media communications, including Southwest Key Program’s website.
  • Actively engages, cultivates, and manages press relationships and exercises judgment to prioritize media opportunities, and prepares talking points, news releases, media statements, speeches, presentations and other supporting material as needed. Also advises the President and CEO on media opportunities, serves as a spokesperson upon approval of the President and CEO, and acts as a media contact.
  • Develops, manages and supervises effective and regular internal communications programs at both headquarters and at different facilities across several states.
  • Works with multiple departments that support the greater communication strategy and establishes and monitors staff performance and development goals, assigns accountabilities, sets objectives, establishes priorities, conducts annual performance appraisals, and administers salary adjustments.
  • Promotes a culture of high performance and continuous improvement that values learning and a commitment to quality.
  • Oversees the day-to-day activities of the communications department including budgeting, planning and staff development.
Candidate Qualities:
  • Experience handling national and local media and developing marketing/communication strategies that comply with both legal and compliance regulations
  • Experience as an internal and external corporate communications and marketing executive
  • Highly experienced with brand management, social media, issue management, litigation support and crisis communications
  • Outstanding communication skills and ability to lead a team under tight deadlines
  • Experience managing external PR consultants
  • Experience managing a team of 3+ for at least 5 years is required
  • Able to react professionally to unexpected changes and still be productive and capable of handling other essential tasks as necessary and assigned
  • Proven negotiation and decision-making abilities
  • Adaptable self-starter with proven persistence when faced with challenging tasks
Candidate Qualifications:

10+ years’ experience working in a media strategy position, preferably with government affairs exposure; with 2+ years’ experience in a high-ranking leadership position with community and government affairs responsibilities

Bachelor’s or master’s degree in Journalism, Strategic Communications, Marketing, Public Relations, Business Administration, or an appropriately related field.

Bilingual (English/Spanish)

How to Apply:  Submit resume and letter of interest to Evan Zeppos, C/O [email protected] 414-491-6610