Chief Communications Officer

Position: Chief Communications Officer

Salary: Commensurate with Experience  

FLSA Status: Full-time, Exempt

Reports to: Chief Executive Officer

Location: Washington, D.C.


About Polaris

Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris acts as a catalyst to systematically disrupt the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. By working with government leaders, the world’s leading technology corporations, and local partners, Polaris equips communities to identify, report, and prevent human trafficking. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what we do—helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate. Polaris is headquartered in Washington, D.C., operates on a $9 million budget in 2017, and has approximately 100 staff members.    


About the Opportunity

As the most senior communications professional in the organization, the Chief Communications Officer (CCO) is a member of Polaris’s Executive Team and is responsible for overseeing and guiding all aspects of Polaris’s communications functions. The CCO will ensure that Communications functions are integrated in the organization’s strategic approach to all of Polaris’ work. As a senior leader at Polaris, the CCO is a key strategic advisor on communications to the CEO, Board of Directors, and other leadership roles, and is the most trusted voice on communications matters for staff at all levels. As a newly created role at Polaris, the CCO brings innovation and new ideas, creates the future vision for strategic communications at the organization, elevates how strategic communications can drive our advocacy efforts, and advances the importance of excellence in communications throughout the organization as a whole. Successful leadership in this role builds Polaris’s brand visibility nationally and globally, and inspires a growing number of people to engage in our efforts to combat human trafficking and modern slavery.  


Specific Responsibilities

  • Manage and grow a four-person Communications team, build strong levels of ownership, and provide effective supervision and coaching to individual team members who are responsible for media relations, social media and digital content, marketing, and advocacy efforts;

  • Create and oversee the implementation of a robust strategic communications and public engagement plan that is well-integrated with the strategic priorities and major activities of the organization.  The communications plan will advance Polaris’s goals, develop and prioritize key messages and tactics, grow our brand and reputation, and attract a broader base of donors and supporters.   

  • Design, shape, and roll out innovative and effective communications strategies that advance Polaris’s agenda and ambitious goals for advocacy campaigns and programs, including an organization-wide digital strategy;

  • Set and achieve aggressive metrics that measure the success of Polaris’s communications department and bring fresh thinking and new ideas to work towards ambitious goals;

  • Collaborate closely with Polaris’s Development team and programmatic staff overseeing Polaris’s different programs and initiatives to ensure that the Communications team is fully leveraging programmatic successes and activities to advance our brand and business objectives;  

  • Build a clear vision for marketing Polaris’s brand awareness nationally and globally with compelling messages that conveys the unique niche of Polaris in a growing field and that steward a cohesive and inspiring sense of the organization’s identity;

  • Provide strategic oversight for and directly supervise the Director of Media Relations.  Work together to elevate national media efforts to achieve frequent and regular earned media exposure for Polaris on traditional print, broadcast media, and online;

  • Provide oversight for and directly supervise the Digital Manager and Content Designer to lead a strategy for digital communications involving seamless outreach through web, social media, email, and video, and shepherd the development of all Polaris and National Human Trafficking Hotline print communications, including topical reports and marketing collateral materials;

  • Seek speaking and public engagement opportunities for Polaris leadership and maintain relationships with important conferences, speaker’s bureaus, and other relevant field events of value to Polaris's brand building and message dissemination.

  • Analyze and make changes as necessary to the size, structure, and key roles on the Communications team in a growing and entrepreneurial department, with an eye towards maximizing resources, and meeting the changing needs of the organization as Polaris grows as a whole;

  • Evaluate, grow strategic partnerships, so that Polaris’ strategic communications remain nimble, innovative, and growth-oriented;

  • Bring and maintain a high standard of excellence for all of Polaris’s communications and marketing efforts, including producing high quality work products, telling powerful stories about the impact of our work, and reaching our target audiences in an effective and engaging way that is responsive to their needs and interests;

  • Develop internal publications such as newsletters, updates, email announcements, planned publications, on-line, intranet, video, special projects, and assignments.

  • Design systems and processes to ensure consistency and compliance with Polaris's brand standards across the organization;

  • Track and maintain annual department budgets. 


Professional and Personal Profile/Qualifications

  • Experienced strategic communications professional with 10+ years of experience who has a track record of building and growing successful brands and/or leading national advocacy or marketing strategies;

  • Experience with or appreciation of advocacy-oriented communications is required;

  • Inspiring and energetic leader with experience building and leading high-performing teams of strategic communications professionals with diverse skill sets;

  • Leader with a history creating an environment where team members feel inspired, valued, and empowered to grow and take on new challenges;

  • Confident decision-maker with sound judgment, an eye towards the most important drivers of success, self-starter, and drives to achieve results;

  • Role model for strategic thinking, innovation, trying new approaches, thinking outside the box, and being respectful with colleagues,

  • Commitment to working at a mission-driven organization that is passionate about human rights, addressing gender-based violence, and combatting human trafficking and modern slavery;

  • Skilled at influencing and engaging senior-level executives on communications goals;

  • Ability to design team structures, division of labor, new systems, and work flows to bring communications plans to life;

  • Proactively seeks out and creates new opportunities through entrepreneurship and strategic partnerships;

  • Strong interpersonal skills, and ability to effectively build strong relationships, both internally and externally;

  • Exceptional verbal and written communications skills, including effective presentation and negotiation skills;

  • Strong character, integrity, and common sense;

  • Mature, self-aware, self-reflective, energetic, positive, and collaborative;

  • Bachelor’s degree required, or equivalent combination of education and/or experience;  



  • Survivors of human trafficking encouraged to apply;

  • Subject to a criminal background check;

  • Subject to a probationary term contingent on training performance; and

  • Request for three professional and/or personal references.


Values Statement

The work of Polaris is grounded in a set of values and organizational beliefs that provide a common starting point for all of our activities. At Polaris, we look for talented individuals who are passionate about combating all forms of human trafficking and who will strive to embody and model these values within the Polaris community and in the anti-trafficking field. Please take a moment to make yourself familiar with these values and our mission statement before submitting your application. You can find a full description of our values here.