Communications Officer, Policy



The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), located in Princeton, N.J., is the largest philanthropy in America dedicated solely to health. Since 1972 we have been providing funding, assistance, and research for projects and programs to help people, their families, and their communities be as healthy as possible. RWJF is committed to working alongside others to build a Culture of Health where everyone has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being.

We take seriously our responsibilities, and we pledge to work in ways that reflect our guiding principles. These are rooted in equity and influence everything we do at RWJF. Diversity, inclusion, and collaboration allow our staff’s wide range of experiences, passions, and perspectives to enrich our work and strengthens our ability to address our nation’s most pressing health issues. With a career at RWJF you will make a difference.

The communications officer is a professional staff member who is responsible for working to further the Foundation’s vision and objectives through the use of strategic communications. Core responsibilities include:

(1)    working collaboratively with others to develop, implement and manage communications for and about the Foundation’s initiatives that advance progress toward a Culture of Health and achieving health equity;

(2)    initiating, interpreting, and synthesizing communications, policy, and programmatic research to help the Foundation develop messaging that engages and activates audiences across political, ideological, and cultural perspectives; and

(3)    leading teams of communications professionals, including external firms and contractors, who will help amplify the voice of the Foundation and our grantees by communicating about research, programs and outcomes to key stakeholders.

Working periodically from both our Washington, D.C. and Princeton, N.J. offices, the communications officer will work closely with RWJF’s Communications, Program, Research Evaluation and Learning, and Policy Units to raise the Foundation’s profile and advance the Foundation’s policy and program objectives among policymakers across all levels of government. As with staff at all levels of RWJF, communications officers are expected to demonstrate a passionate commitment to equity, to the Foundation’s mission and guiding principles.


Communications Program Development and Monitoring

  • Develops, manages and implements communications strategies related to public policy for the Foundation and its grantees in a way that advances health equity.
  • Works in partnership with colleagues across the Foundation in developing and executing on theme-specific and Foundation-wide strategic communications objectives.
  • Manages the work of firms/consultants under contract with the Foundation on specific elements of strategic initiatives related to public policy.
  • Uses all available media platforms and media relations to promote the work and expand the reach and impact of the Foundation and its policy objectives.
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the changing landscape of public interest communications and public policy, and a willingness to experiment with new ways to reach, engage, and activate new audiences.
  • Leverages his/her networks to advance the policy work of the Foundation.
  • Has and/or develops strong content knowledge and understanding of how assigned area of work (Policy Unit) contributes to the building of a Culture of Health and advancing health equity, and how communicating about those efforts can help support the change necessary to make it possible for all in our diverse society to lead healthier lives.
  • Coordinates with other communications, program, and policy colleagues to break down silos and leverage opportunities across the Foundation.
  • Provides strategic communications guidance to the Policy unit, Theme/Team directors, other colleagues, consultants, and grantees.
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the fields related to the Policy unit and policy priorities of the themes and teams.
  • Manages the Foundation’s Connect program focused on building relationships between policymakers and their staff and the Foundation and its grantees.

Learning, Dissemination, Audience Identification and Development

  • Commits to measuring impact and sharing lessons learned—including failure, within the Foundation and with grantees, partners and other communications practitioners with respect to public policy.
  • Collaborates with Theme/Team directors, the Policy unit and Research-Evaluation-Learning staff, and Communications colleagues to develop plans for the development and dissemination of research-based products and materials that demonstrate Foundation-wide policy impact.
  • Develops strategic communications plans that include measureable outcomes for the Foundation’s policy work.

Grantmaking and Contracting Processes

  • Recruits and manages communications consultants and firms to help amplify the work of the Policy unit and its signature grantees.
  • Screens and assesses prospective communications proposals related to policy, works with communications firms to refine plans and project budgets.
  • Analyzes and evaluates all aspects of communications and policy proposals including strength of the strategy and activity, value for dollars requested and the organization's stability.

Foundation and Field Contributions

  • Represents the Foundation at events as needed and serves as an ambassador for the Foundation’s Culture of Health and health equity vision.
  • Provides communications support and coaching to members of senior management in preparation for internal presentations and public appearances; oversees the preparation of support materials for meetings and media and policy outreach opportunities.
  • Dedicates time to professional development and life-long learning. Participates in conferences, seminars and other professional development activities to stay informed about innovation, ideas, and practices in communications.
  • Performs other duties and responsibilities, as assigned.


  • Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and vision and alignment with our values.
  • Demonstrated personal and professional commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Experience and leadership potential in at least one of Foundation’s interest areas.
  • Successful experience fostering an inclusive environment working as part of a multidisciplinary team and working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Five (5) years of demonstrated experience in communications—particularly communications that are directed at policy outcomes, preferably with an organization with various departments and a multidisciplinary staff.
  • Experience managing contracts with and working successfully with communications and/or policy firms, consultants and external partners to develop strategy and execute on tactics.
  • Experience assessing the audience, the strategic objective, and desired outcome; developing and executing a strategy to drive toward that outcome; and evaluating and measuring the success of communications and policy efforts.
  • Ability to learn about and use emerging communications trends.
  • Demonstrated strong interpersonal skills and a collaborative, energetic approach; able to develop productive relationships with a diverse group of colleagues, grantees, consultants, external funders, and others who contribute to RWJF work.
  • Demonstrated self-awareness and sound judgment; ability to make decisions, justify recommendations, and be responsive and clear.
  • Experience handling multiple priorities effectively; must be adept at organizing time efficiently; able to understand and work effectively with others in a matrixed reporting structure.
  • Strong project and people management skills as well as a proven ability to work with flexibility, efficiency, enthusiasm, and diplomacy both individually and as part of a team effort.
  • Personal and professional integrity, an independent and strategic thinker, a sense of humor and able to work effectively with ambiguity.
  • Able to think creatively about opportunities to create and respond to novel and innovative approaches and to inspire others to work towards achieving Foundation goals.
  • Critical thinker who is able to synthesize material, focus quickly, identify opportunities while continuing to see the big picture.
  • Impeccable written and verbal skills; demonstrated persuasive and respectful presentation skills for communications with internal leadership, external high-level stakeholders and people from the communities we are working to reach on a range of complex issues.
  • Comfort with using social networking tools to further RWJF’s work.
  • Ability to travel; including site visits and representing the Foundation at outside meetings.
  • Education and experience equivalent to an advanced degree (MA/MS) and three (3) or more years of relevant experience.


The incumbent performs job duties in a traditional business office environment. Tasks are generally carried out with no specific or unusual physical or environmental demands. While performing the duties of this job the incumbent is regularly required to work at a desk and work with a computer for extended periods of time. Specific physical abilities required by this job include operating basic office equipment such as personal computers, duplicating machines, fax machines, and standard office telephones. The incumbent may be required to attend meetings, both on-site and off-site, via phone or videoconference.


RWJF is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Learn More About Our Work

Health Policy

Post Date

September 16, 2019


Due Date

October 27, 2019