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Chief Communications Officer, Cleveland Metropolitan School District



Marketing & Communications
Cleveland, OH, USA
Posted on Tuesday, August 1, 2023

As the second largest school district in the state of Ohio, Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) serves approximately 35,000 scholars across 99 schools, including 65 schools serving PreK through 8th grade, 31 High Schools, and 3 remote or virtual school options. Our district is grounded in the progress achieved since the introduction of our community-driven reform framework – – and we are poised to continue these essential efforts to ensure that all public school scholars have a high-quality, equitable education in schools that inspire joy in learning. Our families have the opportunity to choose which schools their scholars attend, with extensive options that include STEM, the arts, single-gender education, International Baccalaureate, Montessori, and early college. Our Vision for Learning is personalized for each scholar and designed to engage scholars deeply with increased autonomy on their respective learning journeys. Rooted in the elements of Competency-Based Education, Anytime/Anywhere Learning, Whole Human Learning, and Personalized Learner Pathways, we aim to amplify the experience and opportunity for each scholar and family we are honored to serve. Strong community partnerships support our efforts to help scholars select, prepare for and access futures of their choice through Say Yes Cleveland’s wraparound support and tuition scholarships, advising through College Now, and Planning and Career Exploration (PACE).

In the spring of 2023, the Board appointed new CEO Dr. Warren Morgan to lead the district into its next chapter. In the coming year, Dr. Morgan is looking to thoughtfully assess the current state of the district and build a clear vision moving forward. He is establishing a leadership team that is laser-focused on building the conditions for student success, and ensuring that all schools have the resources, services and supports needed to ensure high-quality instruction in every classroom and every school.

What You’ll Do

The Chief Communications Officer reports (CCO) directly to the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Warren Morgan, and manages a team of professionals that support the organization in reaching its shared goals. The Chief Communications Officer is a critical member of the executive leadership team and provides strategic leadership of all external affairs programs and initiatives at the District level, including media relations; community relations; branding and visual identity; printed and digital communications tools; issues and crisis communications; and central operator services. The person in this role must be a trusted partner and advisor, an empathic listener, and a problem solver who can help bring understanding to a complex system and bridge gaps when misunderstandings occur. The Chief Communications Officer is responsible for developing an overall communications strategy, including internal communications, external communications, media relations, and social media that builds understanding and goodwill externally and internally for CMSD and its students. The CCO person also serves as a liaison between the District and the media, and serves as the District's chief spokesperson, handling sensitive and controversial issues.

Your Key Responsibilities

Strategic Planning and Execution

  • Develop and execute the district’s internal and external communications strategy which aligns to the district’s vision, mission and strategic plan.
  • Provide strategic thought leadership on CMSD initiatives, goals and priorities to provide comprehensive and proactive communications, strategies and planning to enhance the district's image and brand while imparting public information in a transparent manner.
  • Build and maintain public support for public education and the school system through proactive communication, marketing and media relations.

Partnerships and Relationship Building

  • Serves as a key ambassador for the organization and represent CMSD at community, state, and national functions, as requested by the CEO.
  • Communicate with various stakeholders to ensure that expectations are clear and that questions are answered directly and transparently.
  • Consult with CEO, Executive Office, and school leaders to develop strategies and recommendations that will improve and sustain media relations.
  • Under the direction of the CEO, interface extensively with Board of Education members to support CMSD initiatives and provide expertise and recommendations to Board members.
  • Act as a liaison between the district and the community; creating a cooperative working relationship between the media, the community, families and key constituents.
  • Partner with leading educational and community organizational leaders, staff, students and their families to support, inform, improve and enhance the execution of key initiatives.

Successful Execution of Written and Oral Communications

  • Develop and update key internal and external communications, presentations, fact sheets, and messages - in various multimedia formats - for the CEO and other key officials to use as needed to highlight the exemplary work and achievements of the school system
  • Draft and edit remarks, speeches, addresses, presentations, letters to the editor, submissions for social media, and commentaries (with the input and assistance of subject matter experts within the school district) to be delivered or submitted by the CEO or other senior leadership.
  • Ensure that all messages are coherent, consistent, cost-effective, and coordinated.

Team Management and Development

  • Supervise the direct reports and provide ongoing coaching and development.
  • Identify opportunities for cross-functional collaboration and align teams to realize efficiencies.
  • Mentor, evaluate and provide professional growth and development opportunities for staff.
  • Build the capacity of district leaders and departments.
  • Manage and allocate resources (e.g., money, people, and time) strategically and equitably so that they align to school and departmental needs.

The Skills You’ll Need to be Successful

Emotional Intelligence, Integrity and Professionalism

  • Appropriately judges the right timing to engage executive leadership around key issues.
  • Keeps composure when conversations are challenging, and decisions are unpopular.
  • Comfortable naming issues and addressing them openly as they occur. Not afraid to share difficult news.
  • Maintains a keen awareness of the interests and motivations s of others, acts with integrity in a politically complex environment, and maintains confidentiality about sensitive issues and student information.

Problem Solving and Decision Making

  • Able to lead complex and difficult tasks transparently and effectively.
  • Exhibit deep understanding of the intricacies of an urban school system and the political nature of the work, and the complexities of teaching and the tools/supports necessary to improve student outcomes.
  • Analyze complex, nuanced data from multiple angles and exercise judgment in making critical decisions and communicate the implications to diverse audiences.
  • Exhibit critical thinking skills with an ability to analyze data, identify trends and diagnose root causes; then establish goals, metrics for success, and track results.

Influence, Leadership and Communication

  • Demonstrate leadership presence that gains the confidence of others in order to fulfill the vision of the CEO.
  • Prepares the CEO and other leaders for effective decision-making conversations, anticipating and organizing key questions and data that support productive discussions to direct key priorities.
  • Communicate effectively, tailoring messages for the audience, context, and mode of communication.
  • Connects purposefully and intentionally with others. Express ideas with clarity, respect, and awareness in conversations and interactions with others.
  • Build trust and positive relationships among district and school leaders, political and community partners, journalists and media outlets to execute the shared vision for the district.
  • Navigate politically complex structures, relationships, and dynamics to challenge ideas and enable thoughtful decisions and positive outcomes for students.
  • Listens compassionately with an open mind, seeking to understand other perspectives before establishing the path forward.
  • Maintain visibility and work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders at all levels to achieve convergence in strategy and practice.

Team Leadership and Management

  • Lead a creative, innovative, and high-functioning team; delegate and leverage the team effectively to drive for impactful results and achieve ambitious goals.
  • Assess team and individual skills and identify development needs; provide feedback and support to improve practice, build capacity, and maximize talent.
  • Promote professional learning and utilize effective adult learning techniques.

Student-Centered, Data-Driven Decision Making

  • Demonstrate belief that each scholar can achieve at the highest levels; hold self and others accountable for promoting high expectations for the academic achievement of CMSD scholars.
  • Lead courageously and intentionally to seek the voices of marginalized communities to invite diverse input regarding decisions that impact stakeholders directly.
  • Engage in transparent decision-making and share with stakeholders how their input informs district decisions.

What You’ll Bring

  • Bachelor’s Degree in communications, journalism, public relations, public affairs, marketing a related field. Master’s Degree in communications or a related field is preferred.
  • Minimum of five (5) years of full-time, paid, professional experience in a broad-reaching communications role with responsibility for the preparation of public interest information for a public or private agency and five (5) years in a leadership or supervisory capacity.
  • Experience working in a diverse, urban setting is required. Experience in a large metropolitan school district is preferred.
  • A proven record of success in strategy development and tactical execution of communications programs and initiatives for internal and external audiences
  • Proven cultural-competence skills with a history of inclusive and relevant equity practices.
  • Ability to navigate uncertainty and ambiguity in times of tremendous change, and to prioritize work efforts to achieve overall strategy as defined in collaboration with the Board of Education and Mayor.

Salary range for this integral leadership position is $175,000 to $210,000 and commensurate with prior experience. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package will be included in the ultimate offer for the identified sole finalist. We look forward to discussing details with you as the interview process progresses.

We believe that equity and inclusion at CMSD is an essential call to action, a catalyst to ensure value and appreciation among all our employees, so we may be fair and welcoming now and in the future. CMSD provides equal opportunities for employment, retention and advancement of all personnel by administering all terms and conditions of employment regardless of race, color, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, sex, disability or genetic information, age, citizenship status, military status, sexual orientation or expression, socio-economic status, title, other dimensions of identity, or any other characteristic protected by law.

The District’s Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Discriminatory Harassment, and Sexual Harassment and the District’s Title IX grievance procedures, including information on how to report or file a complaint of discrimination, how to report or file a formal complaint of sexual harassment, and how the District will respond, may be accessed on the District’s Civil Rights Notices webpage, available at . The District’s Title IX Coordinator/Director of Equal Employment Opportunity may be reached at:

  • 1111 Superior Avenue East, Suite 1800
  • Cleveland, Ohio 44114
  • (216)-838-0070