Director of External Affairs

The International Crane Foundation is a global conservation organization that works in 55 countries to save the world’s cranes and the flyways and habitats on which they depend. The Foundation is committed to working across cultures to improve livelihoods for people and the habitats where cranes live. We are known for our collaborative work and effective conservation work to save cranes and their landscapes globally. The International Crane Foundation is highly committed to an inclusive and diverse work environment in North America and worldwide.   

The Director of External Affairs will provide leadership in the development and delivery of the Foundation’s conservation story, will lead brand development, and design engaging communication to multiple audiences. This is an exciting opportunity to work with a global conservation organization that is growing to increase our global visibility. The successful candidate will have broad marketing experience and the ability to relay a conservation message. A passion for making a difference for wildlife and the planet is required.

What is it like to work at the International Crane Foundation? Prepare to be surrounded by people who are passionate about our mission, dedicated to the organization and engaged with their fellow staff and associates. You will find dedication in all levels of the organization, from staff and volunteers to our dedicated Board Members. You will play a critical role in fulfilling our mission across the U.S. and 55 countries worldwide. The salary range is $80,000 – $90,000, plus a nice benefits package. A radius for telecommuting is within four hours of Baraboo, Wisconsin, with the requirement to visit the HQ campus on a monthly basis and to be present for all events and media engagements.

Position Summary:

The Director of External Affairs supports the mission of the International Crane Foundation by providing strategic leadership and direction for our audience engagement, branding, storytelling, public relations and advertising, aimed at increasing support for our global conservation work. The incumbent will be responsible for collaborating across organization programs and departments to identify and engage new audiences, increase membership, advance creative communications about our work and attract visitors to our Cranes of the World visitor experience that provides a live look at all 15 species of cranes and connects visitors to our global conservation impact.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Collaborate with Global Staff and Executive/Sr Leaders to promote the organization’s conservation impact and brand globally. Provide mentorship to global staff on effective storytelling and leveraging messages that reach in-country audiences where we work.
  • Lead the development and execution of an integrated, multichannel, and measurable Audience Engagement and Marketing plan that supports the goals of the Foundation’s long-term strategic plan. Develop impact goals for advertising, membership recruitment and visitor center attendance as a key part of this plan.
  • Guide, create and deliver content that tells the International Crane Foundation’s stories worldwide in various channels and formats. Identify target audiences for each story/message and implement feedback tactics to gain a better understanding of motivations and communication preferences.
  • Provide oversight of promotional and engagement strategies for the Foundation’s website and social media channels, including new opportunities for engagement such as advocacy, volunteering, or sharing our message and recruiting others to join.
  • Develop and implement a Public Relations and Communication strategy that increases earned media locally, nationally and in designated global markets where the International Crane Foundation has programs.
  • Supervise and support the External Affairs staff through strong mentorship and accountability, including budgets, work plans, measurable objectives, personnel plans, professional development and performance reviews.

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Serve on the International Crane Foundation Executive Leadership team, including frequent interaction with the Foundation’s Board of Directors, to provide knowledge, expertise and input regarding marketing, branding, public relations and communication strategies.
  • Collaborate closely with the Development Department to integrate donor-centric messages with a culture of philanthropy to encourage increases in donations within key or segmented audiences. Align and layer member recruitment tactics to increase response rates and engagement.
  • Provide strategic and innovative advertising and promotional strategies to increase attendance and visit frequency to the Cranes of the World destination and periodic special events, and increase membership and brand awareness in various outlets.
  • Collaborate with Regional Program Leaders to identify stories that increase awareness of the International Crane Foundation’s work among key audiences. Guide and mentor global staff on effective communications tactics and messages. Serve as a spokesperson for the Foundation to media when needed and actively pitch stories to targeted media outlets.
  • Create and manage department budget, evaluate results, and develop corrective strategies as needed.
  • Ensure consistency of key International Crane Foundation messages, brand positioning and image, tone and voice in all communications, including print, web and news media.

Core Competencies:

  • Demonstrated project management experience, including developing plans and achieving metrics.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of audience engagement strategies, segmentation and how to effectively identify and attract existing and new audiences to the organization.
  • Excellent written communication skills, including the ability to effectively draft, proofread and edit routine correspondence and reports in a clear, concise, logical and grammatically correct manner; and the ability to vary writing style to meet the needs of the audience and media.
  • Demonstrated public relations and media knowledge, including digital media, to increase brand awareness and reach specific and identified audiences.
  • Clear understanding of the role of science in conservation and the ability to communicate effectively to identified audiences regarding scientific programs and concepts.
  • Excellent verbal communication skills, including speaking clearly and persuasively to individuals and groups; listening effectively; responding well to questions from conservation colleagues, International Crane Foundation supporters, visitors, press and the general public.
  • Excellent organizational skills, including the ability to prioritize work and to work with others to meet designated deadlines and desired results.

Qualifications Required:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations, Marketing, Communications or Journalism and no less than seven years related marketing/communications experience.
  • Passion for conservation, science and wildlife.
  • Demonstrated experience creating content that tells stories about science, nature and conservation to non-science/professional audiences.
  • Experience with media production, communication and dissemination techniques and methods.
  • Experience supervising others to achieve desired results; delegate work; train and encourage skill development; access and provide feedback on individual performance.
  • Experience and comfort using word processing, spreadsheet, PowerPoint software (M.S. Office) and internet search engines.
  • Ability to travel, primarily within the State of Wisconsin, and to work the number and schedule of hours needed to accomplish regular and ad hoc job responsibilities, including occasional weekends and evenings.
  • Valid state driver’s license and acceptable driving record.

Physical Abilities and Work Environment:

The physical abilities and work environment characteristics described below are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Ability to operate computer and phones.
  • Ability to communicate with fellow staff and donors. Communication will include both one-to-one communication, and small and large group communication. Communication is both verbal and written.
  • Must be able to remain in a stationary position for 5-7 hours a day.
  • Occasionally required to lift and move items up to 20 pounds.
  • Occasionally required to move throughout the building and throughout the site. 

Work Environment:

Office environment with a comfortable climate and limited noise.

To apply, send a cover letter and resume to Please include salary goals in your cover letter. Please list the subject:  Director of External Affairs.

“The International Crane Foundation is committed to cultivating and preserving a culture of diversity and inclusion. We hire great people.”

The International Crane Foundation is an equal-opportunity employer.