This is an historic moment in the American labor movement, a time of unprecedented worker interest in unions and innovation by unions. The AFL-CIO, now led by the most diverse leadership team ever, is at the center of this moment of change. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is the federation of 58 national and international labor unions and 12.5 million members, the national bully pulpit for the American worker. The AFL-CIO leads a unique national network of federations in every state and every major city in the country that fight for working families in the halls of power, mobilize and organize workers, and build strong community-based alliances. The AFL-CIO is the place where affiliate unions convene, collaborate, coordinate around organizing, contract campaigns, political action, shaping national policy and legislative advocacy.
A champion of the labor movement and the powerful advocate for all workers being treated fairly, compensated equitably and decently, and provided with safe working conditions, dignity, and equal opportunity, the federation actively embraces the challenges and opportunities in the modern labor movement, including a deep commitment to bringing all of those on the margins to the center of the movement.
This position is a unique opportunity to impact the fabric of our national dialogue around the respect and dignity owed to working people. This position directly influences and shapes the AFL-CIO’s narrative, on behalf of 12.5 million members, on the state of working people and how our economy can best serve them. This position is a member of AFL-CIO’s senior leadership team that guides the labor movement at a time of unprecedented momentum.
Now under the visionary leadership of President Liz Shuler and Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond, the AFL-CIO is well-positioned to establish a bold, dynamic, and inclusive labor movement that meets the highest aspirations of every working person.
Driven by the imbalance of power between companies and workers, systemic inequalities, social injustice, and the need for more good jobs in a rapidly changing economy, the American labor movement and our country’s increasingly diverse workforce is experiencing a renaissance moment like never before. At the dawn of this new era, the AFL-CIO is poised to disrupt the status quo, develop innovative new organizing strategies, coordinate expertise and resources into powerful organizing and political mobilization tools, and expand membership for workers everywhere, including those who never imagined being in the position to have a voice on the job.
In response to these enormous challenges and opportunities, the AFL-CIO has launched the Center for Transformational Organizing, signaling unprecedented investment in organizing. It aligned and refined policy and legislative work building out deeper work on clean energy jobs, racial and women’s economic policy, and is developing synergistic coordination with state and legislative teams. In another history of firsts, the AFL-CIO recently launched Labor 2022, a massive voter mobilization effort—one of the largest organizing drives in history— designed to
elect pro-worker candidates in the mid-terms and beyond.
As the AFL-CIO meets this historic moment, the federation recognizes that organizing is the thread that binds their priorities together. These core priorities include:
- Driving a political program that is centered around worker-to-worker conversations, and protects and strengthens our democracy;
- Building the most diverse and inclusive labor movement in history;
- Fighting for a worker powered national legislative agenda;
- Investing deeply in the strategic power of our state and local labor movement;
- Mobilizing young workers organizing around the country;
- Establishing an influential worker voice in innovation and technology;
- Fighting for hundreds of thousands of good union clean energy jobs; and
- Creating cross-union solidarity and power with athletes through the formation of the AFL-CIO Sports Council.
An adaptive, responsive change agent, the AFL-CIO is catalyzing grassroots activists, labor union supporters, and labor leaders across the country. Poised to lead the charge for the modern labor movement, the AFL-CIO recognizes that the time for change is now and that the stakes have never been higher. By addressing growing discontent with the imbalance of power in the economy, rising wage inequality, and the growing challenges of new economy industries and emergent technologies, the AFL-CIO remains relentlessly focused on improving the lives of working families, bringing fairness and dignity to the workplace, and securing social equity.
For more information on AFL-CIO, please visit www.aflcio.org.
About the Shuler Administration
President Liz Shuler and Secretary-Treasurer Frederick D. Redmond manifest the AFL-CIO’s deeply held belief that diversity and innovation are fundamental values of the labor movement. As the AFL-CIO’s highest-ranking officer, President Shuler was elected to serve as the first woman leader of the federation, while Secretary Redmond has risen to the highest ranking African American officer in the history of America’s labor movement. As trailblazers and pioneers, they share a commitment to building a world that is fair for working people. Their paths are woven with common threads—hard work, solidarity, vision, and courage. They are, in every way, unified to help working people have a better life.
Unafraid to think big, take risks and do things differently, President Shuler’s administration has already assembled an ambitious agenda framed by an unflinching focus on worker organizing and growth. Only a year into her presidency, President Shuler announced the creation of the Center for Transformational Organizing (CTO), a new vehicle for the labor movement to catalyze the energy of the moment into worker organizing. By bringing together the best and the brightest minds in organizing, technology, and research, the CTO is primed to harness the power of the entire labor movement. As a staunch proponent of identifying new, innovative ways to break down barriers, President Shuler is directly engaged with the teams in Communications, Economic Power & Growth,Political, Mobilization, Advocacy, Data Analytics and Infrastructure Resource (DAIR), the General Counsel and the Technology Institute to align and streamline the organization’s commitment to organizing and worker power.
The Shuler administration is primed to deliver powerful campaigns aimed at unprecedented union growth, elevate new and emerging voices in the labor movement (particularly for women and people of color), and engage a cross-functional constituent group of affiliates, labor leaders, activists, and organizers to meet the moment for working people. Uniquely situated to harness a powerfully reinvigorated U.S. labor movement, the Shuler administration is catalyzing grassroots activists, labor union supporters, and labor leaders across the country. A relentless, forward-thinking force for change, AFL-CIO is driven by indefatigable discipline, collaboration, and innovation as they steward a once-in-a-generation moment for the labor movement.
As the labor movement groundswell reaches new highs, AFL-CIO’s advocacy and influence are both life-changing and lifesaving for working families and their communities. At this pivotal moment, the Federation seeks a highly motivated, mission-driven Communications Director/Strategic Advisor to support the Federation’s rapidly growing community of unions, allies, supporters, and initiatives.
Reporting directly to President Shuler, the Director will lead several highlighted responsibilities:
- Create and implement a strategic, integrated communications plan with measurable milestones and outcomes to shape the overall narrative of AFL-CIO’s key issues and interests and to integrate communications strategies across all the Federation’s hubs, programs, and departments.
- Act as close advisor and partner to the officers as they build out their bold new agenda.
- Architect and execute creative, high-impact communications campaigns that effectively promote AFL-CIO’s work to new and legacy audiences, including constituents engaged in organizing, advocacy, policy, electoral campaigns, programs, and mobilization activities.
- Design and implement a robust schedule of multimedia activities that increase the level and quality of coverage of the federation’s position and impact in the market.
- Leverage new technologies, particularly digital and social media, to build compelling, impactful narratives that inspire action and engagement.
- Support cross-functional team efforts to communicate AFL-CIO’s strategic visibility initiatives by designing and executing thorough integrated communications activities.
- Deploy high-level communications strategies aimed at delivering communications objectives, promoting programs and activities, and lifting AFL-CIO’s position throughout the federation, its affiliates, its state federations and central labor councils, and the broader labor movement community.
- Elevate the federation’s position, messaging, and brand through robust media relation plans, developing a comprehensive schedule of media opportunities, and developing compelling, proactive public relations strategies.
- Heighten the organization’s visibility and work cross-functionally to ensure consistent messaging with the local, regional, and national press, media, and public.
- Lead a team of 20 + staff to coordinate communications strategies within the Federation, union affiliates, state federations and central labor councils and progressive and state-based groups.
- Regularly convene all the communications directors for the federation’s 58 affiliated unions, state federations, and CLCs.
- In close consultation with leadership, craft the AFL-CIO’s message and positioning and provide message discipline throughout the federation by establishing and assessing communications norms, timelines, and talking points.
- Prepare the organization’s leaders and senior staff for media interviews and appearances in a highly politicized political landscape.
AFL-CIO is seeking a creative, forward-thinking communications leader who is eager to be part of building a new era in the labor movement. The candidate should be highly motivated by the goals of the labor movement and care deeply about creating a brighter future for working people. The federation recognizes the spectrum of skills and experiences that will set the Director up for success in this role and highly encourages applicants with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to apply. While no one candidate will have every experience outlined in the roles and responsibilities, the ideal candidate demonstrates the following core competencies:
A politically savvy leader, the Director is a thought partner, sounding board, and advisor to senior leadership. They possess substantial experience supporting their principal(s), provide nuanced strategic advisory, and serve as a trusted thought-partner who can easily and effectively identify strategic opportunities to situate their leadership’s mission, goals, and objectives. Leading through influence, they convene organizational leaders with diplomacy and gravitas, successfully coalesce internal staff and external vendors, and build trust as a credible, valued thought partner and advisor. A disciplined communications leader, they possess sound judgment, navigate quickly moving environments with diplomacy and tact, effectively balance competing priorities, and develop relationships with key leaders in complex, dynamic work environments. A trusted advisor to senior leadership, effectively harnesses the voice of their organization and its leaders to execute communications frameworks and campaigns that achieve maximum impact and influence.
Mission Driven Orientation
As a communication professional, they believe that AFL-CIO’s work in the labor movement is urgently needed and that the time for action is now. They are excited by the opportunity to leverage their experience to support the federation, its leadership, and the movement, and consistently produce results in a fast-paced, highly complex environment. They bring a proven record of prioritizing, managing, and executing multiple projects with fidelity, accuracy, and impact. The next Director is experienced in centering advocacy or cause-driven work, balances strategic and tactical leadership and understands that storytelling is a powerful tool to advance their agenda. They are deeply committed to the power of cause-based work, convey their commitment to their teams, leaders, and constituents with transparency and fidelity, and set ambitious, creative communications goals that reflect the urgency of the mission.
Integrated Strategic Communications
A strategic thinker, the next Director brings a track record of architecting, executing, and assessing integrated strategic communications plans that successfully shape their organization’s overall narrative and impact. They anticipate challenges, leverage opportunities, deploy a forward-thinking approach to unifying communications, develop a clear, transparent communications roadmap to deepen audience engagement, inspire action, and advance the overall mission and goals of their leadership and institution. An excellent writer, communicator, and multimedia storyteller, they balance strategy and rapid response, develop compelling communications that effectively reach target audiences, deepen community engagement, boost federation affiliate participation, and implement media strategies that increase the quality and quantity of coverage to advance their organization’s position in the market.
Media and Public Relations
Experienced in developing and coordinating media strategies with internal staff, external partners, and consultants, the next Director brings deep competency in engaging media and the press to elevate their organization in a crowded marketplace. They are a trusted advisor who identifies strategic opportunities to message the mission, engage the press to position their brand, and view media and public relations as a strategy to enhance credibility, inspire action, and achieve impact. They are skilled at coaching senior leaders through speaking engagements, developing strong media relations plans, and capitalizing on opportunities to sync current events with the mission, vision, values, and priorities of their organization and leadership team.
As a supervisor, the Director balances accountability and coaching, motivates their teams to achieve high standards of work, and provides professional development for staff members at all career levels. They lead by example, mentor their teams, manage multiple projects and priorities with efficiency and accuracy, and empower staff to execute projects, campaigns, and activities effectively and efficiently. An experienced people manager – they set realistic yet ambitious timelines, exhibit critical thinking and problem-solving, and find creative solutions to maximize capacity in a fast-paced, cause-driven environment. Above all else, they celebrate individual and collective successes, share accountability, and motivate their team to achieve a high level of excellence.
In addition, strong candidates will offer:
- Experience and/or commitment to advancing progressive politics or policies, organized labor, unions, and/or other relevant areas.
- Deeply held belief in justice and equality.
Compensation & Benefits
AFL-CIO is committed to a better life for working people. As an organization committed to developing a diverse team, AFL-CIO strongly encourages people of color, transgender and nonbinary people, people with disabilities, and women to apply for the opportunity and join the fight for living wages and worker’s rights.
This is a full-time position with a competitive benefits package. Salary will be determined according to a salary scale that considers years of experience, location, job category, and other factors but the base salary will start at $165K.
The AFL-CIO also has 100% employer-provided health and welfare including generous pension and retirement plans. Employer healthcare, at no cost to the individual, provides the choice of an indemnity plan or HMO for the employee and eligible dependents.
Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Molly Brennan, Malissa Brennan, and Dafina Bobo of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
Koya Partners is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email NonprofitSearchOps@divsearch.com. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.
AFL-CIO is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants.
About Koya Partners
Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.
For more information about Koya Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.