Environment and Conservation, Marketing and Communications, Nonprofit and Social Impact

Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Ithaca, NY
About Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Founded more than 100 years ago by pioneering Cornell University ornithologist Dr. Arthur A. Allen, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (Lab) is an independent administrative unit of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Dedicated to advancing the understanding and protection of the natural world, the Lab joins with people from all walks of life to make new scientific discoveries, share insights, and galvanize conservation action. It brings together world-class science, teaching, and public engagement with the agility and real-world impact of a nonprofit organization to meet our mission of interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds.

The Lab’s Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity is home to a community of 250+ faculty, scientists, postdocs, students, and staff members, including professionals in ornithology, animal behavior, bioacoustics, citizen science, conservation science, data science and statistics, ecology, evolutionary biology, community engagement, fundraising, marketing, multimedia productions, online and K-12 education, science communication, technical hardware and software engineering, and app development.

Dedicated to science, service, and impact, the Lab is an expert and trusted voice and partner for communities around the globe. It maintains close academic and collaborative relationships with many individuals and departments across Cornell University, both at the Main Campus in Ithaca and at the Cornell Tech Campus in New York City, as well as with hundreds of other academic and nonprofit institutions worldwide. Its engaged Administrative Board consists of local, national, and international civic leaders, business executives, marketers, philanthropists, and scientists, linked by their shared passion for nature, science, and the inspirational roles birds can play in conservation. And each year hundreds of thousands of citizen-science participants and millions of lifelong learners utilize the Lab’s websites, courses, resources, and mobile apps.

With an active donor base of more than 160,000 financial supporters (97% of whom have no other affiliation with Cornell University), the Lab leverages the benefits of being part of a top research university and the freedom to pursue its mission-driven goals through a nimble, entrepreneurial culture of innovation, discovery, and service. Its 2022 operating budget is approximately $40 million, funded by a combination of grants and contracts, program-generated revenue, annual gifts, major gifts, bequests, and distributions from its growing endowments that currently total about $100 million.

The Opportunity

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is seeking a Senior Director of Marketing and Communications to develop and direct strategic planning and execution of integrated branding, marketing, and communications to amplify the Lab’s mission to understand and protect birds and the natural world, and to engage the public as broadly as possible in these efforts. This newly created position recognizes the vital importance of marketing and communications as a conservation strategy in bending the curve for birds and biodiversity. The Senior Director will be a key figure in broadening the Lab’s audience and engaging people of diverse cultures and lifestyles, helping to develop a product ecosystem and integrated business plans that build hearts, data, dollars, and action.

The Senior Director of Marketing and Communications will work with the Lab’s dynamic, multidisciplinary teams, and central University Relations partners, to advance a global-scale mission at a time of tremendous urgency and consequence for public engagement and conservation action. The Lab’s strategic plan calls for the organization to broaden its audience in learning and scientific discovery – and to galvanize the Lab’s ability to inspire on-the-ground action and influence policy and public opinion through data-intensive science, powerful visualizations, multimedia and storytelling, and creative partnerships. The Senior Director will help advance the Lab’s commitment to creating an organizational culture that fosters diversity, celebrates the strength and creativity that emerge from differences, and benefits from the contributions of people of all backgrounds.

As a visionary and strategic systems thinker and inclusive relationship builder, the Senior Director of Marketing and Communications will manage teams comprising 25+ staff in Integrated Marketing; Science Communications (including creative services and PR); and Corporate Relations (including licensing); and will collaborate with senior leaders and staff across the Lab, CALS, and University Relations to envision, develop, implement, and optimize brand expression and integrated communications and marketing strategies.

While the Cornell Lab will consider a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal candidate will have the following qualifications/experience:

  • Passion for the missions of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, CALS, and Cornell University. Working knowledge of conservation, biodiversity, and natural history desirable.
  • At least 7 to 10 years of experience that includes management and strategic planning. Successful background in marketing and communications, including experience in branding, licensing, corporate relations, fundraising or recruitment, digital and print communications, social media, web and mobile development, media relations, and crisis communications.
  • Ability to inspire, engage, and lead teams toward a common vision, foster a transparent and inclusive culture, and problem-solve and interact effectively with managers, creative staff, external stakeholders (e.g., members, sponsors, donors, etc.), leaders of partner organizations, and Administrative Board.
  • Ability to guide teams to prioritize projects in order to meet strategic objectives. A supportive and accessible management style and strong record of recruiting and developing talented individuals. A commitment to excellence and history of increasing the effectiveness of a marketing and/or communications department and staff through established objectives and performance standards.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage a high level of responsibility with minimal supervision, to prioritize projects, to work under tight time schedules and meet deadlines, and to manage complex business plans and budgets.
  • Experience in translating complex scientific content for general audiences.
  • Ability to serve and communicate as an institutional leader both internally and to the general public.
  • Advanced computer skills (word processing, design, spreadsheets, content management systems) with deep understanding of Internet-based communication and social networking principles and tools.
  • Bachelor’s degree; preference for master’s degree in marketing, public affairs, communications, business or a related field.

Download the full position description via the following link:

Cornell University embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will contribute to a climate that supports students, faculty and staff of all identities and backgrounds. We strongly encourage individuals from underrepresented and/or marginalized identities to apply.

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations. Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Its inclusive community of scholars, students, and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose, and contribute creative ideas to further the university’s mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement.

Cornell University Vaccination Compliance Program:

As part of the university’s comprehensive vaccination program, all Cornell employees are required to have and provide proof of an FDA or WHO-authorized or approved COVID-19

primary vaccination or have obtained a university-approved disability/medical
or religious exemption, regardless of their role and work location.

New hires are required to provide documentation showing primary vaccination status (that is, completion of two shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one shot of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson) before their first day of work. If a new hire’s vaccination is not complete or information is not received by their start date, the first day of work will be delayed. It is possible in some cases that an offer of employment may be withdrawn.

For additional information on Cornell’s Vaccination Compliance Program, click the following link –

Cornell University has retained the DSG Fundraising & Advancement Practice of the Diversified Search Group to assist in this confidential search process. Inquiries, nominations, and applications (current resumes and cover letters) may be submitted via the following link –, or directed to:

Gerard F. Cattie, Jr.
Managing Director and DSG Fundraising & Advancement Practice Leader
Diversified Search Group
The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue, 49th Floor, New York, New York 10174 | 212.542.2587

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