Director of External Affairs

February 11, 2022 12:04 AM | Dina Storz (Administrator)

City of Seattle


$52.36 - $78.53 Hourly


Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Ave., Seattle, Washington


Civil Service Exempt, Regular, Full-time




City of Seattle Human Services Department


Not represented



POSITION DESCRIPTION: Director of External Affairs | Job Details tab | Career Pages (

The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) lives out its mission, as one of the largest contributors to Seattle's safety net. HSD is responsible for investing hundreds of millions of dollars to more than 200 community-based human service providers that support the city's most vulnerable populations each year. The department maintains close partnerships with community partners, the public, and non-profit service providers to understand and address current and emerging human service needs, and to invest in the creation of a comprehensive and integrated regional human service system.
The Human Services Department is seeking a Director of External Affairs to join the department's executive leadership team. The Director of External Affairs owns responsibility for managing direction, planning, analysis, implementation, and oversight of HSD’s overall integrated public affairs program, and related strategies and activities.
Using a lens of racial equity, this role builds interest and understanding of HSD’s mission, priorities, services, and impact through consistent and compelling communications. A well-qualified candidate will also have experience forging shared vision through collaboration and delivering actionable insights and analysis that shape decisions that have significant impact on an organizations service, operation, reputation, or bottom line.
HSD has six key impact areas:
Preparing Youth for SuccessSupporting Affordability and LivabilityAddressing HomelessnessPromoting Public HealthSupporting Safe Communities & Safe LivesPromoting Healthy Aging
HSD’s External Affairs program includes:Strategic communications to align external affairs work with HSD’s mission, goals, workplan, RSJI commitments, and other business needs such as emergency or crisis response.

  • Marketing and public relations to promote and share HSD’s work and impact, manage proactive and reactive news media engagement, and uphold HSD’s brand presence and reputation, using a diverse mix of channels and tools, including social, digital, print, and web.
  • Mayor, council, and government relations, including interjurisdictional relations, state legislative advocacy, and elected official constituent relations.
  • Community outreach that engages and invites the public, service partners, community organizations, employees, and other stakeholders help shape decisions, actions, or services.
  • Strategic advising that enables informed action via transfer of technical expertise, briefings, evaluation and analysis, policy input, program or project planning, and leadership support.

This position reports to the Department Director, provides functional daily direction and supervision to a team of 3-4 FTE’s, and works in a large, dynamic, cross-function and matrixed business environment. Competitive candidates will have experience demonstrating the ability to deliver strategic counsel and support services to executives and elected officials to advance HSD’s business needs.   The Director of External Affairs must be adaptable and agile, and be able to collaborate effectively with the departmental executive and senior leadership teams, the Mayor's Office, City Council and Council Central staff, City employees, the City's Budget Office, and other stakeholders.

A first review of candidates will occur on February 25, 2022. If position was not filled after first review, candidate pool will be reviewed.  


Candidates should have a good understanding of the political and policy climate within the City and are able to advocate for HSD’s intergovernmental and legislative interests in a variety of political conversations and legislative environments.   Successful candidates will also be passionate about building better communities through public service, value a diverse workforce with authentic perspective, and have firm work ethic and integrity.
The most competitive candidates for this role will be able to:

  1. Effectively direct, manage, and delegate duties to implement a largescale strategic communications and external affairs program and related projects.
    • Develop and implement plans at the organizational level and specific to business areas.
    • Lead staff through various planning and implementation activities. 
    • Provides strategic direction regarding marketing campaigns. 
    • Define scope, strategic approach, methods and tactics, metrics, and reporting activities.
      • Ensure situationally appropriate plans, goals alignment, and resource allocation.
      • Align work with HSD’s racial equity and social justice values and commitments.
      • Address racial, structural, and institutional bias and to reduce disparities.
    • Analyze and define audience segments, personas, and identify needs or priorities.
    • Define and drive strategic messaging.
      • Determine public affairs strategy pertaining to controversial and sensitive matters, and emergency response or crisis communications.   
      • Establish mechanism for timely sourcing and sharing of success stories to targeted audiences.
      • Gather relevant factual information to create timely communications.
      • Create compelling written content and creative collateral materials.
        • Ensure content and materials are accessible, clear, and concise.
        • Explain complex and technical information like program and procedural content and policies simply, effectively, and accurately.
          • I.e., reports, program announcements, fact sheets, briefing documents, public presentations, marketing content, translated information, and for executive communications.
      • Guides social media, digital communications, and oversees department website
        • Produces content for HSD digital channel engagement such as newsletters, blog posts, website and social media platforms.
  2. Lead comprehensive assessment and update of HDS community engagement framework.
    • Promote and encourage stakeholder and community involvement, including participation in forums, funding opportunities, advisory groups, and to provide public input/feedback that are used to inform HSD actions and decisions.
  3. Define HSD’s legislative affairs strategy and actions.  
  4. Lead Media Relations
    • Serve as HSD’s lead public information officer and relationships with reporters.
    • Manage HSD’s proactive and reactive media engagement and inquiries.
    • Write and distributes news releases, background materials, and speaking points.
    • Monitor news coverage to identify good news and address critical issues.
  5. Provide strategic counsel and serve as an agency representative.
    • Serve as strategic counsel to senior leaders, and/or elected officials.
      • Conduct research and analysis and use subject matter expertise and solid business case to shape decisions, actions, services, or direction that having significant impact the organization. 
      • Develop technical knowledge human services issues.
    • Respond to stakeholder and community inquiries in an organized and timely fashion.
    • Engage with the public or business partners on sensitive or controversial topics.
  6. Demonstrate agile and accountable organizational leadership that reflects sound judgement.
    • Foster a culture of change, growth, and continuous improvement.
    • Nurture respectful interpersonal, teamwork, listening, and communication.
    • Mentor reporting staff’s ability to take initiative and demonstrate self-direction.
    • Support planning that defines scope, priorities, objectives, and roles, to direct action and effective utilization of time and resources.

Minimum Qualifications:

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Public Relations, Journalism, Public Administration, or other related field (or a combination of education and/or training and/or experience which provides an equivalent background required performing the work described).
Experience: A minimum of seven years of experience working in a strategic communications or external affairs role in a large mission-driven organization, government agency, or environment of similar size and complexity.  Two years leading and supervising direct report staff.
Required Skills: Successful candidates must have good understanding and successful application of communication and public relation methodologies and strategies, including the use of social media platforms, marketing techniques and promoting controversial matters to a highly sensitive and unpredictable audience.  Candidates must have excellent strategic writing ability and presentation skills, must be able to analyze issues and problem solve and be results-driven.  Successful candidates must also be comfortable working in a politically sensitive environment with multiple priorities and tight deadlines.    

 Required Commitment:  Successful candidates are passionate about contributing meaningfully through public service, value the opulence of a diverse workforce with authentic perspective, and have firm work ethic and integrity to "do the right thing" on behalf of the City of Seattle.
Certification/License: None 

Desired Qualifications:

  • Master's Degree in a field complementary to job expectations and duties.
  • Eight or more years of experience managing similar work in a large public sector agency.
  • Three years leading and supervising direct report staff.  
  • Two years advising and supporting senior leaders or elected officials
  • Experience serving as a media relations officer and working with members of the press on behalf of a sizable organization that serves racially, culturally, and socially diverse community needs, and/or people with low income or other vulnerable populations.
  • Certification, training, or technical understanding of any of the following:
  • Strategic communications, advocacy communications, marketing, public relations, business communications, copyediting, public participation, digital and/or social media

Hiring Process
Applications are reviewed after the posting closes. Qualified candidates must submit the following to be considered:

  1. Completed NEOGOV online application.
  2. Current résumé indicating relevant experience and education. 
  3. Cover letter describing how your skills and experience align with the stated job responsibilities and qualifications. 

Offers of employment are contingent on verification of information provided by the applicant as part of the application process, including potential background check, pre-placement physical exam, and full driver's abstract.

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