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External Affairs Director
Project Return in Nashville, Tennessee
Date Posted 06/26/2020
Employment Type Fulltime
Application Deadline Open until filled

Agency Overview:
Project Return empowers people who are coming back to the community from prison. Our mission is to provide services and connect people with resources needed to return successfully to work and community after incarceration. For nearly four decades, Project Return has been doing the work of reentry in Nashville: facilitating job search, job placement, and job retention, as well as providing wraparound services and a broad array of assistance and support, for people who come to Project Return with the determination to make a new beginning after incarceration. They face nearly insurmountable barriers. Our days are filled with triumph and hard work!

Position Overview:
The External Affairs Director is a key leadership role responsible for assuring that the organization has the necessary financial and brand resources to deliver a service-centered mission growing in magnitude and impact. As a member of the Project Return senior leadership team, the EAD is responsible for leading the development, marketing, and communication strategy and implementation for Project Return. This role is instrumental to the agency’s continued growth.

Major Responsibilities:
Strategic fund development includes diverse, multiyear revenue generation appropriate to the organization’s mission and strong financial position. The EAD will create and manage a strategic action plan to achieve the organization’s fund development plan. The plan will address board giving; engagement, communication, and reporting on development; grants; government funding; individual giving and major donor development; events.

Leadership of fund development will include oversight of the following:

  • Establish solicitation priorities, manage prospect lists and research, develop and execute targeted cultivation plans and solicitation strategies for a range of prospects;
  • Cultivate and nurture relationships with current and potential donors;
  • Research grant sources and write grant proposals and reports to foundation funders;
  • Develop and grow individual donor base, manage annual giving campaign, cultivate major gifts;
  • Work with volunteers, including board members, to identify, contact, cultivate, and solicit prospective donors;
  • Create and manage a process that provides for meaningful funder stewardship;
  • Drive effective relationships in terms of corporate social responsibility, volunteering, and other forms of meaningful engagement with the organization;
  • Research new grant opportunities, and assist with writing grants.

Management of fund development operations will include:

  • Oversee the management of donor database and all records, files, and gift processing;
  • Manage donor acknowledgement and relationship-building;
  • Update and maintain Giving Matters website and other online presentations of the organization.

Mission-driven communications and marketing includes leadership, planning, and implementation of overall agency communication and marketing to support programs and philanthropy.

Key elements of the communications and marketing realm include:

  • Create and implement strategic communications and marketing plan supportive of overall agency goals;
  • Ensure the organization’s outcomes and initiatives are communicated in ways that drive participation;
  • Compose written communications to aid in cultivation, stewarding, and soliciting prospects;
  • Supervise development of public affairs matters such as annual report, donor communications, and website donor interface;
  • Lead the generation and refinement of key messages for respective audiences of the organization, and lead the culture and practice of effective storytelling at the organization;
  • Lead the effective projection of brand and identity for the organization;
  • Oversee appropriate, strategic, outcome-oriented social media content, as well as other media-based communications.

Organization and team leadership includes building and developing an effective and engaged development and communications team. As a member of the Project Return senior leadership team, the EAD will participate in agency strategy, performance assessment and learning, and culture-building, and will lead the organization-wide attentiveness to community relationships, organizational identity, and external affairs.


  • Understanding of and commitment to successful returns after incarceration; particular commitment to advancing an organizational culture of excellence, with a growth and strengths-based mindset; familiarity with social enterprise as an effective revenue generation and mission-centered strategy.
  • Bachelor’s Degree required and Master’s Degree preferred, preferably in marketing, business, or communications.
    A minimum 5 years professional experience in marketing and communications, public relations, and fundraising preferred and/or corporate social responsibility.
  • Achievement-oriented with a track record of meeting and exceeding revenue targets.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit with willingness to approach strategy with innovative ideas and risk-taking skills to meet growing community needs.
  • Excellent interpersonal communication, analytical, and organizational skills.
  • Proven ability to work effectively with board members, staff members, volunteers, consultants, and donors/prospects.
  • Demonstrated ability to think strategically, and thorough understanding of strategic development.
  • Comfortable with ambiguity in an ever-changing, entrepreneurial, work environment.
  • Excellent management and supervisory skills; excellent time-management and organizational skills.
  • Ease and expertise with written and verbal communication, and more particularly with complex messages and multiple constituencies.
  • Knowledge of the Nashville business, corporate social responsibility, and funding communities is beneficial.

Please email resume and cover letter to, addressed to Bettie Kirkland, and indicate “External Affairs Director” in the subject line. No phone calls, please!

*Please mention to employers when applying for this job*
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