Head of Communications and Public Affairs

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career / Advanced
  • Posted
    Jun 25

Position description

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian organization seeking to protect and assist people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence. Formed in 1863, the ICRC was at the origin of international humanitarian law (IHL) and of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The ICRC Regional Delegation for the US & Canada, based in Washington, D.C., is at the heart of our efforts to deliver on the ICRC's mandate, working to secure widespread support, influence, and partnerships for our work in conflict zones. We cultivate relationships with US government agencies, civil society, and the media. The team also works closely with our partners such as the American Red Cross and the Canadian Red Cross. 

We are looking for an experienced senior communications manager to join our Washington team and lead on communications in support of our Global, Regional, US and Canadian focused activities. The post holder will be part of and work closely with the Management Team of the Delegation and report directly to the Deputy Head of Delegation/Head of Operations. 


The Head of Communications and Public Affairs is the focal point for all matters related to communications and public affairs at the delegation level. They are responsible for:

  • Setting and implementing communication priorities, objectives, and strategies
  • Leading the orientation, planning, monitoring and evaluation of the delegation's communication activities and providing technical support to all staff involved
  • Defining the delegation’s public positioning and narratives in coordination with management, region and headquarters
  • Contributing to building and implementing an integrated approach of communications activities into ICRC programs

This position will work in close coordination with respective departments within the Washington delegation, the Americas region, the ICRC headquarters in Geneva, and colleagues throughout the world.

As a public-facing focal point for the ICRC in the US & Canada, this person helps position the ICRC by raising awareness about our key humanitarian issues in armed conflict and other situations of violence and promoting international humanitarian law (IHL) to US & Canadian audiences.

Main Responsibilities and Accountabilities

Reputation Management

  • Advise and coach, as appropriate, Head of Delegation, delegation management and others on public appearances, media, and digital engagement. Serve as quality control editor and advisor on public remarks, including speeches, news releases and statements.
  • In collaboration with Head of Delegation and experts, advise on delegation’s reputation and broader ICRC reputation management.
  • Work with regional and global counterparts to enhance ICRC’s digital footprint and public positioning.
  • Conduct and organize media interviews, press briefings and other media activities as required, including outside working hours.
  • Coordinate with movement partners (American Red Cross and Canadian Red Cross) on a regular basis.
  • Set in place and coordinate crisis communications mechanisms.
  • Set objectives and provide guidance to regional and global delegations on humanitarian policy activities, as necessary.


  • Act as Delegation’s spokesperson, along with Head of Delegation.
  • Be a key source of information on key priority issues for journalists and other media.
  • Build relationships with new media contacts, including producers, anchors, reporters and correspondents.
  • Develop a network of communication specialists and counterparts in Washington, D.C. in order to better inform the delegation, and ICRC more widely, on its public strategy and objectives.
  • Train and coach the Head of Delegation and other delegation staff on media and digital as it relates to ICRC’s public positioning.

Public Events Management

  • In collaboration with Delegation’s management, other Delegations and HQ departments, design and implement public events, which serve as platforms for ICRC’s global positioning and promotion of institutional messages.
  • Work with leadership to create opportunities and participation in key public events.
  • Liaise with other Delegations and HQ departments as well as external stakeholders, while collaborating on public events and other activities, as necessary.
  • Contribute to organization and promotion of Delegation’s public events, organized by other departments.

Humanitarian Diplomacy

  • Together with management and policy team, set communications and media relations objectives as they relate to the Delegation’s and ICRC’s Policy objectives.
  • Contribute to ICRC’s communication strategy, execution, analysis and innovation.
  • Take stock of policy objectives and priorities and evaluate needs, resources, and current digital landscape to develop holistic plans for campaigns or content that meet objectives through digital tools.
  • Supervise analytics and monitoring to make recommendations for improvement of digital campaigns and approach.
  • Manage editorial quality of content for digital channels through editing, writing, brand management, curation, and art direction.

People Management Responsibilities

  • Understand and supervise the Performance Management & Development (PMD) activities for employees under their supervision.
  • Make sure that deadlines for the PMD cycle are met; job descriptions for employees under their supervision are up to date.
  • Engage in ongoing and continuous feedback and support, particularly for employees under their supervision, but also other staff members.
  • Organize regular meetings within their team to ensure optimal coordination of the work and proper flow of information.
  • Manage and oversee management of budgets and operations of communications team.

General Duties

  • Understand and adhere to the seven Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
  • Understand and adhere to the ICRC Code of Conduct.
  • Understand the roles of the components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
  • Respect and observe staff regulations and security rules at all times.
  • Represent the ICRC in a professional manner at all times.
  • Develop and maintain a pleasant and conducive working environment with colleagues and line managers.
  • Perform all duties with the highest level of confidentiality in the interest of the employees and the ICRC.
  • May be asked to perform tasks not covered in this job description and to provide support to other departments when necessary.


  • University degree or equivalent (preferably master's level) in a relevant field such as communications, public relations, international relations, or journalism.
  • At least 10 years' work experience in a relevant field
  • Fluent spoken and written English a must, fluent in Spanish highly valued.
  • Extensive and proven track record in communications, operating in a senior position as a journalist and/or at a senior level in the communications field.
  • At least 2 years experience in a managerial role
  • International experience working for a humanitarian or similar organization a definite asset.
  • In-depth knowledge of working with US political, policy and media institutions.
  • Proven ability in strategy development and implementation.
  • In depth awareness of digital communications, social media platforms, metrics and analytics
  • Good awareness of international geopolitics and trends in modern conflict.
  • Experience of working in a complex organization, demonstrating a high-level of diplomacy when liaising and negotiating with internal and external stakeholders.
  • An understanding of the ICRC’s mandate and role within both the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and the global humanitarian system.
  • Able to handle confidential and sensitive information, exercising discretion, maturity and good judgment.
  • Ability to master complex briefs quickly.
  • Knowledge of International Humanitarian Law an advantage.
  • Great interpersonal skills.
  • Willingness to travel to countries where the ICRC is operational for some short missions.

 What we offer:

  • Join a leading multi-disciplinary humanitarian organization – part of the world’s largest humanitarian network
  • Rewarding work in a humanitarian and multicultural environment
  • A full-time resident position based in D.C.
  • Competitive salary
  • Lucrative benefits package that includes:
  • Robust health and dental insurance plan
  • 20 paid vacation days (annually)
  • 13 paid holidays + 1 floating holiday
  • 7 paid sick/personal days (annually)
  • 11.5% Employer contribution for our 403b retirement plan
  • Exciting professional development program
  • A hybrid working model with flexible scheduling and partial teleworking options


Application instructions

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