Director of Legislative and External Affairs

City of Seattle, WA
September 1, 2023
Seattle, WA
Job Type


Position Description
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 in 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 Legislative and External Affairs (LEA) to join the department's executive leadership team. The Director of LEA owns responsibility for managing direction, planning, analysis, implementation, and oversight of HSD's overall integrated public affairs program, and related strategies and activities.

Why work at the City?
The City of Seattle recognizes every City employee must play a role in ending institutional and structural racism. Our culture is the result of our behavior, our personal commitments, and the ways that we courageously share our perspectives and encourage others to do the same. To cultivate an antiracist culture, we seek employees who will engage in the Race and Social Justice Initiative by working to dismantle racist policies and procedures, unlearn the way things have always been done, and provide equitable processes and services.

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's Legislative and 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 to 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 four including an Administrative Specialist III, Public Relationships Specialist, Communications Manager, and Council Liaison. The Director of LEA 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 LEA 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.

Job Responsibilities
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:

  • 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.

Writes or oversees executive level speaking points for a range of events from public speaking to council briefings.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.

Lead comprehensive assessment and update of HSD 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. Define HSD's legislative affairs strategy and actions. 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 distribute news releases, background materials, and speaking points.Monitor news coverage to identify good news and address critical issues. 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.Demonstrate agile and accountable organizational leadership that reflects sound judgement.

  • Foster a culture of change, growth, and continuous improvement.
  • Nurture respectful interpersonal relationships.
  • 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.

Please note this job advertisement is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities and activities may change at any time with or without notice.
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. Including, two years leading and supervising direct report staff.

Desired Qualifications:

  • 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.
  • Advance higher education, Certification, training, or technical understanding of any of the following:
    • Public records, policy analysis, legislative affairs, leadership principles, organizational development, project management, continuous improvement or change management.
    • Strategic communications, advocacy communications, marketing, public relations, business communications, copyediting, public participation, digital and/or social media.

Successful candidates will also have a broad range of experience in the following areas:

  • A 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
  • Excellent strategic writing ability and presentation skills
  • The ability to analyze issues and problem solve and be results-driven
  • Comfortable working in a politically sensitive environment with multiple priorities and tight deadlines.
  • A passion for contributing meaningfully through public service
  • Value the opulence of a diverse workforce with authentic perspective
  • Firm work ethic and integrity to "do the right thing" on behalf of the City of Seattle

Additional Information

Hiring Process:

***The next review of candidates will be conducted on Tuesday, August 29th, 2023 at 4pm PST***

***Subsequent reviews may occur if no candidate from the first pull is identified***

Applications are reviewed after the posting closes. Qualified candidates must submit the following to be considered:
Completed NEOGOV online application.Current résumé indicating relevant experience and education. Cover letter describing how your skills and experience align with the stated job responsibilities and qualifications.
Your application will not be reviewed if these items are missing or incomplete.

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.

The full salary range for this position is $52.36 - $78.53 per hour.

The City of Seattle offers a comprehensive benefits package including vacation, holiday, and sick leave as well as medical, dental, vision, life and long-term disability insurance for employees and their dependents.

More information about employee benefits is available on the City's website at:

The City of Seattle offers a comprehensive benefits package including vacation, holiday and sick leave as well as medical, dental, vision, life and long-term disability insurance for employees and their dependents.

More information about employee benefits is available on the City's website at:
"Most" Employees Plans - Human Resources |

Drop files here browse files ...

Related Jobs

September 24, 2023
Librarian - Giaudrone   Tacoma, WA new
September 24, 2023
September 24, 2023
September 24, 2023
September 24, 2023