Public Relations Director - Chicago / New York


Purpose: AtMDA, we are fighting to free individuals — and the families who love them —from the harmful effects of muscle-debilitating diseases so they can livelonger and grow stronger.

Our Values are ourstrength: We believe in MUSCLE:

Mission: We’re driven to accelerate progress forfamilies and muscle health.

Understanding: We’re attentive to our constituent’s needsand each other’s.

Stewardship: By investing precious resources wisely, wedrive the best possible outcomes.

Collaboration: We foster win-win partnerships and buildcommunities.

Learning: Knowledge powers our success and empowers ourpeople.

Excellence: We strive to do our best and exceedconstituents’ expectations.

Position Description:

The Public Relations Director’s primary responsibility is to seekhigh visibility for the organization through public relations/communicationcampaigns and earned media relations, partnering closely with our marketingcommunications and digital communications teams. The position will support andguide leaders in our field offices, most of whom are not experiencedpublic relations practitioners, the Director will enhance media relationsefforts across top-tier and local media outlets resulting in features highlightingthe organization’s mission and income development programs. This position willmanage key relationships with top media contacts for the organization. TheDirector will help lead efforts to communicate and uphold a national nonprofit’sreputation, brand and messaging tied to its mission to a wide variety ofaudiences including: the corporate and organization business community, privatesector, donors and prospects, related organizations and associations, partners,policymakers, and consumers interested in supporting our mission. Serving as aninternal account representative and, working with key departments, the managerwill outline and drive comprehensive PR communication plans for variousprojects.


  • Garner national and regional earned mediaattention for MDA.
  • Create national communications and publicitymaterials including, but not limited to, national press releases, pitchletters, organization statements and media alerts.
  • Provide strategic public relations counsel toleaders in Income Development, Research, Healthcare Services and Advocacy.
  • Proactively identify, create, pitch and followup on media opportunities for the organization, and field media inquiries.
  • Coordinate external distribution ofcommunication materials, including building media lists.
  • Work in tandem with appropriate leadership onbreaking news situations.
  • Media training for field staff when dealing withvarious media situations, plus training on program-based messaging.
  • Develop touch points to enhance and deepenrelationships resulting in quality media opportunities to tell ourstory.
  • Identify media trends, news cycles and relevantopportunities for visibility tied to mission programs.
  • Help establish, follow and support compliance ofnationwide branding, messaging and creative services guidelines.
  • Create daily media captures of relevant newsincluding neurology research, pharmaceutical, income development and generalhuman interest stories.
  • Analyze, measure results of and report on communicationsand media projects.
  • Responsible for securing and managingmedia-vendor relationships and contracts.


  • CustomerService: Manages difficult or emotional customer situations; Respondspromptly to customer needs; Solicits customer feedback to improve service.Responds to requests for service and assistance. Meets commitments.
  • InterpersonalSkills: Focuses on solving conflict, not blaming; Maintainsconfidentiality; Listens to others without interrupting; Keeps emotions undercontrol; Remains open to others’ ideas and tries new things.
  • Oral/WrittenCommunication: Speaks clearly and persuasively in positive or negativesituations; Listens and gets clarification; Responds well to questions;Demonstrates group presentation skills; Participates in meetings. Writesclearly and informatively; Edits work for spelling and grammar; Varies writingstyle to meet needs; Presents numerical data effectively; Able to read andinterpret written information.
  • OrganizationalSupport: Follows policies and procedures; Completes administrative taskscorrectly and on time. Supports organization’s goals and values; Benefitsorganization through outside activities; Supports affirmative action andrespects diversity.
  • Judgment:Displays willingness to make decisions; Exhibits sound and accurate judgment;Supports and explains reasoning for decisions; Includes appropriate people indecision-making process; Makes timely decisions.
  • Professionalism:Approaches others in a tactful manner; Reacts well under pressure; Treatsothers with respect and consideration regardless of their status or position;Accepts responsibility for own actions; Follows through on commitments.



  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent, preferably injournalism, communications, public relations, marketing or related field.
  • At least 5 years of media, public relationsand/or communications experience, ideally for a nationwide organization with awidespread community presence, with demonstrated portfolio of proof ofperformance. .
  • Proven ability to cultivate and secure strategicmedia in a variety of traditional and digital media with proven skill ininitiating and responding to media inquiries. Experience in supporting projectand account management, including measuring results of strategic media plansand programs.
  • Demonstrated track record in developing andimplementing short and long-term media, comprehensive communications and publicrelations plans, and the ability to work effectively with senior management andpartners.
  • Experience in pulling together and influencing ateam to create and lead communications initiatives at local and regionallevels, exercising leadership/influence without formal authority.
  • Proven relationships with existing mediacontacts in national and regional markets is required.
  • Experience in securing and/or managing mediasponsorships, especially on a pro bono basis.
  • Experience preferred in any of the followingindustries: healthcare, corporate philanthropy, human services or PR agency(with accounts in these industries) or work with a national nonprofit.


  • Strong writing, editing, interpersonal,diplomatic and verbal communication skills required.
  • Must possess highly evolved teamwork skills aswell as strong time management skills.
  • Strong and effective leader and counselor with adocumented track record of success helping organizations secure positive,prominent publicity.
  • Disciplined planner, who knows to chart theproper course first, then produces high quality publicity and communicationsplans that enable successful outcomes.
  • Highly collaborative and strong consensusbuilder; capable of exercising positive influence in driving outcomes.
  • Excellent project management skills andclient-centered orientation.
  • Demonstrated ability to leverage new andemerging communications channels.
  • Desire and ability to thrive in fast-paced,resource-constrained environment.
  • Motivated by mission-driven organization whoseaim is ultimately to cure muscle disease and save lives.
  • Capable of not only crafting clear, compellingand consistent messaging, but successful at building consensus and drivinginternal alignment so staff at all levels use it effectively.
  • Capable of setting clear priorities, then nimbleenough to adjust as new opportunities arise.
  • Proficiency in with MS Office applications,including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. Plus, experience using medialist building software such as Cision or Vocus.

MDAis an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicantswill receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color,religion, sex, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status.

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