The Senior Director of External Relations is responsible for establishing goals and developing and implementing strategies that advance the Port’s mission through collaboration and support to the Port Commission, executive team, business lines and departments, and the Northwest Seaport Alliance. This key advisory role is an at-will position and has a dual reporting relationship to the Port Commission President and Executive Director.
Serving as a member of the Executive Leadership Team, the Sr. Director of External Relations provides leadership to the Port by developing and implementing Port-Wide external relations strategies and approaches that guide the organization. Providing strategic, team-focused leadership to the Port’s External Relations Department, the Senior Director of External Relations deftly employs the Port’s capabilities and resources in community engagement, strategic communications, media relations, government relations, and regional transportation/capital project partnerships to achieve the Port’s business, economic, sustainability, and community goals and the organization’s long-term Century Agenda.
The Senior Director of External Relations also:
Leadership & Management
Provides strategic leadership direction and a compelling vision for a team-focused culture of community and customer service in the Port’s External Relations Department. Assures alignment with the Port’s mission, objectives, roles/interests of the Port commission and the critical elements of building and nurturing public trust through open transparent operations.
Works closely with Port counsel to ensure departmental activities are within the Port’s statutory authority, Port ethical and policy guidelines.
Works with Port Commission, Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer, Chief of Staff, and External Relations Directors to anticipate and identify emerging issues and develop cohesive strategies. Provides counsel to the Port regarding its unique leadership role in the community.
Ensures diverse external perspectives are incorporated in port-wide discussions/decisions and shares constructive feedback with members of the Port’s Executive Leadership Team.
Provides leadership in the advancement of equity, diversity and inclusion.
Integrates the work associated with the Northwest Seaport Alliance into the ongoing prioritization of issues the External Relations department handles.
Maintains oversight for the development and management of the External Relations Department budget.
External Relations & Community Engagement
Recognizes the distinct but complementary roles of the Port Commissioners, as individual elected officials, and the executive staff in pursuing Port goals. Through regular consultation, develops messaging and strategies for the Commissioners to reflect their unique responsibilities in advancing Port interests.
Works with the Commission Office Chief of Staff and the External Relations team to proactively identify strategically significant engagement opportunities for the Port Commission.
Proactively ensures external stakeholder perspectives are recognized and considered in major Port business decisions and recommendations.
Broadens and diversifies the Port’s external partnerships. Prioritizes resources and tracks desired outcomes for public educational events, memberships and sponsorships.
Prioritizes the engagement of the External Relations department in the community to ensure a strong understanding of issues and public sentiment in the region. Maintains and nurtures relationships with neighborhood organizations and maritime and aviation interests. Actively builds and enhances relationships with communities and advocacy groups.
Leads the Port’s bi-annual public opinion survey efforts and other key public information gathering activities to gauge public perspective about the Port’s performance.
Thoughtfully and proactively identifies emerging issues and challenges faced by the Port. Works with leadership team and staff to recognize internal and external communications opportunities and solutions, and defines and executes appropriate strategies to support them.
Ensures the Port utilizes diverse and effective communication tools to reach key audiences. Evolves and updates tools to address ongoing changes in technology, user expectations and effectiveness.
Provides leadership in executing proactive and politically astute communications approach.
Develops and executes internal and external strategic communications plans that are aligned with legislative action and community engagement objectives. Oversees port-wide and business-specific communications, including alignment of timing and coordination of messages for diverse audiences.
Develops and implements proactive media relations strategies and procedures that deliver the Port’s key messages, utilizes appropriate media channels, incorporates flexibility to respond to changing events, and matches prioritization of issues with the appropriate level of media engagement.
Leverages opportunities for commission visibility and thought leadership to advance the Port’s Century Agenda.
Conveys the Port’s priorities and initiatives through various communication channels and public processes to develop meaningful community engagement.
Partners with Human Resources to ensure workforce is informed of key issues and topics.
Government Relations, Regional Transportation and Capital Project Delivery Coordination
Provides strategic leadership, Port knowledge and an experienced perspective in the development and implementation of government relations strategies at the local, state and federal levels.
Integrates a high-level understanding of Port Commission priorities, operational considerations, overall business objectives, community concerns, media relations, and a deep understanding of the regional and statewide political landscape into cohesive legislative strategies.
With the Government Relations Director, anticipates and identifies emerging political issues and develops appropriate proactive and responsive strategies. Strategically develops and nurtures Port political relationships and leverages opportunities for Commissioner engagement and leadership. Develops and implements an annual prioritized Port of Seattle legislative agenda.
Works with the Director of Capital Project Delivery and Aviation Division Leaders to develop and implement integrated external relations strategies that advance the Port’s immediate and long-term objectives for continued facility modernization and expansion to meet business and regional economic development needs.
Incorporates regional transportation planning and technical considerations and leveraged partnerships into the Port’s external relations strategies, business operations and long-term planning, and ensures that regional transportation planning efforts address the Port’s transportation needs for maritime and aviation businesses.
The Ideal Candidate
The Port of Seattle seeks an experienced external relations and government affairs leader who is deeply committed to the success of the Port and is a strategic big-picture thinker. A strong leader and manager of people, the ideal candidate will be accustomed to working in high performing, high paced environments. They will be a trusted advisor and colleague with strong communication skills and perceived as a true listener that can effectively relate to a wide range of audiences. The successful candidate must have unquestioned personal integrity, a high level of diplomacy, professionalism and integrity.
Understanding of the distinctive roles of the Port Commissioners and the Executive Director and how to balance multiple, sometimes competing priorities, into a cohesive work plan with shared goals.
Understanding of current and historical federal, state, and local legislative issues, priorities, and external political considerations and how to navigate/leverage these considerations to advance the Port’s interests.
Demonstrated ability to anticipate when emerging shifts in political dynamics may impact the Port and experience in moving quickly to both protect and promote Port interests.
Strong working understanding of the laws that govern the Port and proper execution of related internal policies and procedures.
Communication & Relationship Building
Delivers clear and concise written and verbal communication to provide direction, encourage dialogue, and seek understanding. Demonstrates ability to develop and articulate key messages in a persuasive and targeted manner.
Effectively engages and aligns a multitude of diverse expectations and perspectives.
Demonstrates cultural competency that enables effective working relationships in cross-cultural situations. Able to work effectively with diverse constituencies, including elected officials; committees and staff; state, local and federal agencies; public policy interest groups; and citizens.
Builds engaging relationships with multiple internal and external stakeholders through trust, respect, accountability, teamwork and effective communication.
Strategic Executive Partner
Serves as a strategic partner on the Executive Leadership Team and actively contributes towards the vision, mission and values of the Port.
Acts as the strategic leader for all organization External Relations needs and is responsible for developing and executive external relations strategy.
Keeps abreast of external factors that may impact business trends.
Identifies and articulates External Relations needs and plans to the Port’s leaders.
Understands competitive pressures and differentiation in the market place, applies “balanced scorecard” and “triple bottom line” concepts, anticipates change and paradigm shifts, and understands the importance of excellent customer service and how public perception can affect long-term Port goals.
Able to build a diverse, service-oriented and team-focused culture, provide a compelling vision and the path toward accomplishment, integrate the strengths and perspectives of individual team members into a cohesive work plan, encourage risk-taking and professional growth, and advocate for the department’s needs as appropriate.
Promotes a culture that understands and emphasizes the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion.
Proactively provides opportunities for staff development.
Fosters an environment which engages and inspires employees to strive toward a compelling vision of the future by embracing and embodying the Port’s values in all aspects of their work.
Offers clarity around goals and objectives ensuring that all team members work collaboratively towards a shared purpose.
Provides the required resources and motivational support individuals need to grow and the empowerment and accountability to take responsibility for their own success.
Demonstrates integrity, honesty, compassion, courage, optimism, and good judgment in all actions and decisions.
External Relations Expertise
Strong working knowledge of each function within the External Relations department and how to strategically integrate them for highly leveraged outcomes.
Analyzes situations using highly developed strategic thinking skills and identifies paths to achieve key objectives through incorporating critical factors into a recommended approach.
Generates new, innovative and progressive approaches to solve problems.
Ability to manage multiple, high-priority projects simultaneously. Can correctly and effectively prioritize individual and departmental resources.
Bachelor’s degree plus fifteen years of progressively responsible leadership in government relations, public relations, communications, media or related field. Experience should include direct leadership of staff in related field and experience working to balance needs of multiple elected officials, business leaders or others. Master’s degree in a related field is preferred.
Persons interested in this position must submit a cover letter and a current resume detailing size and scope of leadership and management experience.
If you have questions regarding this announcement, please call Marissa Karras at (360) 956-1336. The position will remain open until filled; however, the screening process will move quickly.
Please submit your application materials as soon as possible but no later than October 21st, 2018 by visiting www.karrasconsulting.net and clicking on “view open positions.”
Salary determination is based on the knowledge, skills and experience of the successful candidate. The Port offers competitive benefits including medical and dental care, paid time-off, retirement, life insurance and other additional programs.
The Port of Seattle is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer and is committed to diversity in the workplace. Minorities, women, veterans, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. We will provide assistance in the recruitment, application, and selection process to applicants with disabilities who request such assistance.
About the Port of Seattle
The Port of Seattle plays a key role in bringing international trade and travel to the Pacific Northwest. The Port provides maritime and airport operations for the King County area. Port-related economic activity contributes to over 200,000 jobs in the greater Seattle area and our Century Agenda vision seeks to add 100,000 more.
The Port of Seattle operates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), serving nearly 47 million passengers and more than 425,000 metric tons of air cargo in 2017. The airport has experienced increasing growth over each of the last six years. Sea-Tac served a record number of passengers for several years to become the 9th largest airport in the United States.
The Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma are currently working together as the innovative Northwest Seaport Alliance, unifying the management of the two ports’ marine cargo terminals and related functions to continue our leading role in international trade.
The Port of Seattle manages two passenger cruise terminals that make Seattle the preferred choice for Alaska or Pacific Northwest cruises. Over one million visitors are expected during this year’s cruise season. Recreational boating is another major part of the Port. The Port operates four marinas with nearly 1700 slips. The Port also manages Fishermen’s Terminal, the homeport of the North Pacific fishing fleet, which provides over 40 percent of the nation’s landed catch.
The Port operates its own Stormwater Utility, committed to improving water quality in Puget Sound. It owns and manages 23 parks and operates a large maintenance department.
Our region is growing and changing, putting new pressures on the environment. The Port of Seattle targets its investments and programs to reduce the impacts of development and protect our natural resources. As environmental stewards, we embrace our responsibility to our citizens, to the livability of this region, and to the future.
Five commissioners elected at large by the voters of King County serve four-year terms and establish Port of Seattle policy. The Executive Director, in carrying out these policies, leads over 2,000 employees.
The Port’s Century Agenda supports the triple bottom line of business development, environmental sustainability and social responsibility. The Port’s goal is to serve as the gateway of choice and create a vibrant economic engine that drives job creation throughout the region. For more information, visit www.portseattle.org .