Director of Strategic Communications

BSP Job Opportunities Executive Search CSUSM


California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) is dedicated to preparing future leaders, building great communities, and solving critical issues. With a guiding institutional strategic plan titled “The Power of CSUSM”, the University is launching a major philanthropic campaign to support some of the largest and most exciting projects in CSUSM’s history. The University recently received the largest gift in its 35-year history, two philanthropic donations totaling $20 million from Price Philanthropies and Phyllis and Daniel J. Epstein. Other major initiatives include development of a new academic master plan, strategic enrollment plan, and campus facilities master plan.

CSUSM is fully focused on expanding educational access, student success, and opportunity. From first-year programs to community-based learning opportunities, internships, undergraduate research, and more, the university works to foster deep learning and academic success by engaging students in meaningful and innovative educational experiences. CSUSM ranks in the top 1% in the nation on the National Social Mobility Index, which measures how well colleges and universities lift low-income students into well-paying careers post-graduation. CSUSM was also recently named a “Top 25 Most Transformative College” according to Money Magazine.

As an anchor institution in the region, CSUSM is highly connected and responsive to the needs of local communities. Approximately 80% of CSUSM students remain in the region after graduation, 55% of whom are the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree. Enrollment is nearly 16,000 diverse students, serving San Diego County, Orange County, and Southwest Riverside County. CSUSM is a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) with over 50% of our students representing the Latinx community. The principles of diversity, equity and inclusion are woven into all aspects of CSUSM’s work. To learn more, visit:


Now in the fifth year of her presidency at CSUSM, Dr. Ellen Neufeldt continues to work in partnership with faculty, staff, and the community to expand the university’s reach and impact. This position will report to CSUSM’s Senior Director of Communications and Marketing, Giselle Luevanos. Giselle joined CSUSM in 2023 and is a well-respected marketing and communications professional with over 15 years of experience, a decade of which has been in higher education. Prior to joining the CSUSM family, Giselle served in various marketing roles at another powerhouse CSU, San Diego State University. The Director of Strategic Communications is a new position within the University and will join a passionate team of 11 staff and 8 student assistants.


  • Salary – $110,000 – $115,000 DOE/NEG
  • Medical, dental, and vision
  • CALPERS retirement plan
  • 24 paid days off
  • 12 paid sick days
  • 13 paid holidays and 1 floating holiday


This role will primarily be in-person, with some flexibility for remote work. The office is located on the main campus of California State University San Marcos, 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd. San Marcos CA, 92096.


Reporting to the Senior Director of Communications and Marketing, this new Director position will lead strategic communications for the University to include: serving as a thought partner and strategist with senior leadership, collaborating with internal and external stakeholders to develop communications plans, drafting messages, statements and other content and driving the University’s media relations, crises and issues management protocols and responses. The Director will ensure a centralized and coordinated approach, developing and maintaining appropriate internal workflows, decision-making structures, and monitoring and reporting systems. This position may chair or co-chair various cross-campus strategic oversight and issue management committees (e.g., Critical Issues Team). They will also serve as the primary University spokesperson for a range of issues and may oversee other communications team members working in editorial, social media, and media relations areas.

Strategic priorities for the first 12 months may include:

  • Conduct an internal assessment of campus communications and media relations; recommend opportunities for streamlining and modernization; support systems implementation.
  • Develop and implement media relations training institution wide.


  • Lead issue and crisis communications management, serving as the primary university spokesperson.
  • Serve as a leader, advocate, and coalition builder to recommend, create, and implement long and short-term goals and operational plans for University Communications, ensuring alignment with CSUSM’s mission.
  • Support and advance new initiatives, identifying current and future obstacles and proposing effective solutions with a sense of urgency where necessary.
  • Motivate and encourage a collaborative commitment to the achievement of strategic plans and initiatives.
  • Build and nurture strategic alliances, both internally and externally, collaborating with business and community partners to achieve university goals.
  • Develop and implement a community-focused strategy aligned with the CSUSM’s mission, anticipating, and addressing community needs, while actively engaging with the community, fostering strong working relationships, and valuing collective strength, knowledge, and feedback for continuous improvement.
  • Demonstrate persuasive negotiation skills to gain support and commitment, seeking consensus while championing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Enhance CSUSM’s brand strength through comprehensive media strategy development and execution; develop strategy and content for CSUSM’s owned media channels including NewsCenter and social media platforms.
  • Be a change champion, courageously addressing difficult issues, and resolving them at the peer level while mitigating future challenges.
  • Ensure confidentiality around sensitive matters, fostering an environment that motivates, empowers, and inspires commitment from employees and the community.
  • Take ownership of issues, demonstrate accountability, recognize and reward employee contributions, and foster competence through coaching and professional development, including effective onboarding for new hires.
  • Promote cross-divisional support and coordination of resources to advocate with one common voice.


  • The successful candidate must be highly skilled in marketing, communications, media relations, publications, and branding.
  • Previous experience in higher education institutions or complex organizations is highly desired.
  • Deep knowledge of current media relations trends, crisis communications best practices and digital strategies.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, with the ability to engage diverse audiences both internally and externally.
  • Demonstrated experience serving as a spokesperson, working with the news media on coverage of programs, events, and activities.
  • Experience reporting, writing, and editing for publications.
  • Experience supporting the marketing and communication elements of major events such as conferences, symposiums, galas, and dinners.
  • Proven ability to effectively lead teams with a growth mindset and experience with coaching and mentoring employees.
  • Ability to prioritize projects appropriately, making informed decisions quickly and decisively.
  • Ability to work with multiple stakeholders and personalities institution wide.


The California State University (CSU) remains committed to safeguarding the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, administrators, and the communities we serve, as well as maintaining higher education access and attainment for our students. As such, all employees and new hires are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19, unless otherwise exempted. To view the full policy please visit:


Shira Jacobs, Director, Blair Search Partners
1855 1st Ave., Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101