Assistant Director Of Engagement

Work Arrangement:  Hybrid (On-Site and Remote mix)
Requisition Number:  243895
Regular or Temporary:  Regular

Durham, NC, US, 27710

Date:  May 7, 2024

About the Duke Forest


The Office of the Duke Forest is the university department responsible for the management and stewardship of the Duke Forest Teaching and Research Laboratory. The mission of the Duke Forest is to facilitate research that addresses fundamental and applied questions across a variety of disciplines and to aid in the instruction of all students in their pursuit of knowledge, especially regarding the stewardship of our natural resources.


In total, the Duke Forest is approximately 7,100 acres in Durham, Orange, and Alamance counties. Management of the Duke Forest is guided by a comprehensive plan that promotes the Forest’s academic mission while ensuring the protection of its natural resources. Five major management priorities that aim to maximize a wide variety of forest benefits guide the allocation of forest resources, and in particular, direct staff time and energy. These priorities also motivate strategic efforts to enhance the value of the Duke Forest as a University and community asset. More information is available at:


Occupational Summary


The Assistant Director of Engagement (AD-E) provides leadership on development and communications for the Office of the Duke Forest (ODF). To successfully do so, the AD-E:


· Develops a nuanced understanding and appreciation of the mission, management, and strategy of the Duke Forest and the universe of audiences engaged across it.

· Embodies a warm and welcoming approach to engaging with and developing meaningful connections to donor and pipeline audiences in a variety of settings.

· Collaborates with members of the Duke Forest team and with colleagues across relevant departments at Duke, forming and maintaining trustworthy and productive relationships.


The AD-E reports directly to the Executive Director (ED) and works closely with the ED, the Forest Supervisor, and the AD of Teaching & Research, as well as other programmatic, administrative, and field staff. The AD-E applies a keen awareness and appreciation of the roles the Duke Forest plays while shaping and implementing relevant strategies for development and communications. The AD-E has budgetary responsibilities for engagement activities and may supervise staff working on engagement programs.


Overall, the successful AD-E is a development and communications professional with demonstrated experience working in higher education or on behalf of a multiple-use natural resource.

The AD-E expresses a sincere commitment to the Duke Forest mission and demonstrates enthusiasm for working within the dynamic, collaborative, and supportive Duke Forest team structure.


Work Performed:


Development, Fundraising, and Stewardship

• Lead efforts to evolve Duke Forest’s development program, and specifically, to update the current Duke Forest Development Plan; this plan includes objectives and activities around the following responsibilities:

­ Understand existing donor profiles; engage existing donor base; develop pipeline.

­ Identify new prospects; develop and implement strategies for cultivation, solicitation, stewardship, and long-term engagement.

­ Leverage ongoing communications and events, and/or develop new opportunities, to cultivate existing donor base and to attract new donors.

­ Evaluate success of annual development efforts and identify necessary changes based on performance or emerging trends.

­ Acknowledge gifts to the Duke Forest in a timely manner according to written policies and procedures.

­ Steward donors of planned or large outright gifts/endowments, engaging the ED as needed.

• Create and implement annual work plans based on the development plan that include goals, targets, and timeline and identifies opportunities for collaboration across Duke; focus on fundraising activities that achieve targets for special projects, e.g., New Hope Creek Restoration Projects and Duke Forest Cabin.

• Play the primary role in solicitation strategies for smaller gifts ($1 - $100K) and partner with major gift officers for gifts at or above $100K; in both scenarios, serve as the content expert and facilitator to assist with proposals, faculty/ED engagement, tours, stewardship, impact reports, events, etc.

• Maintain valued and mutually beneficial relationships with development colleagues at Duke, especially within the Office of Climate and Sustainability, the Nicholas School’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations, and Duke’s Office of Alumni Engagement and Development.

• Engage and manage an internal group of development advisors, as appropriate, to guide development and implementation of plans and to ensure mission fidelity.

Marketing and Communications

• Lead efforts to strategically leverage communications for the purposes of advancing development plans and fundraising activities; identify/develop/implement new communications or events to enhance donor and pipeline engagement.

• Manage baseline communications including the website, social media, and email newsletter; create content, develop story ideas, and engage other Duke Forest staff to implement and improve these communications.

• Manage timeline, story structure, graphic design, and layout for the annual Duke Forest LOG publication; collaborate with the Duke Forest Executive Director and direct other Duke Forest staff to develop story ideas, write content, and copy-edit; create the final design and oversee the printing and distribution process.

• Stay current on Duke Forest management, research, and strategic projects to incorporate into communications to constituents and donors.

• Evaluate success of communications and events (e.g., tracking open- and click-through rates and general readership statistics for online and print communications); maintain and regularly update email newsletter and LOG subscribers; maintain archive of past communications and events.

• Maintain valued and mutually beneficial relationships with communications and marketing colleagues at Duke, especially within the Office of Climate and Sustainability, the Nicholas School’s Office of Marketing and Communications, and Duke’s Office of Communication and Marketing. General Administration and Team Engagement

• Lead collaborative and collective problem-solving on issues related to development and communications; advise ED upon request in responding to emerging internal, university, or external issues; implement/support response and communications as needed.

• Support regular assessment of and updates to the Duke Forest Strategic Plan, especially where goals, objectives, or actions intersect with development and communications.

• Advise the ED regarding the fiscal requirements for programs and operations across the realm of engagement.

• Supervise/manage temporary staff, permanent staff, consultants, and/or students that are involved in engagement activities; this may include monthly check-ins, performance reviews, etc.

• Participate in all-team field efforts, as needed, such as annual deer spotlight surveys, recreational monitoring, and prescribed burns.



• Bachelor’s degree required; master’s degree preferred.

• A minimum of 5 years of successful fundraising and communications project management experience, including meeting numerous deadlines and objectives and managing multiple concurrent projects with limited resources.

• Demonstrated success in creating genuine relationships and engagement opportunities with a wide audience in a variety of settings.

• Proven success in fundraising and developing/maintaining constituent relationships.

• Proven success in communications; ability to differentiate audiences and create targeted, audience-specific messaging using the appropriate vehicle (with the aim of building donor pipeline or maintaining constituent relationships preferred).

• Experience and proficiency with relationship or fundraising management software.

• Experience and proficiency with social media platforms, web content management, and email distribution systems.

• Experience with and ability to master SAP-based and cloud-based database tools such as Airtable.

• Excellent people skills, sound judgment, and experience managing confidential information.

• Excellent teamwork and collaboration skills; creativity, adaptability, and sense of humor.

• Excellent writing and editing skills.

• Strong work ethic in a fast-paced, purposeful team environment.

• Proficiency with Word, PowerPoint, Excel; Adobe Creative Suite.


The intent of this job description is to provide a representative and level of the types of duties and responsibilities that will be required of positions given this title and shall not be construed as a declaration of the total of the specific duties and responsibilities of any position. Employees may be directed to perform job-related tasks other than those specifically presented in this description.



The AD-E is an office-based role that will primarily work from ODF’s office location on Duke University’s West Campus in Durham, NC. However, the successful applicant will also be willing and physically able to drive a Duke Forest truck and to engage in work outdoors in the Duke Forest in all seasons, as necessary. Some remote work possible.



40 hours per week, typically 8 – 4:30pm; some weekend and after normal business hours work required.

<a 699:="" onclick="">Hybrid position (On-Site and Remote mix)


To apply:

Please submit a resume and cover letter summarizing your experience, interest, and appropriateness for this role to the Duke Careers website. Address cover letter to Sara Childs, Duke Forest Executive Director. Applications accepted and processed on a rolling basis. Selected applicants contacted for phone and/or in-person interviews.


Minimum Qualifications



Work requires communications, analytical and organizational skills generally acquired through completion of a bachelor's degree program.



Work requires five years experience in alumni affairs, public OR AN EQUIVALENT COMBINATION OF RELEVANT EDUCATION AND/OR EXPERIENCE. relations, fund raising, sales and promotions, marketing, student activities or a related field in order to acquire skills necessary to administer, coordinate and/or participate in general fund raising activities and proposal development.



Duke is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual's age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status.


Duke aspires to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging. Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas—an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard. All members of our community have a responsibility to uphold these values.


Essential Physical Job Functions: Certain jobs at Duke University and Duke University Health System may include essentialjob functions that require specific physical and/or mental abilities. Additional information and provision for requests for reasonable accommodation will be provided by each hiring department.


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Nearest Secondary Market: Raleigh