Senior Associate Dean for External Relations

I. About the Doerr School of Sustainability

Stanford University is one of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, devoting tremendous intellectual and physical resources toward the betterment of humanity. As a major Silicon Valley employer, Stanford seeks people committed to excellence and to improving our world. In turn, the university is committed to supporting its employees as they develop their careers and enrich their lives. As demonstrated by the IDEAL initiative (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Access in a Learning Environment), we believe Stanford’s future success will be shaped by the diverse perspectives, unique experiences, and inclusive culture of its community.


Officially launched in September 2022, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability (SDSS) has a unifying goal of creating a future in which humans and nature thrive together in concert and in perpetuity. The school's unique three-part structure consisting of departments to drive scholarship and educate students, institutes to innovate across disciplines, and an accelerator to drive policy and technology solutions reimagines how universities can contribute to the planet's sustainability. We focus on creating knowledge and scaling solutions that benefit our local community and people globally, while also creating a school community that is inclusive of all people. For more information on the school please click here.


II. Role and Purpose

The Senior Associate Dean for External Relations (SAD) is a member of SDSS’s senior leadership team and works directly with and in service to the Dean. The SAD reports to the Associate Vice President in the Office of Development with a dotted line to the Vice President for University Communications and oversees teams directing communications; development; alumni, corporate and community relations; volunteer management; and events activities for the Doerr School of Sustainability. Direct reports include the Associate Dean for Communications, the Associate Dean for Community Engagement, and the Director of Development.


We are seeking an exceptional candidate for this high-visibility role—a versatile senior leader who is a seasoned manager, successful strategist, and experienced change leader; who thrives in a dynamic, fast-paced, and highly collaborative environment; and who can lead cross functionally, adding value across the entire external relations program. This is a truly unique opportunity to play a central role in ensuring the success of a new school at one of the world’s top research universities and, in so doing, to contribute to a more sustainable future for people and our planet.


III. Core Duties


Serve as senior leader within SDSS and within University External Relations:

  • Become a trusted thought partner for the Dean and create, grow, and oversee a comprehensive and highly effective external relations program that achieves his vision for the school and supports his top priorities.
  • Provide strategic advice and support to SDSS’s academic leadership, including the Dean, Institute and Accelerator Directors, Department Chairs, faculty Senior Associate Deans, and other faculty and staff leaders.
  • Represent the school and actively engage with colleagues throughout the university, particularly in University Communications and the Office of Development.


Manage all aspects of SDSS External Relations operations:

  • Directly oversee the SDSS External Relations leadership team, set individual performance goals, and manage and assess progress toward goals; offer career coaching and professional development guidance.
  • Create departmental and team goals that align with the Dean’s strategic priorities; inspire and lead teams to achieve or surpass goals and objectives.
  • Manage available resources and make the case for additional resources when necessary.
  • Set and manage departmental budgets.
  • Create and communicate departmental policies, processes, and best practices.
  • Grow and nurture a positive and inclusive culture that demonstrates a commitment to diversity.


Partner with the SDSS External Relations leadership team, the Dean’s leadership team, as well as with University Communications and Office of Development colleagues to:

  • Advance programs and activities to promote SDSS, support the Dean and his priorities, and meet significant fundraising goals through meaningful and productive engagement with key external and internal constituents and audiences, including alumni; donors and potential philanthropic supporters (both individual and institutional); volunteers; community stakeholders, from local to global; the public at large; the media; faculty; students and prospective students; and staff.
  • Guide and oversee the creation and implementation of comprehensive and coordinated strategic communications, development, community engagement, and events plans


IV. Qualifications


Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree and significant experience leading external relations program strategy and implementation, including at least ten years in a leadership role, preferably as an executive director or chief operation officer in a non-profit or higher education setting, or a combination of education and relevant experience.
  • Considerable experience successfully managing a team of 10 or more.
  • Demonstrated strategic leadership, planning, and change management skills.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, political acumen, and executive presence.
  • An ability to cultivate strong collaborative relationships with faculty.
  • Interest in and ability to become facile with relevant areas of scholarship.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Ability to influence people, solve problems, trouble shoot, think creatively and resolve conflicts.
  • Strong attention to detail and accuracy.
  • Ability to manage large and complex issues with diverse and competing interests.
  • Understanding of brand management principles.
  • High tolerance for ambiguity.


Physical Requirements*:

  • Constantly perform desk-based computer tasks.
  • Frequently sitting.
  • Occasionally stand/walk, reach/work above shoulders, use a telephone, writing by hand, lift/carry/push/pull objects that weigh up to 10 pounds.
  • Rarely twist/bend/stoop/squat, sort/file paperwork or parts, lift/carry/push/pull objects that weigh 11-20 pounds.


Working Conditions:

  • Occasionally work evenings and weekends.


Work Standards:

  • Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrates the ability to work well with Stanford colleagues and clients and with external organizations.
  • Promote Culture of Safety: Demonstrates commitment to personal responsibility and value for safety; communicates safety concerns; uses and promotes safe behaviors based on training and lessons learned.
  • Subject to and expected to comply with all applicable University policies and procedures, including but not limited to the personnel policies and other policies found in the University’s Administrative Guide,




We believe Stanford’s future success will be shaped by the diverse perspectives, unique experiences, and inclusive culture of its community.


The job duties listed are typical examples of work performed by positions in this job classification and are not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, tasks, and responsibilities. Specific duties and responsibilities may vary depending on department or program needs without changing the general nature and scope of the job or level of responsibility. Employees may also perform other duties as assigned.


Consistent with its obligations under the law, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to any employee with a disability who requires accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job.


Stanford is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.