Chief Writer

Bennington, Vermont, United States | Full-time

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Bennington College invites inquiries, nominations and applications for the position of Chief Writer.

Reporting to the Vice President of Communications & Marketing and with a dotted line to the Chief of Staff / Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, the Chief Writer serves as a primary storyteller for the College, identifying, articulating and conveying stories that matter and animate the transformational learning experience that Bennington delivers.  The Chief Writer will join Bennington at an exciting time as the College expands its digital and online presence, integrated marketing efforts, and project-based strategies to leverage, build, and expand the College’s brand regionally, nationally, and internationally. Working closely with a dynamic President and with College leadership, the ideal candidate is a versatile, creative self-starter and skilled writer/editor who is motivated to discover and shape the stories that influence the identity of the College. The Chief Writer will have the opportunity to serve as a thought partner within a high functioning creative and innovative team that is building the communications strategy for the College. 

The Chief Writer will serve as the primary writer for the President, and for internal communications to the Bennington College community. 

Voraciously curious, the Chief Writer has the opportunity to frame core messages for the institution, and devise a strategy for their consistent delivery. The Chief Writer is a masterful storyteller, who is adept and excited to write across a broad range of styles, and to an even more diverse range of audiences, from prospective students and their families, to alumni, donors and internal faculty, staff and students alike. The writer will seamlessly move from drafting leadership missives that capture the voice and spirit of our president, to short-form copy that animates the landing pages of our website. With superb attention to detail and the ability to work well under pressure, the Chief Writer sets and adheres to deadlines, and handles several projects simultaneously. This “think outside the box,” wordsmith must also be a superior project manager, and work across forms and with multiple constituencies. They must generate a variety of long and short-form copy for a variety of materials and forms, so having a versatile and facile voice is essential. 

The Chief Writer must also be comfortable editing incoming/client materials for style, content, and grammar–in order to preserve the College’s brand and reputation as a top-notch, forward-thinking institution of higher learning. 

We seek an individual who will thrive in a workplace that values professionalism, resourcefulness, teamwork, and curiosity. Familiarity with Bennington College is extremely helpful. Flexibility will be afforded to the right candidate relative to a hybrid work experience. 

ABOUT BENNINGTON COLLEGE

Bennington College is a distinguished residential liberal arts college that has, since its founding in 1932, been a laboratory for new ideas and an intellectual home to countless artists, activists, and thinkers who have shaped contemporary culture. The college was the first to include the visual and performing arts in a liberal arts education, and it is the only college to require that its students spend a term—every year—at work in the world. Today, Bennington is home to a community that is engaged with some of the most critical issues facing our country and the world. Bennington’s students work intensively with faculty and staff to forge individualized and hands-on educational paths around their driving questions and interests, and also devote themselves to a number of community outreach efforts, often tied to the endeavors they are pursuing in their coursework.

Bennington is in the midst of an immensely exciting and transformative period in its history and experiencing extraordinary growth. In 2020, Laura R. Walker took office as the 11th President of Bennington College, previously serving as a pioneering media executive as former President & CEO of New York Public Radio for 23 years. Under President Laura Walker’s leadership, the college has launched a community-driven strategic planning process to articulate a unified and shared vision of Bennington’s future. Simultaneously, college-bound students are choosing Bennington at record rates. This past year alone, the college enrolled the largest class ever with a 23% increase in applications, and has received even more applicants this year, this time by 64%, effectively doubling its pool in just two admissions cycles. The community now approaches nearly 800 students—697 undergraduate and 102 graduate.

Bennington is investing in choices that support a radical future for the college: to educate the whole person, tell the stories that matter to the world now, and create innovative partnerships for social impact, on campus and in the larger community and beyond. Funders have embraced this vision: the college has recently received generous support from alumni, including one of the largest donations in its history, as well as support from The Ford Foundation, Endeavor Foundation, and several others to support programs in sustainability, mental health, social justice, and storytelling, and is also poised to double its endowment in the next five years.

Situated on 440 breathtaking acres in Bennington, Vermont, the campus is a convergence of creative minds, distinctive buildings, and expansive spaces. Bennington has been named one of ten college campuses with the best architecture by Architectural Digest. From campus, it is a short drive to MASS MoCA, Clark Art Institute, and other cultural offerings of the northern Berkshires in Massachusetts; Albany, New York; and many of Vermont’s top recreational centers. New York City, Boston, and Burlington, Vermont are all within three and a half hours by car.

BENNINGTON COLLEGE'S COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION

Bennington serves a diverse student population inclusive of members of ethnically/racially minoritized, international, LGBTQIA+, and disability communities as well as diverse gender identities, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions, and political beliefs. Our staff and faculty also reflect diverse and intersecting backgrounds and identities. All employees are expected to be respectful and responsive to these differences in the service of building community that promotes student and employee success. Each individual (faculty, staff and students) will be accountable for upholding these values. The College’s approach to pluralism and inclusivity—both as fields of inquiry and practice—is to prioritize flexible thought, and to invite the examination of access, value, power, and privilege through its institutional policies and areas of study. We encourage applicants from diverse realms of interest, backgrounds, experience, and accomplishment to apply.

RESPONSIBILITIES

The Chief Writer will have the opportunity to:

  • Serve as a strategic partner and the primary writer for the President, capturing her voice and elevating the brand of the College through multiple forms, including opinion pieces, letters, statements, quotes, speeches, remarks, and talking points. 
  • Be curious about the Bennington community, constantly looking for captivating stories from our students, faculty, and alumni that tell the Bennington story and support the College’s strategic goals.
  • Serve as a partner with College leadership in identifying and framing core messages for the institution to reach our strategic and operational goals, as well as the strategies and channels for their delivery.
  • Project manage, research, write, edit, fact check and manage approvals to produce high-quality deliverables, including speeches/scripts, End of Year/State of the College letters, and other projects.
  • For multimedia products (such as videos and audio recording), think holistically and strategically with colleagues to help create impactful final products, e.g., including written scripts, images, sounds, b-roll, etc.
  • Write and/or edit other written materials, including for Admissions, Institutional Advancement, and other departments, as assigned.
  • Write, edit, and upload content for the Bennington website, as assigned.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • B.A. degree required
  • At least 5 years of experience as a writer and/or editor, with preference given to those hailing from publications / journalism, and higher education and/or related not-for-profit, public relations experience also considered. 
  • Experience speechwriting and writing for different formats of delivery (print, scripts, talking points, etc) preferred, as well as experience reporting to or writing for a president or CEO strongly preferred.
  • Excellent storytelling skills coupled with the ability to write in a multitude of styles and voices, and for a broad range of distribution channels
  • Outstanding writing, editing, proofreading, and fact-checking skills; knowledge of AP Style
  • Excellent project management skills, and the ability to juggle many projects simultaneously in a deadline-driven environment
  • Demonstrable interpersonal, communication, empathy and active listening skills to build and maintain effective working relationships with all levels of internal and external constituencies
  • Experience with various types of marketing and communications channels including social media, electronic newsletters, websites, etc.
  • Proficiency with using computer software Windows, Microsoft Office Suite; HTML, Adobe Creative Suite, and Google applications
  • Expertise in communications best practices, including use of photos, video, social media and text to communicate effectively
  • Strong critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills
  • Self-motivated, proactive, and works well with minimal direction
  • Positive attitude, proven ability to work successfully with diverse populations and demonstrated commitment to promoting and enhancing diversity and inclusion
  • Excellent command of the English language, including grammar, writing, presentation and verbal communications
  • Ability to accept sensitive/confidential information/situations and to facilitate initial handling/processing in a timely manner. Able to communicate with individuals at all levels of the organization