Partner, Civic News Organization Success

Are you a social entrepreneur who is passionate about securing the future of local news and our nation’s democracy? Do you thrive in a fast-paced, fluid work environment? Are you willing to take risks, to fail fast and achieve faster? If so, perhaps your place is at the American Journalism Project (AJP).

Position Summary:

AJP is seeking an outstanding digital media executive with a demonstrated understanding of and affinity to the local journalistic mission of the organization. He or she will possess the strategic acumen, entrepreneurial leadership and operating skill to guide investment in qualified CNOs, and provide ongoing advice and counsel to CNO leadership as they grow their organizations and impact in communities across the country. The partner will monitor growth of CNOs in the AJP portfolio, and will work with local CNO leadership teams to maximize the operating performance and impact of their organizations.

Major Responsibilities:

Firm Building. As a member of the founding management team of a start-up philanthropic organization, help chart long term strategy that will maximize the impact of the organization. Help build best-in-class team, infrastructure and processes to drive ongoing success.

Monitoring CNO Landscape. Become a true expert on the Civic News Organization landscape, both where it is and where it is going. With AJP team, advise on pipeline of potential new investments, building relationships with management. Meet with potential portfolio CNOs onsite, in AJP offices, and at industry gatherings. Develop and constantly refine strong opinions about what works and what doesn’t. Serve on AJP Investment Committee responsible for signing off on grants.

Grant Structuring and Monitoring. Identify the investment needs of target CNOs. In partnership with CNO management teams, co-create grant proposals with management that fit the needs of the organization. Build in joint work plans, metrics for success, and reporting/communication mechanisms.

Ongoing Post-Grant Advisory and Added Value. Become trusted, active, board-level advisor to CNO management on issues such as overall strategy, team building, organizational structure, diversity/equity/inclusion strategy, technology selection and implementation, major gifts, membership, commercial sponsorship, events, and fund raising. Actively recruit, interview, structure compensation for, help hire, and mentor new team members. Support management teams in local fundraising efforts. Aggressively connect CNO with AJP-trusted resources (e.g. Institute for Nonprofit News, Shorenstein Center, search firms, academic centers, consultants, executive coaches).

Specialization. Take ownership for continuous improvement of one or more of the firm’s key competencies (e.g. tech, DEI, talent pool development, major gifts, membership, ecosystem relationships) and/or focus areas (e.g. statehouse, collaboratives, investigative reporting centers, public media partnerships, startups).

Thought Leadership and Communication. Develop and communicate expertise and lessons learned externally for the benefit of portfolio CNOs and the field generally. Author articles, blog posts, presentations. Present at industry gatherings and to local funders. Maintain active social media presence. Support CEO and Chief Philanthropy Officer in AJP fundraising efforts.

Ideal Experience:

  • Digital media leader with a track record of accomplishment in growing a high impact digital news or related media organization. Experience in local media preferred but not required; at a minimum, affinity to the public service mission of local news organizations.
  • Versatile executive with a keen understanding of the highly interdependent functional areas (editorial, product, audience development, community engagement, marketing, sales, etc.) that drive digital media success.
  • Track record of accomplishment and commitment to building diverse teams.
  • Inspiring leader with demonstrated skill in building and managing high performing teams, and proven ability to leverage the organization structure and team member capabilities to maximum advantage.
  • Outstanding manager of people, known for the ability to help team members reach their full potential and work in a highly collaborative manner.
  • Strategic leader with considerable intellectual horsepower and problem-solving skills, ideally gained in a strategy consulting firm or similar environment. Experience tackling complex problems with analytic rigor as well as a practical sense of what works and what does not.
  • Forward-thinking executive who has led a team that has upgraded technology, systems and product set to take advantage of emerging technologies and trends.
  • Exposure to nonprofit organizations and fundraising, through executive or board roles, preferred.

Key Selection Criteria/Competencies for Success:

Digital Leader Aligned with AJP Mission: The ideal candidate will have demonstrated alignment with and understanding of the journalistic and public service mission of AJP. He or she will bring a vision for the future of journalism, and the ways in which CNOs can make significant contributions to information needs of communities, both independently and in collaboration with others. The finalist candidate will be an innovator who has demonstrated skill in testing and launching new products and services to deepen engagement with audiences, building loyalty and engagement in a disciplined manner. He or she will have displayed commitment to diversifying staff, and to building partnerships to enhance AJP’s impact and relevance to the communities it serves.

Strategic Leader with Digital Acumen: In an increasingly complex, dynamic, and fluid media environment, the ideal candidate will be an entrepreneurial leader with a deep understanding of evolving media business models, and ways CNOs can deploy media and marketing strategies to engage with diverse audiences and achieve sustainable results. The finalist candidate will have demonstrated skill in monitoring opportunities and challenges for a digital news or media business, and bring strategic insight, creativity, analytical ability, and sound judgment to the role.

Sophisticated Communicator: The Partner will have demonstrated skill in clearly communicating AJP’s mission to diverse constituent groups. He or she will have displayed an ability to present powerful and persuasive arguments to generate support, from an audience, community and financial perspective, for AJP.

Collaborative Team Player and Trusted Advisor: The finalist candidate will be an outstanding listener with the ability to quickly diagnose issues and collaborate with CNO leadership to identify opportunities and solutions. The CPO will serve as a trusted advisor to CNOs, and will create a collegial team atmosphere by helping to skillfully select, coach and motivate team members. He or she will have demonstrated the ability to work in a highly collaborative manner, using influencing skills to bring people together across different units and functional areas.

Other Personal Characteristics:

  • Entrepreneurial. Diligent, persistent, resilient, independent-thinking self-starter with high tolerance for ambiguity and low need for external validation.
  • Intellectually Curious. Driven by a passion for learning and helping others learn. Fanatical about all kinds of media and its importance.
  • Intellectually honest. Data-driven, quick to admit mistakes, effective at holding others accountable.
  • Collaborative. Excellent relationship builder. Has reputation for or shows the capacity to develop servant leadership. Sees AJP as bigger than themselves and the local news ecosystem as bigger than AJP.
  • Communicative. Effective and enthusiastic written and verbal communicator. Excellent and sought-after ambassador for the firm and its values.
  • Driven with a High Sense of Urgency. AJP operates in a fast-paced, hard-working, data- driven culture.
  • Human and Humane. We value our colleagues, their feelings, and their personal growth. We’re all in this together. And we value humor—a lot.


The American Journalism Project believes that every community deserves access to high quality local news.

It is committed to diversity and building an inclusive environment for people of all backgrounds and ages. It is taking steps to meet that commitment. AJP especially encourages members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and people that are differently abled. AJP knows there are great candidates who won’t fit everything described above, or who have important skills that have not been considered. If that’s you, please don’t hesitate to apply and tell us about yourself.


The Partner, Civic News Organization Success, may work remotely from any location in the United States. Staff members are currently located in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Austin, Texas. This position requires significant travel.