Chief Public Engagement Officer (Revised)

Leadership Profile | Search Announcement



American Academy of Religion

Atlanta, Georgia


From its beginnings in 1909, the American Academy of Religion has grown to be the world’s largest association of academics who research or teach topics related to religion, with some 8,000 members throughout the world.  The AAR does not endorse any belief or practices but seeks to promote excellence in the academic study of religion and to enhance the public understanding of religion.


The AAR is currently looking for its Chief Public Engagement Officer who will provide leadership in all areas of public engagement (marketing, media, and communications): nurturing and leveraging media relationships for the mission; conceptualizing, planning and directing communications, public engagement, and marketing activities; guiding strategy development and implementation to ensure that the AAR enhances public awareness of the value of understanding religion and its contributions to society; preparing members to communicate effectively with publics and helping them make the connections to do that; coordinating activities that increase connections and communications among and between members; making nuanced understandings of religion more visible in public arenas; increasing awareness in non-academic settings about the relevance of academic study of religion; coordinating responses to public policy issues around the relevance of the study of religion; and developing and implementing strategies to market AAR services and products as well as participate in building a sense of excitement about the AAR mission; and contributing to and encouraging a positive internal work culture at AAR, engaging all work with professionalism, transparency, and collaboration.


Media Relations

  • Develop, nurture, and leverage media relationships
  • Serve as AAR media contact for public events, functions, and/or programs, as requested
  • Develop, implement, evaluate, and revise accordingly, program to connect journalists with members who are experts in areas of interest



  • Develop, implement, evaluate, and revise accordingly, an effective marketing plan mindful of three audiences (membership, potential membership, and general publics) including initiatives to increase traffic and engagement
  • Ensure unified and effective branding
  • Coordinate AAR-branded merchandise and products for sale across all areas



  • Conceptualize, plan, direct, evaluate, and revise accordingly, comprehensive communications strategies and campaigns to advance the mission and long-range plan
  • Generate and place stories and op-eds highlighting the work of individual members and the AAR across the full breadth of AAR activities.
  • Serve as the organization’s communications gatekeeper for quality assurance



  • Develop, implement, evaluate, and revise accordingly, the AAR’s effort to nurture and grow a sense of obligation for members and their institutions to publics with regard to public understanding of religion.  These publics could be international, national, regional, and local and could include broadcast media, local libraries, community settings, blogs, editorials, magazine articles, communities of faith, corporate settings and other venues.
  • Oversee the design, implementation and execution of all public programs
  • Develop, implement, evaluate, and revise accordingly, an AAR program to prepare members who need support in enhancing public understanding of religion.
  • Develop (and/or supervise the development of) policy issue briefs and updates from AAR leadership and membership on proposed policies affecting academic study of religion research, education, and training.  Engage AAR leadership and membership in advocacy for/against proposed policies.



  • Serve on the leadership team
  • Staff the Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion and other leadership groups as required
  • Prepare, administer, and monitor area budget and work plan
  • Stay abreast of industry trends and bring strategic innovation ideas to the table
  • Evaluate and revise products and processes on an annual cyclical basis
  • Develop successful grant proposals obtaining extramural support for special projects in communications, outreach, and public engagement
  • Supervise Director of Communications, Research and Data Specialist, Advocate for the Study of Religion, and Public Programs Specialist
  • Other duties as assigned.


Reports to:      Executive Director

Supervises:     Director of Communications

                        Public Programs Specialist

                        Research and Data Specialist

                        Advocate for the Study of Religion



  • highly collaborative team player
  • customer service orientation
  • strong, persuasive communication skills
  • proven project and budget management skills
  • ability to manage multiple projects at one time and achieve excellence in a timely manner
  • self-motivated, entrepreneurial spirit
  • initiative
  • follow-through
  • ability to travel locally and nationally



  • Advanced degree in public relations, marketing, religion, or related field.  Advanced degree preferred.  Extensive familiarity with or master’s degree in religion or related field preferred.
  • Minimum of 5 years of progressively responsible experience in public relations, marketing, public affairs or equivalent with demonstrated success in a non-profit organization.
  • At least 5 years of experience in a senior level position with demonstrated excellence in the management of teams and related operations.
  • Established media connections preferred.
  • Demonstrated understanding of how to effectively employ electronic and social media in building brand support
  • Demonstrated excellence in strategic thinking and tactical planning
  • Demonstrated excellence in supervising employees
  • Familiarity with membership associations preferred


As a learned society and professional association of teachers and research scholars, the American Academy of Religion is proud to represent its members in national and international arenas.  AAR members are affiliated with more than 900 colleges, universities, seminaries, and schools around the world.  The AAR’s membership also extends to leaders in related fields including international diplomacy, foundation leadership, and nonprofit management.  AAR’s diverse members can be found engaging in the world as public intellectuals, influencing the development of public policy, producing ground-breaking research in the field, and preparing the world’s next generation of leaders.


The AAR is dedicated to furthering knowledge of religion and religious institutions in all their forms and manifestations.  This is accomplished through the sharing of knowledge and scholarship via conferences, meetings, publications, and programs; providing resources for excellence in teaching; offering career services for members; advocating for and promoting the profession; and taking positions on public issues that impact society and the world.


The AAR’s meetings and conferences are among the best-attended in the humanities.  During its upcoming 2019 annual meeting, held in conjunction with the Society of Biblical Literature in San Diego, it is expected that 10,000 people will attend more than 1,000 events and sessions featuring the world’s leading experts in religion.


The AAR, an affiliate of Emory University, is an independent nonprofit organization with 501(c)3 tax exempt status.  The AAR’s office is in Atlanta, Georgia, on the campus of Emory University.  The AAR is governed by a 13-member Board of Directors.


The AAR strongly encourages applications from candidates representing the full diversity of the AAR.  To apply, go to


To nominate someone for this position, please write to


The American Academy of Religion is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).  Qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, and any other characteristic protected by law.