Communications and PR Director


The person in this job will be at the forefront of one of today’s most visible and dynamic issues:  marijuana laws and marijuana legalization.  You will be one of just a handful of highly visible people driving the discourse on a policy matter of international importance, and will represent an organization with the Kennedy name behind it. Accordingly, not only will you have a chance to shape policy discourse at the national and international levels, you will also have a chance to stand out in a crowded field.  Additionally, the job offers high-quality health and dental insurance.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working on drug policy issues, located in Old Town Alexandria.  We are looking for someone to work in our offices there, or possibly elsewhere as part of a telecommuting arrangement.  (NB: Part-time employment will be considered on a case-by-case basis. We would consider a part-time role 5 hours/week Monday through Friday, depending on the candidate.)

We were founded in 2013 by, among others, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and senior editor of The Atlantic David Frum to advocate for a science-based approach to marijuana policy.  (You can learn more about us and our mission at

Despite our relative youth, we have an outsized profile in the media and frequently interact with the press and the public at large, and have grown to be one of the go-to voices on the marijuana issue nationally and internationally.  We need someone with a lot of ideas, initiative, and savvy to help cultivate even stronger relationships with the media, put out press releases, manage social media, design new and inventive outreach campaigns, and work very closely with SAM’s management.  Basically, a start-up environment in the non-profit space.  And due to the interest in marijuana policy, there is never a dull moment.

You must be: A multi-tasker, an excellent writer, a self-starter, a tireless worker, an excellent spokesperson, and infinitely reliable.

Success in the position also means a genuine interest in the policy issues at stake, and a willingness to become an expert in the area very quickly — you will be collaborating daily with experts, be they journalists, policy experts, or people working on drug issues in the field.  Make no mistake, the work will challenge you – but for those with the right skills and drive, this is a place where you can make a difference and stand out.

Also, we would consider someone in a more entry-level capacity that would allow a motivated, responsible, smart individual with less experience in the field to develop skills.

Responsibilities include:

Develop, implement, and evaluate SAM’s annual communications plan, in collaboration with the SAM team and constituents.

  • Supervise a Communications and PR Assistant, if that position is filled.
  • Develop and cultivate media contacts in SAM’s relevant media markets.
  • Generate and disseminate online content that engages SAM’s audience and leads to measurable action.
  • Create momentum and awareness of SAM’s message as well as to test the effectiveness of communications activities.
  • Develop, distribute, and maintain SAM’s print and electronic content including, but not limited to, newsletters, brochures, and the organization’s website and social media accounts.
  • Ensure that new and consistent information (article links, stories, and events) are posted regularly on SAM’s information portals, including social media.
  • Organize press conferences.
  • Issue press releases.
  • Follow press relevant to SAM’s mission and highlight important items for its management.
  • Report directly to SAM’s Executive Vice President.

 Additional Guidelines:

The Communications Director must function independently with guidelines that are often only broadly stated and with issues for which precedents may be few or lacking. In other words, you need to be a self-starter, have good judgment, and be independently motivated.  Also, you will need to know how to address and complete sensitive work with the appropriate discretion.

You must also be able to maintain a confidential relationship with SAM leaders and its board and advisors, and provide expert, comprehensive assistance to high-level SAM officials and staff. You may also need to work with or lead other staff in initiatives, and be able to function well within a team either as a leader or a follower.  In addition, you will be expected to develop and maintain expertise in the field of drug policy, remaining knowledgeable about current events.

Personal Contacts:

Within SAM, contacts are with staff at all levels. Other contacts are with high-level officials and staff of the Executive Office of the President and Federal agencies and departments with in Congress, GAO, and various advisory committees and councils. Business and private sector, media, academic, and general public contacts may also be appropriate.  You will need good powers of persuasion, awareness, and tact, including appreciation of the various responsibilities facing your interlocutors.

Physical Demands:

The work is sedentary. The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by the person working in this position to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.  While performing the duties of this job, you will be regularly required to sit, use your hands, and talk or hear. You will also be occasionally required to stand, walk, and reach with your hands and arms. You must also occasionally lift and/or move up to 51 pounds.

Work frequently is performed under pressure. No special physical effort or skill is required. You may be required to work under stressful conditions or long hours to complete sensitive and urgent assignments. Typically, you will be able to sit comfortably to do the work. However, there may be some walking, standing, bending, carrying of light items such as papers and books.


Pre-tax/withholding salary of $40,000 to $80,000 annually, depending on qualifications, for a full-time employee.  Employee health and dental insurance plans are offered.

How to apply:

To apply, please send a resume and a brief (1-2) page cover letter, describing your interest in the job and how you think your background will benefit the organization in this position, to


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