Executive Director

POSITION:                               Executive Director

ORGANIZATION:                 Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism

REPORTS TO:                         Board of Directors

LOCATION:                              Iowa City, IA

Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism (IowaWatch)

The board of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism (IowaWatch) seeks an energetic, driven executive director to steer the news organization’s editorial and revenue development missions. IowaWatch is Iowa’s leading public-affairs multimedia news operation and the state’s most ambitious and productive nonprofit news center.

The ideal candidate should have strong leadership qualities, including the ability to collaborate, the ability to mentor and edit the works of journalists of varying levels of experience, prior management experience, energy and enthusiasm for the news business, a history of successful fundraising and grantsmanship, and an understanding of Iowa’s past and present cultural and political climate. In other words, IowaWatch needs someone who can do it all – or display an interest and ability to learn new skills – and do it passionately.

The executive director will oversee a dynamic, flexible network of reporters and content producers who create original content and work collaboratively with other news organizations within the state and across the nation. IowaWatch delivers investigative journalism in the spirit of public service. The executive director will sustain and increase revenue streams to continue IowaWatch’s growth as a nonpartisan watchdog covering politics, health care, schools, taxes and state and local financing, state infrastructure, and much more.

The executive director will be charged with building editorial and financial relationships across the state while maintaining IowaWatch’s editorial independence. A strong knowledge of Iowa’s political and cultural history, organizational leadership, a rich background in public-affairs news, strong digital media skills, and a track record of fundraising are desirable attributes.

The Position

Responsibilities include strengthening and expanding the scope of existing news producers, building partnerships, commissioning and publishing new multiplatform content, keeping current on digital and social media trends, developing new audiences and serving as an incubator for innovative news-related public-policy projects.

Given the ambition and originality of this concept, the executive director should expect to focus during the first year on certain foundational activities, including the development of a three- to five-year strategic plan; assembling and managing a staff with a diverse skill set; working independently and with the board on new and sustainable revenue streams; and fulfilling IowaWatch’s missions to serve the public good and advance journalism education. The executive director will be expected to build relationships throughout Iowa communities, both among its private citizens and among organizations, businesses, clubs, and other groups.

The executive director’s overall job is to create an innovative organization that achieves the board’s ambition to develop a vehicle that ensures that high-quality public-interest news and information improves civic life and public-policy outcomes across Iowa.


  • Work with the board to develop an audience-focused content plan and distribution model.


  • Develop marketing plans, collaborative programs and innovative initiatives to engage the community, building a credible public profile to ensure that the organization has the capacity to act as a watchdog on public-interest issues.


  • Oversee the growth of IowaWatch, assessing and engaging as appropriate with  existing public affairs and public-interest news and information services.


  • Develop revenue-generation and sustaining strategies, with the assistance of the board and the current interim executive director.


  • Recruit and interact with a board on strategies, marketing, outreach, educational philosophy, and sustainability.


  • Develop forecasts, assessments and priorities for use in organizational and departmental planning, including hiring and partner support.


In addition to the qualifications listed above, the ideal candidate should demonstrate the following attributes and competencies:

  • Deep commitment to transparent government and to the importance of public-interest journalism, including its best practices and ethics.
  • Nonprofit management/social entrepreneurship experience, with preference for experience in media and journalism, including in digital-first setting.
  • A dynamic, facilitative, and collaborative leadership style that will motivate staff and partner organizations to advance IowaWatch’s mission.
  • Experience in digital media, social networking, and non-traditional and innovative content delivery.
  • Manage a diverse, skilled, and professional team.
  • Experience managing relationships with diverse stakeholders.

The executive director position is open immediately.  Initially, the director will work with the current interim executive director to learn IowaWatch’s organizational infrastructure, and will then rapidly take over full duties.


Salary range: $60,000-commensurate, plus benefits associated with full-time IowaWatch employment.

IowaWatch does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preference. Women and Minorities are encouraged to apply for all employment vacancies.


Applications should be completed by Dec. 23, 2011 and will include:

• A letter explaining your interest in IowaWatch

• A one-page, single-spaced memo explaining your long-term vision for IowaWatch and your means for reaching that vision

• Résumé

• Three references. We encourage – but do not require – one reference provided by someone you supervised

Send applications electronically in one zipped file to:

David Schwartz, president, IowaWatch Board of Directors, david-schwartz@uiowa.edu.

Label your subject heading: “IOWA WATCH – YOUR LAST NAME”