Associate Vice President, Philanthropy Communications - City of Hope

Sterling Search Inc. - Duarte, CA

Sterling Search Inc. has been exclusively retained to recruit for the new Associate Vice President, Philanthropy Communications for City of Hope.

The Rich History of City of Hope

began in 1913 when a group of volunteers, spurred by compassion to help those afflicted with tuberculosis, raised money to start a free, nonsectarian sanatorium. Today, City of Hope is still powered by philanthropy and is recognized worldwide for compassionate patient care, innovative science, and translational research. City of Hope has been ranked as one of the nation’s best Cancer Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for over 10 years. With particular excellence in bone marrow and stem cell transplants, its program is one of the largest and most successful in the world with unrivaled survival rates.

Changing the World Through Science

At City of Hope, we advance science to make lives whole again. As a world leader in the research and treatment of cancer, diabetes, and other serious diseases, our scientists’ partner with doctors to transform laboratory breakthroughs into treatments that save lives. We call it “bench to bedside science;” our patients call it miraculous.

In the global pursuit of scientific breakthroughs in the fight against deadly diseases, City of Hope is among those leading the charge. As an independent research facility, our world-renowned scientists have made advances that have fundamentally expanded the world’s understanding of how biology influences diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes.

And we live our commitment to scientific innovation. We are the only non-academic medical and research center in the nation with three FDA-approved manufacturing facilities for small scale therapeutics production for use in clinical trials. Made possible by philanthropy, the goal is singular: to speed treatments to patients so they receive healing now, not years from now.

One of only 47 medical centers designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute -- the highest level of recognition the agency bestows -- in any given year, City of Hope conducts more than 400 clinical trials enrolling over 6,000 patients. Our discoveries impact 100 million people a year.

Upholding the mantra “there is no profit in curing the body if, in the process, we destroy the soul,” patients and loved ones benefit from a City of Hope clinical tradition that treats and heals through integrated physical, emotional, and spiritual approaches. By offering exquisite care, conducting innovative research, and championing vital education, our experts draw practical benefits from the mysteries of science and work to save and change lives. In short, we turn hope into reality -- and change medicine for people around the world.

The Office of Philanthropy is led by its Chief Philanthropy Officer Kristin Bertell, MA, CFRE

We will be known institutionally and nationally as a model of excellence among elite fundraising programs. Success will be achieved by building exceptional, long-term donor partnerships and demonstrating that all levels of philanthropic support are leveraged to realize the maximum impact for City of Hope’s mission, holding to the highest standards of professional performance and conduct.

Our committed staff will function as a highly collaborative, efficient and creative team.

The Office of Philanthropy is building a premier fundraising team with highly creative, committed, and talented innovators. Our goal is to set the pace for excellence in the field of advancement and inspire philanthropists to champion our lifesaving mission.

Bertell and her team of expert, seasoned fundraising leaders are committed to growing revenue to $225M annually in four to five years, making it one of only six cancer centers in the country that raise more than $100 million annually. The senior team has implemented an innovative new organizational structure that features a new layer of leadership that will bring the team size to 175 staff and partners in anticipation of a historic comprehensive campaign of $1.5B.

To this end, the Office of Philanthropy invests in their staff through the Team Activation Program (TAP) initiative. This initiative increases the effectiveness of their team through focused transparency and accountability, building trust within teams; training and development; celebrating innovation and risk taking; enhancing team communications and removing roadblocks to maximize activation. The TAP initiative ensures that the Office of Philanthropy is poised to move quickly, effectively and efficiently to maximize opportunities on behalf of City of Hope.

A Mission you can be Passionate About. a Vision to get Your Heart Pumping


Founded in 1913 to provide free care to tuberculosis patients, our mission has remained steadfast. We have spent over a century bringing compassion, healing, and hope to people facing difficult diseases.


Philanthropy is in our DNA. Since our founding, donors from across the country have supported and influenced our vision to give people dignity and help them live longer, better lives.


City of Hope has a flexibility that larger institutions typically lack. Innovative concepts move quickly from the laboratory to patient trials – and then to market, where they benefit people around the world.


Not satisfied with the typical lengthy process involved in manufacturing drugs for testing, we built our own facilities. This demonstrates our entrepreneurial and agile spirit, which permeates our entire enterprise, including our approach to philanthropy.


The power and promise of medical science drives our work and provides a tremendous sense of purpose. Discoveries made in our labs kicked off the biotech industry, which we continue to lead with seminal discoveries and developments saving the lives of millions around the world. We hold over 300 patents and have almost 30 drugs in the pipeline at any given time.


A pioneer in cell transplantation, our program has been recognized for its excellence and innovation and boasts more than 13,000 lifesaving transplants over the past four decades. Raising support for this kind of work provides the opportunity to have a demonstrable impact on the lives of so many people facing cancer and other difficult illnesses.


Situated in one of the nation’s most diverse and influential regions, City of Hope’s work inspires prominent individuals and families, as well as key foundations and corporations, to be involved with our mission.


Our fundraising program is diverse and evolving, with a unique national support network of corporate partners and business leaders, as well as deep relationships with individuals in communities, both locally and across the country.


With a unique focus on engagement and innovation, leaders in our Office of Philanthropy and throughout City of Hope put an emphasis on career advancement and skill growth. We are aggressively recruiting dynamic and committed people to join our team and help lead our efforts to build a program that is a national model of excellence.

The Position

Christian Nelson, Vice President of Donor Experience & Philanthropy Communications, leads the department and serves as a member of the Chief Philanthropy Officer’s Senior Steering Leadership Team (SSLT). She is also the primary Office of Philanthropy liaison with City of Hope’s Marketing Communications Department and its senior leaders, ensuring optimal synergies for philanthropic audiences while maintaining alignment with overall branding and marketing efforts.

City of Hope recognizes the critical importance of the donor experience and is making a significant investment in this effort. As such, Nelson is building a high performing team that uses the most innovative and emerging technology and communications platforms to steward City of Hope donors like never-before.


The department of Donor Experience & Philanthropy Communications designs, guides and executes on the strategies essential for transforming City of Hope into a “destination for philanthropy” through exceptional donor engagement, experiences, and communications. The Associate Vice President, Philanthropy Communications (AVP) will add to this vision by bringing an institution-wide perspective to the creation of programs and strategies that drive institutional success. In this primarily self-driven role, the AVP will conceptualize and lead key processes and programs that support an office-wide focus on collaboration, efficiencies, and outcomes. By providing expertise and executive leadership in donor engagement and meaningful donor communications, the AVP will be a partner in creating our vision of being known institutionally and nationally as a model of excellence among elite fundraising programs.

Through individual contribution, the AVP will be a part of creating City of Hope’s evolution into a perpetually campaign-ready, donor-centered, leading industry program to support City of Hope’s mission. In pursuit of this outcome, we are committed to growing careers within the Office of Philanthropy to attract and retain the most talented professionals in the country, and excel as a highly collaborative, efficient and creative team.

Reporting to the Vice President of Donor Experience & Philanthropy Communications the AVP serves as a key leader of the Donor Experience & Philanthropy Communications team and contributes to reaching its goal of meaningfully engaging a wide variety of donors, volunteers, faculty, and administrators who are committed to ensuring the long-term success of City of Hope’s mission through philanthropic support and advocacy. This includes:

  • Lead high-level Donor Experience & Philanthropy Communications activities to ensure donor retention, increased giving and support long-term relationships with City of Hope (COH). Manage the comprehensive and long-term strategy for donor engagement for COH; including, but not limited to, individualized stewardship plans for high-level prospects and donors, recognition society activities, stewardship reporting, chapter and industry stewardship, and donor engagement materials that reflect the unique needs of COH’s various donor constituencies. Activities should acknowledge and thank donors for their gifts, reflect their unique relationship with COH, and lay the groundwork for future giving.
  • Lead the development of donor-driven communications related to philanthropic opportunities, stewardship and engagement, promotion of City of Hope initiatives, and announcements of major commitments. Provide a wide range of communications materials and support for diverse audiences across the institution. Serve as a communications project management resource within the Office of Philanthropy. Craft and oversee messaging for and implementation of individual and group communications, sharing best practices on an ongoing basis. Seek opportunities to partner with front line development team on the development of customized communications materials to advance cultivation, solicitation and stewardship strategies. Ensure that complex and technical information is conveyed in a way that is understandable and exciting to donors, understanding what is important to donors and addressing the underlying motivations that fuel giving and inspires long-term support. Manage the concerns of multiple stakeholders, among them development officers, physicians, and leadership. Lead efforts to encourage consistency in messaging, graphic design, and brand for all development communications.
  • Oversee a team of writers to produce donor-centered reports, letters and communications. Manage a dynamic calendar of program reports to individual donors, assign writers, and ensure scientific accuracy and donor messaging. Oversee the development of compelling speaking points for senior leadership. Manage written acknowledgements and special correspondence on behalf of enterprise leadership to steward individual donors and engage groups of donors. Oversee the department’s project manager and coordinator to ensure timely production of deliverables on deadline. Work closely with Donor Experience team to ensure well-thought out strategy and messaging for high-level donors.
  • Serve as key liaison with COH Marketing Communications to optimize strategies for philanthropic audiences while maintaining alignment with overall marketing and branding efforts. Partner with colleagues in the Office of Philanthropy and across COH to gather, synthesize, organize, and share programmatic and other information for philanthropic communications purposes. Identify proactive donor stewardship and recognition opportunities across multiple communications platforms, collaborating with applicable COH staff to deliver timely updates to key donors. Confirm, maintain information, and report on current funding programs/priorities for donor support, communicating the impact of philanthropy on those programs.
  • Lead execution of the strategic vision and plan for donor experience activities and communications to recognize and steward City of Hope donors, volunteers, chapters, and industry partners. Collaborate with relevant Office of Philanthropy partners to support donor-centric, accurate and efficient data practices surrounding the program, ensuring compliance with policies and procedures governing the use of patient data and maximizing program potential.
  • In partnership with the Vice President, Donor Experience & Philanthropy Communications, implement the Donor Experience & Philanthropy Communications operating plan that supports the overall fundraising plan for the Office of Philanthropy, contributing to monthly reports on activity and a year-end summary report and utilizing tracking and documentation systems to manage all activities.
  • Drive proactive benchmarking of the development communications and donor experience practices of large nonprofits in the region as well as leading global peer organizations. Identify promising approaches as well as emerging trends. Administer activities and communications that reflect City of Hope’s high standards for creativity and quality while also promoting innovation and ingenuity to encourage ongoing engagement among constituencies.
  • Build calendar and content for enhanced internal Office of Philanthropy communications that align with donor philanthropic and enterprise-wide messaging (Philanthropy Together; Chief of Staff, TAP and PLAT initiatives; Office of Philanthropy monthly leadership update, all staff meetings, etc.)
  • Ensure compliance with policies governing the classification of external support and the integrity and confidentiality of data.
  • Develop and maintain productive relationships with City of Hope faculty and staff to support fundraising initiatives for COH priorities. Manage the concerns of multiple stakeholders, among them development officers, physicians and leadership. Provide excellent customer service to internal staff members and external clients and donors.
  • Demonstrate an ability to solve problems, overcome hurdles, and navigate sensitive issues with discretion, tact, and strong communication skills.
  • Possess thorough knowledge of the key fund-raising priorities for COH.
  • Consult and collaborate with various colleagues throughout the Office of Philanthropy and City of Hope to ensure that Donor Experience & Philanthropy Communications serves the needs of the organization and takes optimal advantage of other COH activities, publications, programs and strategies.
  • Research, analyze, and compile data into relevant reports, summaries, and briefing materials and make recommendations to Vice President, Donor Experience & Philanthropy Communications and Office of Philanthropy leadership.
  • Provide guidance as appropriate to the Executive Assistant supporting the Donor Experience & Philanthropy Communications team.
  • Responsible for meeting established performance goals for Donor Experience & Philanthropy Communications.

Serve as a role model for the Office of Philanthropy. This includes:

  • Participate and model vision, culture and change implementation through the Office of Philanthropy and City of Hope.
  • Participate in search committees, task forces and other projects.
  • Follow established City of Hope and department policies, procedures, objectives, performance improvement, attendance, safety, environmental, and infection control guidelines, include adherence to the workplace Code of Conduct and Compliance Plan. Practice a high level of integrity and honesty in maintaining confidentiality.
  • Perform other related duties as assigned or requested.

The following shared, organization-wide competencies describe the desired behaviors that will facilitate success at City of Hope:

  • Communication - Expresses ideas clearly and constructively (written and spoken, upward and downward, one-on-one and with groups).
  • Customer Service- Seeks to understand customer needs and works to exceed customer expectations (internal and external).
  • Initiative - Looks for opportunities to improve performance; manages time, work, and relationships effectively and efficiently.
  • Professionalism - Treats others with respect; abides by the institutional values; displays a positive and cooperative attitude; adheres to the workplace Code of Conduct and compliance policies.
  • Stewardship - Identifies efficiencies to reduce redundancy and/or elimination of tasks resulting in savings of cost, resources, and or/time.
  • Teamwork- Works proactively and collaboratively with others to streamline work and achieve mutual goals.


Minimum Education: Master’s Degree in Marketing/Communications.

Preferred Education: Advanced Degree. Experience may substitute for minimum education requirements.

Minimum Experience: 7-10 years in donor relations and philanthropy communications experience, with strong preference for experience in development, philanthropy, stewardship role within a fundraising, development, or related field in non-profit environment. Excellent written, oral and presentation skills required. Demonstrated experience in leading development communications planning and implementation. Knowledgeable in leading and interpreting market research. Effective and efficient project management skills gained through project/process management, account management, or related capabilities. Exceptional attention to detail and able to manage and lead multiple initiatives simultaneously. Strong customer service orientation and ability to work with clients across all levels of the organization. Demonstrated personal initiative, strong attention to detail, ability to work independently, ability to simultaneously handle multiple projects and work within strict deadlines. Experience in a complex medical or academic development setting encouraged. Demonstrated understanding of social media outlets such as Linked In, Twitter and Facebook required.

Minimum Experience: 5-7 years supervisory experience required.

Preferred Experience: Design skills preferred but not required. Candidate must easily be able to navigate a wide variety of business and social settings and enjoy taking the message of City of Hope to individuals and organizations that are not yet familiar with its work.


  • Excellent computer and software skills including proficiency in Word and Excel
  • Ability to work well in team-oriented atmosphere; and to lead/motivate high level donors and volunteers
  • Highly developed political acumen and demonstrated ability to act with tact and diplomacy
  • Excellent written and verbal skills
  • Excellent organizational skills and an ability to effectively multi-task
  • Exhibit leadership qualities
  • Effective facilitator in complex settings while using sound judgment and decision making

A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract an outstanding candidate. The salary is commensurate with experience.


Direct all correspondence, emails and telephone calls to Sterling Search, Inc.

All inquiries made to City of Hope will be redirected to Sterling Search, Inc.

City of Hope is an Equal Opportunity Employer


Posted On: Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Position Contact
Sarah Agee
(714) 433-7040
Costa Mesa, CA
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