National Communication Association


Executive Director

The Opportunity

National Communication Association (NCA) is conducting a search for its next Executive Director. NCA is one of the preeminent learned societies for people in the communication discipline with a stated mission to advance communication as a discipline that studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry.

The Executive Director will report to the 11-member Executive Committee. In addition to overseeing administrative, financial, and operational functions of the society, the Executive Director will play a lead role in raising the visibility of NCA and advancing issues that support the mission and its membership.

The field of communication is broad and diverse, and NCA members, Executive Committee, and staff members reflect that diversity. With deep roots in academia, the organization does not reside “in the ivory tower.” NCA members value the opportunity to participate in, and facilitate, crucial national conversations at this key moment in history. NCA is innovative and responsive to changes with a strong volunteer leadership that is eager to continue building NCA’s capabilities and strengths on not just a national but worldwide stage.

NCA strives to be a leader in anti-racism. Diversity, equity, access, and inclusion are core principles at NCA. The Executive Director will be tasked with implementing the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Council’s plan to actively work against systemic racism and discrimination. This plan guides the organization’s efforts to celebrate diversity, foster equity and continually strive for inclusion in its membership, administration, planning and programming.

With the pandemic, NCA has seen many changes this past year. It reimagined educational programming, yielding valuable progress in online and virtual offerings, but also opening an awareness of the digital divide. The next Executive Director has an exciting opportunity to lead the organization’s transition from pandemic to post-pandemic in programming, membership, and structure. There is a tremendous opportunity for a new leader to help the Executive Committee strategically plan through a post-pandemic lens.

Looking ahead, NCA is seeking a leader who is committed to the short and long-term success of the organization, dedicated to enhancing the experience of all members, someone who takes a servant-leadership approach to governance and who views decision-making as a partnership, and who sees inclusion, diversity, equity, and access as strategic priorities.

This position is based at the organization’s headquarters in Washington, DC. The Executive Director will represent NCA at the annual convention, sponsored events, and Executive Committee meetings. Some travel is required.

NCA: An Overview

NCA serves the scholars, teachers, scholar-activists, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research, teaching, practice, and translating scholarship to the broader public. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of good communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems.

A 501(c)(3) organization with a $3.7 million budget and a staff of 13, NCA offers programs in a variety of formats addressing current topics in communication. The organization also offers an online career center for those in communication. By offering grant opportunities for members and help for doctoral seekers in the communication field, NCA fosters success in research and maintains close ties with the academic community.

NCA hosts an annual convention for more than 4,000 communication teachers, scholars, and practitioners. At this event and through in-person and online programs, NCA offers seminars, workshops, and classes. It supports the research of its members by offering use of an online data portal and publishes 11 scholarly journals which include: Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Communication Education, Communication Monographs, Communication Teacher, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication and Democracy, Journal of Applied Communication Research, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Review of Communication, and Text and Performance Quarterly.

The Executive Director Role

The Executive Director of NCA is responsible for the administration and success of the organization. Responsibility for keeping the elected officers of the Executive Committee and staff fully informed of all issues influencing and impacting the organization resides with the Executive Director. The Executive Director attends to and reports at all Executive Committee meetings. The Executive Director will work to establish positive relations with all governing parties, cultivate a culture of inclusiveness, diversity, access, and equity, and be accountable for driving excellence across the association’s programs, policies, procedures, and standards.

Strategic Priorities for the Executive Director

The Executive Director is tasked with addressing the following priorities:

Promote the Mission

  • Enhance the visibility of NCA within society, the communication industry and academia.
  • Maintain NCA’s reputation as a well-respected leader in scholarship and research.
  • Advocate for issues that enhance the profession and its members.

Contribute to Member and Organizational Success

  • Cultivate the pipeline of future academics and professionals working in the field of communication.
  • Identify and secure new and continued funding sources and revenue streams for NCA.
  • Provide value and engagement for members.
  • Explore and develop collaborative partnerships that support the mission.
  • Build and maintain relationships within the communication field.

Implement Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Plan

  • Implement strategic processes and policies to increase inclusion, diversity, equity, and access.
  • Demonstrate respect for the members’ and volunteers’ wide range of cultures, belief systems, and experiences.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Administrative Management

  • Plan, lead, and oversee day-to-day activities and programs.
  • Ensure the organization is in full compliance with all local, state, and federal rules governing research and program activities.
  • Manage risk, including assuring compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and governing documents.
  • Facilitate updated and relevant policy and procedure making that improves the overall governance of the organization.

Staff and Volunteer Leadership

  • Engage, train, and manage all staff, applying Executive Committee-approved employee policies and benefits in accordance with federal and state requirements.
  • Recommend increases or decreases in staff to the Executive Committee as needed.
  • Determine roles, duties, and responsibilities of the office staff, including promotions or terminations.
  • Serve as the liaison and administrative resource to the Executive Committee.
  • Oversee and facilitate administrative support for volunteers and volunteer committees.
  • Facilitate the engagement of volunteers to achieve the organization’s goals.

Strategic and Financial Leadership

  • Work with the Executive Committee to formulate a strategic plan that will employ innovation and creativity to further the mission of the organization.
  • Develop, oversee, and monitor NCA’s annual budget.
  • Invest the organization’s reserves with the advice and consent of the Executive Committee and in accordance with established policy.
  • Oversee all financial management responsibilities.
  • Implement the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Council’s plan and recommendations, and develop and enhance NCA’s commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity and access.

Member Services

  • Develop and oversee the annual conference, academic and professional resources, administrative support, internal communications, publications, and other direct member services.
  • Perform essential duties to plan and execute the annual conference.
  • Evaluate membership structures and programs to ensure member needs are being met efficiently and effectively.
  • Develop relationships with peer organizations to keep abreast of emerging issues of significance to scholarly societies.

Communications and Marketing

  • Oversee efforts related to media and public programming.
  • Oversee all communication and outreach efforts including publications, journals, educational materials, website content, and social media.
  • Serve as a spokesperson and represent the public face of the organization at events and meetings.
  • Maintain and develop positive and effective relationships with staff, the Executive Committee, and organizational members.
  • Actively network with executives of associations, colleges and universities, businesses, and industries related to communication.

Candidate Profile

Required and Preferred Skills, Experience, and Qualifications

  • A Bachelor’s degree is required. A degree in communication or a related field is preferred. An advanced degree in communication or a related field is desirable. Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation is a plus.
  • Eight years of senior level organizational management experience is desirable. Experience in the association or communication environment preferred.
  • Strong communication skills, experience communicating, and expertise in excellent communication approaches and principles.
  • Knowledge of publishing academic papers and journals preferred.
  • Experience building and strengthening strategic partnerships for both fundraising and programmatic purposes.
  • Experience managing budgets of $2M or more.
  • Exceptional budget development and management skills including budget forecasting, preparation, analysis, decision-making, monitoring, and reporting.
  • Experience raising money and implementing industry-accepted philanthropic practices.
  • Strong organizational abilities including planning, program development, and facilitation.
  • Strong collaborative team building and strategic management skills.
  • Exceptional written, digital, and oral communication skills.
  • Command of association-related IT tools and management software.
  • Capacity to travel to the annual conference and other sponsored events and Executive Committee meetings.
  • Capacity and willingness to work a flexible schedule with periodic evening and weekend hours to participate in events, committee and Executive Committee meetings, and other functions.

Personal Qualities

In addition to the qualifications listed above, the Executive Director must have these characteristics:

  • Thinks strategically and takes an innovative approach to managing resources and developing opportunities.
  • Passion for and long-term commitment to excellence in communication.
  • Committed to the long-term success and progress of the field.
  • Dependable, emotionally intelligent, and self-aware.
  • Open-minded, collaborative, and inclusive, seeking and encouraging idea-sharing and engagement from stakeholders before making decisions.
  • Manages change using a transparent partnership approach that boosts staff, member, and volunteer morale.
  • Personable, approachable, and available to staff, Executive Committee, members, and other stakeholders.
  • Positive attitude, inspirational personality, and ‘servant-leader’ approach to the job.
  • Resilient, adaptable, and able to respond to a rapidly changing environment.
  • Demonstrates commitment to continued professional growth and development for staff, volunteers and members.
  • Able to handle complex challenges in an effective, professional manner.


A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract an outstanding candidate.

To Apply

To apply, please send a cover letter and current résumé (Microsoft Word® format preferred) to Sterling Martin Associates. The cover letter should outline how your experience fits the requirements of the position as this will be an important factor in considering your candidacy. Accommodations can be provided upon request.

NCA is an equal opportunity / affirmative action employer committed to inclusion and cultural diversity in the workplace. Employment selection and related decisions are made without regard to sex, race, color, age, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, genetic information, or any other protected class.  

 Additional Information

For more information, contact:

Sterling Martin Associates
1025 Connecticut Avenue | Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036

David S. Martin | CEO and Managing Partner
[email protected] | (202) 257-1627

Karen Lombardo| Vice President, Search Operations
[email protected] (540) 751-9612

Susan Scott | Senior Executive, Recruiter
[email protected] | (571) 338-4853