Creative Director: Job Description

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ("Foundation") believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and we believe that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom to be found there.  Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. It makes grants in four core program areas (Higher Learning, Arts and Culture, Public Knowledge, and Humanities in Place).  The Foundation seeks a Creative Director in the Communications department.


Department Summary

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's team of communications professionals are responsible for building and stewarding the Foundation brand and to tell its story, driving outreach and engagement efforts both internally and externally.  Our work strives to:

  • Build broad brand affinity and connection with The Mellon Foundation's work
  • Encourage appreciation, understanding of, and engagement with the work of our grantees
  • Broadly advocate for the centrality of the arts and humanities in culture

Reporting to the Chief Communications Officer, the Creative Director—the first in the Foundation's 51-year history—will be part of a growing team of communications professionals interested in producing meaningful, relevant, and impactful creative work at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Joining at a moment of transformation for the Foundation (and beyond), the successful candidate will be a very hands on, digitally oriented, and top flight Art and Creative Director who will lead the development of a top-of-class visual identity and will be tasked with ensuring a polished, memorable, and culturally resonant expression of the Foundation brand.

Position Description

The ideal candidate will have a deep understanding of contemporary visual culture, and a drive to do mission-driven work that supports artists, designers, culture-makers, poets, historians, educators, changemakers and others in the arts and humanities.  Across all platforms, the Creative Director will serve as the senior creative leader at the Foundation and will drive the visual output of the Foundation including print, digital, social, interior, and event spaces, all in service of raising the visibility of the Foundation's mission, grantees, and story, particularly the Foundation's recent redoubling of its commitment to social justice in all of its grantmaking.  Comfortable both working conceptually and executing those concepts, the successful candidate will be able to nimbly translate abstract ideas into well-crafted designs, with a strong emphasis on digital design practice.

  • Brand and creative strategy development:  Work with Chief Communications Officer to formulate key brand and creative strategies, identifying ways to improve branding, lead generation, and engagement.  Define and lead projects from concept to delivery in a wide range of formats.
  • Creative leadership:  Mentor and motivate a group of freelance creatives and communications colleagues with a diverse range of backgrounds.  Foster an inspiring and inclusive work culture and empower all team members to have a voice.
  • Creative execution:  Work with Mellon's stable of freelance designers, copywriters, multi-media producers and others to develop creative assets in support of the President’s office, internal communications, social media, email, websites, conferences/events, display, and more.  While the strategic and creative lead, the creative director must also be an accomplished hands-on designer.  Strong art direction skills, including experience with photo shoots.  Able to translate organizational goals into concrete projects and products.
  • Project management:  Ensure timely and seamless execution of cross-functional projects, leading work both within the communications function and across the Foundation.
  • Digital design and digital management:  Demonstrate deep experience developing digital-first brands and content; ability to steward ongoing growth and development of flagship digital properties, and conceive and execute new digital products as appropriate.
  • Vendor management:  Manages key relationships and deliverables with creative and production vendors and freelancers including agencies, developers, photographers, creative copywriters, designers, etc.
  • Budgeting and Reporting:  Develops, implements, and maintains creative team budget; Works to support tracking and reporting web, brand and campaign-related metrics and benchmarks, including potentially supporting brand health benchmarking efforts.
  • Commitment to and understanding of current design practice:  Demonstrate interest in and deep knowledge regarding contemporary design practice, and a passion for the design industry, with an outstanding portfolio of print, digital and environmental design.


  • 20% – Creative Strategy and Direction:  Ensure timely, accurate and strategic responses to media inquiries for the Foundation and for the Foundation’s President.  Ensure coordinated messaging with other departments and grantees or other collaborators.
  • 50% – Design execution:  Includes the full-cycle process of design development and ideation, wireframes where applicable, concept presentation, creation of assets/final projects, metrics and reporting.
  • 15% – Vendor and freelancer management – work closely with Foundation partners to ensure deliverables are on time and on budget; work directly and collaboratively with outside designers, animators, and developers to execute projects.
  • 10% – Project management – ensuring cross-functional projects are driven from inception to conclusion.
  • 5% – Department support:  Identify opportunities to optimize the effectiveness, functionality and efficiency of the department and implement improvements.  Help create a culture or creativity and collaboration; educate Foundation colleagues about the value and importance of an organizational culture fully invested in brand health.

Requires Skills and Experience

The successful candidates will have the following qualifications:

  • Bachelor's degree in design or related field; advanced degree preferred.
  • 10+ years of experience in design, agency, or in-house environment. with a demonstrated interest in mission-driven work.  Experience managing a team and agencies preferred.
  • Passion for design in a mission-driven context.
  • Sound judgment:  Ability to provide well-reasoned, highly informed and strategic counsel to the department and senior leader.
  • Strong working knowledge of user-centered design, brand development, and creative processes.
  • Ability to quickly cultivate strong relationships not only within an organization, but also with external clients and stakeholders, including reporters.
  • Able to provide clear creative direction with demonstrated experience in so doing.
  • Excellent oral and written presentation skills.
  • Reliable, trustworthy and operates consistently with the utmost integrity.  Can foster commitment, trust and teamwork within department and division.
  • Outstanding portfolio of both work you’ve done and work you've led.
  • Proficiency in all appropriate creative software (full suite of Adobe Creative Cloud), competency working in Microsoft Office Suite, and G suite products.  Clear understanding of the development process required.
  • Knowledge of video editing or animation software a plus.

The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer that offers a competitive salary, outstanding benefits, and excellent working conditions.

Contact Information

Candidates should apply by submitting a thoughtful cover letter describing fit for the position together with a resume to:  AWMF – Creative Director.  The Foundation will consider each response carefully, but only contact those individuals it believes are most qualified for the position.