Director of Communications

Location: Metro Chicago/Remote

The mission of the Institute of Political Innovation (IPI) is to contribute theory, scholarship and strategy that catalyzes model, modern and nonpartisan political change in America.

IPI’s vision is a restoration of healthy competition in American elections and legislation at federal and state levels, in service of real results for real people.

IPI was founded in February 2020 by business leader, entrepreneur, author and political innovator Katherine M. Gehl. IPI is a nonpartisan not-for-profit organization.

IPI represents a culmination of a multi-year period of scholarship and research, and a turning toward investment and action.

In 2013 Katherine Gehl was refining the competitive strategy for her $250 million high-tech food- manufacturing company in Wisconsin. With more than a century of innovation under its belt, Gehl Foods found itself faced with precipitously declining fortunes. Like most CEOs, Katherine utilized trusted tools for competitive analysis, like Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter’s Five Forces framework, to lead the turnaround effort.

Unlike most CEOs, Katherine was simultaneously running a parallel competitive analysis—of American politics. “It was a lightbulb moment for me,” remembers Katherine. The industry competition lens shed new light on the root causes of dysfunction in our political system, and the most powerful—and nonpartisan—solutions. From this analysis, Katherine concretized the four foundational principles of “Politics Industry Theory,” which are as follows:

  • First, although people tend to think of the American political system as a public institution based on high-minded principles and impartial structures and practices derived from the Constitution, it’s not. Politics is a private industry. It behaves according to the same kinds of forces that shape competition in any industry.
  • Second, the dysfunctions of the politics industry are perpetuated by unhealthy competition that secures the duopoly’s position.
  • Third, our political system will not correct itself. There are no countervailing forces or independent and empowered regulators to restore healthy competition.
  • Fourth, certain strategic, precise changes to the rules of the game in elections and legislating would alter incentives in ways that create healthy competition, innovation, and accountability.

After selling her company, Katherine—believing business leaders were “missing in action”—used her theory to develop the business case for nonpartisan political innovation, with a laser-focus on targeted structural changes that will change the incentives that dictate decision making in politics. In 2016 she asked Prof. Porter to join as co-author on the seminal 2017 Harvard Business School report,

Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America: A strategy for reinvigorating our democracy, which reshaped the national conversation on political reform. Katherine and Michael have broadened that work into a book, The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy, which was released in June 2020. To support action, Katherine and Michael are donating all proceeds of the book to IPI.

Katherine’s goal is to “create lightbulb moments for millions of people across the country, and in so doing catalyze a primetime movement for political innovation the likes of which we haven’t seen for 100 years.” The immediate focus of IPI is “Final-Five Voting,” the principal solution brought to light through Politics Industry Theory.

IPI is laser-focused on catalyzing a grasstops-led movement toward state-level legislative action around Final-Five Voting, a two-step innovation as follows:

  • Step one: Replace party primaries with a single nonpartisan primary in which the top five finishers, regardless of party, advance to the general election. This eliminates the “eye of the needle” conundrum, allowing legislators much more leeway to deliver results in the public interest without constant fear of getting “primaried.” It also creates dynamic competition in the general election with a broader field of candidates and space to debate a diversity of ideas instead of the same-old, binary, wedge issues.
  • Step two: Replace single-candidate voting in the general election with “Ranked-Choice Voting,” which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. This system eliminates the main barrier to new competition in politics, and, finally, injects accountability into our politics.

Final-Five Voting is a wise investment with a big return: healthy competition that delivers innovation, results and accountability—the best of what we call “free market politics.” Final- Five Voting isn’t designed to force people to abandon their ideological views, or to change who wins; it’s designed to change what the winners are incentivized to do on behalf of the American people.

IPI is a leader in national “nonpartisan democracy reform,” a community in which Katherine is deeply connected. Katherine is a board member of Unite America, Business for America, and New America. She is also co-chair of the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers and co-founder of Democracy Found, a Wisconsin organization pursuing Final-Five Voting.

The Institute for Political Innovation brings a targeted universe of powerful leaders—civic, business, philanthropic, not-for-profit—to a point of action. IPI is committed to lead a nationwide movement to further elevate Politics Industry Theory (and subsequent scholarship) and develop and support state-level and nationwide innovation campaigns

IPI deploys three tactics toward achieving our mission and vision. Each tactic is geared around action—this is not centrally about clicks and hits, likes and shares—and each tactic flows from Gehl’s academic work, and is accelerated by her work as an influencer, connector and funder. A key asset at IPI is Gehl’s access to leaders and influencers across key American institutions—business, politics, academia, technology, and beyond. In order to break political gridlock and dysfunction and achieve real results for real people, an ongoing campaign of awareness building and enrollment is required. IPI will lead this campaign and leverage Gehl’s ability, access and influence.

  1. Political Innovation Research & Publication: IPI is the home for Gehl’s academic practice, which currently revolves around Politics Industry Theory. IPI will pursue continued research and publishing opportunities to perfect and socialize this work and extend it. IPI will aspire to a long-term partnership with a university, as well.
  2. Re-engineering Electoral Machinery: IPI is the action center for actualizing the primary solution to unhealthy competition in the politics industry: Final-Five Voting (FFV). IPI will target upwards of a dozen states to engage, incubate and drive political philanthropy around locally led campaigns—primarily legislative campaigns—to pass the FFV package within the next 3 to 10 years. IPI will also support grasstops engagement in ballot-initiative campaigns for FFV.
  3. Legislative Machinery: Still in a theoretical stage, the Legislative Innovation Commission (LIC) is the second step toward injecting healthy competition in the politics industry. The Institute will create an interdisciplinary coalition of experts and leaders to create a zero-based approach to the rules and practices of lawmaking and Congress, and then work collaboratively with elected officials to make the prescribed changes, legislatively.
Position Profile: Director of Communications

This is a rare opportunity for an exceptional, multi-faceted individual to contribute to the
national democracy innovation movement.

The Director of Communications (DOC) will play an integral role in executing the mission and
vision of IPI to catalyze action, bringing Politics Industry Theory to further life and extending its
reach, to supporting the passage of ballot initiatives and legislation.

Reporting to the Executive Directors, the DOC is responsible for crafting and executing the
Institute’s high-level communications strategy, which includes a national PR campaign,
proactive/defense public affairs strategy in support of state-level campaigns, packaging and
distribution of thought leadership, and crafting a best-in-class messaging and talking points
plan ensuring that IPI (and partners) are using the most persuasive and accurate arguments to
win minds and hearts. This position will manage the Marketing Director along with PR
consulting firms and other vendors. The DOC will serve as an advisor to state FFV campaigns
as they build their messaging strategy for passing Final-Five Voting in their state. Messaging
will likely differ from state to state depending on the political landscape, history, and culture.
The DOC will build and manage a mid-six-figure yearly budget.

The Director of Communications will be accountable for:
IPI Public Affairs: Build a best-in-class, cross-partisan public relations strategy that
influences national and local public opinion and promotes IPI ideas and services.
Proactively build a network of engaged top-tier media and surrogates and respond to
requests for information from the media. Track media coverage and work closely with
the IPI team to respond or amplify. Craft and educate a publishing plan and schedule
(op-eds, essays, etc.)
IPI Messaging: Be the conduit between IPI theory & scholarship, and
campaigns/marketing with the goal of crafting a best-in-class, data-driven messaging
that wins hearts and minds. Works directly with our national cohort of political operative
and manage pollsters and focus-group consultants to build a tailored package and
deploy it with a customer-service mentality to our partners. Make sure all surrogates of
IPI are using the best talking points and most persuasive data when representing IPI.
IPI Image: Develop strategy to maintain IPI’s image as a cross-partisan, scholarly, and
politically savvy leader in the political reform space. May include raising the individual
profiles of Katherine Gehl or IPI senior leadership team.
IPI Advocacy: In partnership with the rest of the IPI team, act as a member of the
consulting team with state FFV campaigns. Help them build their strategy for passing
Final-Five Voting in their state. Strategies will likely differ from state to state depending
on the political landscape, history, and culture. Simultaneously, create national
approaches that catalyze support for FFV in ways that can be leveraged by state
campaigns.
IPI Relationships and Network: As a key player, build and manage relationships
around the country with a keen eye toward “network-effect opportunities” to perfect
and consolidate all PR efforts and support high-leverage projects as needed.

The character sketch of the ideal candidate is as follows:
• A top-tier public affairs mind
• A natural leader who gravitates toward problem-solving at a grand scale
• A preternatural ability to build buy-in around a plan, and drive to completion
• Experience and excellence in media management, both strategically (toward setting
agendas) and actively (writing)
• A manager who identifies and hones talent and creates exceptional environments
• A strong backbone; ability to work at a fast pace and manage coolly through a crisis
• Intrinsically motivated; a self-starter who seeks out and thrives in fast-paced
environments with the highest expectations for accuracy and efficacy
• Unbreakably organized with demonstrated ability to simultaneously balance deadlines
and projects in a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment
• Ability to assess opportunities and create systems to execute on strategic priorities
• A collaborator, a phenomenal written and oral communicator, and an outstanding
project manager
• Adept at engaging stakeholders with through external relationship management
• Exhibits a positive attitude and executes tasks with ease and a calm demeanor
• Willingness to engage at all levels, doing whatever it takes to get the job done

The qualifications for the ideal candidate are as follows:
• At least 10 years of communications experience in professional environments, including
a track record of driving measurable results and successes
• At least 3 years’ experience leading communications for political or public affairs
campaigns, elected officials, and/or Fortune-500 corporate leaders
• At least 3 years’ experience developing and executing effective communications
strategies on policy issues that live in the overlap between public and private sectors
• Experience gathering and analyzing information using polling, surveys and focus groups
• Ability to quickly develop subject matter expertise on complex policy challenges and
solutions
• Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Constant Contact,
Mailchimp, CRM, databases and various social media platforms, WordPress (CMS)
• Willingness to travel as required for the position
• English proficiency
• Able to work legally in the United States
• Willing to take post-offer pre-employment psychological profile, and, if requested, a
drug screen

While this profile is intended to be an accurate reflection of the most significant duties of the
current position, it is not necessarily exhaustive of all responsibilities, duties, efforts,
requirements or expectations. Other duties may be assigned as necessary.

IPI strives to be an inclusive organization that fosters learning, collaboration, and respect. We
actively recruit for diversity in the workplace, believing that a range of backgrounds,
perspectives and experiences contribute to our mission.

IPI is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any applicants for
employment based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, disability; or
on any other basis prohibited by law.

We encourage individuals of all backgrounds to apply. If you are a qualified candidate who
needs reasonable accommodations to apply for this position, please contact us.

TO APPLY: Please submit cover letter and resume to Solomon Lieberman, co-Executive
Director of IPI, at [email protected]