Communications Specialist - Office of State Relations

Duke University / Duke Health

COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST Duke Office of State Relations Occupational Summary:

Develop and direct the communications and outreach plan of Duke Office of State Government Relations (OSR) to assure an effective flow of information between government officials and agencies and Duke University (DU), Duke Health (DH), and Duke LifePoint (DLP) administration on relevant issues. Create, manage, and implement a comprehensive, proactive communications program to build relationships with government officials in line with DU/DH/DLP advocacy efforts and to educate the broader Duke community on legislative issues impacting the institutions’ missions. This position reports to and is supervised by the Associate Vice President, OSR. All work performed will be done at the direction of and in consultation with the AVP.


Work Performed:


  • Develop a proactive communications program to keep government officials and staff well informed about DU, DH, and DLP and its positions on critical issues. Prioritize the flow of information necessary to inform the DU, DH, and DLP community, especially the administration, about relevant government actions, issues and policies. Ensure accuracy and consistency in messaging.
  • Foster positive relationships with necessary internal and external contacts to achieve objectives.
  • Work with Duke communications resources, and external collaborators and supporters to develop and execute the overall communications strategy for the office.
  • Develop and maintain effective working relationships with a wide array of staff of internal and external organizations necessary to facilitate the activities of the office. These include, but are not limited to, administrative offices within DU, DH and DLP, university and medical offices, other academic medical centers, and advocacy associations representing higher education, hospitals and providers, medical education, and biomedical research interests.
  • Manage all communication channels for the office.
  • Create content for and update the website, develop and distribute electronic newsletters, blogs, department-wide presentations, legislative updates, and utilize other online tools, as needed.
  • Develop and write text for printed publications, electronic messaging, and social media necessary to achieve mission and goals of the office.
  • Work to cultivate and build a brand for the OSR across Duke and externally, to include creative direction of external-facing collateral materials, internal communications, and other publications for distribution.
  • Develop and lead a communications plan for special projects as assigned to the office.
  • Government Relations Assistance Monitor and report on issues relevant to Duke covered in government hearings and committee meetings, conferences, advocacy association meetings, and conference calls to increase the visibility of DU, DH, DLP and OSR. Prepare summaries of discussions and recommended actions as appropriate.
  • Monitor government actions and policies that affect the university, medical center and health system and their missions of education, research and patient care.
  • Prepare reports, position papers, talking points and briefings on issues for DGR staff and for DU, DH, and DLP.
  • Direct and develop communications and outreach strategies to influence the outcome of proposed legislation so that it best meets the needs of DU, DH, and DLP.
  • Assist with the development of a legislative agenda and with the development of position statements in support of the legislative agenda.
  • Assist with analyzing and the internal distribution of legislation.
  • Maintain a bill tracking database which will include advocacy materials for each issue.
  • Identify and engage Duke faculty and professional staff who will serve as the primary points of contact for expert testimony or direct communications with legislators and their staff on Duke’s priorities, and schedule meetings accordingly.
  • Conduct proactive outreach across Duke to identify any legislative or regulatory issues that need to be monitored.


Event Planning:

  • Direct the implementation of meetings, special events, and visits by administrators and faculty with government officials, thought leaders, and policy stakeholders on the Duke Campus and elsewhere. As main point of contact for events, write background materials, talking points, and briefings in preparation for these meetings, special events, and visits.
  • Manage communications, signage, logistics, etc. for all office events.
  • Identify, secure, and coordinate facility space for public and private events.
  • Work with Duke ONC to promote media coverage consistent with the purpose of these events.



  • Perform other related duties incidental to the work described herein.


Work requires strong communications, analytical and organizational skills acquired through a combination of related education and work-related experience. Requires writing proficiency and experience in the development of public relations and communications programs and activities. Prefer work experience in a legislative setting or public policy environment, including one year of experience in either a higher education or hospital setting.

  • Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Journalism, Public Policy or related field is required.
  • Two years of directly related experience
  • Familiarity with the NC General Assembly is strongly preferred
  • Strong communication skills (written and verbal), understanding and ability to interface with websites, social media tools, and other technologies


Contact:  Doug Heron

(919) 889-8009




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