Director of External Affairs

Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, MI

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (Detroit, MI) seeks a highly qualified professional with a breadth of relevant experience and a track record of success for the position of Director, External Affairs. Reporting to the Executive Director, this position oversees the Membership, Communications, and Government Affairs groups, and collaborates with three fellow directors to advise and support the Executive Director and coordinate overall organizational priorities and resources.

SEMCOG is a regional planning agency whose primary areas of focus include transportation, environment (water and air issues), education, economic development, and community revitalization. SEMCOG also serves as a local government association with membership consisting of 178 local governments (cities, villages, townships, and counties), intermediate school districts, and community colleges in the region. This unique membership organization enables the region’s leadership to focus attention, collaboration, and resources on critical issues affecting their collective future. To this end, SEMCOG provides technical, research, and intergovernmental resources for regional planning efforts as well as its members’ local planning needs.

Its location in downtown Detroit puts SEMCOG in proximity to an array of amenities, including arts, entertainment, and dining attractions; multiple major league sports venues; numerous colleges and universities; and several eclectic neighborhoods. In additionally, SEMCOG promotes a remote-first hybrid work environment that affords its employees a wide variety of options for location and lifestyle within the region and state of Michigan.

The Director provides administrative leadership and strategic direction for External Affairs and partners with senior leaders to drive innovation and implement solutions to advance organizational priorities. This individual will lead and coach staff to ensure deliverables are met and outcomes achieved while establishing and maintaining strong customer relationships with-- both internal and external partners. The Director will be a systems thinker with exceptional organizational and project management skills. The Director will proactively identify and mitigate risk with meticulous project planning and creative solutions.

The Director helps to optimize operational performance, serves as a thought partner and project liaison outside the Department at all levels, proactively helps identify and communicate on core issues, coordinates project activities, streamlines approaches/methodologies, and shares best practices. This leader will work directly with the Directors of Planning, Research, and Administration to provide input and direction into all aspects of the organization, ensuring that the efforts of the External Affairs division are aligned to deliver maximum impact in achieving organizational goals.

In addition to experience in government affairs, the successful candidate will possess an understanding of local government issues and have subject-matter expertise in one or more areas under the purview of External Affairs (communications, government affairs, membership/board relations). They will demonstrate high emotional intelligence, strong written and verbal communication skills, strategic planning and facilitation skills, political savvy, a commitment to nonpartisanship, and have existing relationships with regional media outlets or the ability to establish them quickly. Responsibilities and priorities for this role include:

• Establish a unifying strategic vision and plan for External Affairs Division
• Coach, mentor, and develop External Affairs staff in the fulfillment of their roles
• Lead workflow process development of External Affairs in coordination with the Director of Planning
• Develop key agency messages in cooperation with Communications Manager
• Clarify the role of government operations and efficiency in cooperation with the Government Affairs Administrator
• Identify programmatic changes to External Affairs based on SEMCOG membership survey feedback and ongoing input from elected officials
• Collaborate with the SEMCOG management team to ensure coordination between the divisions and provide input on the overall direction of the organization
• Model diversity, equity, and inclusion in day-to-day operations

• Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in planning; organizational, corporate, or strategic communication; governmental or public relations; business or public administration; public policy; or related field
• Ten (10) or more years of progressively responsible government or related experience
• Demonstrated management, team leadership, and internal collaboration experience required
• Master’s degree or certification in a related field is a plus.

The salary range for this position is $103,176 – $165,081. Apply by October 17, 2022, at, to the attention of Dele Lowman Smith, Senior Vice President, and Byron Marshall, Co-Managing Director of i4x, 630 Dundee Road, #130, Northbrook, IL 60062. Tel: 847-902-4110.

How to Apply

Application Deadline
Apply at by October 17, 2022. Confidential inquires should be directed to Dele Lowman Smith Senior VP, at

Job Details

Job Function
Other, Department Head/Director
Position Type
Full Time

Southeast Michigan Council of Governments


Suite 300
Detroit, MI 48226-3604
United States

Form of Government


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