Chief External Relations Officer

The National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) believes in employment equity and is committed to providing a workplace that is inclusive and accessible to all. For NTS, it is imperative that the diversity of our community be reflected in our staff, who must likewise be comfortable working with and for people of all walks of life. We strongly support the right to employability and greatly encourage applications from Indigenous people, people of colour, and those of all other ethnic and cultural affiliations, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.

Chief External Relations Officer

NTS is seeking an experienced development leader for this newly established role of Chief External Relations Officer. Reporting to the CEO, and as a member of the senior executive team, the Chief External Relations Officer will be responsible for the strategic direction and oversight of the External Relations portfolio.

The Chief External Relations Officer will be an ambitious and creative fundraising strategist with demonstrated executive leadership skills. The ideal candidate will have an entrepreneurial approach with the capacity to innovate. They will encourage bold new ideas to grow our NTS profile, brand, donor base, revenues, and impact. The successful candidate must be passionate about the arts and will be eager to engage with and learn from experts. 

The new incumbent will lead, direct, and manage in a more hands-on fashion in the area of Development while ensuring more general strategic oversight of the Communications function and team.

Among their first priorities, the Chief External Relations Officer will work to build a unified vision and rapidly consolidate the new External Relations structure, joining the Development and Communications units together, with shared goals, priorities and resources as well as connected plans, systems and processes to ensure execution and tracking of key objectives of the External Relations portfolio.

As the leader of a total team of seven professionals, the Chief External Relations Officer will be a strong team leader with the necessary experience to further develop mission-driven team members, committed to the values of NTS. The successful candidate will effectively harness their passion and potential, encouraging team members to bravely think big and generate innovative ideas, thereby bringing performance to new heights. The new incumbent will also fully champion equity and inclusion in the work environment.

As a member of the senior executive team, the Chief External Relations Officer will play a key role in developing and implementing short-, medium- and long-term plans to improve quality, synergies, and the efficiency of the services or entities under their responsibility. They will be a leader capable of demonstrating pragmatism, rigor, flexibility, generosity, empathy, adaptability and innovation by constantly integrating the strategic priorities of the School in the daily organization of the work. The new incumbent will be excited about the incredible potential to grow collaboration, engagement, and results. 

Job Description

The Challenges

As a member of our team, the successful candidate will:

  • Work cohesively to provide institutional fundraising, marketing and communications, and government relations designed to advance the strategic vision and academic mission of NTS;
  • Actively participate in organizational changes and be involved in the implementation of innovative processes;
  • Contribute to maintaining frank and open communication that promotes team cohesion and efficiency; 
  • Participate in our team’s efforts to create an inclusive and caring professional environment;
  • Share in the view that theatre brings people together and allows them to imagine, think, and feel collectively.

Strategy, Planning and Operations

  • As a member of the NTS senior executive team, actively contribute to the overall NTS institutional vision and strategic planning;
  • Collaborate, with other members of the senior executive team, to define NTS annual objectives, organizational priorities, policies and key performance indicators;
  • Work as a collegial team member to ensure alignment and interdependence between services, sections and departments;
  • Advise the CEO and NTS senior executive team on all matters related to External Relations including Development & Donor Relations, Alumni Engagement, Communications & Marketing and Government Relations;
  • In consultation and partnership with the CEO, members of the senior executive team, members of the Board and various NTS community stakeholders, create and lead the development and implementation of a cohesive strategic and operational External Relations plan that aligns with and supports the NTS’s mission, vision and strategic goals;
  • Build a unified vision and rapidly consolidate the new External Relations unit structure, joining the Development and Communications departments together, with shared goals and priorities;
  • Review and connect systems, resources and processes as needed and ensure execution, tracking and progress of key objectives of the External Relations portfolio;
  • Ensure the operations of the department are in accordance with organization policies and procedures as well as compliance with federal and provincial legislation, CRA, regulations and standards, as required;
  • Stay current with fund development, alumni engagement, government relations, marketing and communications best practices and make recommendations based on the impact to NTS of changing external environment factors (competitive, regulatory, technical, etc.);
  • Manage the human and financial resources of the External Relations portfolio; drive efficiencies to ensure maximum effective utilization of resources;
  • Contribute to the development of the overall budget of the NTS, manage the External Relations budgets and produce budget analysis reports;
  • Foster ongoing relationships with members of the NTS Board of Directors and Governors. Serve as the NTS staff lead to the NTS Governors (senior volunteer ambassadors engaged in philanthropic development).

Fundraising & Donor Relations

  • In collaboration with the senior executive team, pro-actively build and lead a culture of philanthropy amongst faculty, staff, students, alumni and the community that increases interest and investment in the NTS;
  • Rapidly consolidate existing systems and ensure that appropriate tools and processes are in place to gather, analyse and interpret data to support the setting of fundraising goals, strategies and data driven decision making;
  • Lead the overall strategy of a comprehensive fundraising plan including the following programs: Annual Giving (monthly giving, direct response and tributes), Major Gifts, Planned Gifts, Corporate Giving & Sponsorships and Foundation Giving;
  • Lead the further development and accelerated growth of the Major and Planned Gift Programs;
  • Work in collaboration with the Communications team to ensure the development of effective content for cases for support, donor opportunities, proposals and donor stewardship;
  • Monitor, track and evaluate all fundraising activities to ensure that annual and multi-year revenue targets are being achieved through the efforts of staff, volunteers and appropriate committees;
  • Ensure a professional, strategic, and coordinated approach to donor identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship activities;
  • Nurture existing relationships and implement strategies and tactics to build new relationships with donors, alumni, business and community leaders, foundations, institutions and other key stakeholders;
  • Strategically engage and support the CEO, members of the Executive team, Faculty members, Artistic Directors, Directors, members of the Board of Governors, alumni, and others in fundraising activities, including the cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of high impact donors;
  • Manage a personal portfolio of approximately 15-20 prospective major and planned gift donors with the capacity to make commitments at the highest gift levels;
  • Work with the Development team to ensure the highest quality of donor stewardship through the development and implementation of a strategic Stewardship Plan;
  • Provide management oversight to the grant writing and reporting processes;
  • Monitor trends in both the community and sector, and ensure the adaptation of fundraising strategies as needed;
  • Ensure adherence to legislation (Privacy, Canada Revenue Agency, Imagine Canada Standards), industry codes of ethics, and best practices throughout the organization.

Alumni & External Stakeholder Engagement

  • Provide strategic direction for the alumni and external stakeholder engagement program (including former students, former staff and NTS community program participants), ensuring that best-practice activities are in place to support fundraising and strategic goals of the NTS;
  • Work closely with the Development lead, the CEO, and the Senior Executive Team to identify, develop, and maximize synergies between Alumni and external stakeholder engagement programs and other school programs and activities.

Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs

  • Collaborate closely with senior executive team members to further build a bold, inspirational and compelling strategic vision for NTS and ensure a consistent and integrated approach to positioning the School’s value, impact and brand;
  • Provide strategic direction to the Communications team in the creation of a communications and content marketing strategy to competitively and distinctively position NTS with key stakeholder groups (including prospective and existing students, faculty/staff, alumni, existing and potential individual/corporate/foundation donors, sponsors, community groups and all levels of government) to achieve the performance goals aligned with NTS’s overall mandate and strategy;
  • Provide strategic input to the marketing and communications team in the development and execution of a comprehensive and integrated plan, ensuring that it supports NTS’s strategic objectives, the complete information needs of the school community, targets for student recruitment as well as the goals of the Development, Alumni and External stakeholder relations functions on an ongoing basis;
  • Support crisis communications and issues management activities, in collaboration with the Communications lead, the CEO and the Senior Executive Team, as needed;
  • Keep current regarding the internal and external environment to identify communications, marketing and public affairs issues, opportunities and challenges and advise the school accordingly;
  • Work collaboratively with the CEO and Government Relations lead to develop and deliver the Government Relations plan for NTS;
  • Serve as an NTS lead representative in cultivating and maintaining positive relationships with key influencers from all political parties at the local, provincial and federal levels;
  • Act as a spokesperson for NTS when appropriate and participate in community events, public forums, conferences and other events to enhance and support NTS’s profile.

Staff and Volunteer Team Leadership

  • Ensure that the External Relations team operates in an integrated, cohesive, professional, and accountable manner with other school departments and with the external community;
  • Provide leadership, guidance, inspiration and support to the External Relations team to develop skills and capacity in order to maximize their contributions to the school;
  • Manage, coach and evaluate the performance of direct reports;
  • Grow the NTS’s senior volunteer structure, particularly for major gift and planned gift development, and participate in the identification, recruitment, training, management, and stewardship of senior volunteers.

Experience and Knowledge

  • A deep personal interest and passion for the arts is essential for this role;

  • Demonstrated understanding and commitment to creating an environment and modelling a workstyle that is inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible;

  • Previous experience working with a national scope or in academic, arts or cultural organizations will be considered assets, in addition to an understanding of the arts and culture landscape in Canada;

  • Demonstrated leadership experience in progressive senior level positions in Fund Development, Alumni Engagement, Community Relations or Marketing & Communications;

  • History of inspiring, mobilizing and leading diverse groups to work collaboratively, effectively and successfully to advance strategic objectives;

  • A proven track record of success in individual major gift or corporate partnership development;

  • Understanding of annual and legacy giving as well as donor stewardship programs, with the commitment and aptitude required to build a culture of philanthropy within an organization and its community;

  • Proven success developing and executing initiatives to strategically position and increase an organization’s profile, reputation and engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders;

  • Knowledge and understanding of marketing and communications (brand management, public and media relations, issues management, government relations);

  • Strong leader and people manager – demonstrated ability to inspire, lead and drive change in an organization and to develop creative, high-functioning, mission-driven and engaged staff and volunteer teams;

  • Proven ability to foster and maintain positive relationships and partnerships with internal and external stakeholders including but not limited to students, faculty/staff, senior administration, Board members, donors, corporate partners, foundations, community groups, media and government representatives in order to advance NTS’s mission, vision and priorities;

  • Exceptional verbal and written communications skills in French or English; a functional level of verbal bilingualism is expected for this role;

  • Superior analytical abilities and demonstrated expertise in data driven decision making.

Qualities and Behaviours

  • Commitment to the mission and values of NTS;

  • Strong strategic mindset;

  • Upholds a spirit of innovation, boldness and creativity;

  • Proactive leader with executive presence;

  • Superior ability to articulate a strong and clear vision, and engender excitement and passion in others;

  • A poised, polished and impeccable presentation style;

  • Exceptional interpersonal skills to foster and build long-term relationships;

  • High-level of professionalism with a donor centered approach;

  • A team player with a reputation for transparency and collaboration;

  • Willingness to occasionally travel and work with alumni, volunteers and donors nationally;

  • A strong work ethic, combining energy and stamina;

  • Personal reputation for integrity and the highest ethical standards;

  • A personal commitment to the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion.

This is a permanent, full-time position usually Monday to Friday, in the context of a flexible work schedule.

Apply now!

How to apply?

Please submit your CV and motivation letter to

We thank all applicants for their interest, however only those candidates selected for interviews will be contacted.

Apply now!

Discover the daily experience at NTS! | Subscribe to our Newsletter

The National Theatre School: 1 art school, 9 professional training programs