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Organization Summary
Founded in 1932, the Highlander Research and Education Center is a popular education center that works with grassroots groups in Appalachia and the South to promote social, racial and economic justice. Highlander is located 25 miles northeast of Knoxville, TN on a 186 acre farm. Highlander’s program work takes place at Highlander and in local communities across the South, as well as the country and sometimes world. Highlander’s long and proud history includes cutting edge work with labor education and organizing, the Civil Rights Movement, environmental justice in Appalachia, and more recently, on the changing demographics of our region. Highlander is world-renowned as a beacon for progressive organizing and widely acclaimed as a leadership development center for grassroots activists across race, culture and generations.

Special Assistant to the Director


Overview of Position This position provides organizational support to the Executive Director. The person plays a vital role in providing a wide range of high level communications, and executive and administrative support related tasks, including: external communications and correspondence; research, writing, and preparing reports; managing the E.D.’s calendar and travel; and coordinating meetings and events. This position interacts with all of Highlander’s teams, especially the Development and Communications Team, and with Highlander’s Board of Directors.


The ideal candidate is well organized and works well under pressure, while remaining flexible, proactive, resourceful and efficient. A high level of professionalism, discretion and confidentiality are necessary. Position requires excellent writing and verbal communication skills, and ability to prioritize and manage multiple projects simultaneously with timely follow through. Must be able to work well independently as well as a good team member. The ability to interact well with a diverse staff at all levels of the organization is crucial to this role.


Primary Responsibilities


  • Timely management of high volume of Executive Director external and internal communications
  • Monitor, respond to and distribute incoming communications
  • Prepare and edit communications, correspondence, presentations and other documents
  • Manage and maintain the E.D.’s calendar and appointments
  • Coordinate and manage travel arrangements
  • Plan and prepare for meetings and presentations
  • Record minutes of pertinent meetings or conference calls
  • Conduct research, analyze data and prepare reports and documents in support of E.D.
  • Develop presentations using charts, graphs, and slides within Power Point and excel
  • Research history pertinent to varied communications requests
  • Review operating practices and systems and implement improvements where necessary
  • Manage and prepare organizational communications, including brochures, flyers, and other publicity materials
  • Support Development and Communications Team on grantwriting and communications
  • Assist Board of Directors with scheduling, materials, and other administrative needs
  • Assist with special projects as needed



  • 3 years experience providing support at an executive level
  • Excellent writing, verbal, analytical, research, interpersonal and problem-solving skills
  • Good eye for design of materials and familiarity with design software
  • Highly organized
  • Ability to anticipate and articulate next steps and demonstrate good judgment in setting priorities
  • Ability to work well under pressure, handle multiple assignments, prioritize and meet deadlines
  • High level of computer literacy, including of MS Office, Word, Excel, Publisher, PowerPoint and OutlookResourcefulness and resiliency; ability to find multiple paths to getting a job done.
  • Accuracy, thoroughness and dependability.
  • Energy; ability to take initiative and work independently, yet also effectively as part of a small team
  • Confidentiality and professional discretion
  • Flexibility
  • Good sense of humor
  • Spirit of inquiry
  • Ability to listen and communicate clearly and effectively with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds
  • Ability to work well with diverse staff, board and communities we serve
  • Some travel required



Expectations of all staff positions at Highlander:


  • Passionate about Highlander’s purpose and able to communicate our program work effectively.
  • Committed to racial, gender, economic, environmental and social justice.
  • Self-starter as well as a team player.
  • Organized and ability to balance multiple responsibilities with grace.
  • Be an active participant in a democratically participatory organization.
  • Keep Highlander’s purpose and the people with whom we work central.
  • Sense of humor welcome and most helpful.
  • High degree of honesty and integrity.



To apply:



Highlander is a rural based residential workshop center located on 186 acres in east Tennessee just outside Knoxville in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and this position is based there. Some staff live on the Highlander grounds while others live in the surrounding areas, including Knoxville.


To Apply 

Send letter of interest, resume, 3 references, and writing sample to:

Pam McMichael, Executive Director, Highlander Center

1959 Highlander Way, New Market, TN, 37820


Email applications are also accepted at Applications will start being reviewed on July 6th and continue to be reviewed until position is filled. Women, people of color, and lesbigaytrans people encouraged to apply.