Position Description

Program Officer, Harm Reduction Communications, New Mexico Department of Health
Location United States
Department Overdose Prevention Program
# of openings 1
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Vital Strategies, headquartered in New York City, is an international public health organization. Our programs strengthen public health systems and address the world’s leading causes of illness, injury and death. We currently work in 73 countries, supporting data-driven decision making in government, advancing evidence-based public health policies and mounting strategic communication campaigns. Vital Strategies’ priorities are driven by the greatest potential to improve and save lives. They include non-communicable disease prevention, cardiovascular health promotion, tobacco control, road safety, obesity prevention, epidemic prevention, environmental health, vital statistics systems building and Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis treatment research. Our programs are concentrated in low- and middle-income countries and cities in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific. Please visit our website at www.vitalstrategies.org to find out more about our work.

We believe our programs are strengthened when they are developed and supported by individuals with diverse life experiences, whose understanding of social and cultural issues can help make our work and workforce more inclusive. We encourage people of all racial, economic, social, cultural, sexual orientation, and gender expressions to apply. As such, our commitment is to promote equal employment opportunities (EEO) for all applicants seeking employment. People of color, women, LGBTQI+ people, people with disabilities, people who use drugs or are in recovery, and formerly incarcerated people are encouraged to apply.

Read about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Vital Strategies: https://www.vitalstrategies.org/diversity-equity-and-inclusion-at-vital-strategies/

Vital Strategies is seeking qualified candidates for the position of Program Officer, Harm Reduction Communications, seconded to the New Mexico Department of Health located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) plays a critical leadership role in the state’s effort to address the drug overdose epidemic. Vital Strategies will provide seconded staff to the New Mexico Department of Health to support New Mexico’s overdose prevention initiatives. This position will support the Harm Reduction Program in developing and implementing a comprehensive communications strategy to rebrand and promote harm reduction expansion and the availability of safer drug use supplies (in accordance with implementation of HB52) across New Mexico.

Vital Strategies is committed to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protecting the safety of our employees. All U.S. employees will be required to be fully vaccinated unless the employee is approved for a reasonable accommodation due to a disability or a religious reason. The candidate must also have eligibility to work in the U.S. at time of hire. The salary range for this position is $50,000 to $60,000 annually.

Duties and Responsibilities:

The Secondee shall conduct work as if the Secondee were a full-time employee of the New Mexico Department of Health and shall have the following duties:

1. Support the New Mexico Department of Health’s Harm Reduction Program in developing and implementing a comprehensive communications strategy designed to rebrand and promote harm reduction expansion and the availability of safer drug use supplies (in accordance with implementation of HB52) across New Mexico.

2. Support the development of public health-related messaging regarding expanded harm reduction programming and overdose prevention efforts.

3. Organize social media plans including creating graphics and resources on harm reduction topics

4. Provide support to improve existing NMDOH communications tools and identify creative dissemination strategies to increase visibility of the department’s harm reduction programs, including supporting press releases, generating earned media, drafting and placing op-eds, and planning paid media campaigns.

5. Create and maintain an inventory of all statewide media and ad campaigns related to overdose prevention and harm reduction. Research and compile media resources from other states and cities that may be adapted to New Mexico.

6. Develop and maintain the NMDOH harm reduction program materials and talking points featuring availability of safer drug use supplies. Program materials may include one-pagers, brochures, presentations, and talking points for community partners.

7. Develop internal and external education materials on harm reduction and overdose prevention efforts including the development of frequently asked questions, and educating internal communication leads on inclusive and non-stigmatizing language related to drug use and overdose.

8. Coordinate with the New Mexico Broadcasters Association to help organize radio interviews on the topics of overdose prevention and harm reduction.

9. Coach and prepare NMDOH staff for media appearances to help increase awareness on overdose prevention and safer use strategies. This will include identifying and organizing talking points and messaging guidelines on key issues.

10. Organize efforts to inform people in rural areas, tribal communities and people who primarily speak Spanish about overdose prevention, harm reduction principles and the availability of service in their area.

11. Coordinate across multiple state agencies to organize a messaging campaign regarding how to prevent and respond to potential overdose, in collaboration with key leadership at Behavioral Health Collaborative and other state agencies.

12. Coordinate with external communications consultants, as needed.

13. Collaborate with other Vital Strategies seconded staff to create interagency partnerships, seed collaboration opportunities, and strengthen the network of overdose prevention staff statewide.

14. Collaborate with Vital Strategies core Overdose Prevention Program and the Policy, Advocacy, and Communications team on technical assistance.

15. Other duties as assigned.


Education and Degree - 

· Bachelor’s degree preferred in communications, journalism, humanities, public relations, or related field and three years of marketing/outreach experience.

· Approximately 4 years of relevant program work experience in lieu of degree is acceptable

Skills and Abilities - 

· Project management expertise, with the ability to exercise independent judgment and maintain appropriate deadlines

· Ability to translate technical program details and procedures into accessible and engaging communications

· Excellent oral and written communication skills

· Strong interpersonal skills, with demonstrated ability to maintain collaborative relationships with internal and external partners

· Ability to work well with diverse groups of individuals and organizations

· Excellent organizational skills

· Self-starter with ability to work independently

· Familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite


Required - 

· 3+ years professional and/or work experience in communications and/or health and human services

Preferred - 

· Experience in digital and content communications & marketing, with a proven track record in developing verbal and written communications campaigns; preferably with knowledge of policies and programs in New Mexico

· Familiarity with substance use, harm reduction, and intersections with racial justice and health equity, preferred

· Familiarity with and understanding of social media platforms

· Familiarity/knowledge of regional, cultural, rural, frontier, urban and border issues, and intersections with harm reduction

· Knowledge of developing messaging for public health programs, including both internal and external communications.

Working Conditions and Physical Requirements:

· Have the ability to travel within New Mexico for 30% of time

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