Alfred Ironside, a communications expert with broad experience at global organizations working for social change, has been named vice president for communications for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, effective February 24, 2020. Reporting to President Rafael Reif as a member of the president’s senior team, Mr. Ironside will oversee the Institute’s Office of Communications, which comprises the MIT News Office, Communications Initiatives, Reference Publications, and CopyTech.
Mr. Ironside joins MIT from the Ford Foundation, one of the world’s largest philanthropies. As vice president of global communications, a position he held since 2014, he oversaw the foundation’s executive communications, messaging, strategic partnerships, and public affairs. During his tenure, which included a role as director of strategic communications from 2006 to 2014, Mr. Ironside helped transform the foundation into a visible and influential voice for social justice in the United States. He worked with headquarters teams, global offices, and grantees to develop successful strategies in fields such as immigration, climate change, human rights, and socially responsible technology. He also renewed the foundation’s digital presence, tripling key audiences and growing engagement tenfold.
Prior to joining the Ford Foundation, Mr. Ironside served as chief of media relations at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). He traveled to more than 40 countries as a UN spokesperson on issues affecting children and women amidst conflict and natural disaster. He also managed a headquarters team and guided 100 country communications officers, coordinating efforts involving multiple UN agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and corporate partners.
Earlier, Mr. Ironside spent three years in the US Diplomatic Service as a press officer in East Berlin, where he won commendation for his work during the Berlin Wall crisis, and four years as a spokesperson with the American Red Cross. He began his career as a news reporter at radio stations in and around Indianapolis and Philadelphia. In the early 1990s he helped launch the first Western advertising agency in Bulgaria and served as its managing director. He was later a member of the editorial team that launched the English edition of Ha’aretz, Israel’s leading newspaper, in conjunction with the International Herald-Tribune.
A native of Philadelphia and an avid cyclist, photographer, and sailor, Mr. Ironside holds degrees in political science and journalism from Butler University in Indianapolis, and a master’s in media administration from the Newhouse School and the Graduate School of Business at Syracuse University. He is a member of the Association of Latino Professionals and serves on the board of the Narrative Initiative.
Jack Gorman led this search with Elizabeth Neustaedter, Kennedy Kearney-Fischer, Kaleigh Hoffman, and Molly Gallagher.
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