Assistant Director, Strategic Events

Updated: about 1 month ago
Location: Durham, NORTH CAROLINA

School of Medicine

Established in 1930, Duke University School of Medicine is the youngest of the nation's top medical schools. Ranked sixth among medical schools in the nation, the School takes pride in being an inclusive community of outstanding learners, investigators, clinicians, and staff where interdisciplinary collaboration is embraced and great ideas accelerate translation of fundamental scientific discoveries to improve human health locally and around the globe. Composed of more than 2,600 faculty physicians and researchers, nearly 2,000 students, and more than 6,200 staff, the Duke University School of Medicine along with the Duke University School of Nursing, and Duke University Health System comprise Duke Health, a world-class academic medical center. The Health System encompasses Duke University Hospital, Duke Regional Hospital, Duke Raleigh Hospital, Duke Health Integrated Practice, Duke Primary Care, Duke Home Care and Hospice, Duke Health and Wellness, and multiple affiliations.

Occupational Summary:

The Assistant Director of Strategic Events reports directly to the Senior Director of Strategic Events in Duke Health Development and Alumni Affairs (DHDAA). This position will create, plan, coordinate, and implement assigned events to support two offices: the Executive Vice President of Health Affairs/School of Medicine Dean (EVP/Dean), and DHDAA. This person will need to possess expertise in supporting both high-level academic and development programs and audiences. Priorities of the EVP/Dean of the Duke University School of Medicine may include internal events such as Town Halls, Research Week, and the State of the School. DHDAA events and programs will focus on the cultivation, engagement, and stewardship of donors, alumni, students, faculty, and employees.

Executive Vice President Health Affairs / Dean SOM Event Planning (40%)

Develop, plan, and coordinate special and varied off-site and campus events hosted by the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs and School of Medicine Dean (EVP/Dean), consistent with the strategic focus and image of Duke Health; organize and manage on-site execution of events with other departments to ensure that activities run smoothly and follow appropriate protocol.

Work Preformed:

Develop, plan, and implement the program of events, including in-person, hybrid, and virtual, for the School of Medicine and Duke Health including, but not limited to dinners, conferences, symposia, Town Hall meetings, HR recognition events, and special entertainment programs; conceptualize and recommend scheduling of events as appropriate; plan and coordinate details of special events hosted to include selecting entertainment, venue, menu, seating arrangements, and program flow based on event objective or theme; work independently for smaller events or as a member of a team for larger events.

Assist Schools and Departments as requested by EVP/Dean with planning and implementation of various special events ranging from giving advice to support host preferences, to planning the entire event.

Negotiate and secure contracts with multiple vendors. Direct vendors and other contracted staff to execute events hosted by the EVP/Dean.

Lead and manage all aspects of special awards ceremony, including coordination of the application process and selection of awardee, if needed, event planning, coordination of audiovisual support and budget oversight.

Create, maintain, and monitor inventories of unused event supplies. Update supervisor regularly.

Serve as the principal contact with high-level invitees and other leaders from Duke University, community, businesses, etc., when organizing events.

Perform other related duties incidental to the work described herein.

Duke Health Development & Alumni Affairs Event Planning (40%)

Facilitate event planning across DHDAA and work closely with the leadership and executive management team of partnering units such as the School of Medicine (SOM), School of Nursing (SON), Duke Cancer Institute, and Duke Children’s.

Work Performed

Under the direction of the Senior Director of Strategic Events, participate in planning and managing event preparation before, during, and after events.

Participate in planning organizational development and recognition activities in Duke Health Development and Alumni Affairs as assigned.

Work independently to develop and manage assigned local and potential regional events for the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Duke Cancer and Children’s, and the Duke University Health System. Events can include educational programs, recognition dinners, regional outreach programs, foundation site visits, donor stewardship tours/visits, salon events, development volunteer board meetings, and faculty recognition events.

Partner with DHDAA team members to formulate event objectives and messaging and develop creative events to meet these goals.

Select and work with vendors, such as hotels, restaurants, caterers, decorators, florists, etc. Develop menus and oversee the creation of the decor for the style/setting for the event.

Maintain electronic filing system of all Strategic Events materials.

Travel to venues to conduct site visits as appropriate and coordinate events.

Select and collaborate with caterers, entertainment, and event décor vendors to create event experiences that reflect the university and departmental standards and event goals.

Develop and execute, if necessary, contingency plans for emergency or severe weather situations.

Determine and coordinate staffing needs for event execution.

Serve as a proficient Cvent user including building event webpages, registration pathways, attendee emails and managing RSVP’s for events as needed.

Select, arrange, and support event technology needed for live, virtual, and hybrid events, whether staffing event execution internally or in partnership with audiovisual production vendors, including meetings and webinars on platforms such as Zoom, WebEx, ON24, etc.

Liaise with leadership, speakers, staff partners, guests, and vendors at events.

Trouble-shoot operational issues related to events and exercise independent judgment to accommodate and/or resolve constituent concerns. 

Represent the Strategic Events team collaboratively and professionally with events colleagues when called upon for consultation and expertise.

Perform other related duties incidental to the work described herein.

Event Communication (15%)

Plan and coordinate arrangements for special functions including the creation, management, and tracking of invitations and responses.

Research and prepare background information and/or introductory remarks for special events and/or coordinate the preparation of such with the SOM Comms Team as appropriate.

When appropriate, supervise and direct the coordination of event mailings including reviewing mailing lists for accuracy and providing updated information to the data team.

Organize and facilitate meetings throughout the event planning process to discover, develop, and communicate event logistics.

Communicate all logistics and background in written form with event plans and briefings for participating staff, speakers, event partners, vendors, and hosts.

Coordinate with the DHDAA Advancement Digital Platforms Manager on digital and print designs as needed.

Financial Management (5%)

Develop budgets for events and manage expenses to ensure adherence to the approved budget. Escalate budget concerns proactively and present alternatives to stay within budget. Prepare and submit expense reports while regularly monitoring the expenses related to all events. Coordinate budget management with the SOM Finance Office and DHDAA as appropriate. 

Represent the School of Medicine Dean’s Office and Development Office in negotiations regarding arrangements for such events.

Ensure compliance with University policies and procedures.

Determine fiscal requirements for assigned events; monitor, verify, and reconcile expenditure of budgeted funds. 

Ensure all expenses are paid on time.

Prepare reports and analyses setting forth progress, adverse trends, and appropriate recommendations or conclusions; participate in short and long-range planning for assigned events. 


Work requires communications, analytical and organizational skills generally acquired through completion of a bachelor's degree program.


Work requires three years’ experience in alumni affairs, public relations, fund raising, sales and promotions, marketing, student activities or a related field.


Department Preferences/Skills:

Minimum of three years of experience with planning creative, strategic events and working with high-level leadership.

Experience in managing complex, sophisticated event programs.

Ability to prepare and support high-level leadership and use discretion in handling sensitive or confidential information.

Skilled in evaluating projects and events, summarizing findings, communicating results, and developing action plans and event timelines.

Experience with event and RSVP management platforms, such as Cvent, Qualtrics, Smartsheet, or similar.

Experience with digital event platforms such as Zoom (meetings and webinars), WebEx, ON24, and similar.

Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, and coordination of people and resources.

Demonstrated verbal and written communication skills.

Ability to think and act strategically.

Ability to manage simultaneous projects.

Minimum Qualifications

Work requires communications, analytical and organizational skills generally acquired through completion of a bachelor's degree program.


Work requires three years experience in alumni affairs, public OR AN EQUIVALENT COMBINATION OF RELEVANT EDUCATION AND/OR EXPERIENCE relations, fund raising, sales and promotions, marketing, student activities or a related field.

Duke is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual's age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

Duke aspires to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging. Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas—an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard. All members of our community have a responsibility to uphold these values.

Essential Physical Job Functions: Certain jobs at Duke University and Duke University Health System may include essential job functions that require specific physical and/or mental abilities. Additional information and provision for requests for reasonable accommodation will be provided by each hiring department.

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