Alfred Ironside is the immediate past vice president for global communications at Ford, where between 2014 and 2019 he oversaw communications, strategic partnerships, public affairs, and global brand management. He now serves as special advisor to Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, focused on how the foundation seeks to drive narrative change as part of its overall strategy to disrupt inequality.
Alfred previously served for eight years as director of communications at Ford, where he guided a sophisticated strategic communications unit working in support of the foundation’s diverse programs in the US and in 10 regions around the world.
He joined the foundation from the United Nations, where he served as spokesperson for countries in crisis and then as chief of media relations for UNICEF. Over nearly seven years, Alfred traveled from East Timor to Ethiopia, North Korea to Liberia, acting as spokesperson on breaking news and sensitive issues affecting children and women. Prior to joining the UN, he was 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 in 1998.
A native of Philadelphia, Alfred began his career as a news reporter at radio stations in that city and in Indianapolis. In the late 1980s he spent three years in the US Foreign Service as a press officer stationed in East Berlin, where he won commendation for his work during the Berlin Wall crisis. In the early 1990s he helped launch and served as managing director for the first Western advertising agency in Bulgaria, and in the mid-1990s he spent four years as a disaster spokesperson for the Red Cross.
Alfred holds a master’s degree in media administration from the Newhouse School and the Graduate School of Business at Syracuse University. He earned bachelor’s degrees in both political science and journalism from Butler University in Indianapolis. He serves as chair of the board for the Narrative Initiative and is past board chair of The Communications Network – two organizations committed to social impact through communication, storytelling, and narrative strategy.