The Northwest African American Museum
The Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) opened its doors to more than 3000 visitors in the Colman School Building in Seattle’s Central District on March 8, 2008. Deeply entrenched in and inseparable from the community in which it was founded, NAAM shines light on the brilliance, ingenuity, and fortitude of African Americans in the Pacific Northwest, beginning with the journey to the region and culminating with a portrait of the vibrant community thriving in the Pacific Northwest today. NAAM has not only grown to become a renowned artistic institution with exhibits that celebrate both local and national African American artists, it also has a rich identity as a multi-cultural, inclusive gathering place.
To tell the ever-unfolding story of people of African descent in the Pacific Northwest, the 19,000 square foot Museum houses exhibits and programs that feature the visual arts, music, crafts, literature and history of the Black experience. Cognizant of the Black community’s continuous evolution, NAAM focuses on African Americans whose route to the United States was through slavery, as well as recent African immigrants arriving from countries like Somalia, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
NAAM seeks an Executive Director (ED) to join the organization at an important strategic juncture, where they will develop the organization’s future vision and programmatic trajectory. The ED role offers the unique opportunity to lead the only museum and cultural center of its kind north of San Francisco, south of Vancouver, B.C., and west of Chicago. Reporting to the Chair of the Board of Directors, and leading a team of 10, the ED will provide overall leadership for NAAM’s operations including fundraising, financial management and reporting, community engagement, coaching, mentoring and developing staff, and expanding the museum’s membership and brand recognition in the region. Given NAAM’s prominent role in the Pacific Northwest, the ED will be a key leader in Seattle and the surrounding area.
The ED will oversee the CFO and will help create financial strategies and forward-looking projections to guide organizational priorities and decision making. In partnership with the CFO, they will develop comprehensive financial reports including long-range forecasts and will maintain an environment of financial accountability. The ED will rely upon their understanding of fiscal operations to ensure the financial and operational strength of the museum.
The new ED will ensure NAAM has the staff, systems, museum expertise, and infrastructure in place for continued growth and success. They will support the staff by providing opportunities for professional development and will mentor, empower, and coach individuals with a deliberate intention of creating a strong, cohesive team.
As the external face of the organization, the ED will be a visible presence in the community to further build the organization’s brand and profile and increase membership and community participation in programs and events. Building trust and credibility with all stakeholders associated with NAAM will be essential for the next ED, given its deep roots as a community gathering place and cultural institution. The new ED will invest the time necessary to get to know the organization, its staff, its Board, current partners and donors, and members of the community.
The ED will oversee museum fundraising efforts to ensure the organization’s future success and financial security. Working in close collaboration with the Board of Directors and the Development Director, the ED will formulate and execute comprehensive development, marketing, and branding strategies. The ED and Development Director will cultivate major donors, individual giving, membership programs, and support major fundraising events, including the annual gala.
Strategic Vision Setting
NAAM’s next ED, in partnership with the Board of Directors, will develop a strategic plan that is bold, innovative, and inclusive of the staff and the community they serve. They will ensure that NAAM continues to rigorously evaluate and improve upon all elements of its business model and program base so that it remains on the cutting edge and is positioned for expansion. The ED will use their business acumen to leverage the many facets of the museum to promote additional streams of revenue.
The Ideal Profile
The ideal candidate is an action-oriented and entrepreneurial professional who can articulate a compelling vision that connects to the community and stakeholders. The ED will be a confident, welcoming, and enthusiastic public speaker who can attract stakeholders, donors, partners, and members to the museum to enable the growth and success of the organization.
Candidates will demonstrate a commitment to developing community-based, inclusive programming, coupled with a business mind that can envision and execute creative, sustainable business models. They will be innovative and imaginative, yet grounded in delivering tangible results against clear operating and programming objectives.
The ideal ED must be a confident leader who knows how to establish clarity, balance priorities, and establish an internal culture of accountability to successfully advance the mission of the organization. The selected candidate must have demonstrated success working collaboratively with diverse groups of people.
Candidates must have a minimum of five years of demonstrated success leading teams of five or more in dynamic and growing organizations. A high level of financial literacy and discipline is required. A professional background as a key spokesperson for an organization and a demonstrated track record in fundraising with institutional and major donors is also necessary. Knowledge of the intricacies of running a revenue generating social enterprise is a must. Experience reporting to a high-profile Board of Directors is highly desirable. A Bachelor’s degree is required and an advanced degree is preferred.