Job Posting

Executive Director, The Athenaeum of Philadelphia

March 05, 2019
Location: Philadelphia, PA

The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, an historic library, museum and research center, is enhancing its role as a vibrant center for those who love books, art and architecture, intellectual engagement and inspired conversation.


With the full support of its Board, the Athenaeum is working to expand its reach, its appeal and its reputation to a wider constituency. Aiming to transform itself to meet today’s exciting contemporary opportunities and challenges, the Board and staff are refining their focus as one of the city’s true cultural gems, a historic gathering place for people who value the city as a place to pursue a life of the mind.


Housed in a national historic landmark building on Washington Square, the Athenaeum is working to update its interior to create comfortable spaces for reading, work and contemplation, as well as enhancing space for exhibitions and circulating collections.  These alterations will also help to strengthen the Athenaeum’s programming, allowing for more frequent and varied cultural programs, lectures, discussion and study groups.


In short, the Athenaeum’s goal is to be a magnet for culturally-minded people of all ages and from all walks of life.


With the scheduled retirement of the current leader, the Athenaeum is currently commencing a search for a new Executive Director.


The Athenaeum’s Core Values

  • Great literature, history, the arts and other aspects of culture are essential to human understanding;
  • The pursuit of learning and lively conversation is indispensable to community vitality and to the pursuit of a rewarding life;
  • Interacting with diverse elements of society and respecting different points of view are essential to participation in a civilized society;
  • Collaborating with other institutions and groups throughout the city is important to its vitality and to serving its members; and
  • Everyone at the Athenaeum must seek to value, respect and engage with members, visitors, staff and volunteers in all of their activities.

Position Overview

The Executive Director, with governance and support from the Athenaeum’s Board and input from staff and members, will be responsible for broadening the Athenaeum’s scope of activities, its visibility and appeal within the community and its base of support.  Specifically, the new Executive Director will oversee programming; communication of the organization’s mission, identify and brand – both outwardly and internally; the broadening of membership along with community support and funding; development of staff resources; and the use of the Athenaeum’s substantial collections for the benefit of members and the public.  In addition, the new Executive Director will oversee a significant building renovation and ongoing work to preserve our National Historic Landmark building. The Executive Director will report to the Board President and the Executive Committee and will work with them to engage the full Board in pursuit of the organization’s mission and its goals.


Board Relations

  • Ensure that the Athenaeum receives appropriate support, guidance and supervision from its Board and that the relationship between the Executive Director and the Board is strong.
  • With the board nominating committee, identify, cultivate and recruit new Board members.


Resource Development

  • Continue to develop and implement fundraising strategies to identify, cultivate and solicit financial contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations to support The Athenaeum’s mission, its building renovation, the annual appeal and the endowment.
  • Expand the network of individual donors and institutional funders.
  • Conduct targeted outreach to build relationships and collaborations that reflect the full spectrum of diverse donors.
  • Educate and serve as a resource on development to the Board and staff.


External Relations/Communications

  • Act as primary and credible spokesperson and liaison representing  the Athenaeum’s mission and work to the broader community, including related organizations, media, public sector and civic leadership.
  • Direct and implement a full range of external communications from social media to publications.
  • Promote new ideas and partnerships for regional outreach activities with interested audiences.
  • Develop and implement working relationship/partnerships locally, nationally and internationally with appropriate organizations.



  • Undertake a comprehensive review of both past and current Athenaeum programming and programming at related organizations in Philadelphia and elsewhere.
  • Devise an overall strategy for an active program of compelling and varied events that appeal to both internal and external audiences.
  • Review staff and committee resources needed for implementing that program and identify and implement changes.
  • Review existing relationships with collaborating institutions both locally and elsewhere and expand that network as appropriate.
  • Develop advantageous and on-going collaborations to support and expand programming and member services.

Membership Recruitment/Retention

  • Oversee an overall membership strategy that ensures the retention of current members and the recruitment of new members.
  • Add value to the membership by exploring different programs, categories, and benefits.


Mission Perspective

  • Knowledge of the issues, opportunities and challenges facing historic private libraries and the nonprofit sector, as well as those critical to the well-being of the Athenaeum, and building and maintaining a network of credible and relevant contacts.
  • Align focused programs and events with its mission.


Fiscal/Fiduciary Management

  • Ensure overall financial stability, capacity and sound stewardship.
  • Coordinate and oversee activities with professional advisors, including legal counsel, auditors, accountants, etc.
  • Prepare annual operating budget with appropriate input from the Finance Committee for Board approval.


Human Resources

  • Ensure appropriate staff capacity.
  • Manage strategic hiring and professional development.
  • Working with a specialist, oversee Employee Benefit Plans, including health, group life, disability and 403(b) plans.
  • Ensure staff is motivated, mission focused with clear responsibilities.
  • Perform annual performance reviews to ensure alignment with strategic goals.


Personal and Professional Profile

  • Strong leader with vision, high energy, and the ability to motivate, lead and inspire members, the Board, staff, and collaborating partners.
  • Strong knowledge and passion for art, architecture, design and history. Relationship building, development experience, and interpersonal skills.
  • Sense of humor.
  • Desire and passion to lead a historic organization in the modern world.
  • Clear understanding of a membership nonprofit and what resonates.
  • Exceptional communicator, internally and externally, both orally and in writing; ability to distill varied sources of information and communicate clearly and effectively with multiple constituencies within and external to the philanthropic community, including media and government.
  • Financial, operational, and programmatic skills.
  • Ability to lead construction projects.
  • Marketing, fundraising and revenue generating skills.
  • Strong commitment to high ethical standards and accountability.


Preferred Candidates will also possess experience with and/or knowledge of:

  • The nonprofit and/or educational sectors.
  • Membership association management.
  • Civic, business and community connections.



Competitive salary and benefits package



Occasional travel