Job Posting

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Chief Administrative Officer

Location: Philadelphia, PA

The Organization

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, (HSP) founded in 1824, is one of the nation’s largest archives of historical documents. HSP serves as Philadelphia’s Library of American History, with over 21 million manuscripts, books and graphic images encompassing centuries of US history. HSP is a critical tool for more than 4,000 on-site researchers annually and millions more around the globe who use its online resources. HSP is also a leading center for the documentation and study of ethnic communities and immigrant experiences in the 20th century, and one of the largest family history libraries in the country.  Soon HSP will resume educator workshops, research opportunities, public programs and lectures throughout the year, creating excitement around making history relevant and exhilarating to all.

HSP is a critical node in the network of institutions that care for the primary source materials that document the nation’s history: state and regional historical societies. Located in the nation’s birthplace, HSP has a particularly important role in this network as the steward of a history that has profound meaning for the country as a whole. Moreover, HSP is charged with the continued collection of materials that document the contemporary stories and concerns of a vital urban center and its surrounding region: Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania.

HSP has articulated a vision that goes straight to the question of relevance. To HSP, history and the stories that are told in historical documents remain highly relevant to the social, political and cultural discourse of the nation. HSP believes that it can make a significant contribution to that discourse by connecting more people to history and do it in ways that themselves are relevant to current methods of research.

Position Overview

The CAO will serve as a strategic partner for the organization and reports to the CEO as well as to the Planning & Finance and Investment Committees of the Board. The CAO is primarily responsible for overall financial management of the organization.  He or she will strengthen systems and create best practices for the Business Office, Information Technology (IT), Human Resources and Facilities.  Reporting to the CAO are the Staff Accountant, IT Director as well as three contractors for IT and facilities.

Specific Responsibilities:

Planning and Budget Management

  • Consistent with the Strategic Plan, prepare each year’s annual operating and capital budgets. Work with department heads to identify program needs and options that transcend annual funding. Submit proposals and options to the President for review. Provide staff support to the Board Planning and Finance Committee in budget review and monitoring.
  • Monitor ongoing program and financial developments relative to the approved budgets. Develop monthly reports of actual vis-à-vis approved amounts. Identify actual and potential variances from authorized plans. Prepare monthly reports to senior management and the Board Planning and Finance Committee and develop options as needed for the President and Board to respond to significant variances.
  • Review and approve the financial elements and participate in the negotiation of all contacts and other binding agreements with funding agencies and interface with legal counsel as appropriate.
  • Promote, solicit from HSP staff, and analyze new revenue opportunities, determining their soundness and facilitating their implementation.


  • Develop and implement policies and procedures for the Society’s security, building integrity and physical plant, including the third-party contractual vendor (to ensure compliance with all federal, state and local licensing and regulations).

 Fiscal/Fiduciary Management

  • Ensure compliance with accounting standards and with statutory and regulatory provisions, coordinate the work of independent and governmental auditors, including preparation of annual financial statements and supporting materials for the independent auditors, respond appropriately to auditors’ recommendations, and fulfill related functions with HSP management and staff and with the Board Audit Committee.
  • Appropriate “best practices” financial, administrative and operational policies and procedures (e.g. purchasing, time recording, accounts payable and receivable, travel, cash advances, bank reconciliations, inventory control, etc.) to ensure effective, efficient and appropriate recording and use of the Society’s financial and other assets.
  • Serve as primary liaison with outside accountants, banks and investment and law firms.
  • Serve as staff liaison and support for the Board Audit and Board Planning and Finance committees.
  • Ensure overall financial stability, capacity and sound stewardship.
  • Coordinate and oversee activities with professional advisors, including legal counsel, auditors, accountants, etc.
  • Maintain current knowledge of the issues, opportunities and challenges facing historic private libraries and the non-profit sector, as well as those critical to the wellbeing HSP. Build and maintain a network of credible and relevant contacts.

Human Resources

  • Develop and implement HR policies and procedures for compensation (rates of pay and related benefits), employment conditions and practices, time reporting and oversight, and related “best practices” in human resource management.
  • Develop and administer group health, life and disability insurances, and retirement plans.
  • Ensure compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements applicable to HSP as an employer, utilizing legal counsel as required.
  • Ensure appropriate staff capacity and best practices.
  • Manage strategic hiring and professional development.
  • Working with a specialist to oversee employee benefit plans including health, group life, disability and 403(b) plans.
  • Ensure succession planning, staff engagement and mission focus.
  • Perform meaningful annual performance reviews to ensure alignment with strategic goals.


  • Successful experience as a leader of senior level professional teams.
  • Minimum of ten years of significant business or non-profit accounting experience required.
  • Experience with IT, HR and facilities administration/operations.
  • Deep understanding of FASB accounting standards and knowledge of IRS regulations.
  • Experience in setting and implementing strategies related to technology.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Experience in the non-profit and/or educational sectors preferred.
  • Master of Business Administration or bachelor’s degree in Finance (or related field) required. CPA preferred.
  • Experience working with volunteer Board of Director members.

Personal and Professional Characteristics

  • Genuine interest in history and passion for the HSP mission.
  • Desire and passion to help lead a historic organization in the modern world.
  • Clear understanding of the internal and external dynamics of a membership organization.
  • Exceptional communicator, internally and externally, both orally and in writing; ability to distill varied sources of information and communicate clearly and effectively.
  • Strong commitment to high ethical standards and accountability.
  • Robust network of civic, business and community connections.
  • Sense of humor.