Executive Director, Visual Art Center in Northern Virginia

Executive Director, Arlington Arts Center

Status:             Full-time, exempt employee

Salary:             In the $90,000s, commensurate with experience

Reporting:       Board of Directors with close partnership with the Board President

Location:         Arlington, Virginia. Partially remote during COVID-19

Deadline:         Apply by February 4 for best consideration. Early applications encouraged.


About Arlington Arts Center

Since 1974, Arlington Arts Center (AAC) has served as a premiere destination for contemporary visual arts for the Washington metropolitan area. AAC’s mission is to enrich community life by connecting the public with contemporary art and artists through exhibitions, educational programs, and artist residencies.

For nearly five decades, AAC has been located in the historic former Maury School leased through a partnership with Arlington County. The spacious and sunlight facility is among our organization’s key assets, and includes nine exhibition galleries, subsidized studio space for 12 visual artists, three classrooms, administrative offices, event rental space, and visitor parking.

The position reports to a 21-member Board of Directors, comprised of civic, cultural, and business leaders. The Executive Director currently oversees a three-person team, including a Curator of Exhibitions, serving in a temporary interim director capacity, and an Education Coordinator. Funds are available in 2021 to support at least two new hires and/or contract support for marketing, fundraising, and/or administration, at the discretion of the Executive Director. AAC’s budget has been in the range of $650,000 in the past few years, supported by individuals, grants, and foundations, and earned revenue from education programs and rentals.

Visit www.arlingtonartscenter.org to learn more.

Position Overview

AAC is approaching an exciting new chapter as we emerge from pandemic-related shutdowns.  This fall, the board of directors adopted a new strategic plan that refines our mission and vision, and underscores our commitment to connecting the public with contemporary art. As we look toward our 50th anniversary in 2024, our next phase will focus on strengthening local relationships and building our regional and national reputation. Our strategic objectives are:

  • Promote contemporary art and artists by making AAC one of the premiere hubs for contemporary art in the region.
  • Enrich community life by connecting the public with contemporary art and artists.
  • Build a strong and secure AAC that can support these objectives.

The incoming Executive Director will bring an entrepreneurial approach to the business of running a nonprofit arts center, balancing needs of internal and external stakeholders, creating challenging and responsive public programs, and navigating a competitive funding landscape. They will understand the unique value we bring to the community, and bring new vision to our potential. The incoming Executive Director will be an effective spokesperson for AAC, conveying enthusiasm for contemporary art and passion for artists to different audiences across the region.

The next leader will inherit an organization with a stable immediate financial position, preserved throughout the pandemic by a combination of PPP funding received in 2020 and a bequest received in 2019. To secure AAC’s long-term financial foundation, they will be an agile and eager fundraiser with an eye toward growing our base of supporters, art collectors, and visitors.

Key Responsibilities

Like all nonprofit leaders, the next Executive Director should bring a balanced approach as a visionary and operational executive. They should have the capacity for organized, focused work, and an ability to manage multiple projects under tight deadlines, while maintaining an openness to changing situations and opportunities. Specific areas of responsibility include:

Strategy, Management & Governance

  • Set strategic direction for AAC’s mission, vision, and goals in collaboration with the board of directors, staff, and stakeholders.
  • Hire, manage, and develop staff so that AAC has the skills and expertise to administer programs with a high degree of professionalism and creativity.
  • Manage finances in collaboration with the board’s Finance Committee, including budgeting and tracking expenses, clear financial reporting, accurate cash flow projections, and overseeing a contracted accountant who produces reports, tax filings, and external audits.
  • Collaborate with the board of directors to achieve good governance, including recruiting and onboarding new board members. Engage the board with donor solicitations and stewardship.

External Relations

  • Lead fundraising strategy by developing annual and long-term plans to maintain and cultivate relationships with individuals, corporations, and institutional funders.
  • Raise new sources of revenue to further AAC’s goals. Identify new funding opportunities, pursue partnerships, write grants, and secure major gifts. Create new stewardship systems to recognize donors at all levels.
  • Direct a messaging and marketing plan that integrates fundraising and programmatic goals.
  • Serve as chief spokesperson, representing AAC to a broad constituency of local and regional governmental and elected officials, staff, and commissions, funders, community groups, schools, and the media.


  • Collaborate with resident artists, staff, and board on long-term strategies for the residency program, encourage artistic risk-taking, strengthen community, and elevate resident artists among collectors throughout the region.
  • Build and maintain a broad network among artists and creative professionals in Northern Virginia, the Mid-Atlantic region, and beyond.

Experience, Skills and Qualities

The position of Executive Director will be a challenging and rewarding opportunity that requires a diverse set of skills and experiences to achieve success. The Board is seeking highly qualified candidates that can lead the organization with vision, skill, and creativity. While we understand that no single candidate can possess every qualification listed below, the following are priority areas for the AAC board of directors.

  • Passion for AAC’s mission to connect the public with contemporary art and artists.
  • 7+ years of progressive leadership in nonprofit, public sector, or social enterprise settings, including a history of effectively managing a small team.
  • Skilled fundraiser, with an emphasis on developing long-term relationships with individual donors and cultivating major gifts.
  • Successful record of setting vision for, managing, and implementing strategies that scale programs, initiatives, or organizations to a new phase of growth.
  • Polished and persuasive written and verbal communication skills.
  • Comfortable engaging a wide variety of stakeholders in many different settings.
  • Demonstrated experience working effectively with a board of directors, including engaging them in fundraising opportunities, participating in board recruitment, and orienting them to AAC’s unique culture, programs, and communities.
  • Accomplished manager with a gift for fostering a culture of accountability, high performance, and effective internal communication among staff, volunteers, and the board of directors.
  • Proven track record of business acumen, including a working understanding of contract negotiations, IT and finance systems, budgeting, marketing, and HR.
  • Capable steward of public-private partnerships, including with policy and budget matters associated with local, regional, and state-level governments.
  • Knowledge of and networks in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Work experience with Arlington County and/or Northern Virginia is considered a major plus.
  • Educational and/or professional experience in a setting connected to contemporary visual arts is preferred, but not a requirement.

Physical Requirements

The employee is regularly required to sit, stand, bend, stretch and kneel for long periods of time; frequently required to talk, hear, and use repetitive hand motions; should possess the ability to push, pull, and lift up to 50 pounds unassisted.


The salary for this role has been budgeted in the $90,000s, subject to experience and meeting performance objectives. AAC offers a generous benefits package that includes health, dental, and paid leave.

Application Process

The AAC board of directors has retained the services of Good Insight to conduct this search.

Interested applicants should submit a resume and a cover letter that describes their interest in and qualifications for this role, emphasizing related leadership experiences they have had. Visit www.good-insight.org/careers to upload application materials. Confidential inquiries about the role may be directed to Carlyn Madden or Kessa Thompson at recruiting@good-insight.org.

For best consideration, apply by February 4, 2020. Qualified applicants will be contacted on a rolling basis. Early applications are encouraged due to the pace of the search.

Arlington Arts Center is an equal opportunity employer that values diversity. Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. AAC is committed to providing access, equal opportunity, and reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities in employment, its services, programs, and activities. Request reasonable accommodation by contacting Kessa Thompson, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Good Insight at kessa@good-insight.org.

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