Founded in 1996, Street
Poets is a nonprofit poetry-based violence intervention program
for high-risk youth throughout Los Angeles County, which uses the
creative process as a vehicle for individual and community
transformation. Formed by current Executive Director Chris
Henrikson along with a group of teaching artists and formerly
incarcerated youth, the organization aims to break the cycle of
youth violence by harnessing the healing power of poetry and music
to build community, and by bringing people of diverse backgrounds
together. Street Poets serves over 1,000 people annually, through
in-school workshops, retreats, community events, and other
programs, designing spaces where students can share their personal
stories and reveal their creative talents.
Street Poets’ first performance was at the Los Angeles Theater
Center in 1998, and in 1999, it began taking poetry performances
out to local schools. At the core of the Street Poets methodology
are writing workshops, which inspire young people to use the
practice of poetry to bear witness to their own lives and the lives
of those around them, to speak their truth and to dream a new world
into being. Street Poets conducts workshops at middle schools, high
schools, and juvenile probation camps throughout the Los Angeles
County and beyond. One of its most impactful programs is the Poetry
in Motion Van, a mobile performance venue and recording studio that
inspires community creativity by empowering people of all ages and
backgrounds to express themselves on the page and mic. Other
programs include Good Seed Gardening—which teaches students to
plant and tend gardens alongside the creation of poetry writing,
the quarterly public reading series called Reading Series where
students collaborate with published poets and spoken-word artists,
and Rites of Passage, where students connect with the natural world
through embarking on hikes, ocean trips, and retreats.
Additionally, the organization produces and distributes a CD of
spoken word, hip-hop, and songs each year to amplify the voices of
youth and their healing power.
Street Poets consults and collaborates with other organizations
and communities to inspire both individual and systemic change,
transforming a culture from one driven by fear to one that
celebrates healing and the creative process. At some sites, the
organization collaborates with Rhythm Arts Alliance to incorporate
African drumming into their core curriculum. Street Poets has
gained and applied its learning from direct and deep collaboration
with a wide range of teachers, mentors, and professionals in the
fields of arts education, youth mentoring, psychology, and the
healing arts. Through these longstanding partnerships and ongoing
collaborations, Street Poets has evolved over the past 25+ years
into a multi-dimensional, highly collaborative arts education
organization that serves as a practical guide for teachers,
mentors, counselors, and youth to cultivate collective spaces where
deep healing and transformational change is possible.
Street Poets takes a gift-centered approach to mentoring work,
recognizing that each young person is born with their own unique
gift to share with the world. Spaces are created in which those
gifts can be seen and celebrated. Most of the mentoring work is
done in teams through which Street Poets provides guidance, healing
opportunities, and access to resources. This mentoring model helps
to address the practical challenges that arise in the lives of
youth and alumni while nurturing their evolution as human
Street Poets has been recognized for its excellence and
impactful work. For example, Street Poets received the John Anson
Ford Human Relations Award in 2003 and went on to receive the
Cultural Fluency Award from Mount St. Mary’s College in
2013. In addition, Street Poets was awarded two large grants
enabling it to acquire a new 4,800 sq ft space that will not only
serve as the new permanent residence for the organization, but also
as a hub for a variety of Street Poets’ collaborators and
Street Poets is governed by a 14-member board of trustees, led
by Board Chair Nick Streets. The staff of seven full-time employees
and three part time includes a Director of School and Community
Programs, a Director of Camp Programs, a Recording Studio Director,
a Grants Manager, and teaching artists, administrative director,
artistic director, director of program integration. For the fiscal
year ending May 31, 2020, Street Poets reported total revenue of
$704,804, with $576,858 from contributions and grants, and
$124,184 from program services. Total expenses were $618,895.
Reporting to the board of directors, the Executive Director will
provide strategic leadership, support Street Poets’ exemplary
programs, and oversee all administrative and business functions,
including financial management, external relations, and board
communications and relations. They will grow Street Poets’ existing
programs while developing new initiatives to further its mission.
With a commitment to social justice and youth empowerment, the
Executive Director will be the primary spokesperson and ambassador
for the organization, deepening and cultivating relationships with
a wide range of partners and collaborators, as well as fortifying
fundraising strategies to build contributed revenue. They will
guide and lead the team of staff and teaching artists, creating an
organizational culture that is dedicated to equity, diversity,
inclusion, and access, characterized by open and transparent
Role and Responsibilities
Strategic Vision and Leadership
- Guide and lead Street Poets in the fulfillment of its
organizational mission, supporting staff, artists, and board
members in their collective responsibilities.
- Develop and implement a strategic vision for the organization,
consulting equitably with staff and board in decision making while
ultimately being the primary decision maker.
- Collaborate with the staff, board, and external partners in
overseeing and growing operations, resource development efforts,
- Further the current program methodology, while initiating new
and existing program initiatives, special projects, and creative
- Champion equity, diversity, inclusion, and access strategies,
that are in alignment with Street Poets’ mission and values.
Community Engagement and External Relations
- Engage with a wide variety of stakeholders, creating authentic
connections and meaningful relationships with schools, community
arts and social service organizations, elected city officials, and
media outlets, to enhance the organization’s brand and
- Further deepen ongoing community collaborations with partners,
as well as form new connections, partnerships, and resources.
- Establish and maintain productive working relationships and
rapport with low-income communities of color through previous
experience with citizen groups, business leaders, and community
- Spearhead a fundraising strategy while actively seeking out new
and renewed sources of contributed income by cultivating
relationships with individual donors, corporate sponsors, private
foundations, and other funders.
- Speak authoritatively on the power of the work to funders to
develop and cultivate strong working relationships with grantors,
outside advisors, experts in the field, public sector partners, and
colleagues in philanthropy.
- Establish and oversee the implementation of a new media and
communications strategy for the organization, as well as cultivate
effective internal and external collaborative marketing
relationships with the media, promotional partners, business
partners, and other stakeholders.
Financial Management and Administrative
- Oversee financial management and demonstrate solid business
acumen by developing annual budgets, financial goals, and cash-flow
projections, to ensure appropriate systems of accountability.
- Cultivate a safe and healthy work environment where all staff,
artists, and board members work together in the spirit of
transparency and trust.
- Communicate openly and effectively with the board in a timely
and accurate manner so that they can make informed decisions.
- Manage board and committee meetings and ensure that the
interests and skills of the board of directors are aligned with the
- Manage and mentor a diverse team, setting performance goals and
objectives to support employee engagement and offering professional
Traits and Characteristics
The Executive Director will be an empathetic, emotionally
intelligent, and socially conscious leader. With a passion and
commitment to Street Poets’ mission and methodology, they will
communicate priorities to staff, program directors, and teaching
artists to grow the organization’s impact. The Executive Director
will be flexible and approachable, and committed to supporting
staff through personal development and mentorship, while leading as
the outward facing ambassador for the organization. With solid
fiscal and fundraising capabilities, the Executive Director will be
a collaborative individual, who leads by example, and is able to
form new connections and partnerships in support of Street Poet’s
mission and values.
Other key competencies include:
- Diplomacy and Personal Accountability – The
ability to handle difficult or sensitive issues effectively and
tactfully and answer for personal actions.
- Appreciating and Understanding Others – The
capacity to identify with and care about others, while
understanding the uniqueness and contributions of others.
- Leadership and Teamwork – The dexterity to
organize and influence people to believe in a vision, creating a
sense of purpose and direction, and cooperating with others to meet
- Employment Development/Coaching – The acumen
to facilitate, support and, contribute to the professional growth
A bachelor’s degree or equivalent educational credential is
required. An advanced degree in arts administration, nonprofit
management, business, or a related field is preferred. It is
expected that the candidate will have a minimum of three to five
years of nonprofit management leadership experience that includes
fiscal accountability, fundraising, and working with youth and
adults of diverse backgrounds and cultures. A working knowledge of
Spanish is useful and a demonstrated passion for poetry and the
arts is critical. Experience managing government contracts is
beneficial. Exceptional writing abilities and verbal presentation
skills are expected.
Compensation and Benefits
Street Poets provides a competitive and equitable compensation
package with a salary range between $100,000 and $125,000, and
benefits that include paid vacation, sick leave, personal days and
holidays, health insurance, and a voluntary retirement plan.
Applications and Inquiries
To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of
demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred),
here or visit artsconsulting.com/employment.
For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity,
Geoff Chang, Vice President
501 West Broadway, Suite A-582
San Diego, CA 92101
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext.
Street Poets is committed to equity, diversity, and
inclusion throughout the organization and all aspects of its work,
recognizing this commitment as essential to realizing its