Executive Director

Executive Director

Greater Cleveland Arts Alliance

Cleveland, OH   |   December 7, 2020

Image by Lauren Stonestreet

The Greater Cleveland Arts Alliance seeks to hire a visionary and innovative leader to be its inaugural Executive Director. The Executive Director will have the passion, skills, influence, and commitment to realize the vision and potential of this groundbreaking collaboration. The Executive Director will provide strategic and operational leadership to guide the newly formed organization to relevance and impact across the community.

The Greater Cleveland Arts Alliance (Alliance) will be the lead service organization through which the region comes together to support arts and culture and enables the community to realize its full potential and the benefits that a model arts and culture service sector can provide. The Alliance will convene partners to craft a compelling vision and a clear arts and culture plan for partners involved in the Alliance to deliver on that vision for Cleveland. Formed by a collaboration among Arts Cleveland, the Arts and Culture Action Committee, and Cuyahoga Arts and Culture to support their individual and collective efforts, membership in the Alliance will be open to individual artists, non-profit arts and culture organizations, for-profit creative businesses, as well as corporations, public agencies, foundations, and individuals who recognize the essential role that arts and culture play in the fabric and quality of life of citizens in the Greater Cleveland area. The Alliance creates a platform for a diverse, ambitious workplan that will elevate and position the northeast Ohio market as an increasingly important and relevant center for the arts and underscore the vital economic engine the broad sector provides for the region.

Image courtesy of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture

About Greater Cleveland Arts Alliance

Arts, culture, and creative expression are broadly valued as essential to the human experience. Their value is recognized as core to connecting individuals and communities and in building vitality, resilience, and to reflect responses to societal challenges and changes.

The Greater Cleveland Region is fortunate to have multiple arts and culture service and a grant-making organization with separate and complementary missions. Although the three have collaborated on shared goals and project partnerships for many years, there is a strong desire for this service sector to more fully leverage and realize its full potential and resources. Each of the three participating partner organizations serves a different, necessary, and complimentary purpose. The non-profit (c3 and c4) can elevate, serve, bring value to, and grow the sector; the political action committee advocates for the work and secures public support; and the grantmaking governmental partner distributes public funds. The intent is to leverage the unique role each plays in a much more coordinated way, so that the individual goals and work plan of the organizations are deliberately aligned to achieve a shared, strategic vision.

The boards of each organization worked with an outside consultant and agree this a unique time and opportunity to create a new alliance to share their combined mission of making arts and culture an essential and defining element in the quality of life and economic vitality in the region.

The aspirational vision is that everyone who works and lives in Greater Cleveland recognizes that an inclusive, diverse, and equitable arts and culture sector is an essential, defining element in the quality of life, social fabric, and the long term economic vitality of the region. To achieve this vision requires a comprehensive reimagining of the arts and culture ecosystem with this alliance to serve as a unified voice and leader in the community. This is an exciting “start-up” opportunity and the Executive Director will work in engaged partnership with the board, staff, and region to build this new community alliance.


Image by David Morales

Image courtesy of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture

The Opportunity

The Executive Director (ED) of the Alliance has the vision, leadership, and creative energy to ensure the developing alliance organization fulfills its mission and achieves its goals. The ED will lead efforts to transform how arts organizations and artists are supported, proactively advocate for racial equity in the arts, and bring their voice to shape and create new policy broadening the impact of arts in the fabric of communities both within and surrounding Cleveland. The ED will convene regional leaders in the arts and culture sector and beyond to craft a vision and a plan with clear priorities. The Alliance will provide programs and services to non-profit arts and culture organizations, independent artists, and creative businesses. The range of possible programs and services includes but is not limited to professional development, workforce support, arts business programs, racial equity initiatives, shared resources, policy research and analysis, grass roots organizing and advocacy, marketing, promotions, and networking.

The ED will develop and lead a small team—full time, part-time, and volunteer employees —to achieve a smooth-running organization. The Board will look to its next ED to think creatively and strategically about the current opportunities and challenges facing the Greater Cleveland region and how the Alliance will be a highly effective, catalytic force in its communities.

The Board is committed to supporting and investing in the success of the new ED but expects a self-starter and leader who does not require nor expect micromanaging to get this exciting initiative off the ground.

The ED provides full oversight of all aspects of the organization, including strategy, fundraising, finance, administration, human resources, branding and marketing, community engagement, operations, programs, community activities, as well as shaping the organizational structure.

Key responsibilities of the position include:

Strategic Leadership:

  • Articulate a unified arts and culture sector vision and plan for Greater Cleveland, along with specific and measurable goals; specify outcomes each organization seeks and shared metrics of success.
  • Identify a common set of organizational behaviors and core values to which everyone is held accountable.
  • Serve as a creative thought leader providing innovative leadership to grow and guide the Alliance’s brand, relevance, and impact; clearly identify who each organization serves and with what programs and services.
  • Lead the Board and staff in identifying and implementing strategic initiatives and programming to excite the next generation of arts patrons and enthusiasts and expand the capacity to support the arts and cultural communities.
  • In partnership with the Board, as a cultural institution, recognize that the inherited organizational legacy includes institutional and systemic racism; engage the board in forming a plan both at the strategic and policy level to respond to systemic racism, injustice, and inequity prevalent in society and to become an anti-racist organization.

Fundraising and Ambassadorship:

  • Act as the lead fundraiser, in concert with the Board, including identification, cultivation, and solicitation of gifts for the annual fund, endowment, capital campaigns, special projects and events.
  • Give guidance, support, and impetus to the fundraising efforts of the Board and monitor stewardship of gifts and corporate sponsorships.
  • Ensure successful fundraising from individuals, corporations and foundations, government, earned revenue as well as other sources.
  • Serve as the leading voice and external face of the Alliance.
  • Cultivate new sources of revenue by creatively and strategically expanding and deepening the existing donor and visitor base; expand and develop fundraising opportunities through new and ongoing strategic partnerships.

Operational and Financial Leadership:

  • Provide comprehensive leadership for all aspects of operations including the creation and establishment of the annual operating budget, facilities, media and public relations, programs, staff oversight, exhibitions, education, and special events.
  • Lead, manage, and develop an employee team, including the hiring of full and part-time staff and the engagement of volunteers.
  • Create sustainable short and long-range plans that ensure institutional resources are efficiently and effectively leveraged and utilized to have an impact.
  • Work with staff to ensure the equity, quality, scope, and suitability of a range of services and programs that reflect the needs of the community; design and fund programs to serve the needs of arts organizations and artists.

Board Relations:

  • Ensure the continued engagement and development of the Board of Directors by identifying and cultivating new and existing members.
  • Facilitate and model governance best practices through effective communication, participation, and collaboration with the Board.
  • Clear, consistent, inclusive, and transparent communication and a commitment on the part of all to make decisions in a transparent, collaborative, and equitable manner.

Image by Joey Cassel 

Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal experiences, qualities, skills, and characteristics:

A Strategic & Visionary Leader

The ED is a strategic, tactical, and entrepreneurial leader able to develop and articulate a vision for the Alliance’s short- and long-term future. This leader is capable of developing and promoting the strategies needed to advance the work of a mission-based organization, from strategic planning and funding to program design to mission delivery and execution. The ED is able to successfully leverage the skills and talents of a Board to create a strategic plan, while working closely with its various constituents on the plan’s implementation and evaluation. This leader is a creative, inclusive, self-directed team player who will think strategically to transform ideas into concrete and high-impact outcomes and partnerships. This leader actively and strategically builds partnerships with local, regional, national, and international institutions as well as leaders in a variety of fields to enhance both the Alliance’s impact and advance its mission and strategic priorities. The ED has the drive and passion to remain influential in the arts and cultural circles and to continue the development of new and unique opportunities to serve the members and the broader community.

Commitment to Racial Equity

The ED will have a passion for racial justice and equity and use this energy to create change in the community by building a more inclusive and nimble organization. They will have the drive to build coalitions, partnerships, and consensus across multiple stakeholders creating impact in the broader community. They will be comfortable creating a seat at the table in community decision making and use the arts as a tool to create innovative and inclusive solutions to broader social and economic issues.

An Enthusiastic Ambassador

The ED is an ambassador and spokesperson for the Alliance, sharing the mission and vision with the outside world and helping to expand the organization’s role, relevance, and visibility more broadly. The ED develops a powerful sense of shared purpose in others and motivates them to engage in the opportunities and future of the Alliance. The ideal candidate will bring a propensity for engagement to the role. This leader is innovative, entrepreneurial, ambitious, and experienced in establishing strong working relationships in furtherance of an organization’s mission. As the lead spokesperson for the Alliance, this person will inspire trust and confidence and excel at developing strategies to personify and amplify the brand and reputation in the region and far beyond. This leader has exceptional interpersonal skills with the ability to build and sustain strong support across a wide range of stakeholders including staff, Board, donors, volunteers, political stakeholders, and the public.

A Seasoned Fundraiser

The ED inspires confidence from donors, builds collaboration and buy-in and generates support from existing relationships while engaging in a variety of activities to establish support from individual, corporate, foundation, and government funders. Importantly, the ideal candidate enjoys fundraising and can clearly and enthusiastically convey the value and objectives of Alliance to potential funders. The ideal candidate is committed to devoting significant time and energy to cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship locally and nationally. The ED is entrepreneurial and evaluates opportunities for earned revenue. This leader is fluent in communicating the value of the organization on a local, regional, and international level to a broad range of constituents.

An Experienced Manager

The ED is an executive with strong staff, operational, and financial management experience who can work and leverage the skills of a lean team. This leader has a track record of sound financial planning, results, oversight, and accountability, with the ability to clearly communicate financial status to the Board. The ED possesses the ability to mentor and inspire a staff with a diverse set of skills, provide a productive and transparent work environment and professional growth opportunities that result in team cohesion and camaraderie. The ideal candidate will understand and implement best nonprofit management practices and planning, including compelling communication messages and effective marketing strategies, management succession, and most importantly, ensuring that overall day-to-day operations are aligned with strategic goals. The ED understands the importance of a robust partnership with the Board and will ensure fiduciary responsibility and sound financial management practices and accountability. The ED will also possess the knowledge and ability to ensure that the Board is achieving its primary responsibilities of best practice governance and fundraising.

Passion for the Mission

Fully embracing the mission of the arts collectively, the ED will be a bold thinker and have unwavering commitment to achieve the goals of this new alliance organization. The ED has a sincere passion for the mission of the organization and a commitment to bringing its mission to the region, its surrounding communities, and far beyond. The ideal candidate brings an appreciation for partnership and collaborations more broadly and an understanding of how arts organizations enhance a community and the lives of its citizens.

The ED exhibits humility, a capacity to listen, a sincere interest in others, proactive engagement, and a deep dedication to the mission. It is imperative that the ED treats others with respect and always stays true to the values of the organization. Moreover, the ideal candidate is an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics, and values – someone who can be trusted without reservation.

Image courtesy of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture

 About the Community

Cleveland’s story is one of industry, innovation, and resilience that is characterized by risk-taking, artistry, and grit passed on through generations. Known for world-renowned cultural institutions such as the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Orchestra, which have both recently marked centennial anniversaries, a commitment to the arts at the highest levels has long been a hallmark of the city. Today Cleveland is a dynamic city enjoying a revitalization fueled by more than $16 billion worth of public and private development.

As the leader of the Alliance, the Executive Director will be uniquely positioned to make a significant difference in the future of a community on the rise. Already making big leaps forward, Cleveland is poised to foster the best and brightest minds of the next generation, setting the path for innovations in technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, education, and entrepreneurship. It is a city where public, private, and civic partnerships are highly valued and necessary to bolster community initiatives.

Cleveland is one of the largest cities in the Midwest and is nationally recognized for its excellence in higher education, healthcare, and arts and culture. It is the 32nd largest metro area in the U.S., with more than 2 million residents – nearly 400,000 of which are living in the city of Cleveland itself. Stretching along the shore of Lake Erie, the Northeast Ohio region spans 18 counties with close to four million residents building their lives in diverse urban, suburban, and rural communities. Area residents benefit from great schools and communities, a low cost of living, a reliable network of public transportation and short commutes. Ethnic diversity and an array of proud, storied cultures give Cleveland its unique personality. Our region embraces nearly 120 ethnic groups that speak more than 60 languages, as well as historic neighborhoods thick with cultural influence such as Little Italy and Slavic Village, where the old world meets the new. Citizens in Cleveland acknowledge that to strengthen the community they must work together actively to achieve racial justice.

A remarkable abundance of cultural and recreational resources punctuate Cleveland’s unique position as a “big small city,” with the assets and amenities that can be found in larger metro areas but at more affordable prices and in a more navigable footprint.

The legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is set against the backdrop of the vast and beautiful Lake Erie and is designed by world-famous architect I.M. Pei. Three professional sports teams are located downtown: MLB’s Cleveland Indians, NFL’s Cleveland Browns, and NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Located downtown is Playhouse Square, the largest performing arts center in the nation outside of New York City, which boasts newly renovated theaters packed with musical performances and Broadway hits, including national tour openers. Karamu House, the oldest African American theater company in the nation, operates just a few miles east. Nearby is University Circle with the spectacular (and free) Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, and the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Cleveland History Center – all within steps of one another. One of the top orchestras in the world – The Cleveland Orchestra – plays down the street at Severance Hall.

The region’s arts community encompasses world-renowned institutions, community-focused organizations and a wealth of independent artists. The independent artists showcase their work at venues like 78th Street Studios in the Gordon Square Arts District neighborhood, SPACES gallery in the Ohio City neighborhood, and the Transformer Station in Hingetown. The Collinwood Community and its emerging Waterloo Arts District offer a half-mile stretch of indie music venues, art galleries, and studios. The Cleveland Institute of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Art teach the arts at the highest university levels, and CIA was recently ranked No. 2 in the country for its 2D animation program.

Residents of all ages turn to Cuyahoga County’s outstanding arts and culture organizations for inspiration. Experiences and events of all shapes and sizes spark creativity, build cultural bridges, offer comfort in difficult times, strive for justice, and encourage the next generation of artists to amplify their voices. Through our vibrant arts community, we celebrate what connects us and exchange ideas to unite us. In 2019, nearly 7 million arts and culture experiences were made possible with taxpayer support from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, one of the founding partners of this forthcoming Alliance. To date, CAC has invested $207 million into Cuyahoga County’s arts and cultural community.

A vast network of support organizations for entrepreneurs fosters a healthy start-up scene, with education, industry, investment, and research institutions all working together to create nothing short of magic.

In 2018, CNNMoney named Cleveland “one of the 10 most innovative cities in the county.” Men’s Journal ranks Cleveland as one of the “50 Best Places to Live.” Travel + Leisure magazine recently deemed the city “the coolest place you never thought to visit.”

For more information: www.thisiscleveland.com.

Image by Lauren Stonestreet


Beth Schaefer, Anne McCarthy, and Josyanne Roche of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this national search. To express your interest in this role please submit a compelling letter and your resume here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.


The Greater Cleveland Arts Alliance is committed to the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. GCAA is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a member of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

At Koya, we don’t just accept difference—we celebrate it, support it, and thrive on it for the benefit of our team, our clients, and the communities we serve. Koya is an equal opportunity employer fully committed to creating an environment and team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, styles, and experiences. We encourage all to apply because we believe a diversity of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone. Koya does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, military status, veteran status, genetic information, gender identity, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.