Organization: The Thinkery

Location: Austin, TX

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About The Thinkery:

The Thinkery is an evolution of Austin Children’s Museum, founded in 1983 by a grassroots group of parents and educators who wanted local children to have more educational and cultural opportunities. At that time we were a “museum without walls”—our founder drove tabletop exhibits around town in her station wagon and presented activities and programs in schools, parks, libraries, and even malls. Since then, the museum was housed in two brick-and-mortar buildings in Austin.

In December 2013, Austin Children’s Museum became the Thinkery and opened at its new location – a 40,000 square foot facility in the Mueller community. The Thinkery delivers its mission through a variety of exhibits and programs that focus on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). Museum activities revolve around educational experiences led by staff, so each visit is different from the last.

The Thinkery is Austin’s sparkling new home for “why” and “how.” A place where science and families play side by side. Where people connect with ideas by doing, making, and experiencing. It’s a foundry for a new generation of innovators and creative problem solvers. And it’s a heck of a good time.


To create innovative learning experiences that equip and inspire the next generation of creative problem solvers.


A creative, collaborative community that celebrates questions and discovery.

For more information about the Thinkery, visit

The Opportunity:

The Thinkery seeks a highly talented, capable, and entrepreneurial Executive Director to lead and manage the organization. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will work in close partnership with the staff and Board to deepen and extend the Thinkery’s role as a hub of innovation and learning in Central Texas and beyond.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for a creative, energetic, and passionate executive to lead and manage a growing, nationally recognized, and locally cherished organization with the support of an incredible senior leadership team (which includes the Director of Experience, Director of Education, Director of Development & Marketing, and Director of Finance) and staff, as well as a strong and engaged Board of Directors.

The Executive Director will serve as one of the Thinkery’s key faces and voices locally and nationally within the STEAM space and will work to continually strengthen support, connections, and relationships to drive innovation and expand the Thinkery’s impact. The Executive Director will lead external relations and fundraising efforts, working closely with the Board of Directors and supporters to expand and diversify funding (the Thinkery’s $4.3M budget is more than half earned income).

Internally, the Executive Director will lead the Thinkery’s professional and programs staff, providing overall leadership to a team of 150 staff (35 full-time and 115 part-time), with a focus on coaching, development, and ensuring opportunities for professional and personal growth for all team members. The Executive Director will also be responsible for the operational and financial management of the organization.

The Executive Director will be focused on four key areas:

Strategic Leadership and Management

Providing strategic vision and leadership to the organization, working in collaboration with the Board and staff to develop an executive strategic plan for continued growth, and ensuring that day-to-day operation is sound, financial management and planning is on track, and that staff is engaged and committed.

External Relations & Fundraising

Serving as the Thinkery’s core fundraiser and public face, working closely with the Board of Directors and others to identify and cultivate new supporters, securing diverse sources of funding, and representing the Thinkery in philanthropic and entrepreneurial circles in Austin and beyond.

Board Relations

Collaborating closely with the Board of Directors to develop and implement the overall strategic plan, ensuring strong relationships and ongoing commitment to the organization, building deeper ties with the community, and creating a long-term, sustainable network of key supporters and influencers within and outside of the Board.


Driving and cultivating the creativity and innovation that is rooted in the Thinkery’s mission and vision, leading staff and the Board to think outside of the expected in delivering high-quality programming and offerings to patrons, and serving as a key leader in the STEAM space.

Candidate Profile:

The next Executive Director of the Thinkery will embody the organization’s values and mission. S/he will be a passionate and innovative leader who is excited by what the Thinkery does on a day-to-day basis, as well as its potential for inspiring a new generation of innovators and creative problem-solvers.

The Executive Director must be a proven leader who exudes creativity, energy, intellectual curiosity, and a desire to work in close collaboration with a highly engaged and committed Board of Directors and staff. The ideal candidate will have the following personal competencies and characteristics:

Vision and Strategic Leadership: The Executive Director will be an entrepreneurial visionary who has the ability to draw upon experience, imagination, and expertise to understand the Thinkery’s potential and work closely with all of the organization’s stakeholders to bring that vision to fruition. The Executive Director will demonstrate strong management skills, including the ability to coach and develop staff, an inspirational and inclusive approach to leadership, and the ability to bring a diverse range of constituents together around a common goal. Strong candidates will also demonstrate a track record of leading significant growth and impact.

External Relations and Development: One of the Executive Director’s key roles is serving as a spokesperson and fundraiser for the Thinkery. The Executive Director will deepen existing relationships with supporters and partners and cultivate new ones in order to raise awareness and ensure a sustainable, diverse stream of funding. Ideal candidates will demonstrate the following skills and characteristics:

  • Exceptional communications and relationship-building skills
  • A track record of successfully raising funds or relevant experience
  • The ability to serve as an engaging, articulate spokesperson in the community, extending the Thinkery’s brand and broadening its reach

Board Relations: The Executive Director will work closely with the Board of Directors, keeping members up to date and engaged. S/he will effectively harness the power of the Board by building relationships and setting clear expectations and objectives. Strong candidates will have a track record of successful board development and management and will look to the Board as a collaborative partner in fulfilling the Thinkery’s mission and vision.

Commitment to the Thinkery’s Mission and Culture: The Executive Director’s passion for the mission and culture of the Thinkery should be evident the moment he/she walks through the door each morning. The vibrant and thriving atmosphere of the Thinkery, full of engaged children and families, will be a source of inspiration and energy for the Executive Director, who will constantly be thinking about how to better serve visitors, expand the Thinkery’s impact in the STEAM space, and grow an organization that is a great place to work and an innovative leader in its field.

While specific expertise or experience in STEAM or STEM may differentiate strong candidates, it is not a prerequisite for the role. The Thinkery recognizes that vision, leadership, external relations expertise, and passion for the mission and vision are the critical skills and characteristics required for success in the Executive Director role.


Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search, which is being led by Molly Brennan and Sam Simmons. To express your interest in this role, please submit your resume via Koya’s online system:

The Thinkery is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBT applicants.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit