Chief Executive Officer

Chief Executive Officer

International African American Museum

Charleston, SC   |   September 24, 2020

About International African American Museum

The International African American Museum (IAAM) honors the untold stories of the African American journey at one of our country’s most sacred sites. The museum is about a journey that began centuries ago in Africa, and still continues. It is about the journey of millions of Africans, captured and forced across the Atlantic in the grueling and inhumane Middle Passage, who arrived at Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, South Carolina, and other ports in the Atlantic World. Their labor, resistance, and ingenuity and that of their descendants shaped every aspect of our world.

The museum will sit on the shoulders of 18 strong columns. On the ground level, the African Ancestors Memorial Garden will highlight the original shoreline—the exact spot where so many captive Africans first set foot in America. There will be gardens for quiet contemplation, as well as space for performances and programs.

The museum’s exhibitions will share untold stories using classic techniques as well as new approaches driven by innovation, technology, and digital interactivity. Themes will include connections across the African diaspora, the spread of African American culture and influence, and the movements for justice and equality. The Center for Family History will enable visitors to trace their genealogy, while changing exhibitions and special events will keep the museum energized. Educational programs will provide life-long learning opportunities for visitors both young and old.

The museum strives to foster empathy and understanding, empowering visitors with the knowledge of the past. The journey will challenge, illuminate, inspire, and ultimately, will move people to action.

For more information on IAAM, please visit the website.

The Opportunity

The International African American Museum seeks a dynamic, entrepreneurial Chief Executive Officer to build and lead our new museum. This position offers a unique opportunity to lead the organization at an exciting time. All funds needed to construct the museum have been raised—over $100 million—which includes funding from the City and County of Charleston, the state of South Carolina, and many corporate and individual donors. A $7 million endowment is in place with the goal of increasing the corpus to $15 million before the museum opens. The museum is under construction and is scheduled to open in 2022.

The ideal candidate will have at least ten years of leadership experience; excellent managerial and team building experience; strategic planning skills; proven ability or capacity to cultivate, solicit and steward large gifts; and the ability to tell the museum’s powerful story to our diverse community of stakeholders in Charleston and around the country.

Main Focus, Priorities, and Key Responsibilities

Strategic Vision and Leadership

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will report to the Board of Directors and lead the expert staff in further expanding the organization as construction is completed and as preparations leading up to the museum’s opening in 2022 are moving forward, on time and on budget. The CEO will lead the organization from its current “start-up” phase to a more mature operating entity capable of delivering on the Board’s long-term vision of creating an institution worthy of honoring one of America’s most significant historical sites. Specifically, the CEO will ensure that the museum’s fiscal, operations, fundraising, marketing, human resources, technology, and programmatic strategies are effectively implemented across all segments of the organization.

To do so, our new CEO must:

  • Provide inspirational leadership and direction and ensure the continued management and development of a professional and efficient organization; steward effective decision-making processes that will enable the museum to achieve both its short-term and long-term goals and objectives.
  • Cultivate a strong and transparent working relationship with the Board and ensure open communication about the measurement of financial and programmatic performance against stated milestones and goals.
  • Continue to support and build a diverse and inclusive Board that is representative of the community and that is highly engaged and willing to leverage its talents and resources.


  • Work with the Board to ensure that the organization has sufficient funds to achieve its goals, to meet both present and future needs.
  • Formulate and execute effective marketing, branding, and development strategies that will maintain and enhance revenue from our major donors, which include government entities, foundations, corporations, and major individual donors.
  • Advance the development of our membership program to ensure consistency of funding from a diversity of individual and organization donors.

Strengthen Infrastructure and Operations

  • Support, motivate and inspire the organization’s staff.
  • Facilitate strong departmental collaboration and internal communications with and among staff throughout the organization.
  • Create and promote a positive, multicultural work environment.
  • Oversee the financial operations of the organization, including developing short- and long-range financial plans; monitoring the budget and ensuring that sound financial controls are in place; and setting attainable financial priorities to ensure that the organization delivers on its commitments.

Program Development

  • Ensure that the organization delivers on our mission to create one of America’s most compelling and successful museums.
  • Promote and support an internal creative process that develops world-class exhibits, programs, and educational outreach.
  • Work collaboratively with the community of Charleston to ensure that the museum’s programmatic mission reflects the richness and diversity of Charleston and its place within the broader African diaspora.

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

  • A bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree strongly preferred.
  • Exceptional presentation and speaking skills, a passion for the museum’s mission, and the ability to convey the museum’s story in a compelling way to diverse audiences.
  • Prior nonprofit or museum management experience ideal, but not a prerequisite.
  • At least ten years of overall professional leadership experience.
  • Successful management experience, including prior experience with fundraising, marketing/branding, fiscal management, and effective interaction with a board of directors.
  • A financially literate and politically astute leader with the ability to set clear priorities, delegate effectively, and guide investment in people and systems.
  • Keen analytic, organizational and problem-solving skills which support and enable sound decision-making.
  • Excellent coalition building skills with an ability to communicate and work effectively with a variety of internal and external stakeholders.
  • Successful track record in recruiting, mentoring, and retaining a diverse and talented team, with a strong commitment to supporting the professional development of all staff.

Koya Leadership Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Naree Viner and Stephen Milbauer are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role please visit this link or email to [email protected]. Applicants are requested to include a complete resume or CV detailing educational and work experience, along with a brief statement of no more than 250 words describing their interest in the position. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential. The position will stay open until filled.

The International African American Museum is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented applicants.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership 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.

For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit