Organization: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Location: Kansas City, MO

Express Interest

About the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art:

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (the Nelson-Atkins or the Museum) is where the power of art engages the spirit of community. The Museum welcomes and provides free admission to all, delivering unparalleled opportunities to enjoy, appreciate and understand the finest visual arts and the varied cultures they represent – on campus, online and throughout Kansas City.

Operating an annual budget of more than $30 million, The Nelson-Atkins maintains collections of nearly 40,000 works of art and welcomes over 500,000 visitors a year. Recognized as one of the finest encyclopedic art museums in the United States, the Museum’s vast holdings provide the opportunity to create new connections and unique experiences at every turn.

The museum’s collections span art of the ancient world, Africa, Asia and the Americas to modern and contemporary works. In June 2015, the Nelson-Atkins welcomed the Marion and Henry Bloch Collection, comprised of 29 masterworks by the leading Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists of the 19th century — among them Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges Seurat, Alfred Sisley and Vincent van Gogh. Well known for its European collection, this transformative gift has become a distinctive jewel among the Museum’s holdings. The Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park, “Kansas City’s unofficial backyard,” is one of the museums best features, including the Nelson’s iconic Shuttlecocks.

As an institution of national and international renown, the Nelson-Atkins establishes and adheres to the highest professional standards and practices in research, scholarship, presentation, interpretation and care of its collections. The Museum serves as a vital partner in the educational, social and cultural life of Kansas City, using its collections and programs to build an environment where people can gather, share and contemplate the greatest creations of humankind.

At a time in which digital technology is pervasive, the Nelson-Atkins has become an oasis of face-to-face experiences; at the same time, the Museum embraces the new possibilities that digital tools create to share their collections beyond their walls and enhance the experience inside the museum. The Nelson-Atkins is a defining component of any visit to Kansas City and a dynamic partner in the region’s educational, social and cultural life. The Museum occupies a special safe place for all to engage with the greatest art and scholarship while providing a place for self-discovery and civic discourse.

An unprecedented critical mass of local cultural activity provides an opportunity for the Nelson-Atkins to assume a leadership role as innovator and catalyst, connecting with traditional and new audiences and differentiating itself through the great art collections in its care. It is a moment for the museum to become a transformational force; a place both for individual contemplation and social interaction, and one that provides life-transforming encounters with original works of art.

A cultural gem for the Kansas City community, the Nelson-Atkins is a progressive, community-centric museum that has the world watching. The Museum is renowned both nationally and internationally, and poised to grow in years to come. Under the leadership of Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director & CEO, Julián Zugazagoitia, the Museum is on an ambitious path of growth and expansion.

At the core of the Nelson-Atkins’ vision of the future is the goal of playing a central role in Kansas City life by catalyzing connections to neighbors; an ever-expanding range of visitors; and community, civic and cultural partners in the city and the larger region. Kansas City has a wealth of cultural resources with an increasing local presence and global influence. Together, along with the Nelson-Atkins, they have fueled a cultural renaissance in the city.

The Museum has had a distinguished track record of success in raising significant private philanthropic support, driven by the generous leadership backing by its Board of Trustees. With 100% participation from the Board, a philanthropic community and a number of grants, annual support from donors exceeded $12 million in 2016.

For more information and history on The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, please visit

The Opportunity:

The Vice President, Development (“VP”) is a newly created position. S/he will be the leader for all fundraising strategies and initiatives for The Nelson-Atkins. The VP will work in close partnership with Julián Zugazagoitia, Director & CEO and other leaders at the Museum to implement a campaign and strategies for growth and expansion. Through this hire, the Nelson-Atkins will enhance its overall approach to fundraising and strengthen its development team. Together they will reach a new and aspiring level of philanthropic success – one that will put the Museum on a sustainable path for accomplishment in the coming years.

The VP will provide overall leadership, strategic direction, organization and management of programs and staff related to philanthropic support for the Museum. Reporting to and partnering with the Director & CEO, the VP will work closely with the Board of Trustees, the Senior Leadership Group (SLG) development team, donors and other key stakeholders to advance the Museum’s development efforts. S/he will be responsible for setting the large-scale strategy for development and stewardship efforts and executing on that plan. Additionally, the VP will help shape and oversee the next campaign and set of strategic goals.

The VP will be a bold thinker, a strategic and a detail-oriented, ‘hands-on’ executor who will lead a best-in-class development program. S/he will oversee and manage a team of 15 development professionals. As an inspirational leader, s/he will recruit, retain, manage, evaluate, motivate, and inspire the development team. The VP will shape his/her team with the appropriate donor cultivation, individual giving, and institutional giving skills and experiences. S/he will also actively manage a donor portfolio by personally participating in cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. The VP will collaborate with the Director & CEO and Trustees to ensure that they are effectively supported and leveraged to achieve fundraising goals.

Challenged by the diversity of responsibilities, the VP will manage a wide variety of development functions in a rapidly evolving institution. The VP will be an articulate and enthusiastic advocate of the museum and work effectively to promote the mission of Nelson-Atkins throughout the wider community and with all Museum constituencies. As a Museum leader and member of the SLG, s/he will help with organization strategy, planning, and culture.

Key success factors of this senior-most development role include:

  • Providing comprehensive and strategic leadership in developing a multi-faceted strategic approach to build a high-performing development organization with a high level of professionalism and dedication;
  • Expanding the number of donors and annual amounts raised for the Museum’s development plan and instilling a strong culture of philanthropy throughout the organization;
  • Increasing the effectiveness and productivity of the team by serving as a coach and manager; setting goals and helping the team accomplish goals; motivating team members with energy and passion;
  • Launching, monitoring and executing a successful capital campaign;
  • Ensuring sound fiscal operation of the fundraising function, including the accurate and timely summary of initiative revenues, expenses and net revenue; and
  • Collaborating and leveraging relationships of the Nelson-Atkins’ leadership including the Trustees and SLG ensuring they are effectively supported to achieve fundraising goals.

Candidate Profile:

The Vice President, Development will be a focused, successful, self-motivated, proven development executive who is deeply invested in the arts. S/he will be a natural leader and collaborator with a curious mindset.

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

An Expert in Development

The VP will be an experienced leader in the field of development with a measurable track record of success within a fast-paced environment. S/he will have demonstrated expertise with a wide range of fundraising channels, including major donors, campaigns, membership, corporate giving and volunteer management. The VP will be a confident partner with Trustees, the SLG, volunteers and others with the ability to provide strategic guidance and support in the cultivation of donors. A tactical leader, s/he will have a strong data and analysis orientation and a proven ability to use metrics to drive development decisions and achieve strategic objectives.

Strategic Leadership and Management Acumen

The VP will be a strategic and results-oriented leader who, along with the Director & CEO, sets and articulates a vision for the Museum’s next fundraising chapter, builds and executes development and campaign plans and evaluates outcomes with a metrics based approach. S/he will be an assertive and results-oriented leader with the ability to translate the Museum’s development goals into clear objectives for the Trustees, SLG and the Development staff. S/he will offer creative, yet practical, ideas to achieve the strategic direction of both the development team and the overall organization. S/he will make it his/her mission to strengthen the capacity and success of the development team through effective delegation and shared responsibility. The VP will have demonstrated expertise effectively managing a large-scale campaign within a complex environment including large groups of internal and external constituents. S/he will be a builder with the ability to set priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, assure accountability and allocate resources to ensure results.

A Relationship Builder and Collaborator

The VP will be skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships at multiple levels with varied constituencies including the Trustees, SLG, donors, community leaders and the development team. S/he will work in close alignment with the SLG to ensure that the messages are consistent to all constituents, including donors and potential donors. The VP will have an inspirational approach to building collaboration and buy-in and generating support from stakeholders. S/he will be a charismatic, high-energy leader who can effectively engage all constituents and successfully convey the Museum’s objectives. As a museum leader, the VP will build upon the team-oriented approach that will result in an enhanced internal culture of philanthropy organization-wide. S/he will build bridges and engage colleagues globally.

A Passion for the Mission

As a tireless ‘Ambassador’ for the arts and the Nelson-Atkins, the VP will have a passion for building community through the power of art. The VP will have a strong work ethic, competitive nature, emotional intelligence, a sense of humor and evidence of a commitment to lifelong learning and professional growth. S/he will embrace the Nelson-Atkins culture, while continually innovating to help expand its brand and reach. The VP will be an empathic, charismatic leader who has strong faith in humanity and treats others with respect. S/he will be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.

A Bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree is preferred.


Koya Leadership Partners, a national retained executive search firm that partners with mission-driven clients, has been exclusively retained for this search. To make recommendations on candidates or express interest in the opportunity, please email Marissa Martin and Chartise Clark at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.