Organization: New Bedford Whaling Museum

Location: New Bedford, MA

Express Interest

About New Bedford Whaling Museum:

“The mission of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society is to educate and interest all the public in the historic interaction worldwide of humans with whales; in history of Old Dartmouth and adjacent communities; and in regional maritime activity. To accomplish this the Society shall collect, preserve and interpret the artifacts and documentary evidence of these endeavors; maintain a whaling, maritime, and local history museum; maintain a library; promote and disseminate historical research; and accept historic sites where appropriate.”

The New Bedford Whaling Museum (“Museum”) is the familiar name for the entity that is the Old Dartmouth Historical Society founded in 1903. The Massachusetts colonial region of Old Dartmouth evolved into the City of New Bedford and the towns of Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and Westport. The Society was established to promote historical research and to collect documents and relics unique to the area’s rich history. A significant part of that history included the role New Bedford played in the nineteenth century as the whaling capital of the world. In response to that role, the Society established the Museum in 1907.

Through its exhibitions, publications and programs, today’s Whaling Museum brings to life an international and multicultural canvas of stories: amazing voyages of early whalers and explorers and the remote places and peoples they encountered; the habits and habitats of whales and marine mammals through the ages; the industrial revolution and growth of New England’s textile mills and other industries; a diversity of peoples seeking religious, racial, and social tolerance whose histories intersect here, pioneers of all colors; and a proud maritime heritage of shipbuilding, yacht design, and life with the sea. The Museum is also making new history with its national-award-winning high school apprenticeship program, and with unique partnerships that advocate for our oceans and for whales today.

The Museum houses a vast and valuable collection of fine and decorative art and artifacts; 25 galleries; a research library whose archives of logbooks, photographs, records, and rare documents have become internationally renown; the dramatic full skeletons of five whales; and the Lagoda – an 89 foot half scale model of a full-rigged whaling ship.  A significant expansion was completed in 2016 with the opening of the Wattles Jacobs Education Center that gave the Museum a new library and 3,000 additional square feet of classroom and programming space to meet its growing educational mission.

The Museum is the cornerstone of the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park and operates amid shops and restaurants in the heart of New Bedford’s historic downtown, two blocks from a picturesque working harbor and waterfront that is home to one of the largest commercial fishing fleets in the country.

For more information on New Bedford Whaling Museum, please visit

The Opportunity:

This is the rare opportunity to take the helm of a vibrant and healthy organization and steer it into the future.  The Museum has had nine consecutive years of positive financial results, revenues exceeding expenses, during which it built a new building and doubled its endowment.  It continues to invest in exhibits and improvements. There is a wealth of staff and volunteer talent, growing community involvement, partnerships with numerous organizations, a fully vested Board of Trustees, and a broad base of donor support. The next President & CEO will have the unique opportunity to build on this success.

The President & CEO of the Museum will assume responsibility for articulating its mission, vision and value to all constituencies.  Reporting directly to the Board of Trustees, the President & CEO will direct all operations and activities, and implement policies, programs, and procedures in a manner that is fiscally responsible and consistent with the organization’s values and strategic goals.

The President & CEO will:

  • Be the leading voice and persona of the Museum;
  • Work to insure the continued position of the Museum as the leading cultural organization in the region and the preeminent whaling era resource in the country;
  • Work with staff and Board to increase annual, unrestricted, restricted and all categories of support as needed to sustain operations and facilitate new programs and growth, including endowment growth;
  • Pursue opportunities that contribute to and involve the community. Portuguese and Cape Verdeans and their descendants, who are an important focus for museum activities, are only part of the growing multi-ethnic and multi-generational population the Museum needs to serve;
  • Work in partnership with senior staff to develop and enhance exhibits, increase education and outreach, engage new constituents, and manage the collections;
  • Promote and develop collaborations that will support the Museum’s activities and objectives; current examples include such diverse partners as NOAA, the U.S. Navy, the National Park Service, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Cabo Verde Ministry of Culture, Husavik Whale Museum in Iceland, the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD), as well as libraries, schools, colleges and universities, etc.;
  • Lead a workforce of 46 full-time employees and 140 volunteers who support the care of the institution and serve 100,000 annual visitors; and
  • Manage a complex organization with several internal “businesses” including visitor attraction, education programs, publications, retail, events, rentals, and a wide variety of grant-based programs.

Key metrics for success in this role include:

  • Positive results;
  • Responsible budget development and oversight so that all operations are affordable and in line with revenues;
  • Maximizing revenues through multiple streams (annual fund, capital campaign, grants, admissions, publications, gift store, etc.);
  • Strong working relationships with the staff, Board, volunteers, and key figures in the local, regional, national and international nonprofit, political, business and civic communities; and
  • Presenting the organization as one that is open, inclusive and representative of the multiple cultures that have shaped the region.

Candidate Profile:

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

Strategic and Visionary Leader

The President & CEO is a strategic, tactical and entrepreneurial leader able to develop and articulate a vision for the Museum’s next chapter. S/he can develop and promote the strategies needed to advance the work of a mission-based organization, from funding to delivery. S/he can successfully leverage the skills and talents of a Board to execute a strategic plan, while working closely with the Museum’s various constituents on the plan’s implementation and evaluation. S/he actively and strategically seeks out partnerships and builds coalitions. S/he is innovative, creative and skilled when it comes to building partnerships with national and international institutions and leaders in the field to enhance the Museum’s impact and advance its mission and strategic priorities. The President & CEO has the drive and passion to remain at the forefront of the sector and continues to develop new and unique opportunities to serve the mission.

Ambassador and Fundraiser

The President & CEO is an “Ambassador” for the Museum, sharing the mission and vision with the outside world and helping to expand the institution’s role more broadly. S/he will bring a propensity for engagement to the role. S/he exemplifies leadership and inspires trust and confidence across a diverse range of stakeholders. S/he is flexible, energetic, positive, creative and ambitious and experienced in establishing strong working relationships in furtherance of an organization’s mission. S/he has exceptional interpersonal skills with the ability to build and sustain strong support across a wide range of stakeholders including staff, Board, donors, volunteers and the public. S/he develops a powerful sense of shared purpose in others and motivates them to engage in the opportunities and future of the Museum.  S/he inspires confidence in donors, builds collaboration and buy-in and generates support from existing and new stakeholders. S/he enjoys fundraising and can successfully convey the objectives of the Museum to potential donors. S/he is fluent in communicating the value of the organization on a local, regional and international level to a broad range of constituents. S/he is a media savvy communicator who brings passion for the Museum’s mission as its spokesperson. S/he is politically astute and attuned with a sophisticated personal presence.

Experienced Manager

The President & CEO is an executive with strong staff, operational and financial management experience. S/he has a track record of sound financial planning, oversight and accountability, with the ability to clearly communicate financial status to the Board. S/he will bring experience building and leading high performing teams of the highest degree of professionalism and guiding team members’ growth and development. The President & CEO possesses the ability to inspire a staff and volunteers with a diverse set of skills, provide a productive work environment and professional growth opportunities that result in team cohesion and camaraderie. S/he 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. S/he understands the importance of a robust partnership with the Board and will ensure fiduciary responsibility and sound financial management practices and accountability to the Board. She 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

The President & CEO has a sincere passion for the mission of the Museum and a commitment to bringing its mission to the residents of New Bedford and surrounding communities, and far beyond. S/he brings an understanding of how museums enhance a community and the lives of its citizens. S/he is innovative with the goal of helping the Museum expand its brand and reach and deepen its work. S/he has a deep appreciation for the Museum’s aesthetic, which has become a trademark. S/he exhibits humility, a capacity to listen, a sense of humor and dedication to the mission. It is imperative that s/he treats others with respect and always stays true to the values of the Museum. Moreover, the ideal candidate is an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.


Anne McCarthy & Erin Reedy of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search firm that works exclusively with mission-driven clients. To express your interest in this role please email Anne and Erin directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.