Organization: The DuSable Museum of African American History

Location: Chicago, IL

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About the DuSable Museum of African American History:

The DuSable Museum of African American History is one of the nation’s leading institutions for African American history, culture and art. The mission of the Museum is to promote understanding and inspire appreciation of the achievements, contributions and experiences of African Americans through exhibits, programs and activities. The Museum is poised for its next chapter, cementing its place as a leading resource for African American history and culture nationally.

The DuSable Museum was developed to preserve and interpret the experiences and achievements of people of African descent. The Museum is dedicated to the collection, documentation, preservation and study of the history and culture of Africans and African Americans. The Museum’s collection encompasses more than 15,000 artifacts, including paintings, sculptures, print works and historical memorabilia. A key asset of the Museum is the Illinois Black Legislator’s Auditorium, which holds 440 people, allowing the Museum to host musical performances, film festivals, lectures and special events.

Founded in 1961 by teacher and art historian Dr. Margaret Burroughs, the DuSable Museum began as a small gallery in her home. Dr. Burroughs named the Museum after Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, a Haitian of African and French descent, who in 1779, established the trading post and permanent settlement which would become known as Chicago.

The Museum is home to a number of permanent exhibitions including: “A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story,“ “Red, White, Blue & Black: A History of Blacks in the Armed Forces“ and “Africa Speaks.” The Museum also shows traveling exhibitions, workshops and lectures to highlight works by specific artists, historic events or collections.

In 1971, the Museum moved to its current Washington Park facility in the historic Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. It has expanded in its space multiple times since then. The Chicago Park District awarded the Museum the ‘Roundhouse’, a 61,000 square foot building across the street from the current building. A renovation of the Roundhouse, which could include new gallery space, library, event space and a restaurant, would create the first African American museum campus in the United States.

For more information on the DuSable Museum of African American History, please visit

The Opportunity:

Reporting to the Board of Trustees, the President & CEO will work in partnership with the Board to develop a strategic approach to achieving the Museum’s goals. The President & CEO oversees the entire institution, including strategy, collections, staff, facilities, exhibitions, research and publication, education and outreach programs, external relations, fundraising and administrative activities. A key aspect of this role will be guiding a vision-setting process and then executing on specific strategies for achieving that vision.

The President & CEO will serve as the Museum’s primary advocate, regionally, nationally and in international circles. S/he will be a key ambassador, eager to embrace and initiate partnerships and collaborations. S/he will be able to build relationships with a wide range of constituencies and will be committed to strengthening the Museum’s position. S/he will develop and expand programming efforts and work to enhance the Museum as an integral part of the national American story.

The President & CEO will play a leadership role in fundraising and will enthusiastically approach resource-building with significant creativity and clarity of purpose. The new President & CEO will work to increase and diversify financial support from individual donors, foundations, corporations and government funders for annual operations and capital needs for the Museum’s endowment.

Additionally, s/he will play a key role in helping the Museum evaluate its plans for the Roundhouse. With the development of a DuSable Museum campus, the President & CEO could expand the Museum’s reach and impact, further positioning the Museum as a key leader in the field and a ‘go to’ resource.

The President & CEO will lead the Museum’s professional staff and programs and will ensure that the strategic objectives are clear and attained in a fiscally responsible manner. S/he will approach the financial administration of the institution with resourcefulness, sound judgment and a clear understanding of budgets. S/he will embrace technology and be able to lead the efforts to ensure that the Museum is leveraging technology to further its mission and reach its constituencies, whether local or global.

Candidate Profile:

The next President & CEO will be an inspiring, energetic, ‘people-oriented’ leader. S/he will have demonstrated success developing a compelling strategic vision for an organization, building the financial and ideological support for its implementation, and skillfully balancing and aligning the needs of multiple interests. S/he will be results oriented and will have earned a reputation for effectiveness in partnering with a Board and senior management team, and will be able to guide and lead through others. The President & CEO will have significant and proven leadership and management experience in a complex organization with multiple internal and external constituencies.

In addition, the President & CEO must be a visionary and creative leader, exuding a sense of intellectual curiosity and a willingness and eagerness to share his or her knowledge and understanding with the Museum’s diverse stakeholders. This person will be an articulate, dynamic, diplomatic and effective communicator and be respected among peers. The President & CEO will be well-received in national and international circles in order to enhance the institution’s profile and aid ongoing partnership efforts.

The ideal candidate will have the following personal competencies and characteristics:

Visioning and Strategic Leadership: The President & CEO will have an entrepreneurial spirit and be able to guide and substantially contribute to the continued articulation of the identity, values, mission and strategy of the Museum. S/he will work with the Board to construct the vision that upon implementation will bring to life an inspirational future for the Museum and draw audiences. The President & CEO will be a creative visionary and will have the capacity to understand where the trajectory of where the Museum can go and its potential in the field. Fundamentally, the President & CEO will be a ‘change agent’ with the ability to successfully lead the Board and staff through a period of transformation.

Building Relationships and Using Influence: The President & CEO will persuasively communicate the Museum’s direction and strategy both internally and externally and will assure effective communication among the wide range of stakeholders. S/he will be skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships at multiple levels and with varied constituencies and will be able to build the Museum’s Board, ensuring the Museum has the leadership in place to achieve its goals. The President & CEO must be a proven or emergent fundraiser able to bring in new sources of funding. S/he will have an inspirational approach to building collaboration and buy-in and generating support from new and existing stakeholders. S/he will be able to elevate the DuSable brand, generating high cultural capital and viral buzz. S/he will be a charismatic, high-energy leader who can talk with anyone and successfully convey the objectives of the Museum. S/he will develop a powerful sense of shared purpose in others and motivate them to engage the opportunities and challenges ahead. In addition, the President & CEO will act as an ambassador for the Museum, serving as a spokesperson on behalf of the work of the Museum and the African American community.

Business Acumen and Management: The President & CEO will be results-oriented and able to translate the Museum’s over-arching goals into clear objectives for the Board and staff. S/he will leverage the Board’s strengths to further the mission of the Museum and actively engage Trustees in its work. The President & CEO will have a track record of successful Board development and management and will partner closely with the Board at all times. S/he will approach the financial oversight of the Museum with dispassion and balance, with an even-handed and reasoned approach to budgetary decision-making based on a clear understanding of the strategic objectives of the organization. Additionally, the President & CEO must work to lead the effort to improve the Museum’s operational and technological systems. S/he must be able to integrate new technologies and help take the Museum into today’s digital era.

Passion for the Mission: The President & CEO will have a passion for African American History and the mission of the Museum. S/he will work to continually innovate, helping the Museum expand its brand and reach. A desire to be a part of the continued articulation and growth of the Museum’s mission and goals is imperative. S/he will be dedicated to the Museum’s transition and will have the strength of character and dexterity to see it through. The President & CEO will treat others with respect and 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 in a related field is preferred.


Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. This search is being led by Alison P. Ranney, Alexandra N. Corvin and Anne B. McCarthy.

To express your interest in this role, please submit your resume using Koya’s online link: or email Alison, Alex, or Anne directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

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