CEO & Executive Director

CEO & Executive Director

President Lincoln's Cottage

Washington, DC   |   April 23, 2021

The Opportunity

While living at the Cottage, President Lincoln conceptualized, developed, and signed some of his most pivotal work including the Emancipation Proclamation and made crucial decisions about strategy for the Civil War. Lincoln’s life inspires the organization’s work. The importance of the thinking behind what he accomplished at the site encourages President Lincoln’s Cottage (PLC) to embrace the concept of a “museum of ideas” rather than the traditional historic house museum model.

Today, the site offers an intimate, never-before-seen view of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and private life through authentic experiences that inspire action. President Lincoln’s values of humility, justice and freedom live on through every interaction at the Cottage. Through innovative guided tours, exhibits, and programs, PLC uses Lincoln’s example to inspire visitors to be civically engaged today and in their own communities.

PLC has been recognized by peer organizations and national associations and has received awards from the American Alliance of Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the U.S. Distance Learning Association. PLC also received the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons in 2016 for its Students Opposing Slavery program.

Our client is seeking a visionary and inspiring leader to partner with the Board and staff to shepherd the organization into its next stage of growth and development, raising PLC’s national profile; increasing visibility and enhancing the visitor experience; expanding the Board; identifying opportunities presented by the development of a Master Site Plan for the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH), where PLC is located; and establishing a sustainable financial model for a 21st-century historic site. This individual will possess a passion for President Lincoln, his ideas, and PLC’s mission to inspire meaningful connections among people and place through tours, exhibitions, programs, education, and research, and demonstrate the communication skills to articulate this passion.

About President Lincoln’s Cottage

PLC was President Lincoln’s summer home and is a historic site, National Monument, and considered the “best museum off the Mall” at its location on the grounds of AFRH in Washington, DC. PLC sits in the Nation’s capital, a great place to live and work.

PLC has served hundreds of thousands of visitors through public programs, exhibits, and education programs that examine historical issues and their modern legacies and applications. The cornerstone of its programming is an intimate, facilitated tour that prioritizes inquiry and dialogue about the ideas Lincoln developed in this authentic place. Public programs, including the Cottage Conversations series and annual Lincoln Ideas Forum, bring humanities scholars and modern practitioners together in conversations that connect Lincoln’s ideas with our nation’s modern challenges.

Following a period of significant growth and recognition, PLC transitioned to independent 501(c)3 status on January 1, 2016, with tripartite agreements with the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), its former parent organization.

The organization’s current annual operating budget is $1.9 million with eight full-time and three part-time employees.

For more information on President Lincoln’s Cottage, please visit the website.

Main Focus, Priorities, and Key Responsibilities

The CEO & Executive Director (CEO) provides visionary, entrepreneurial leadership, focused strategic direction, and exceptional operational management for President Lincoln’s Cottage (PLC). The CEO will steward PLC’s current 2018-2022 strategic plan and will work closely with the Board of Directors and staff to develop the organization’s next strategic plan. In alignment with President Lincoln’s ideals, the CEO will commit to leading an equity-focused and forward-thinking organization that approaches education and programs as a matter of social justice. This role calls for candid and responsive collaboration across and among staff, board, community partners, and funders. The CEO reports to the Board of Directors and has direct supervision of senior staff and the senior executive assistant. Specifically, the next CEO will be responsible for the following:

Strategic Leadership and Organizational Strategy

  • Work closely with the board, staff, and other key stakeholders to implement PLC’s strategy for the organization’s future, refining each year as necessary with the board.
  • Effectively communicate the content of the strategic plan both internally and externally so that each stakeholder understands roles and responsibilities in making the plan a reality.
  • Oversee complex initiatives from inception to implementation to promotion, evaluation, and maintenance.
  • Grow earned revenue from operations and membership by developing strategies that increase the number of visitors to the Cottage and the grounds.
  • Maintain and enhance a strong, collaborative, working relationship with AFRH, the property owner; Ensure compliance with the agreements between PLC, AFRH, and NTHP.
  • Be a creative force aware of best practices and innovations in the field of public history, preservation, and museums, and will draw on that knowledge to ensure that PLC remains a forward-thinking and acting organization, remaining nimble yet focused.
  • Develop and enhance PLC and field-wide scholarship and scholarly alliances.
  • Demonstrate persistence in overcoming obstacles, problem-solving, and resolving conflict; handle sensitive or difficult issues in a confidential and professional manner.


  • Provide leadership and mentorship to the team, ensuring a productive, supportive work environment that maximizes the site’s ability to succeed in its mission.
  • Recruits a talented, diverse staff; responsible for the mentoring, coaching, promotion, and termination of staff.
  • Lead and manage the staff so they are inspired to do exceptional work; be a positive and accessible presence in the office; demonstrate organizational values; communicate in an effective and timely manner so that staff understand board and executive decisions and can adjust their work accordingly; ensure staff members understand how their specific roles contribute to the overarching mission and purpose of the organization; set high standards for professionalism, work product, and collegiality and hold people responsible for maintaining them.
  • Work with the HR contractor as necessary to ensure a healthy, productive work culture; and support staff in their careers, ensuring people have opportunities for professional development that enhance their growth and their work at PLC.


  • Be the organization’s primary fundraiser, working closely with the board and staff to raise annual and restricted support from individuals, foundations, corporations, and government sources.

External Relations

  • Serve as the primary face and voice of PLC, cultivating partnerships and funder relationships with nonprofit and business leaders and individuals within the communities served.
  • With warmth and emotional intelligence, become a valued and visible member of the communities with which PLC impacts directly and indirectly, with the ability to engage with people from a wide array of backgrounds.
  • Energize those who care about PLC, including board members, funders, partners, visitors, and the neighboring communities.

Finance and Administration

  • Maintain rigorous business discipline, ensuring that PLC maintains and builds upon its fiscal health and controls.
  • In collaboration with senior staff and the Financial Consultant, ensure the fiscal health of the organization and the integrity of all structures and systems.
  • Develop and maintain strong working relationships with the Board of Directors.
Candidate Profile

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

Strategic Leadership

  • At least ten years of progressive leadership and executive management experience with a track record of motivating results-oriented teams and taking an organization through its next stage of growth.
  • A strategic mindset and the ability to balance long-term initiatives with short-term opportunities.
  • Advanced analytical and problem-solving skills, including issue identification and prioritization.
  • Excellent management and interpersonal skills and experience leading a highly capable staff in a way that emphasizes collaboration and teamwork.
  • Demonstrated track record of leadership in implementing programs and institutional practices that serve the outcomes of social equity, inclusion, and justice, both internally and externally.
  • An understanding of technology and how it can be implemented to help fulfill PLC’s mission and attract audiences. 

Fundraising and Resource Mobilization

  • Extensive experience fundraising with the ability to cultivate relationships and to close contributions from all revenue sources.

External Relations

  • Must be able to articulate the site’s mission to a wide range of audiences using a variety of methods and tools. Demonstrated success in reach out to and engaging culturally diverse audiences.
  • Past success working with fiduciary and advisory board members, with the ability to expand existing and develop new board member relationships.

In addition, strong candidates will offer:

  • Emotional intelligence, a winning personality, and the ability to engage with a diverse group of stakeholders.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills and a persuasive and passionate communication style.
  • Ability to adapt, continually develop skills, and be flexible in a dynamic work environment; Entrepreneurial spirit and skill set essential.
  • Ability to balance the need for transparency and confidentiality.
  • A comfort with complexity and the ability to conceive and drive multidisciplinary projects forward.
  • Unwavering commitment to programmatic and preservation excellence.
  • Integrity, passion, idealism, a sense of humor, a positive attitude, a mission-centric orientation, and self-directed work style.
  • Advanced degree and experience in non-profits required; experience in public history or museums a plus. Candidates with equivalent professional and leadership experience, along with a passion and interest in history and preservation, will also be considered.
Compensation & Benefits

The salary range for this role is $150,000 – $175,000 and is commensurate with experience. Competitive benefits offered, including a residence on site.


Stephen Milbauer and Naree W.S. Viner of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here or email Stephen directly at [email protected]. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

President Lincoln’s Cottage is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part 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 Partners, visit