Organization: Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)

Location: Portland, OR

Express Interest

About the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC):

Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)What is the role of art and culture in a 21st century metropolis? Can a single work of art change the world? How can a combination of public and private investment help the Arts ecosystem to flourish?

These are some of the questions that RACC is looking to answer.

RACC is seeking an Executive Director to work with the Board, staff and community to build and achieve an exciting new vision for the Arts in a modern, progressive region.

About RACC

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) oversees arts activity throughout the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. It was established as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1995, replacing a bureau that had been shared by the City of Portland and Multnomah County – the Metropolitan Arts Commission. Today, RACC serves the tri-county region of Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties.

RACC’s mission is to enrich these communities through arts and culture. It receives funding from a variety of public and private partners to serve artists, arts organizations, schools and residents throughout all counties. RACC provides grants for artists, nonprofit organizations and schools; manages an internationally acclaimed public art program; raises money and awareness for the arts through workplace giving; convenes forums, networking events and other community gatherings; provides workshops and other forms of technical assistance for artists; and oversees a program to integrate arts and culture into the standard curriculum in public schools throughout the region through “The Right Brain Initiative.”  More information about RACC can be found here.

Arts and Culture in Portland

Portland has a thriving arts scene: its cultural offerings include performance, literary and visual arts, live music, film festivals, theater, dance, museums and cultural festivals. Artists are active in all areas of community life, and public art is integrated into public spaces throughout the metropolitan area. An idea of the breadth of arts organizations and resources can be had from the links below, but these are by no means exhaustive:

Film Festivals
Art Galleries
Cultural Festivals/events
Public art
Public Art Map

The Opportunity:

RACC’s Board of Directors seeks a charismatic, visionary, politically fluent leader to serve as the new Executive Director for the organization as it enters a key phase of its evolution. Portland is one of the most rapidly growing regions in the nation and has recently increased its public arts and culture funding. This is a highly specialized opportunity for an experienced, thoughtful individual to build on RACC’s outstanding 22-year legacy of championing the Arts in Portland, and ensure that the Arts evolve with the rapid social, political and economic changes that are shaping Portland’s future. The Executive Director will provide management acumen and strategic vision for RACC, and build bridges among artists, arts organizations, neighborhoods, businesses and elected officials to advance arts programming, access, and equity in the Portland region. The Executive Director will play a significant and influential role in the continuing development of a diverse and vibrant artistic sector, and enhance its impact on the region’s civic and economic life.

Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)The new Executive Director of RACC will serve as a key leader in the Portland region and nationally as an influencer and change agent in the Arts and areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. In positioning RACC for future success as an active and important advocate in these areas, the Executive Director will have a powerful voice in shaping the strategic direction of RACC, its support for grantee organizations and artists, its community partnerships, and its development and fundraising strategy. In addition, the Executive Director will lead RACC’s partnerships with the city of Portland and surrounding counties, regularly interfacing with City and County leaders, including the Mayor’s office and other elected officials.

The Executive Director will endeavor to fund and actively create meaningful arts and cultural programming, including pioneering strategies and initiatives around education, civic art, and revitalization projects, and advocating for policy reform when appropriate. The Executive Director will deepen RACC’s existing partnerships and pioneer new enterprises, collaborating with community groups, nonprofits, schools, private industry, foundations and cultural organizations across the region and nationally. The Executive Director will be charged with substantively increasing access to and improving arts programming and education, proactively striving to create opportunities for the region.

Position Summary:

In serving as RACC’s chief advocate, strategist and visionary, the Executive Director will be a leading figure in the arts and cultural community in Portland, the tri-county area, and nationally. As the chief executive of the Portland area’s largest public arts funding council, the Executive Director plays a central role in creating an ecosystem where arts and culture thrive and advance social justice. Working closely with an experienced and passionate staff, with civic leaders, arts organizations and other stakeholders, the Executive Director contributes their vision to the dynamic role played by arts and culture in the region.

Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)This leader will have a keen understanding of how RACC’s programming, grantmaking and advocacy directly affect the greater community’s arts and cultural organizations, artists, art lovers, and the historically underserved communities of color, immigrants and refugees, LGBTQIA and people with disabilities. The issues of equity and inclusion in the Arts have become a major focus for RACC, alongside rising awareness of Oregon’s history of systemic racism and inequity regarding resource allocation.

The Executive Director will provide thoughtful, committed and experienced leadership for RACC’s strategies for promoting equity, inclusion and access.

RACC Board and Staff believe:

“The Arts have the power to change hearts and minds, and to inspire social change. Prejudice and privilege have created barriers that RACC must dismantle, systematically and strategically, until everyone in our community has equitable access to arts and culture.”

(2015 RACC Equity Statement)

The Executive Director will be a visionary and highly experienced executive who will oversee the organization’s overall operational and administrative functions, including personnel, human resources, and RACC’s $11M annual operating budget, which includes FY18 allocations of:

  • Grantmaking of $5.0M to approximately 130 organizations and 136 individual artists.
  • $1.3M for Advocacy and Community Services.
  • Arts Education of $1.3M, funding art teachers and arts integration across 11 school districts.
  • Public Art of $2.5M including murals, public installations, and purchase/maintenance of Portland’s art collection.

Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)The Executive Director will provide direction for these key service areas for RACC, and guidance to organizations, artists and civic organizations through proactive, thoughtful program leadership and advocacy. A systems thinker with expertise in overseeing change management, this individual will be a decisive and transparent leader with the ability to execute on goals, lead collaboratively and by example, and support the activities of staff, the board of directors, and project committees and working groups. In addition, the Executive Director will lead development and fundraising efforts with governments, foundations, corporations and individual donors, working with other local leaders to raise overall arts and culture funding while also making tough decisions on resource allocation.

The Executive Director will have a passion for and commitment to art in its many disciplines, and the knowledge and experience required to support a diverse ecosystem of arts organizations and individual artists. Comfortable in the distinct spheres of nonprofit governance, arts administration and government, the Executive Director will be a fluent advocate for RACC and the organization’s priorities. This individual will provide vision and collaborative leadership for RACC as the galvanizing voice for the Arts in the life of the region.

Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)

Core Competencies:

The Executive Director will be a passionate and accomplished executive with knowledge of the role of the arts in public and community life. Ideal candidates will have experience in arts administration, and relevant knowledge and expertise regarding the Arts in the Pacific Northwest and Portland, including a fluency with the region’s governance and politics, knowledge of major cultural institutions and arts organizations, and the ability to build meaningful relationships with arts and community leaders.

This leader will demonstrate visionary, executive-level leadership and management abilities, demonstrated expertise in change management, a passion for and commitment to the Arts, and fluency with work around equity, diversity, inclusion and access. The Executive Director will possess a high degree of emotional intelligence and a natural ability to connect with people at all levels. A model for managing stress and navigating challenging circumstance, the Executive Director will be a grounding force at RACC, able to build consensus, create buy-in, and provide focus for the organization’s programming.

Highly competitive candidates will demonstrate the following core competencies:

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion:

RACC seeks an Executive Director who has leadership, competencies, experience and skills in equity, diversity and inclusion, demonstrated through programming, organizational development and thought leadership. In the last six years, RACC has diversified its board, developed relationships with historically underserved communities and increased its equity focus, and desires to continue its progress in this area. The Executive Director will provide leadership to RACC in implementing its goals of equity, diversity and inclusion. This individual will provide strong cultural humility, responsiveness, and the ability to work with a wide diversity of communities. This leader will provide leadership for social justice, advocating for diverse groups and individuals, and will apply an equity lens to all decisions.

Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)Executive Leadership / Management:

RACC seeks an innovative and visionary Executive Director with proven strategic abilities, strong senior management experience, sound financial acumen, and a demonstrated record of collaborative leadership. The Executive Director will have executive-level experience in strategic planning, program leadership, staff and budget management, and resource development. This individual will possess the skills to collaborate with staff and the board of directors to articulate the organization’s vision and lead its implementation. An executive with an open, inclusive and collaborative style, this leader will have a proven ability to nurture, inspire and empower an effective and diverse team. The Executive Director will have a record of initiating and overseeing complex projects and bringing them to successful conclusion, and directing and holding accountability for all finances and operations of a complex organization. As the external representative of RACC, the Executive Director will leverage his/her ability to engage in effective partnerships and collaborations across multiple constituencies.

Change Management:

RACC seeks an Executive Director who has demonstrable experience leading change and shifting direction across an entire organization, particularly within the context of a larger ecosystem. This leader will have experience in transforming an organization’s culture, and implementing new approaches to stakeholder engagement. As part of the change management process, candidates will have a record of introducing and implementing new systems of evaluation and measurement. The Executive Director will have the ability to change an organization’s placement within the community, through reexamining and refining its mission, values, goals, strategy and reputation.

Art and Culture Commitment:

RACC seeks an Executive Director who has a demonstrated passion for diverse forms of art, and the leadership, competencies, experience and skills to work with other community leaders to advance the role of arts and culture in the community. The ideal candidate will be familiar with current trends in visual art, performance art, or music, or be immersed in multi-cultural and inter-disciplinary arts. RACC is seeking a leader and champion in and for the Arts, with the gravitas and credibility to influence arts and culture programming and funding, and help shape the innovations being developed by arts organizations in the region.

The ideal candidate will also demonstrate the following core competencies:

Exceptional and Persuasive Communication:

RACC seeks an Executive Director who will be the public face of the organization and, to a large extent, the Arts in the Portland region. This leader should have the ability to articulate the value proposition of the arts in general, and the essential role of a local arts agency. The Executive Director must be able to communicate clearly and effectively in writing, in public speaking and in working with the media. This individual will utilize high emotional intelligence and listening skills in order to convey a vision for the Arts with passion and clarity to a broad range of individual and institutional stakeholders.

Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)Advocacy:

The RACC Executive Director position is responsible for advocating for an array of policies, legislation and resource development initiatives while navigating a wide universe of elected leaders, municipal bureaus and offices, artists, arts organizations, arts education providers, and equity-driven community organizations. The Executive Director must have the ability to develop shared visions, goals and strategies with stakeholders, including community leaders from underserved communities, and advocate for those visions with elected officials and other decision-makers. This individual must tell a compelling story about why arts and culture matter and how they tie into the region’s social, economic and psychological fabric. It is imperative that this leader have the experience and knowledge to understand and navigate the municipal and public-led policies and practices affecting the regional creative community.

Fundraising and Development:

The RACC Executive Director will provide fundraising acumen to broaden RACC’s base of philanthropic support, engage new constituencies and build long-term fundraising capacity. The Executive Director will build deep, sustainable partnerships with elected officials and their staffs, foundation and corporate partners, and individual donors through strong proactive communication. This leader will hone the case for public and private investment in the Arts, and cultivate pride of ownership of RACC by the tri-county community of diverse artists, arts organizations and arts consumers, as well as with RACC’s Board of Directors. This leader will have the ability to create an overall annual development strategy with knowledge of the most effective fundraising best practices and opportunities, and proven ability to effectively gain the respect and support of various constituencies.

Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)Grantmaking and Program Management:

The RACC Executive Director will have relevant experience and/or knowledge of grantmaking, in order to provide financial and strategic oversight of RACC’s grantmaking operations, including its multiple grantmaking programs and cycles. This leader should have the ability to develop new grant initiatives or redesign existing ones, in order to serve a wide universe of artists, arts organizations, arts education providers, and diverse cultural organizations.


The annual salary range for this role will be $150,000 -$170,000, depending on qualifications and experience. RACC offers excellent benefits, including paid holidays and Flexible Time Off, full medical and dental benefits, a 401(k) plan, and long-term disability and life insurance.


The Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. This search is being led by Michelle Bonoan and Sheila Hennessey. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume here, or email Michelle and Sheila at the following:

Michelle R.S. Bonoan
Managing Director

Sheila Hennessey

An Equal Opportunity Employer: RACC values a community in which everyone can participate in arts and culture, and strives to cultivate equity in all of its programs. We value a diverse workforce, built upon inclusion, equity and cultural humility and are proud to be an equal opportunity workplace. RACC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that receives funding from a variety of public and private partners to serve artists, arts organizations, schools and residents throughout Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. RACC advocates for public and private investments in the arts, provides grants for artists and arts organizations, manages public art, raises money through workplace giving, conducts arts education in public schools, and provides technical assistance and networking opportunities for artists.

All team members are expected to contribute to RACC’s mission, and support RACC’s core values in guiding their decisions and actions.

  • We value freedom of artistic and cultural expression as a fundamental human right.
  • We value a diversity of artistic and cultural experiences.
  • We value a community in which everyone can participate in arts and culture.
  • We value a community that celebrates and supports its artists, and its arts and cultural organizations.
  • We value arts and culture as key elements in creating desirable places to live, work and visit.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations, institutions of higher education, 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, visit