The Opportunity The Museum of Craft and Design (MCD) seeks an execution-focused leader and gifted, trail-blazing visionary to guide the next decades as its Executive Director. MCD has a solid foundation rooted in its community and is positioned for long-term, sustainable growth, with a highly respected institutional standing and global reach. The Executive Director position is an exciting opportunity to lead the institution into the future, honoring multiple perspectives, building diverse audiences, and promoting a positive, multicultural work environment.
About the Museum of Craft and Design Having welcomed over a million visitors from across the globe since its founding, MCD is San Francisco’s and the greater region’s only museum devoted to craft and design and is known for its bold and innovative exhibitions and inspiring MakeArt programs. These are the bedrock of MCD and reflect a creative and collaborative spirit, as well as a deep commitment to community engagement. As a non-collecting institution, the museum actively collaborates with artists, designers, guest curators, museums and universities, as well as design venues and practitioners. MCD is an accessible public art space for its wide range of visitors. Exhibitions highlight emerging and established artists, designers, makers, and craftspeople—particularly those that are underrepresented in canonical art history and in museum collections. Central to MCD’s leading-edge exhibition program is an emphasis on process—finding cross-sections of innovative materials, novel ways of material manipulation, form, and concept. Exhibitions challenge traditional notions of design as a utilitarian function of everyday life or craft as a hobby. MCD showcases work that broadens the boundaries of what craft and design can be. Founded in 2004, MCD’s bold exhibitions program has always championed artists and designers in the world of design and craft. From 2004-2023, MCD has presented 97 exhibitions. The inaugural exhibition,
Dovetailing Art & Life: The Bennett Collection, showcased craft practitioners through the eye of collectors (and practitioners) Sylvia and Garry Knox Bennett. 2006’s Kickin’ It with Joyce J. Scott examined the work of social activist artist Joyce Scott, a MacArthur Fellow working in a combination of jewelry, beadwork, glass, and performance/depictions of racially and politically charged subjects. In 2008, New West Coast Design: Contemporary Objects paved the way for new west coast voices in design. In 2009, MCD hosted San Francisco Graphic Design, an exhibition illuminating a plethora of regional graphic designers. From 2010-2012, while searching for its permanent home, MCD implemented a popping-up-all-over campaign with five pop-up exhibitions and a mini museum store at different sites throughout the city of San Francisco. a,Popping Up All Over, was a tremendous success and a first for museums in the U.S. It created opportunity to be in several neighborhoods in San Francisco where people lived, worked, and played, allowing the museum to remain visible, viable, and ultimately nimble, while building out its new space and managing the complexities of working with the building department in San Francisco. Pop up exhibitions included Transference: Andy Paiko and Ethan Rose; Crafting Architecture: Concept, Sketch, Model; Place Making: Installations at Hayes and Octavia; Charlotte Kruk: Eye Candy; and Almost Out of the Woods. When MCD moved into its permanent home in Dogpatch, a neighborhood hub for creatives, artisans, and makers—with an expanded 11,500 square foot warehouse facility with 24-foot ceilings—the exhibition program exploded. In 2013, MCD’s first year in Dogpatch, nine exhibitions were mounted in a single year cycle, sometimes up to four concurrently; the themes ranged from the sculptural and fantastical work of Michael Cooper, A Sculptural Odyssey (an exhibition that MCD organized, and it traveled to other venues), to Wendy Maruyama’s Executive Order 9066 and The Tag Project. MCD strives for excellence, encourages experimentation, and stretches beyond its own limitations. 2015’s ambitious Hands Off: New Dutch Design at the Confluence of Technology & Craft, curated by Zahid Sardar, featured 20+ designers working in the Netherlands, pushing boundaries and addressing social issues while providing a lens into the global future of art, craft, design, and technology. Designers included Anouk Wipprecht, Marcel Wanders, Ted Noten, ByBorre, Massoud and Mamut Hassani, DUS Architects, and Studio Drift, to name a few. This exhibition was selected to travel to Eindhoven for Dutch Design Week, cementing an international reputation for MCD’s exhibitions program. Art and Other Tactics: Contemporary Craft by Artist Veterans and The Paper Doll Project, were powerful exhibitions honoring veteran artists who had returned to school on the G.I. bill to study art and became accomplished artists. In 2015, MCD launched the Visible Transparency Project (VTP), where visitors often watch the exhibit installation and design process unfold. Beginning in 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Museum engaged Artland to create virtual 360° recordings of all of its exhibitions, providing an online archive of each gallery transformation. Additionally, MCD provided four virtual exhibitions—two participatory and two straight visual, Let’s Face It (with a global call for face mask design entries); Call & Response: Craft as a Tool for Activism (nationwide juried exhibit and artist marketplace with all proceeds going to artists); Design By Distance; and Imagining Data. The new location also allowed MCD to expand their exhibition and public programming spaces, including their popular MakeArt workshops. In 2015, MCD Parklet opened and was considered “the benchmark of Parklets” by SF Planning Department. 2015 continued to be a big year with the launch of a new look and feel for sfmcd.org. In 2018, MCD announced the launch of MAKE, an after-hours event on the third Thursday of most months, offering a range of dynamic programming, including artist happy hours, hands-on activities, and local vendor pop-ups. MCD also kicked off MakeArt Family Days, an evolution of MCD’s signature MakeArt programs designed for visitors of all ages. These first Saturday events feature tactile materials introductions for toddlers, guided activities for kids, gallery tours, and in-gallery drop-in projects for families. Known for its bold and innovative exhibitions and inspiring MakeArt programs for all ages, MCD marked this important milestone with DESIGN15, a year-long celebration connecting craft, design, and community. MCD reaches into the local community through its bright, colorful Mobile MakeArt van, out and about and bringing creativity to everyone. The Museum distributes MakeArt Kits for food banks, school programs, and delivers in-person community experiences at neighborhood events and more. MCD’s summer 2023 exhibition, Fight and Flight: Crafting a Bay Area Life, offers a timely examination of the Bay Area arts ecosystem featuring 23 local artists who, despite the many crises of our times, continue to call the Bay Area a creative home. Focusing on local artists and the struggles of living and making work in the Bay Area, the exhibition piloted an artist stipend program where all participating artists were paid equitable stipends determined by W.A.G.E (Working Artists and the Greater Economy). Upcoming is Designing Peace, in collaboration with the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, which will explore the unique role design can play in pursuing global peace, with projects from around the world. MCD does not shy away from showcasing artists and exhibitions tackling the difficult issues of our times—including climate change, inequality, houselessness, and social/racial justice—and believes that craft and design are perfectly positioned fields to raise these inquiries. MCD continues to provide a platform for under-recognized artists in the craft and design field, and continues to work beyond its smaller size in a city rich with museums, to be an industry leader. The exhibition program is bolstered by partnerships with like-minded organizations. Mode Brut, an exhibition conceived through a partnership with Creativity Explored in 2021, supported 50+ artists with developmental disabilities to create a runway show and fashion exhibition highlighting Creativity Explored’s studio textile program. The exhibition forged additional partnerships with local artist collaboratives and fashion designers to create “capsule collections,” each a collaboration and mentorship between Creativity Explored artists and the partners. With a focus on accessibility, MCD has created meaningful partnerships with local accessibility groups Blind Posse and Lighthouse for the Blind. MCD offers haptic tours for Blind and low-sighted art enthusiasts and creates audio descriptions for each exhibition. Additionally, MCD is committed to providing translations of all wall text and object labels in three languages, large print sized labels, wall text availability online and via QR code, and ASL interpretation for programming available on request. Learn more about the organization on the https://sfmcd.org/. Key Responsibilities The Executive Director is responsible for the vision and oversight of a 21-year-old institution and will build on an existing culture of innovation, inclusion, collaboration, teamwork, and philanthropy. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will work, in partnership with the Board, to develop a strategic approach to achieving the Museum’s mission and goals. The Executive Director will manage the institution and lead the Museum’s professional staff and programs. The position will serve as an ambassador and spokesperson for the Museum and the field of craft and design and strengthen ties with the region. Content Expertise • Lead the bold, sophisticated creative direction of MCD. • Maintain strong connections with the craft and design communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, nationally, and internationally. • Lead an outstanding and innovative exhibition program at the Museum, reaching and educating the broadest possible audience. Fundraising • Lead the institution in major fundraising, helping to identify individuals, grantors, and foundations; building and maintaining relationships; and stewarding existing and future patron connections. • Liaise and connect with the Board of Directors, donors, and other members of the community to increase and diversify charitable giving for, and awareness of, MCD. Organizational Leadership/Financial Acumen • Work with the Board to lead the vision, mission, and pillars. • Lead the institution in long-term planning to ensure strategic pillars, mission, and vision are effectively and successfully implemented. • Oversee current $2.6M budget; current $15M endowment/reserve funds. • Develop cross-department strategies with senior staff (Programs Manager, Finance Director, Marketing and Communications Director, Development Director, Curatorial Director, and Museum Store Manager) to implement organizational and program innovation, to support effective communication, coordination, and programmatic success. • Manage senior staff and provide day-to-day and long-term direction and guidance. • Be accessible to a combined staff of 16 (FTE, PTE) in a way that models collaboration, transparency, equitability, and respect to ensure staff members function well as a team. Candidate Profile While it is understood that no one candidate will bring every desired skill, characteristic, and experience, the following offers a reflection of the ideal candidate profile. Top candidates will possess five-to-ten years of progressively responsible experience in a museum or nonprofit arts institution; at least three-to-five years at a senior managerial level. Knowledge of crafts and design and museum management, advanced degree or equivalent understanding in Art History, Fine Arts, Education, Museum Studies, Nonprofit Management, Arts or Business Administration, or other related and allied fields. Our client is also interested in candidates who have demonstrated professional experience and a track record of accomplishment in the cultural sector. Personal qualities: integrity, dependability, collegiality, creativity, superb interpersonal skills, and high emotional intelligence. Demonstrated commitment to inclusion, equity, and diversity. The ability to lead all members of an organization with fairness, openness, humility, and empathy. Personal and professional drive, energy, persistence, resilience, and optimism. An ability to engage individuals and groups both within and outside of the organization through one’s personal style, humor, and warmth. Passionate for the Mission • Deep personal interest in craft and design with an appreciation for the evolving role of museums and an active voice as part of this conversation. • Knowledge of and commitment to art history and museums. Expertise in the principal functions of art museums and best practices in the field. • A high level of energy and enthusiasm for art and its role, purpose, and opportunities in today’s world, and a desire to engage the community with and through craft and design. Demonstrated commitment to and broad understanding of the creative process and its social and civic power. Strategic and Visionary Leadership • A collaborative leader who has been successful in setting an institutional creative direction in the nonprofit sector; working with a range of constituents to define and refine long-term institutional goals; and creating and executing new strategic plans. • Genuine and broad intellectual interests and openness to new ideas, thinking, perspectives, and experiences, with the ability to serve as an effective thought leader in weaving these concepts directly into the work of an institution. Committed to Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion • Ability to model and nurture a culture consistent with MCD’s core values of excellence, creativity, collaboration, inclusion, and equity. • Proven ethical values, integrity, confidence, and collaborative skills with a commitment to actively promoting a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. Ideally, the next Executive Director will have material prior experience in DEAI work. Authentic Spokesperson and Adept Relationship Builder • Superb and compelling communication skills, both oral and written, with the ability to build consensus among a diverse range of constituents. • Charismatic and inspired leadership and authentic relationship-building skills, with strong connections to local, national, and international craft and design communities. • Successful experience partnering with a Board of diverse professional backgrounds. Ability to build relationships, leverage group wisdom, and engage and inspire the Board. • A person energized and engaged by the opportunity for dialogue, conversation, and communication with others. Dedicated to reaching out to people and serving as an ambassador in the community and for the community itself. An Effective Fundraiser • Understanding of fundraising principles and strategy with experience building philanthropic relationships. Able to provide high-touch engagement with a range of constituents. • Adept at cultivating major gifts from individual donors and stewarding the institution’s most significant past and current donors while also cultivating potential supporters. Culture Champion and Staff Leader • Foster a positive working environment for the entire organization, enriching staff morale and advancing an atmosphere of teamwork and mutual support among all staff. • Encourage the engagement, growth, and achievement of others as an aspect of their leadership. Results-oriented with a collegial and collaborative working style. Excellent Operational and Financial Manager • Knowledge of and experience in the funding models and strategies of multifaceted cultural institutions, including private as well as public funding. • A strong record of accomplished executive management and robust fundraising experience, including financial and budget oversight, excellent organizational skills, and inspired, innovative creative planning with the perspective to consider the impact of decisions and make sound recommendations.
Compensation and Benefits Salary is competitive, and the final salary will reflect internal equity and the selected candidate’s individual experiences and qualifications. The compensation range for this role is $200,000-$250,000 with a benefits package including medical, 401k match, and PTO. The position is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the selected candidate will be expected to live in the area.
Contact Stephen Milbauer of Koya Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. Express interest in this role by filling out our https://apptrkr.com/4458756 or email Stephen directly at https://tinyurl.com/hcvb3mmf. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential. Koya Partners is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email https://tinyurl.com/2xf3f73n. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.
About Koya Partners Koya Partners, a part of 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. At Koya, we don’t just accept difference—we celebrate it, support it, and thrive on it for the benefit of our team, our clients, and the communities we serve. The Museum of Craft and Design is an equal opportunity employer committed to a diverse work environment. BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, veterans, and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. Learn more about how we can help you with your search on the https://diversifiedsearchgroup.com/our-brands/koya-partners/.
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