The Chicago Cultural Alliance (Alliance) seeks an Executive Director to lead a growing organization whose mission is to connect, promote, and support centers of cultural heritage, leading to stronger neighborhoods and a more inclusive and vibrant Chicago region.

There are more than forty cultural heritage organizations that are currently members of the Alliance.  Together, these organizations attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to their institutions and neighborhoods to learn about the past and contemporary stories of the people who make up the rich diversity of Chicago.  

The Chicago Cultural Alliance grew out of the Field Museum’s 1998 Cultural Connections program, which linked twenty culturally specific organizations together to develop a framework for collaboration.  Over the next decade, this program grew into the Chicago Cultural Alliance, which incorporated as a nonprofit and began full operations in 2008.

The Chicago Cultural Alliance currently has 42 core members — cultural heritage museums, cultural centers, and historical societies — along with more than 20 citywide partner organizations.  It has a staff of five (one shared with two other organizations through the ArtCore partnership), a dedicated Board, and an annual budget of approximately $500,000. The Alliance conducts several programs:  Activating Heritage is an annual symposium for its members; Conservation and Collections is an ongoing program of technical support for management of archives; World Dumpling Fest is an annual celebration of food, music, and diversity; Inherit Chicago is a month-long, intercultural, citywide festival that explores the cultural centers and heritage museums that make Chicago vibrant. In 2020, the Alliance will be working with its members on Since Suffrage, to celebrate current women activists from diverse communities as part the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote, and will be piloting a new program, Cultural Heritage Curriculum Incubator, to connect cultural institutions with public schools.  The Alliance also presents MOSAIC, its annual benefit, which is the Alliance’s largest fundraiser.

 The Alliance’s 2019 Strategic Plan identified the following goals for the next three years:

  1. Build and unify our network of cultural advocates and stakeholders.
  2. Advance racial and cultural equity within the Alliance and in the neighborhoods
  3. Invest in sustainable structures and support systems for the long-term health of the Alliance and its membership.
  4. Strengthen cultural heritage institutions in the region through strategic inter-generational engagement and capacity building.

General Description
The Executive Director must be a highly creative leader and skilled manager, entrepreneurial, and adept at strategically maximizing the limited human and financial resources of the Alliance to develop and implement programs that meet the needs of a wide range of member organizations, while sustaining the Alliance itself.  This professional must be committed to our mission of inspiring, empowering, and connecting people of diverse cultures and experiences.  They should be a strategic thinker with strong analytical skills.

  • The Executive Director is the key leader of the Alliance, working closely with its stakeholders to develop and implement a vision for the organization as it evolves. 
  • The Executive Director is the key manager of the Alliance, responsible for overseeing the administration, fundraising, programs and strategies of the organization. 
  • The Executive Director is a bridge-builder, creating an ever-stronger network of cultural heritage organizations and linkages for those organizations with government, business, and foundations.   

The position reports directly to the Board of Directors. 

ED Responsibilities

  • Manages and supports the Board of Directors to fulfill the organizational mission
  • Builds and engages the network of members and partner organizations
  • Raises money from individuals, foundations, corporations, government, and works to increase and diversify earned revenue
  • Oversees the Alliance’s programs and initiatives 
  • Serves as the Alliance’s principal spokesperson, communicating and advocating for the Alliance and its members 
  • Manages Alliance organizational finances and forecasting to ensure financial sustainability
  • Hires and manages staff in a manner consistent with the Alliance’s values and needs
  • Carries out other responsibilities as designated by the Alliance Board of Directors

The Ideal Candidate will have these qualifications

  • A passion for the arts and the many cultures of the Chicago region
  • Senior nonprofit management experience
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and high emotional intelligence with an ability to develop productive internal and external relationships and to work collaboratively
  • Experience with community and public engagement
  • Demonstrated experience working across diverse cultures
  • Experience executing large-scale public events  
  • Strong management abilities including planning, program development and hiring and supervising staff in a highly entrepreneurial environment.
  • Ability to effectively organize and coordinate multiple priorities and communicate in a timely manner
  • Demonstrated nonprofit financial management skills including developing a budget, statements, and cash flow projections, managing restricted funds, identifying and communicating risks, and developing and presenting board-level reports
  • Proven track record in fundraising 
  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Commitment to and comfort with directly engaging in issues of race and diversity with varied stakeholders
  • Conflict resolution experience and skills 
  • Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field.  MA preferred


This is a full-time exempt position with a salary up to $75,000, commensurate with experience.  Flexible scheduling may be negotiated. This position requires travel throughout the city and suburbs and may include some additional travel.  Applicants must be willing to work evenings and weekends. 

How to Apply

The Chicago Cultural Alliance is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome all qualified applicants.  

Please send your cover letter, resume, contact information, brief writing sample, and three professional references to [email protected] with “Executive Director” in the subject line. All application materials are due on or before Friday, April 3, 2020.  Finalists will be contacted in April.

Download the Job Description