Association of Children's Museums
Title: Executive Director
Serving museum members in the United States and countries across the globe, the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) is an international nonprofit professional service organization representing and advocating for the children’s museum field. As one of the fastest growing cultural industries in the world, children’s museums have expanded exponentially in the past two decades. Currently, ACM serves over 400 total museums, businesses, educational organizations, and individuals in 50 states and 19 countries.
ACM is the world’s foremost professional society supporting and advocating on behalf of children’s museums, and those who work at and otherwise sustain them. With the vision of a world that honors all children and respects the diverse ways in which they learn and develop, ACM leverages the collective knowledge of children’s museums through convening, sharing, and dissemination. ACM is committed to serving all children and families by cultivating spaces that stimulate curiosity, motivate learning, and model empathy and justice.
Members are primarily children’s museums but also include other museums, businesses, educational organizations, and individuals. ACM is the world’s largest organization representing museums and professionals dedicated to early childhood play, the starting point in the continuum of lifelong learning. Regardless of size, all children’s museums function across four dimensions, as local destinations, educational laboratories, community resources, and advocates for children. ACM strengthens children’s museums to be essential community assets by: establishing standards for professional practice; convening InterActivity conferences; collecting research and best practices; and initiating national and international partnerships with opportunities for local collaboration. ACM and its member organizations work together to identify major issue areas in which children’s museums can and are making a difference in the lives of children and families, including health, multicultural awareness, access, and the importance of play. Advocating that children’s museums — which annually serve more than 31 million visitors — are a major force in the informal learning community is a priority for ACM and its members. The Association promotes the impact children’s museums have in preparing children for school, building 21st century skills, and nurturing a love for lifelong learning.
For more information about ACM, please visit www.childrensmuseums.org.
In the face of the challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in more than a year of operational disruption for its members, ACM has supported the children’s museum field in promoting public safety while providing much-needed safe and joyful spaces for families to learn through play. Leading the charge in transformative and inventive solutions through this unprecedented journey has been the greatest fulfillment of ACM’s mission to champion children’s museums worldwide. ACM is poised to benefit from a visionary, innovative, and forward-thinking Executive Director with a passion for children and their development to channel the collective strength of its membership to chart a course for the future.
Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director is responsible for the overall successful operation and performance of ACM, overseeing its $4.2 million annual budget and 11 professional staff.
The Executive Director will lead ACM toward its next chapter in partnership with the Board, guided by the Strategic Roadmap, and charged with the following goals:
- Advance the Field. Serve as a thought leader in the development of new initiatives and partnerships with other groups, agencies, and organizations to advance the field of children’s museums in alignment with ACM’s mission, vision, and goals, while engaging membership for input and direction.
- Build Partnerships. As chief connector, storyteller, and fundraiser for ACM, identify potential funding sources and partners, establish strategies to approach and cultivate new funders, and maintain existing funding relationships. Identify and seek opportunities for earned revenue that support ACM and provide desired products and services for all sizes and types of members. Ensure that ACM and its mission, programs, products, and services are consistently presented in strong and appropriate light to relevant stakeholders and that the Association is recognized nationally through well-conceived branding strategies.
- Lead the Team. Motivate and empower ACM staff and ensure the development of an organizational culture that is characterized by a commitment to quality, collaboration, transparency, and mutual respect.
- Activate the Board. Facilitate and support the Board of Directors by advising and informing board members of trends, needs, and opportunities for the field; interface between board members, association members and staff; ensure an environment that is conducive to creative and good governance and productive board work; advance opportunities to further diversify board membership.
- Champion Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access. Demonstrate a commitment to honoring, practicing, and promoting equity and inclusion by actively engaging ACM and its membership through initiatives and projects. Play an active role in building inclusive communities through programs such as Museums Mobilize and Museums for All, advocacy, and partnerships that reflect and celebrate diverse communities. Further ACM’s commitment and strategies to reach more diverse populations.
- Exercise Business Acumen. Develop and present the annual budget to the Board for approval and provide oversight of the organization’s resources so they stay within budget guidelines; provide oversight of personnel policies and procedures that conform to current laws and regulations; develop and maintain an effective organization with respect to structure, human resources, good management, and physical environment.
TRAITS AND CHARACTERISTICS DESIRED:
The next leader of ACM will bring energy and vision to the field. Preferred candidates will be strong relationship and facilitative coalition builders who can work at multiple levels with the ACM membership, board members, and partner organizations, providing leadership as appropriate and establishing a basis for trust and mutuality of expectations. The Executive Director should have the ability to service the current needs of the membership while also identifying trends and issues of significance to the field for the future; strategic thinking should be combined with solid, tactical, and pragmatic implementation.
The successful candidate must demonstrate an understanding of the importance of leveraging strengths from the capacities of the membership. Since much of the role is catalytic and facilitative in nature, it is particularly important that the successful candidate be able to earn the trust and respect of the membership as well as potential partners, constituents, supporters, and decision makers.
ACM seeks a person comfortable as a hands-on contributor, an enabler of others, and who excels in follow-through. The successful candidate should be a transparent, confident, and forward-thinking professional who enjoys exploring new ideas and thinking creatively. Exceptional written and oral communication and listening skills are important. The Executive Director must be highly self-motivated, organized and resourceful, skilled at setting priorities, and able to handle multiple tasks and functions simultaneously. The Executive Director should be a model of integrity and fairness and have high ethical standards. Above all, the Executive Director must embrace and champion the mission, values, and vision of ACM and demonstrate a commitment to children and the diverse ways in which they learn and develop. Optimism, humility, compassion, and a sense of fun are key attributes that will be valued.
ACM and its members are committed to honoring, practicing, and promoting equity and inclusion and assert their belief that children’s museums are unique community institutions where pursuing equity and inclusion is a best practice. As such, ACM seeks to build a diverse staff and membership. The successful candidate will articulate a strong commitment to and understanding of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Access, will possess a high level of cultural competence, and will work productively across lines of difference effectively incorporating DEIA into all aspects of their work.
CAREER PATH LEADING TO THIS POSITION:
The Executive Director will have at least eight to ten years of relevant, progressively responsible leadership experience that demonstrates the ability to innovate, think strategically, and facilitate collaborative decision making. A strong grasp of current issues in the children’s museum field and/or the early childhood development landscape is essential, as is the ability to champion on their behalf. Experience at a professional or trade association while helpful, is not required. The ideal candidate will be an exceptional relationship builder and communicator who has shown success in building and growing widespread support for an organization through collaborative efforts with partners, allies, and communities. Successful experience in organizational and financial management as well as strategic planning and internal and external relations is also important. Preferred candidates will have a range of well-developed skills that demonstrates the ability to conceptualize, plan, implement, administer, evaluate, and develop resources. Experience working with a board of directors of a nonprofit will be highly valued; experience serving on a board is a plus.
The annual salary range for this role is $150,000 to $175,000 plus benefits. Relocation assistance, if needed, is negotiable.
The Executive Director must be based in the Washington Metropolitan Area for regular in-person work at the ACM office in Arlington, VA with the expectation of eventual regular domestic travel and some international travel. Full-time remote work for the first six months of employment followed by a flexible hybrid schedule with potential for both in-person and telecommuting time will be considered.
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