Located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) has been telling stories of freedom, identity, perseverance, and human dignity for more than 40 years. The mission of the NCSML is to inspire people from every background to connect to Czech and Slovak history and culture. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 2008, the NCSML received the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Today, the NCSML is more than just an ethnic museum. It is a place that celebrates life, encourages self-discovery, and asks what it means to be free.
The origins of the NCSML go back to 1974 when a group of second and third generation descendants of Czech immigrants founded the Czech Fine Arts Foundation. In 1992 the museum was officially recognized by the Congressional Record as the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. In 1995 a new 16,000-square-foot building was dedicated by three Presidents—Bill Clinton of the United States, Václav Havel of the Czech Republic, and Michal Kováč of Slovakia. Following a flood in 2008, the physical structure of the museum was moved 480 feet from its original site and elevated 11 feet, as part of the ‘Monumental Move.’ The expanded 50,000-square-foot facility opened its doors in July 2012, overlooking the Cedar River in the historic Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District.
The current museum includes 10,000 square feet of exhibition and gallery spaces, a 52-seat theater, a restored immigrant house, a museum gift shop, offices, classroom and program spaces, and a library that holds primary source materials and publications to support the mission of the museum. The museum’s overall collection contains more than 40,000 objects.
As part of its growing educational program, the NCSML offers customized on-site trips for pre-K to college students, resources for educators, opportunities for community education, and professional development. The NCSML’s Maňa: One Girl’s Story initiative is a comprehensive experience geared to elementary school students studying immigration. Another current initiative is 68.77.89, which teaches students grades 9 through 12 the true meaning of freedom as seen through the eyes of those who did not have it. A proposed Storybook Trail based on a book by Peter Sís will connect the Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District through a unique family-friendly attraction that incorporates public art, play space, and neighborhood history.
The NCSML’s powerful permanent exhibit Faces of Freedom: The Czech and Slovak Journey has attracted more than 100,000 visitors since its opening in September 2013. It includes unique artifacts in an immersive experience where visitors can step into a living room during World War II or into a replica of the steerage section of a steamer ship that brought immigrants to America. Visitors can see a Tatra secret police car, a communist watch tower, an authentic JAWA motorcycle, and an original Young Pioneers uniform. The exhibit also features glass, porcelain, traditional costumes (kroje), puppets, music, and other artifacts. Past exhibits have included Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau; Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection; Dale Chihuly Venetians, Immortal: Warhol’s Last Works; and Samizdat: The Czech Art of Resistance. The NCSML has created several travelling exhibits as well, including The Tragedy of Slovak Jews; Voices of Vision; and Witness to the Revolution.
Deeply committed to the preservation of its cultural roots and heritage, the NCSML is exploring ways to contribute to the dialogue on contemporary issues. These include the strengthening of civil society, democratic principles, and human rights, all of which have shaped the Czech and Slovak experience and are representative of individual contributions of all who came to America in search of a better life to escape political or economic limitations. The museum’s strategic plan for 2015-2020 set forth goals in five priority areas: celebrating Czech and Slovak history and culture, connecting to stories of freedom and human dignity, becoming embedded in the Cedar Rapids community, engaging families, and enhancing operational and business performance.
Governed by a 21-member board of trustees, the NCSML has an annual operating budget of approximately $2.5 million and a staff of 21 full-time and 10 part-time employees. As of December 2017, the NCSML had an endowment of $12.3 million.
Situated on both banks of the Cedar River, Cedar Rapids is the second largest city in Iowa and has grown from a tiny village of a few hundred people in the 1840s to a major Midwestern city dedicated to industrial and cultural innovation. The Cedar Rapids metropolitan area has a population of approximately 270,000 residents. The city is recognized as one end of the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor, which is home to half a million residents and The University of Iowa. Cedar Rapids is building a national reputation as a leading collaborative and imaginative hub in the areas of technology, renewable energy, arts and culture, and educational services.
Ranked as one of Livablity’s 10 Best Affordable Places to Live, Cedar Rapids offers a highly desirable lifestyle, with a median home price that is 13 percent below the national average. The area offers proximity to the amenities of a larger city while still living a smaller community. With a cost of living below the national average, residents have the freedom to enjoy life outside of the office—earning Cedar Rapids the nickname “City of Five Seasons.” The fifth season represents the time to enjoy the other four seasons.
Cedar Rapids’ economic progress is growing at a steady pace. It is the largest corn-processing city in the world and the second largest producer of wind energy in the United States. The city is home to nearly 300 different manufacturing plants and two dozen Fortune 500 companies, including Rockwell Collins, Transamerica, Whirlpool, and Quaker Oats. Core central districts, like the MedQuarter Regional Medical District, Downtown District, and Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District, are thriving. Easy travel enhances Cedar Rapids’ growing business landscape, with Eastern Iowa Airport operating more than 60 flights per day. Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Kansas City are all only a short drive away. The University of Iowa is one of the largest employers in the area. The Cedar Rapids metropolitan area is home to three four-year colleges: Coe College, Cornell College, Mount Mercy University, and Kirkwood Community College. The local public school system offers strong community partnerships and the area features several highly rated private schools as well.
There is an exciting energy surging through the community as venues grow, unique restaurants and arts facilities open, and neighborhoods are renewed. Cedar Rapids boasts a rich cultural heritage, made evident by the historic architecture and numerous cultural venues, including the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, African American Museum of Iowa, Paramount Theatre, and Theatre Cedar Rapids. The city is also home to the Mother Mosque of America, the longest standing Muslim mosque in North America, dedicated in 1934. Diverse dining options are blossoming, including the NewBo City Market, where vendors sell art and homegrown food from a renovated warehouse surrounded by outdoor spaces for entertainment. The new Veterans Memorial Stadium is home to the Cedar Rapids Kernels, a Class A Minor League Baseball team affiliated with the Minnesota Twins.
This midsized city has more recreational space than most big cities. With 74 parks, four golf courses, six public swimming pools, and dozens of public trails, Cedar Rapids has its share of scenic green spaces. The 200-acre Indian Creek Nature Center aims to preserve and protect natural wildlife and plant habitats. Visitors can also explore trails through prairies, wetlands, and woodlands, as well as check out special displays and exhibits. Sources: usnews.com; gocedarrapids.com; zillow.com; cedarrapids.org; city-data.com
The President & CEO will serve as the NCSML’s chief advocate and ambassador, responsible for maintaining and growing a local, national, and international network of supporters, donors, and partners to advance the museum’s reputation and goals. Reporting to the board of trustees, the President & CEO will provide leadership and vision to introduce the universal human experience and aspirations of Czechs and Slovaks to a wider and generationally diverse audience in contemporary ways. Simultaneously, this individual will preserve the museum’s core identity and cultural relevance. Balancing the dual role of a national museum with a deep community engagement in Cedar Rapids, the President & CEO will be instrumental in shaping the dialogue on the organization’s strategic development in response to the evolving role of museums in today’s society.
The President & CEO will provide direction and assistance to the board in carrying out its governance functions. This individual will assume overall responsibility for managing the NCSML’s human and financial resources as well as facilitating all aspects of its strategic planning, programming, community outreach, and operations. Significant national and international travel will be required to develop and enhance relationships with Czech and Slovak Americans, embassy officials, and key stakeholders in both the Czech and Slovak Republics.
The next NCSML President & CEO will be a resilient leader and visionary. Inspired by the Czech and Slovak experience, this individual will be excited by the opportunities to broaden the museum’s audiences, generational reach, and network of partners with shared values of the American experience, while staying true to the NCSML’s core mission. The President & CEO will be an exceptional relationship builder and self-starter, with natural political savvy, eloquence, and a genuine ability to connect with a wide range of constituents. These include community volunteers, K through 12 students, movers and shakers in the business community, donors, ambassadors, and high-level supporters. An approachable, innovative, and hands-on manager, this individual will respect the past but will not feel constrained by it. The President & CEO will be forward-looking and entrepreneurial, with keen business acumen and strong people skills to deliver results through patience, perseverance, and team building. The selected individual will bring energy, passion, integrity, and a big-picture mindset.
Other key competencies include:
A bachelor’s degree (master’s degree in a related area preferred) plus a minimum of seven to 10 years of progressively responsible senior management experience are required. Museum background and/or experience in an organization with a national or international scope is advantageous. Demonstrated understanding and ability to build a strong fundraising and stewardship program, including endowment development, are required. Candidates should possess a command of running a nonprofit organization, including financial management, staff development, operations, and community outreach. Candidates should also demonstrate outstanding presentation, communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills. A genuine interest in and familiarity with Czech and Slovak history, culture, and current affairs are preferred in order to establish rapport and effectively engage with key NCSML donors, supporters, and advocates.
The NCSML provides a standard benefits package, including health insurance, paid time off, and holidays, and competitive compensation for an organization its size.
Please submit a letter and resume (electronic submissions preferred) with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments to:
Ms. Jenna Deja, Vice President
201 West Lake Street, Suite 133
Chicago, IL 60606-1803
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 227
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
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