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Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Harriet Beecher Stowe  Center

Executive Director

Organization

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center (HBSC) is a unique museum and cultural destination that preserves and interprets Stowe’s Hartford home and historic collections, promotes vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspires commitment to social justice and positive change. Drawing on the broad scope of Stowe’s life (1811-1896) and work, HBSC engages in conversations about the legacy of racial and gender injustice in the United States.

Stowe published more than 30 books over her 51-year writing career, but it was her best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabinthat catapulted her to international celebrity and secured her place in history. HBSC encompasses the myriad factors that compelled Stowe to write this famous novel: her childhood, travels, marriage, family, and, perhaps greatest of all, her courage. Stowe moved into the Hartford home with her family in 1873 during the last years of her life and was neighbors with another noted author, Mark Twain, whose home is still next door.

In 1968, after extensive renovation, the Harriet Beecher Stowe House opened to the public as a museum. Between 2016 and 2017, the 1871 National Historic Landmark gothic home went through a major interior preservation. The preservation project included a new climate control system, state-of-the-art fire suppression, renovation of historic windows, and conservation of significant works of art. The interior was completely redecorated based on both physical and written evidence of Stowe’s decorating choices. In place since 1968, worn carpeting, wallpaper, and paint were replaced with new historically accurate finishes. Gallery spaces and multi-media elements were added to enhance the visitor experience. In addition to the Stowe House, HBSC includes grounds, a visitor center, and the Katharine Seymour Day House, named after Stowe’s grandniece who saved the property from demolition. Recent grant funding has supported the current renovation and modernization of the visitor center and the Day House. HBSC holds the largest collection of materials related to Stowe and includes more than 228,000 manuscripts, books, photographs, decorative arts, furniture, and visual media that illustrate the lives and times of Stowe and her family.

Innovative and interactive programs have been a hallmark of HBSC and continue the themes and ideas of Stowe’s life and writings in a range of program types and audience interests. The non-traditional house tours engage participants in the words, ideas, and documents that propelled the abolition of slavery. Salons at the Stowe House on current local or national interests have provided a lively space for conversation. The Stowe Prize, a nationally recognized book award launched in 2011, recognizes a distinguished book that illuminates a critical social justice issue in contemporary society in the United States. Past winners include Bryan Stevenson, Albert Woodfox, and Michelle Alexander. The 2021 winner was Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr.’s book Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own.

HBSC has a 16-member board of trustees led by Chair Dave Jenkins. For the fiscal year ending December 31, 2021, HBSC reported a total revenue of $646,655, with $565,051 from contributions and grants and $80,604 from program services. Total expenses were $1.4 million. Pre-COVID, HBSC’s annual operating budget was approximately $1.6 million, and the endowment is $19 million. There are 11 full-time and seven part-time staff members. The visitor center guide staff unionized in 2021, the first in the state, and is now represented by Local 220 UAW.

Community

Hartford is the capital city of Connecticut and is located on the native lands of the Mohegan, Pequot, and Niantic. The city has more than 17 diverse neighborhoods and its surrounding communities feature hundreds of parks and open spaces that offer residents, businesses, and tourists a variety of recreational activities. These include fields for organized sports, scenic pathways for bicyclists and pedestrians, swimming pools, boat launches, equestrian trails, golf courses, playscapes for children, historic gardens, and other healthy opportunities for social interaction. Pioneering landscape architect and Hartford native Frederick Law Olmsted was essential in the early planning of City of Hartford’s parks system.

Hartford is home to some of the largest corporations in the state such as The Hartford, Aetna, and The Travelers Companies. A thriving center for both business and education, there are prominent universities and colleges, including the University of Connecticut, Trinity College, and the University of Hartford. Artistic offerings include the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford Stage and Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. Centrally located between New York and Boston, Hartford is easily accessible via major highways and home to Bradley International Airport. Hartford is both a livable community and a tourist destination.

Sources: edited from ctvisit.com, nationalgeographic.com; portal.ct.gov; hartford.gov; britannica.com

Position Summary

The Executive Director (ED) will deeply commit to social justice and history, value community engagement, and lead with a clear sense of purpose and direction. As the face of the organization, the ED will continue to elevate HBSC as a nationally recognized cultural and educational resource. Reporting to the board of trustees, this individual will have day-to-day oversight of all operations while guiding a strategic vision to grow and strengthen the organization. They will ensure widely held museum and historic property best practices are followed in all areas of operation and collections care. The ED will maximize community partnerships and extend the reach of HBSC. This individual will work in partnership with the board to cultivate relationships and financial resources while educating and energizing the board in its role as fundraisers, policymakers, and community ambassadors. They will support and lead a diverse team, building a culture of teamwork, open communication, innovation, and commitment to the social justice work that is at the core of the HBSC’s mission.

Roles and Responsibilities

Strategic Visioning and Growth

  • Guide a comprehensive strategic planning process, working cooperatively with the board and staff to establish a strategic plan and business model that sets a clear vision for institutional growth, programming, and partnerships.
  • Ensure the development of innovative programming to catalyze social justice action and increase awareness of current issues and their historical contexts.
  • Support the successful completion of ongoing capital initiatives and leverage new projects to support strategic goals.
  • Extend HBSC’s reach and reputation while serving as a thought leader and champion for the fields of history, preservation, and social justice.
  • Leverage technology to broaden the organization’s reach using media to increase program audiences and drive recognition and participation.
  • Develop and implement marketing and communications programs to create a clear and consistent organizational identity and encourage understanding and enthusiasm for HBSC’s mission and goals.
  • Serve as primary institutional spokesperson, participating in local, regional, and national industry meetings and organizations.
  • Monitor and respond to external factors that may have an impact on HBSC success, including trends in the economic, health, and arts and culture arenas.
  • Embrace other strategic visioning and growth responsibilities as needed.

Revenue Enhancement and Community Engagement

  • Serve as a primary spokesperson and fundraising champion for the institution, working collaboratively with the board and staff to achieve operational and strategic revenue goals.
  • Develop, steward, and maintain appropriate and authentic relationships and strategic partnerships throughout the community to enhance the organization’s reputation, brand, relevancy, and standing locally, nationally, and internationally, in support of its mission, vision, and strategic goals.
  • Cultivate key donor relationships, facilitate public and private partnerships and collaborations, and expand fundraising activities to build sufficient resources for financial resilience.
  • Effectively represent HBSC and build authentic relationships with Hartford’s diverse communities.
  • Coordinate the activities of staff, board committees, and volunteers to ensure the success of institutional special events.
  • Use innovative approaches to significantly enhance HBSC’s impact and contribution to the community.
  • Embrace other revenue enhancement and community engagement responsibilities as needed.

Organizational Leadership and Administration

  • Oversee all day-to-day operations and programming, developing annual work plans and procedures to ensure fiscal and human resources are maximized.
  • Establish and achieve the highest standards for visitor experience and for mission alignment, fiscal, operational, and organizational stability.
  • Build alignment across all staff and operations to achieve strategic goals and support strategic direction.
  • Ensure the necessary organizational structure, policies, systems controls, and procedures are in place and regularly reviewed for sustainability.
  • Recruit, hire, and mentor a diverse staff, nurturing professional development and creating opportunities for training and growth.
  • Maintain a positive working relationship with staff union representatives and lead collective bargaining efforts in collaboration with the board and legal counsel.
  • Effectively mobilize and utilize volunteers in support of HBSC’s vision and its programs. 
  • Embrace other organizational leadership and administration responsibilities as needed.

Governance and Board Relations

  • Actively participate in board meetings and provide support to best utilize the board’s talents and resources.
  • Work closely with board members to develop a strategy that effectively mobilizes and utilizes volunteers in support of HBSC’s vision and achieve development goals.
  • Ensure the preparation and monitoring of monthly reporting of the annual budget, expense policies, and cash management; manage cash flow; and regularly present appropriate balance sheets, income statements, and other financial oversight tools for board review.
  • Partner with the board in prospect identification, cultivation, recruitment, and orientation of new board members.
  • Assist board committees in developing and implementing goals and objectives.
  • Embrace other governance and board relations responsibilities as needed.

Traits and Characteristics

The ED will be a versatile, broad-thinking, and resourceful leader who is open to new ideas and values collaboration with others. Committed to social justice and community engagement, this individual will be people-oriented and will appreciate others’ skills, experience, and input in formulating plans and achieving successful outcomes. A critical thinker who can analyze and solve problems, the ED will bring a balance of professional expertise, credibility, interpersonal skills, and commitment to internal and external stakeholder satisfaction. They will possess a strong capacity for self-management and the highest levels of personal accountability and integrity. Versatile and tenacious, this individual will be an intellectually curious, innovative, and harmonious professional with a proven track record of success.

Other key competencies include:

  • Leadership – The adeptness to organize and motivate others to accomplish goals while creating a sense of order, direction, and active participation among a variety of stakeholders.
  • Decision Making and Personal Accountability – The capacity to analyze all aspects of a situation to make consistently sound and timely decisions and to assume accountability for personal actions.
  • Planning and Organizing – The aptitude to set and prioritize relevant, realistic, and attainable goals and objectives; to anticipate effects, outcomes, and risks; and to manage resources according to set priorities.
  • Interpersonal Skills – The ability to build rapport, demonstrate a sincere interest in others, and effectively communicate and relate well to people.
  • Diplomacy – The commitment to demonstrate respect for others and to treat others fairly regardless of personal biases or beliefs.

Qualifications

A bachelor’s degree in history, literature, museum studies, or relevant field is required. A master’s degree is preferred. At least 10 years of related experience within a museum, historical, education or nonprofit, organization, with at least five years at a senior leadership level with supervision responsibilities, are essential. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are required. The selected candidate will be an innovator with a track record of success and committed to being an engaged community member. A demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice and experience developing and mentoring diverse staff and volunteer teams are necessary.

Compensation and Benefits

HBSC provides competitive compensation for an organization of its size, with a salary range between $125,000 and $145,000, and a standard benefits package that includes health insurance, paid time off, and paid holidays.

Applications and Inquiries

To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit artsconsulting.com/employment. For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity, please contact:

Wyona Lynch-McWhite, Senior Vice President or
Calida Jones, Vice President

292 Newbury Street, Suite 315
Boston, MA 02115-2801
Tel       (888) 234.4236 Ext. 225 (Ms. Lynch-McWhite) or 229 (Ms. Jones)
Email    HarrietBeecherStowe@ArtsConsulting.com

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is an Equal Opportunity Employer and actively seeks a diverse pool of candidates.

Click here for the downloadable PDF.

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