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Mainframe Studios

Executive Director


As the largest nonprofit art studio building in the nation, Mainframe Studios is a financially self-sustaining nonprofit providing affordable workspaces to advance equity and opportunities in the arts. The organization envisions a dynamic arts ecosystem in Iowa that elevates artists and cultivates leading-edge creative production.

Mainframe Studios began in earnest in 2014, with the purchase of a vacant 160,000-square-feet former telecommunications facility in downtown Des Moines, IA. Its first floor of studios opened in 2017 and the final floor of studios was completed in December 2022. Today, Mainframe Studios features 180 modern, non-residential studios serving more than 200 artists, creators, and cultural workers. The facility offers 4,650 square feet of events venue, public exhibition areas, a conference room, and a commercial kitchen. The nonprofit operates at nearly 100% occupancy and maintains a consistent waitlist of artist applications. Mainframe Studios is an active hub of creative cultural exchange and entrepreneurial development, attracting over 8,000 monthly users who engage through themed First Friday open studio events, artist-led workshops, arts patronage, school tours, visiting artists, weddings, academic engagements and more. Mainframe Studios is at the forefront of developing a local arts ecosystem and a new form of cultural institution that is ambitious, inclusive, collaborative, and inspiring.

Mainframe Studios has a seven-member Board of Directors led by President and Founder, Justin Mandelbaum. The organization has nearly completed its capital campaign, having successfully raised $15M. For the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2022, Mainframe Studios reported $1.1M revenues from operations, with a net operating income of $220k.


State capital, business hub, and Midwestern gem, Greater Des Moines is a city that seamlessly combines the best of urban energy and Midwestern charm. Boasting a thriving job market, abundant cultural offerings, and a high quality of life, Des Moines stands as an exceptional destination for talented professionals seeking both career growth and a balanced lifestyle. Greater Des Moines has been nationally recognized as a top place to live and work by publications such as Forbes and U.S. News & World Report. The city is the fastest growing major metro in the Midwest, ranks third in the nation for working parents and first for young families, and is known for its safe neighborhoods and welcoming community. At the heart of Des Moines lies an impressive job market that spans a diverse range of industries. From finance and insurance to technology and healthcare, the city is a hub of opportunity. Numerous Fortune 500 companies are headquartered or have large presences here, including Principal Financial Group, Wells Fargo. and DotDash Meredith, offering job seekers unparalleled prospects for advancement and innovation. Additionally, Des Moines fosters an entrepreneurial spirit, with a supportive ecosystem for startups and small businesses, making it an ideal environment for those looking to make their mark.

What truly sets Des Moines apart is its exceptional quality of life and offerings of a vibrant revitalized downtown and an enriching cultural scene. The city embraces the arts with its numerous theaters, art galleries, and music venues, ensuring a constant flow of captivating performances and exhibitions. Culture enthusiasts will find themselves immersed in a dynamic world of creativity and expression from the Des Moines Art Center to the Lauridsen Skatepark. Other notable institutions include the Des Moines Performing Arts, Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines Metro Opera, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Blank Park Zoo, the World Food Prize, the Des Moines Symphony and Ballet Des Moines. As the optimism continues, the region’s creative boosters are helping to create culture by marketing Des Moines as an affordable option for creative and artistic entrepreneurs. It is home to a wide diversity of signature events, including the Des Moines Arts Festival, the Iowa State Fair, the Latino Heritage Festival, and the Iowa caucuses.

The city features an eclectic culinary scene with one of the largest farmers markets in the country and farm-to-table restaurants and local breweries, with many establishments employing chefs from the Iowa Culinary Institute. Initiatives such as the Community Foundation and Bravo Greater Des Moines are prominent examples of visionary partnerships and approaches to investing in the arts.Residents can also enjoy a multitude of outdoor recreational opportunities. The Principal Riverwalk includes landscaped public spaces, world-class public art, and unique pedestrian bridges and pathways that connect more than 800 miles of trails throughout the region. The 4.4-acre John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines features $40 million of artwork from some of the world’s most celebrated artists.


Position Summary

The Executive Director will be a visionary arts leader, guiding Mainframe Studio’s advancement as it embarks on a new era of its development. They will have a deep understanding that the success of artists and the local creative economy is directly connected to Mainframe’s success. The Executive Director will further advance Mainframe Studios’ advocacy of the creative sector and community engagement. This individual will establish and nurture relationships with a vast array of constituents including Mainframe Studios' Board of Directors, staff, tenants, donors, cultural partners, neighbors, elected officials, local and state agencies, journalists, business owners, event sponsors and others. The Executive Director will be responsible for ensuring the success of the organization’s financial, operations, marketing, administration, programmatic, and diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) strategies.

Roles and Responsibilities

Strategic Planning and Organizational Leadership

  • Provide a strategic vision and develop goals and objectives consistent with the mission of the organization, and foster a culture of collaboration, opportunity, trust, and transparency.
  • Serve as a committed, collaborative, and accessible leader for Mainframe Studios with a true connection to the organization’s tenants, Board, and staff (Property Manager and Program Manager).
  • Embrace the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access to ensure an artistic and organizational culture that respects different perspectives and nurtures an environment of goodwill, inclusion, and empowerment at all levels through the consistent practice of integrity, respect, and active listening.
  • Inspire and engage stakeholders to support Mainframe Studios as the chief spokesperson and ambassador for the organization.

Board Governance

  • Collaborate extensively with the Board of Directors and its committees to deeply engage with and fulfill Mainframe Studios’ mission and vision.
  • Cultivate a strong and transparent relationship with the Board, keeping members apprised of organizational health by providing timely and accurate information, enabling the Board to make informed decisions.
  • Develop and communicate board agendas and minutes that engage Board members in meaningful discussions around important strategic fiscal issues.

Fundraising and Earned Revenue Enhancement

  • Create and launch innovative strategies to maximize earned revenue.
  • Maintain and grow authentic and productive relationships with corporate sponsors, government grant resources, and other funders.
  • Attend cultural events and engage with donors and other stakeholders to build visibility for the organization.
  • Oversee the organization’s pursuit of grants on a targeted basis.

Fiscal Management and Facility Operations

  • Develop and present an annual budget for Board approval.
  • Manage all funds, ensuring consistency with Mainframe Studios’ accounting methods and alignment with fiscal policies and procedures.
  • Direct the studio rental and selection process to realize the organization’s revenue-generating potential and programmatic integrity.
  • Manage venue rental strategies and relationships with related third-party vendors.
  • Provide management oversight of building appearance, operations, security, maintenance, and related personnel.
  • Recognize the human resource capacities of the organization, balancing ambition and mission delivery with quality offerings, sustainable workloads, and a healthy environment.

Tenant Relations

  • Establish working relationships with tenants, including, but not limited to, artists, creative entrepreneurs, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations.
  • Serve as an advocate of tenants, understanding tenants’ creative practice and representing their best interests in all internal and external activities.
  • Oversee tenant policies and procedures, code of conduct, and leasing matters.

Program Development and Advocacy

  • Cultivate relationships with tenants and community stakeholders to support programming that is collaborative, contemporary, transformational, and relevant.
  • Direct the planning and implementation of monthly First Friday open studio events and additional annual studio open houses.
  • Enhance the development of special events, tours, etc. with community partners that feature Mainframe Studios and engage with its tenants.
  • Represent Mainframe Studios as an active and visible presence in the Des Moines community and the national arts and culture community.

Marketing and Communications

  • Develop and safeguard the organization’s voice and brand clearly and consistently, reflecting its mission, vision, and values.
  • Provide management oversight of all external communication materials including website, marketing materials, and social media content.
  • Effectively lead public relations initiatives regarding the organization’s developments, achievements, and events.
  • Direct branding aesthetics with a sensibility in contemporary design.

Traits and Characteristics

The Mainframe Studios Executive Director will be dynamic, innovative, and experienced leader who understands the impact creatives have on a community’s economic prosperity and social well-being. This individual will have a superlative business sense and a strong financial acumen. The Executive Director will have proven skills in interpersonal relations, strategic thinking, and the ability to maintain attention to detail while keeping the big-picture perspective front and center. They will bring a balance of professional expertise, credibility, and interpersonal skills, along with the solid capacity to define and navigate roles and responsibilities as they relate to staff, tenants and collaborators. This self-starting, resilient leader will be a strong decision maker who will engage others and strategically position staff and board members for success, collaborating with and elevating constituents without compromising the integrity or mission of the organization.

Other key competencies of this role include:

  • Diplomacy – The capacity to recognize multiple perspectives, demonstrate sincere interest in divergent voices and opinions, and tactfully address complex or challenging issues with respect and sensitivity.
  • Personal Accountability – The capacity to accept responsibility for one’s own actions and results, apply feedback in self-evaluation, and envision new possibilities in personal performance.
  • Creativity – The propensity to create new approaches, designs, processes, technologies, and/or systems to achieve desired results.
  • Time and Priority Management – The clarity to prioritize and complete tasks in order to deliver desired outcomes within allotted time frames.


The ideal candidate will have proven success in executive leadership and arts administration. Experience with and knowledge of the current arts production ecosystem, creative entrepreneurial landscape, and visual arts industries is required. Demonstrated success advancing diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) strategies is essential. The successful candidate will have expert operational and fundraising acumen. Qualified applicants will have expertise in nonprofit accounting practices, budgeting, financial operations, and reporting. Excellent written communication and public speaking skills and technological fluency are required.

Compensation and Benefits

Mainframe Studios offers a salary range of $90,000 to $100,000 and a competitive benefits package, including medical and dental insurance, 401(K) with employer match, long-term disability insurance, and a generous offering of holidays and paid time off.

Applications and Inquiries

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

Jenna Deja, Vice President
Arts Consulting Group 25th Anniversary
201 West Lake Street, Suite 133
Chicago, IL 60606-1803
Tel       (888) 234.4236 Ext. 227

Click here for the downloadable PDF.

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