NEFA is committed to hiring individuals who reflect the diversity of the communities it serves, and is an equal opportunity employer. Unless otherwise noted, send resume and cover letter to jobs@nefa.org (with the job title in the subject line) or by mail to:

New England Foundation for the Arts
Attn: Jobs
145 Tremont Street, 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02111

No faxes, please.

executive director

NEFA is pleased to be working with Sandi Haynes, Executive Search Consultant. To inquire about the position and search timeline, please contact Sandi Haynes directly. Read the description below or download here.

NEFA seeks a visionary and entrepreneurial executive who will lead the organization into its next phase of growth.  Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will be responsible for NEFA’s philanthropic, programmatic, operational and fundraising activities.  She/He will manage a dedicated and creative program and administrative staff, facilitating the ongoing excellence of existing programs, while identifying exciting new opportunities in concert with the staff and Board.

The Executive Director will continue to capitalize on NEFA’s uniqueness as an organization with both strong regional and national initiatives, seeking opportunities to innovate at both levels, while carefully balancing the two.  In fact, the Executive Director will be expected to ensure clarity and cohesion in a grantmaking portfolio that spans the local to the global.

With funds that flow through the organization from both public (state and federal) and private (institution and individual) sources, NEFA’s Executive Director must be strategic and aggressive in pursuing new funding partnerships.  She/He must continue to reinforce NEFA’s profile as a field leader not only known for innovative programming, but also for finding new ways to bring resources to the arts field for greater impact.  

The Executive Director will serve as the lead spokesperson and public face of NEFA, representing the organization’s mission and purpose externally with colleagues and decision makers in the field.  She/He must bring to NEFA: a thoughtful understanding of how producing, presenting, and touring models are changing; knowledge of how artists are creating work today and how distinctions among artistic disciplines are blurring; a passion for uncovering the varied sources of new creative vitality in today’s cultural area; and a desire to help NEFA push the envelope in supporting today’s artists and arts organizations in exciting new ways.


It is critical that within the first year, the Executive Director do the following:

  • Thoroughly understand NEFA – its mission and values, history, role as a regional arts organization, culture, programs, funding, partners and key stakeholders, operations and potential – and ensure a sound and smooth transition of leadership;
  • Gain the confidence of the Board, building relationships that continue to bring forth their best efforts and talents.  Develop a strong working relationship with the Board Chair and the Executive Committee;
  • Lead and nurture a strong and committed professional staff and build relationships of trust and cooperation within the organization; maintain transparency and open channels of communication;
  • Evaluate the entire organizational structure.  Review current human, financial, and operating systems to ensure that both short- and long-term needs are being met as efficiently as possible;
  • Get to know the New England cultural region.  In partnership with NEFA’s six State Arts Agency leaders, spend time in each state learning about the particular needs, challenges and opportunities faced by each state’s arts community in order to determine how to better serve NEFA’s regional constituents; become familiar with the political and economic landscape of each state;
  • Assume leadership of NEFA’s fundraising strategies, immediately establishing personal relationships with key donors in order to facilitate renewal of major grants; identify opportunities to diversify and expand the organization’s donor base;
  • Strengthen and diversify the relationship between NEFA and the National Endowment for the Arts; seek opportunities for new partner initiatives and greater collaborations between NEFA and its largest public funder;
  • Build and nurture relationships with the five other regional arts councils seeking appropriate ways to collaborate;
  • Assess NEFA’s place in the local, regional, national, and global cultural and philanthropic firmaments. Work to ensure a healthy balance of the organization’s contribution to, and recognition within each.


Additionally, it is expected that the Executive Director will have on-going responsibility for:

Leadership, Vision & Planning

  • Bring clarity to the Foundation’s vision and core values so that both internal and external stakeholders can galvanize around unified priorities and goals;
  • Lead both discreet and ongoing strategic planning to guide the continued evolution of NEFA;
  • Conceptualize a sustainable long-term growth strategy that guides the development of new program initiatives, allowing NEFA to both respond to, and create, opportunities in the arts field;
  • Provide the overall framework for the design and delivery of NEFA’s grantmaking and programmatic initiatives.  Ensure that NEFA benefits from its unique regional/national model – teasing out lessons learned from the national programs that can enhance regional initiatives, and determining when and how to take regionally successful programs to scale nationally;
  • Regularly investigate opportunities to expand NEFA’s work in other arts arenas;
  • Ensure that all of NEFA’s programs have appropriately structured evaluation mechanisms;


  • Working with the Board and development staff, create, execute and regularly monitor an aggressive fundraising plan;
  • Establish personal relationships with NEFA’s lead donors to encourage ongoing support. Cultivate prospects to assure that NEFA’s funding base is robust and diverse;
  • Be attentive to both current and prospective funders in the local, regional, and national markets;

Management and Organizational Development

  • Facilitate the ongoing development and management of a highly-skilled professional staff.  Provide meaningful opportunities for staff development and exposure.  Review position descriptions and compensation structure as needed to keep pace with industry standards, and ensure staff retention and growth;
  • Continually assess NEFA’s infrastructure – its human resources, operations, facility management, financial systems, information technology systems, processes and procedures, and make necessary improvements for optimal efficiency;
  • With the support of NEFA’s financial staff and Board’s Treasurer, provide oversight of all financial operations including budgetary processes, audits, cash flow management and financial analysis. Ensure appropriate financial transparency, that sound financial structures are in place, and that reporting systems are accurate;

Governance and Board Relations

  • In partnership with the Board’s Chair and Nominating Committee, help to identify new Board members whose talents, interests and commitment will further NEFA’s mission and expand support;
  • Working with the Chair and Executive Committee, structure meetings, committees and retreats of the Board in accordance with the bylaws of the organization;
  • Support the Board Chair in encouraging all Board members to participate actively; facilitate Board involvement in activities important to the Foundation beyond the Board room, providing opportunities, education, site visits, access to policy makers outside Foundation meetings and the like;
  • Partnering with the Board, develop and monitor standards of performance and principles for the conduct of NEFA’s work; develop and implement benchmarks for assessing effectiveness of all NEFA activities;
  • Keep the Board advised of the activities and financial position of the organization; provide the Board sufficient and high-quality information for making sound policy decisions.  Act as a liaison between staff and Board;

Communications and Public Relations

  • Serve as a highly visible thought-leader in the philanthropic and arts fields, in general, and for NEFA, in particular.  Continue to position NEFA as a thoughtful convener, both regionally and nationally;
  • Work to increase knowledge of NEFA in its local environment, clearly conveying NEFA’s commitment to serving a diverse body of artists and arts organizations, and ensuring that current and potential partners and publics understand the scope and importance of NEFA’s work;
  • Working in partnership with the senior staff, create a broad communications framework for NEFA, with clear objectives and resource requirements;
  • Seek to increase the organization’s communications capacity, including the strategic use of publications, media-relations, and the proactive integration of technological strategies (social media, webinars, and other online learning tools);
  • Tighten and improve internal communications, to ensure that NEFA’s staff work in ways that are collaborative and not-siloed.


The Executive Director should have the following experience and qualifications:

  • An understanding of and demonstrated commitment to NEFA’s mission, programs, and grantmaking activities; a passion for advancing the development and sustainability of the cultural industry;
  • Proven ability to strategically lead and manage an entity of a scale, function, and complexity similar to that of NEFA;
  • Expertise in planning, organizational development, and team building;
  • Recognition as a thought leader in the arts and culture field, known for creativity and innovation; possessing a broad knowledge of the performing, visual, presenting, and/or touring arenas;
  • The proven success of having raised funds from a variety of sources, including accomplishments of cultivating and soliciting gifts from individuals, government entities, foundations and corporations;
  • Demonstrated experience as a thoughtful risk taker with a record of converting vision into working programs;
  • The ability to communicate effectively and openly, both verbally and in writing, with a broad range of individuals and organizations; knowledge of new media and how technology is used to advance an organization and its work; capacity for public leadership and vision as an organization representative;
  • Political savvy and comfort with broad-based constituencies including artists, activists, business and community leaders, and others of influence; the ability to generate awareness, excitement and appreciation that leads to buy-in from diverse stakeholders;
  • Experience in and/or significant understanding of nonprofit institutions, and developments and challenges in philanthropy considered a plus. 


The successful candidate should be:

  • Committed to and enthusiastic about the mission, goals and programs of NEFA;
  • A decisive and unifying leader who is confident, decisive and able to collaborate with staff and NEFA’s constituents;
  • A strategic and entrepreneurial thinker who is able to conceptualize and express ideas and anticipate and act on events which may create opportunities for NEFA;
  • Able to develop a sense of team spirit and common purpose; maintaining an environment where mutual respect, collegiality and diversity are valued;
  • A thoughtful, persuasive negotiator; open and responsive to the ideas of others; able to prioritize and balance competing interests, and build consensus from disparate viewpoints;
  • Politically sophisticated, able to navigate both Democrat and Republican circles at local, state, and national levels;
  • Unafraid of failing;
  • Outgoing, straightforward and self-possessed; one who shares information readily, listens as well as gives advice;
  • Charismatic and dynamic, with a gift for building and fostering relationships.