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Executive Director

Executive Director
Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Job Description: 


SFFILM believes in film’s power to inspire, entertain, and change the world. We champion the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, the longest-running film festival in the Americas now in its 62nd year, SFFILM is a nonprofit organization that delivers year-round screenings and events to more than 70,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 12,000 students and teachers annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and creative development services.

Previously known as the San Francisco Film Society, the organization rebranded itself as SFFILM on the occasion of its 60th anniversary, as part of an effort to move towards a more inclusive future while continuing to represent and celebrate global film, creativity, storytelling, and innovation. At the same time, the organization formalized its year-round activities under four sub-brands: SFFILM Festival (the annual San Francisco International Film Festival), SFFILM Presents (year-round screenings and events), SFFILM Makers (artist development and filmmaker support programs), and SFFILM Education (youth programs, teaching media literacy, and film craft).


The next Executive Director will join SFFILM at a key point in its evolution and growth following a period of significant reorganization and expansion from a programming, fundraising, and operational perspective. These substantive changes, implemented as part of its last approved strategic plan, included a newly articulated mission and detailed approach that refocused the purpose and impact of the organization. 

With considerable leadership from its previous Executive Director and the Board of Directors, the organization’s financial health grew during that period through expansion of the Board and strong governance; effective corporate, foundation, and individual fundraising; timely program launches; and new marketing efforts. Changes in staff composition and organizational structure operated in parallel, providing a solid structure for future growth in less public-facing areas of the organization.

Internally, a critical and strategic priority for SFFILM is to ensure the stability and sustainability of the organization after its record growth. A new Executive Director will have the opportunity to leverage these successes and create an ambitious strategy of sustainability that further operationalizes and integrates its sub-brands (SFFILM Festival, SFFILM Presents, SFFILM Makers, and SFFILM Education), expands revenue streams, collaboratively leads the staff with an inclusive management style, and continues to engage its influential Board of Directors, stakeholders, and the extended filmmaking community.

Externally, the Executive Director will identify and lead efforts to capitalize on additional areas for growth in the years ahead. This includes bolstering SFFILM’s brand perception and raising its profile as a preeminent festival destination, a prestigious incubator for new cinema talent, an impactful arts education institution, and a year-round home for its community of film lovers. The Executive Director will serve as an enthusiastic advocate for SFFILM and help ensure its capacity to thrive in an evolving media landscape.


SFFILM seeks an Executive Director who has the fearless vision, the managerial acumen, and the operational expertise to advance and uphold its mission, goals, and values. In collaboration with an engaged Board of Directors and a high-performing staff, the Executive Director will lead the efforts to translate strategic initiatives into organizational construct and capabilities to drive growth and results. 

One of the key responsibilities will be cultivating and expanding a broader base of funding and managing its $8 million annual budget with fiscal discipline. As a team builder, the Executive Director will synchronize strategy with talent to boost superior performance, foster and implement innovative ways to improve the organizational culture with a commitment to teamwork, inclusion, communication, accountability, integrity, and excellence.


  • Provide strategic direction and oversight of SFFILM’s administrative, financial, operational, and programming activities.
  • Lead and manage a staff of 30 employees by instilling best nonprofit operating practices and policies; integrate operational plans and timelines for projects and workflows across departments; implement decision-making processes and clear communication channels. 
  • Work collaboratively with the Board of Directors to ensure strategic objectives are in line with its mission; establish and maintain relationships with each Board member to seek their ideas, talents, and resources while continuing to evolve the organization’s governance.
  • Ensure ongoing programmatic excellence by assessing the impact, efficacy, and sustainability of existing programs across all four brand pillars. Develop a comprehensive sustainability plan; establish priorities, processes, and resources for new program development within budget, timeframes, and capacity while maintaining alignment with the organization’s mission.
  • Maintain oversight of the organization’s finances to ensure they are managed with fiscal and fiduciary accountability; develop and direct the short-and long-term budget process; meet revenue goals; ensure it has the financial resources to realize its ambitions.
  • Implement a comprehensive revenue plan that progressively grows earned and contributory income. Support development efforts to build a strong cycle and pipeline management process that identifies, cultivates, solicits, and stewards philanthropic giving from individual, foundation, and corporate supporters. 
  • Build SFFILM’s brand through effective communications and media strategies to further elevate and position the organization’s profile locally and globally; maximize community presence to reach new audiences; forge new and strengthen existing relationships with institutional and industry partners. 
  • Support the Managing Director in upgrading human resources capacity to diversify, mentor, and retain highly qualified and committed staff; define opportunities for their professional training; support achievements and results-based performance; harness their ideas, talents, and spirit to deepen engagement and productivity.
  • Develop and promote a healthy and balanced internal structure using the guiding principles of inclusiveness, equity, and respect.
  • Serve as SFFILM’s chief ambassador committed to representing the organization, advocating for its work and values, and inspiring others to broaden support and opportunities for involvement.


  • Demonstrated experience at a senior leadership level in a cultural institution of comparably high quality, size, and reputation, is essential.
  • A proven track record of success as a visionary thinker and leader who effectively builds and implements strategies and solutions scaled to current and future capacity. 
  • Possess the ability to translate broad vision and plans into specific objectives oriented towards results.
  • Provide evidence of a participative management style that emphasizes collaboration and effective teamwork with diverse constituents. Prior experience leading and developing a Board of Directors is essential. 
  • A verifiable fundraising record of leading fund developments (in the millions of dollars annually) and financial savvy, including familiarity with nonprofit budgeting and financial reports, is necessary.
  • Experience and knowledge of the independent film industry and the wider media landscape, including new and emerging technologies, and trends around distribution, engagement, and outreach is preferred. Experience working with organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area is highly valued. 
  • An elevated understanding of how entrenched challenges and structural inequality affect organizational culture and sustainability is ideal; seeking ideas to resolve and dismantle them through internal and external approaches that provide opportunities for social dialogue in an open-minded environment is highly valued.
  • An accomplished convener with strong interpersonal skills, persuasive presentation, and public speaking skills is required.


  • A dynamic leader with intellectual acuity who understands the links between leadership, structure, talent, and culture and who manages with a high commitment to integrity, excellence, accountability, and transparency. 
  • A decisive but collaborative leader able to align, engage, and influence diverse constituents; make decisions with empathy, respect, and diplomacy; and who possesses the ability to instill a culture of autonomy and empowerment in the office environment.
  • A spirit of inquisitiveness and flexibility with the capacity to learn, self-evaluate, and adapt with the emotional maturity and confidence required to be successful. 
  • Demonstrate an interest in participating in the life of the organization at all levels.
  • Have a passion for film and the mission, vision, and values of the organization, including an appreciation for San Francisco’s vibrant filmmaking community and the vital role storytelling plays in a democratic world to positively impact society.


A competitive salary and comprehensive benefits package is offered, commensurate with experience and qualifications.


The deadline to apply is October 1, 2019. Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and 5 professional references to The cover letter and resume should contain detailed information about work experience, past successes, leadership experience, and qualifications. Questions should be sent to our executive search consultant at Please do not contact SFFILM’s offices; calls will not be accepted. 

SFFILM is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in San Francisco, CA and is an equal-opportunity employer. We proudly value diversity, equity, and inclusion in our external work and internal practices. The Search Committee seeks to develop a diverse candidate pool and welcomes nominations and applications from all qualified candidates regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, or national origin.