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President and Chief Executive Officer

President and Chief Executive Officer
Job Description: 

California Humanities seeks an inspiring Chief Executive Officer with the curiosity, imagination and energy to help define the organization’s next chapter, and lead its work to greater impact. While embracing the richness of the more traditionally-defined humanities disciplines, the position allows the CEO to stretch and envision the humanities as fertile ground for bold thinking, for new ideas, and essential for helping individuals and groups navigate challenge and change. The CEO should bring a thoughtful willingness to:

  • Advance a humanities-driven approach to addressing a broad array of urgent societal issues, such as public health, social justice, civic engagement and climate change;
  • Explore how issues of power, equity and diversity overlap with California Humanities’ giving policies and practices;
  • See support of the humanities as essential to giving voice to the incredible communities and diverse cultural traditions in each distinct region across the entire state.

Such exploration is already reflected in California Humanities’ creative range of funding initiatives and public programs. In fact, a primary strength of the organization lies in its ability to respond to contemporary issues with deep engagement. However, California Humanities now seeks a leader with the strategic ability to push the work further – evolving the vision and programs into an organization even better prepared to embody its values and to meet this critical societal moment.

The organization currently has a budget of $4.5 million, a staff of ten, and a passionate board of cultural leaders from across the state. With an expansive view of California – its people, places and promise -- the CEO will represent California Humanities in every region across the state, and beyond, giving voice to the organization’s purpose, encouraging partnerships and collaborations that advance the organization’s mission, and ensuring California Humanities is seen as an important resource for all.

It is important that within the first year, the Chief Executive Officer:

  • Work to thoroughly understand California Humanities – its mission and values, history, culture, programs, operations, partners, stakeholders and potential;
  • Gain the confidence of the Board and staff, forging relationships of trust and cooperation that continue to bring forth their best efforts and talents;
  • Assess California Humanities’ structure – ensuring that staff are well-positioned, operations are efficient, and programs are focused, relevant and mission-aligned;
  • Thoroughly understand the structure, policies and requirements of the National Endowment for the Humanities – California Humanities' largest funder – advancing key relationships. Prepare for, and oversee the NEH’s 5-year assessment, scheduled for October 2023;
  • Cultivate solid relationships with elected officials at the local, state and national levels, prioritizing efforts to sustain the support of California senate and assembly members;
  • Maintain a strong presence in Washington, DC at the annual Humanities on the Hill;
  • With a commitment to regional equity and a keen listening ear, proactively engage key partners across the state – humanities practitioners, artists, community leaders and others – learning about their needs, interests, and ideas on how to advance California Humanities’ work;
  • Become active in the Federation of State Humanities Councils, the national membership organization of state councils; and
  • Operationalize California Humanities’ equity values statement (found under “Equity at the Heart of Humanities” at Lead and advance the deep institution-wide exploration currently underway on what cultural and racial equity mean both for California Humanities’ internal culture (staff, board, policies, and operations), and also as a lens for its external work (grantmaking, programs, communications, and advocacy).