Executive Director - Friends of the High Line


Friends of the High Line, a 501c3 non-profit, is seeking an Executive Director to build on its extraordinary success since its founding in 1999 by neighborhood residents Joshua David and Robert Hammond.

With a culture steeped in entrepreneurship and innovation and committed to the mission of preserving and maintaining the High Line's extraordinary public space, Friends of the High Line Board of Directors is seeking a leader to build and shape the enterprise with strength, clarity, vision, and imagination. The Board is in search of a leader who can expand on excellence: who can both maintain the momentum of the High Line's success and stretch the organization by bringing fresh ideas and direction. The successful candidate will provide strategic leadership and management direction to capitalize on the organization's strengths and its culture of innovation. He or she will also harness the human and financial resources of the organization to achieve FHL's goals and aspirations.

FHL's Executive Director must demonstrate a strong history of superior management skills in both staff and board relationships as well as a high level of social and emotional intelligence, creativity, a design sensibility, a strong level of ambition, and a clear record of getting things done.

Not even the founders could have predicted the High Line's success, whose whole far exceeds the sum of its parts. Enjoyed by more than 6 million visitors in 2014, the High Line is a thriving community resource; an urban respite as well as a venue for performances and art installations; an economic development engine; and an innovative design and adaptive reuse project. These descriptions, along with many others, only begin to capture the magical combination of elements that make the High Line the singular place that it is.

Now that almost the entire structure is opened to the public, the organization's work is focused on continuing its young tradition of innovation, inspiration, imagination, and sustained excellence.

This involves maintaining and operating the physical space at the highest levels of excellence, designing and constructing the final elements of the physical plan including the Spur, the 18th Street Plaza, 14th Street Passage, Chelsea Market Passage, and the Western Rail Yards, raising the essential private funding to help complete the High Line's construction and create an endowment for its future operations, and expanding and evolving programming in surprising, innovative, and relevant ways.

For more on the history of the High Line, kindly consult the website: www.thehighline.org

Friends of the High Line (FHL) Organization

FHL is the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation's non-profit partner working to ensure the park is maintained as a great public space for all New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy. The City of New York owns the High Line structure and Friends of the High Line manages the park pursuant to a license agreement. FHL has a highly committed staff of 80 full-time employees (150 in high season) and an annual operating budget of $11.5 million, in addition to capital construction and management and fundraising expenses. Virtually all of the park's annual operating budget is supported by philanthropic funding raised by Friends of the High Line. Every person working in the park in a High Line uniform is employed by FHL. The City of New York provides Parks Enforcement Patrol officers and utility services.

Friends of the High Line has raised more than $150 million in public and private funds to construct the first two sections of the High Line and is completing a $125 million campaign to fund the capital construction of the final elements of the High Line and to grow the park's endowment. The High Line has become one of New York City's top destinations and one of the most visited public parks per acre — one that has helped generate more than $2 billion in economic activity along Manhattan's West Side.


FHL's offices are located at its new maintenance and operations headquarters in the Diller – Von Furstenberg Building at 820 Washington Street located in the Meatpacking District.


The core of the Executive Director position is to protect and build on the High Line as a public-private partnership with the City of New York and to inspire High Line staff toward achieving exceptional standards of performance and, importantly, service to the community. He/she will be:

  • Responsible for the overall management and leadership of the organization's operations, finances, fundraising, and programs
  • Thoughtful about creative urban placemaking
  • Experienced at institution-building, able to expand and engage audiences
  • Proven at fundraising
  • Committed to being visible in the community, cultural and civic world
  • Experienced as a leader managing a large team
  • On the forefront of change on Manhattan's far west side.

Leadership and Vision:

Working closely with the Board of Directors to advance and refine FHL's strategic plan and programmatic expansion opportunities. Experience working directly for a Board is important.

Inspiring, influencing, and engaging a wide variety of stakeholders, both internally and externally. Active management of extremely talented High Line Staff is critical.

Evolving a compelling vision for the High Line that is grounded in its vision of access, community development, and innovative programming. Ability to develop, communicate, and implement a vision is critical.

Protecting High Line as a free, accessible public open space distinguished by extraordinary design that provides a surprising natural pathway through a dense urban environment. Ability to help lead the organization through complex issues, situations, and relationships is key.

 Fundraising, Governance, and Brand-Building:

Taking ownership with the head of development for attracting, and maintaining financial resources to support the organization's significant ambitions. Proven fundraising experience is important.

Developing and managing a deep and productive relationship with the FHL Board of Directors, working closely with them to maintain and build a strong, diverse and motivated Board and to further the organization's mission.

Providing vision for and leading the strategic rebranding of a communications strategy that aligns, both internally and externally, the priorities for the organization's next phase.

Positioning the High Line as a distinctive destination in New York for New Yorkers, tourists and frequent visitors and engaging the diverse communities that surround the High Line.

Building, maintaining, and seeking out partnerships that share the FHL's values and that support the mission, both public and private.

People and Program Management:

Providing strong and active leadership of a high-functioning and passionate team composed of the following departments: Planning & Design; Park Operations; Development; Administration & Finance; Public Programming, Education & Community Engagement; Art; and Food & Revenue.

Creating an institutional culture within the FHL organization that fosters passion for the mission and shared purpose and in which employees feel respected and are encouraged to innovate.

Effectively stewarding the financial assets and performance of the organization.

Overseeing and developing a robust array of unique cultural programming and exhibitions that are matchless around the city and the world.

Overseeing the build-out of the Spur, 18th Street Plaza and passages at 14th Street and Chelsea Market as well as other major capital initiatives.

Experience leading a similarly-sized team is important.

Communications and Public Relations:

Serving as the public voice and visible advocate of FHL to a broad number of constituencies — the city, neighboring communities, the media, potential partners, and donors.

Ensuring ongoing and meaningful communications with the Board, funders, and key stakeholders.

Experience with government relationships, public-private partnerships and complex external relationships is helpful.

Oversee organizational response to city issues, including City Parks Initiative and Parks Equity.


Should you wish to submit a nomination or application, please send an e-mail message with supporting materials to Marilyn Machlowitz- mm@machlowitz.com. No phone calls, please.