Managing Director – Arts & Culture Program

Executive Summary

The Kresge Foundation - a national foundation dedicated to creating opportunity for low income people in America’s cities through grant making and social investment - is seeking applications and nominations for the position of Managing Director, Arts and Culture Program. Building on the Foundation’s belief that arts and culture contribute to positive community change and are essential elements of communities where all people can thrive, Kresge’s Arts and Culture program focuses on creative placemaking, a comprehensive community development approach that deliberately integrates arts and culture in revitalization strategies for equitably rebuilding and reinvigorating low-income metropolitan areas. Issues addressed through creative placemaking include land use, housing, transportation, economic development, environment, health and civic engagement.

The Managing Director will lead the design and implementation of programs in support of the Arts and Culture strategic framework with emphasis on the role Arts and Culture can play as an important contributor in creating vibrant, equitable communities. In 2014, the Foundation awarded nearly $22 million in grants through the Arts and Culture Program with a significant portion in collaborative grantmaking with other institutions and government offices throughout the United States.

The Managing Director will work with leaders both within and outside of the Kresge Foundation to advance the organization’s vision and to develop programs and systems to realize established goals. S/he will be a seasoned and strategic professional who will collaborate with Kresge leadership and the Arts and Culture Program team to identify areas for creative impact, evaluate grant inquires, monitor awarded grants and develop and track the program budget.

The successful candidate will leverage experience and demonstrate insight in contributing to the development of program goals, will be an outstanding relationship builder with a deep appreciation for the challenges of impoverished communities in America, and will possess exceptional management skills to guide and mentor a professional team. S/he will have at least 10 years of progressive experience and a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field; a master’s degree or higher is preferred.

The Kresge Foundation has retained the assistance of Katherine Jacobs and Mira Kline of the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group (NPAG) in this effort. Instructions on how to submit nominations and applications can be found at the end of this document.

About The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2014, the Board of Trustees approved 408 awards totaling $242.5 million. That included a $100 million award to the Foundation for Detroit’s Future, a fund created to soften the impact of the city’s bankruptcy on pensioners and safeguard cultural assets at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A total of $138.1 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year. In addition, our Social Investment Practice made commitments totaling $20.4 million in 2014. For more information, visit

The Arts and Culture Strategic Framework

In 2013, the Arts and Culture Program launched a new vision for creative programming in low-income, urban communities that brings together art, culture, design, urban planning and community development to offer social, cultural, physical and economic benefits. Often through collaborative investments with external partners and other Kresge programs, the Arts and Culture Program is committed to identify and support:

(a) Pioneering new approaches: Strategic projects to test and strengthen the systemic integration of arts and culture into local and national systems that can enable creative placemaking and contribute to expansion of opportunities in low-income neighborhoods. Examples of grantees that are testing the systemic integration of arts and culture include municipal planning agencies, a public housing authority, a local social service network, community institutions and a national transportation planning entity.

(b) Harvesting leading practices: Exemplary, established on-the-ground creative placemaking initiatives in dis-invested areas that build on a community’s cultural assets and rely on the contributions of artists, designers, cultural tradition bearers and deep community engagement. Grantees include various types of organizations such as community development corporations, local arts organizations, and hybrid entities that are involved in the arts and various dimensions of community revitalization. We believe that the experience of such initiatives, when harvested, can be instructive for others interested in comprehensive place-based strategies to address urban inequality.

(c) Advancing proven methods: Promoting the wide adoption and adaptation of tested creative placemaking practices through influential national community development-related and equity-focused networks. Grantees in this portfolio actively seek to create foundational tools—policy frameworks, creative placemaking guides, forums for practitioner exchange and other resources intended to facilitate sustained integration of creative placemaking principles and practices among key players in their immediate networks and beyond.

The Kresge Arts and Culture team, together with other key partners, is leading a national movement to encourage capital investments in efforts that bridge culture and the arts with economic development and environmental and health impacts, among other social concerns. For example, Kresge’s collaboration with ArtPlace America, a 10-year collaboration among foundations, federal agencies and financial institutions, has been a signature component of its Arts and Culture Program. ArtPlace remains a key partner in advancing creative placemaking nationally as it seeks to position arts as a core component of community planning and development. Through ArtPlace and other initiatives, Kresge works in partnership with national funders, state agencies, and local entities to build stronger communities through integrative, cross-sector approaches with a particular focus on urban, underserved populations.

Managing Director, Arts and Culture

The Managing Director will have the extraordinary opportunity and responsibility to contribute to the development and execution of the Foundation’s Arts and Culture program strategy in partnership with Foundation leadership, program staff, and other key partners. The ideal candidate will bring to the Foundation strong understanding of the current challenges and opportunities facing urban and low-income communities. S/he will also have experience working at the intersection of urban planning and design, community development, community engagement, and arts and culture. S/he will expand upon and implement the Program’s strategic framework for integrating arts within community development. S/he will be passionate about arts and culture, cross-sectoral work and the expansion of opportunities in low-income communities. S/he will be active in identifying mechanisms for urban revitalization and opportunities for cross-sector engagement. S/he will bring leadership, wisdom, and humility to the task of setting the strategic direction of the Arts and Culture Program and managing a large portfolio of grants, partners and programming consistent with the program’s strategic framework. This is a full-time position reporting to the Vice President, Chief Program and Strategy Officer and located in Troy, Michigan, a metropolitan Detroit community.

Responsibilities and Opportunities

Job responsibilities and opportunities for the Managing Director will include:

Working in close partnership with senior leadership and program staff to set the strategic direction for the Arts and Culture portfolio and develop, implement and assess program initiatives. Specifically, the Managing Director will:

  • Articulate and build programming around the Foundation’s unique role in integrating arts and culture into community development
  • Identify and pursue opportunities for collaboration across Kresge program teams in expanding opportunities in low income urban settings
  • Identify and assess outcomes and evaluation criteria for grants within the Arts and Culture program
  • Engage senior leadership, board members and other staff in program development while directly supervising 5 program staff

Managing and stewarding relationships with active grantees and identifying new opportunities for partnership. Specifically the Managing Director will:

  • Oversee a portfolio of grants through clear and consistent communications, site visits and high quality interactions with potential and existing grantees
  • Identify and cultivate relationships with partner organizations, potential partners and grantees to drive programming that contributes to the Art and Culture Program’s desired impact
  • Represent the Arts and Culture Program externally among community partners, grantees, the media and other critical stakeholder audiences
  • Manage appropriate level of documentation and reporting to ensure legal and programmatic compliance

Positioning the Kresge Foundation as a leader in the national conversation on designing dynamic and resilient communities that harness arts and culture to positively impact social and economic well-being. Specifically the Managing Director will:

  • Be a thought leader nationally in the discussion about Creative Placemaking and strategies for bringing together uncommon partners in a new vision for the role of Arts and Culture in underprivileged urban areas.
  • Serve as a nationally recognized expert on issues of importance in Creative Placemaking offering technical assistance and organizing and speaking at relevant convenings
  • Document and disseminate knowledge about promising practices and innovative ways to support the work, build partnerships, and implement initiatives
  • Leverage consultants for additional research and to enhance and disseminate learning and program outcomes

Qualities of the Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for this position will have many of the following desired qualities and attributes:

Professional Experience & Education

  • Demonstrated leadership skills and at least 10 years of professional experience working in a field relevant to Creative Placemaking
  • Ability to master a diverse and demanding workload; and to manage projects successfully
  • Strong experience leading or working in partnership with organizations that have actively contributed to community development
  • Proven management skills including the ability to recruit, retain, manage and develop a highly skilled professional staff
  • Experience working effectively in a variety of professional settings with diverse groups of people who may have divergent interests
  • Prior program and project management experience is essential.
  • Bachelor’s Degree required, Master’s Degree preferred or equivalent training and experience

Personal Attributes

  • A demonstrated passion and a vision for the role that Arts and Culture can play in elevating urban communities and a commitment to the underlying importance of the role of community revitalization in improving social and economic wellbeing
  • Experience collaborating with organizations and individuals that are creative, visionary and transformational
  • The personal balance and confidence necessary to maintain a learning posture while still contributing as a leader in a national dialogue about revitalizing urban communities
  • The willingness, wisdom, and initiative necessary to further grow a bold, impactful national Arts and Culture Program
  • Demonstrated experience in building consensus and facilitating cross-sector adoption or understanding of an idea or program

Nominations and Applications

All nominations and applications which include a cover letter, resume, salary history, and source of knowledge of the position should be directed to

The Kresge Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women and LGBT applicants.

The Kresge Foundation offers a competitive total compensation package including health, employer paid dental and vision, basic life insurance, short- and long-term disability, generous paid time off, and an attractive 401k plan with employer match and a 10% employer contribution. We also provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks daily, robust professional development opportunities and tuition reimbursement. Kresge promotes and supports a healthy and green work environment and encourages intellectual curiosity as we embrace and live out our values of creativity, respect, opportunity, partnership, and stewardship.