Director of Arts (TWF)

The Wallace Foundation – an independent, national, New York-based philanthropy with $1.5 billion in assets – traces its origins back more than half a century to DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, founders of The Reader’s Digest Association. 

The Wallace Foundation seeks to improve learning and enrichment for disadvantaged children and foster the vitality of the arts for everyone.  The foundation has an unusual approach: in each of our focus areas – Arts, Education Leadership, and Learning and Enrichment – we seek to identify, and help answer, one or more significant questions whose answers are not known but which, if known, could help propel progress more broadly.  Accordingly, we work with a small number of grant recipients both to help them test new ideas and generate improvements for those they serve, and to generate evidence and insights that, when shared broadly, can improve policy and practice in an entire field.

This “Wallace Approach” is reflected in the way the foundation develops its strategies and designs its initiatives. We begin by attempting to understand the context of the fields in which we work in order to identify the right unanswered questions to address.

We then simultaneously fund programmatic work in the field by organizations—including technical assistance and peer learning communities—and research that studies the process and results of their efforts in order to generate improvements and insights that can benefit both the people served by the grant recipients and the field. The public reports emanating from this work support our strategy of catalyzing broad impact, acting as a source of credible, useful lessons to be disseminated to key audiences.

The Wallace Approach is carried out in an interdisciplinary team-based structure.  Our three disciplines are program, communications, and research.  In each discipline, we seek employees who are both highly skilled in their professions and able to work collaboratively across disciplines to capture the synergy of diverse experience and ways of thinking.  Wallace employees need to be able to work collaboratively, think analytically and communicate clearly.  We value the flexibility to adapt to change, a desire to learn, and the ability to work productively both on one’s own and with colleagues inside and outside the foundation.

The Director leads the interdisciplinary team for our work in the arts, actively contributing to building a high-performing team and advancing our mission. As the leader of the team, the Director ensures all voices are heard, options are considered and a discussion of pros/cons leads to a consensus. She/he demonstrates an approach to shared problem-solving that is grounded in advancing the work, assumes good intentions, demonstrates respect, builds trust, and welcomes diversity of perspectives.

Our work in the Arts

We currently have two major initiatives in the Arts: Building Audiences for Sustainability and Arts Education.

Building Audiences for Sustainability

Building Audiences for Sustainability reflects our rich history in supporting arts organizations in learning about ways to deepen, broaden and diversify their audiences. This six year initiative launched in 2015 with 25 performing arts organizations to develop practical insights onto how arts organizations can successfully expand their audiences in ways that also contribute to their long-term financial health. Grounded in research on a specific target audience, the organizations plan audience-building projects based on what they hope to learn, implement them, analyze the results and use this analysis to plan the next set of projects. Activities to develop audiences have run the gamut from new performances to new ancillary engagement activities. The first part of research related to this initiative, led by researchers at the University of Texas, Austin and scheduled for publication in 2018 will offer a summary of current research literature on audience building and financial health as well as an examination of the gaps in existing knowledge.

Arts Education

Wallace’s work in this area seeks to increase the equitable access to high-quality arts education for young people, especially those in high-poverty urban areas. Our current work, launched in 2014 and scheduled to extend to mid-2021, supports the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth Arts Initiative in testing innovative afterschool and summer arts programming for young people in their middle-school years. The arts programs being developed are based on principles of high-quality arts programming described in a Wallace-commissioned report Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs From Urban Youth and Other Experts. The first report in an ongoing evaluation of the initiative by the education research firm Research for Action, Raising the Barre and Stretching the Canvas: Implementing High Quality Arts Programming in a National Youth Serving Organization, was published in October 2017.

Looking Ahead

Wallace’s current arts initiatives are both well into implementation. One of the early tasks for the new Director will be to lead an interdisciplinary strategic planning process to design the next initiatives in the arts.

To learn more about our work and the more than 400 reports, tools and videos in our Knowledge Center, visit



The Director of Arts leads the design, development, implementation and management of the Foundation’s initiatives in the arts.  The Director is a member of the Foundation’s senior management team, and as such shares responsibility for contributing to strategic planning, and policy and organizational development in the achievement of the Foundation’s mission.  As needed, the Director will also be a member of the foundation’s Public Policy Engagement Working Group. This position reports directly to the President.

Our program staff for grants management in the Arts includes a senior program officer on Wallace’s staff primarily dedicated to Building Audiences, four consultants at a Boston-based firm also supporting Building Audiences, and an external consultant for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Youth Arts Initiative. Effectively integrating internal staff and external consultants under our interdisciplinary approach and maintaining relationships with our grantees as partners in learning is a significant focus for the director.


  • Lead an interdisciplinary team of program, communications, and research professionals in the design, development and implementation of strategies and systems to support the Foundation’s mission in the arts. Foster and ensure integration of program, communications, and research perspectives and ideas to achieve the Foundation’s “dual goals:” benefits for our grantees and those they serve, and benefits for the broader field through knowledge. As part of each initiative’s design, include the creation of learning communities and provision of relevant technical assistance in support of the grantees’ work.
  • Actively engage in and contribute to the strategic thinking and planning for the Foundation’s overall approach to grantmaking and knowledge development as expressed in the Wallace Approach: understand the context; generate improvements and insights; and catalyze broad impact.
  • Manage the work of grantees, contractors and partners – primarily through leadership of the unit and outsourced grants management – to build a relationship of trust, candor and transparency so that discussion of challenges and problems leads to shared problem-solving and resolution, and progress and success is recognized and built on.
  • Fulfill our responsibility as stewards of the Foundation’s resources by ensuring grantee budgets reflect the scope and deliverables to support the initiative goals, spending is monitored, financial reports are reviewed, and up-to-date records are maintained in the grants management database.
  • Cultivate relationships with policy makers, practitioners, thought leaders, external networks such as funder collaborations, and professional associations to advance the thinking and dialogue in the fields relevant to the goals of the Foundation’s initiatives.
  • Contribute to sharing what we learn to support the Foundation’s mission to catalyze broad impact in our fields of interest by representing Wallace at professional conferences, convenings and events.
  • Working with the Director of Research and the Director of Communications, contributes to the development of appropriate knowledge development and dissemination strategies to further the Foundation’s overall initiative goals.
  • Prepare Board book materials and present to the Board of Directors on arts strategies, grant proposals, program updates, new program development and initiatives. Contribute to the development of the annual Year in Review Report.
  • Other duties as assigned by the President.


  • Knowledge of policy and practice in the arts based on fifteen or more years of substantive experience in a leadership role in the field.
  • Demonstrated ability to effectively lead and actively contribute to building high-performing interdisciplinary teams across the foundation to improve how we work together, build trust and advance Wallace’s mission.
  • Excellent analytical, conceptual thinking, interpersonal, strategic planning and project management skills.
  • Strong listening, written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with grantees and partners.
  • Ability to both lead and collaborate with senior management team colleagues to achieve the Foundation’s goals.


The Wallace Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to maintaining a diverse workplace where differing perspectives are a source of strength. People of color are encouraged to apply. The Wallace Foundation has retained the executive search firm H C Smith Limited for this search. All interested candidates are asked to please contact Becca Smith, [email protected].


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  • Biz Ghormley
    published this page in Job Board 2018-04-28 00:44:34 -0400