Executive Director (HA)

Our Mission

Using glass arts to connect young people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to better futures.

Our Story

Hilltop Artists was founded in 1994 by community leaders who believed that the arts and creative expression are powerful ways to engage youth in positive and transforming ways. Today, we play an important role in community-wide efforts to increase high school graduation and career and life readiness, predominantly for low income and minority students, in Tacoma, WA. Through 9 tuition-free programs we provide 650+ youth with sequential skill building in glass and related arts each year; we also engage thousands of members of our greater community through partnerships, special events and installations that highlight our students’ artistic, personal, and academic accomplishments. 

Working with a team of 15 full- and part-time staff, students ages 12-20 have the chance to explore the glass medium through fusion, mosaics, flameworking, and glassblowing. We operate hot shops at Jason Lee Middle School and Wilson High School, as well as a flameworking studio at Ford Middle School. We are especially effective with young people who are searching for ways to connect and belong and have a focus on assisting those who find themselves struggling academically, socially or behaviorally. Our programs are supported by a body of research on the correlation between mentored involvement in the arts and the development of critical protective factors: self-esteem, civic involvement, and academic success.  All of Hilltop Artists programs are provided tuition-free. Between 2007 and 2016, 98% of all eligible Hilltop Artists students graduated from high school. In the last four years (2013-2016) the graduation rate reached 100%.

Our Values

Hilltop Artists is a valued partner across our community in initiatives to strengthen graduation rates, stem summer learning loss, and close gaps in opportunity and access for low-income and academically vulnerable youth. We offer multiple ways for youth to experience their intrinsic worth - through immersion in teamwork, purposeful artistic engagement in the community, and self-discovery through creative expression. We support the development of 21st century skills and foster long-term relationships with trusted adults. Our goal is to strengthen resiliency and create a sense of personal agency, so all youth can develop the social, academic and leadership skills that lead to nourishing relationships and stable economic futures.

We prioritize healthy organizational growth and are currently in Year 1 of a five-year strategic plan which covers the period 2016-2020. The plan focuses on: 1) intentionally creating opportunities for students who lack advantages by providing them with exceptional artistic opportunities; 2) deepening collaborations that connect us to community and advance collective action; and 3) advancing equity and social justice by being accountable for a learning environment that increases access to success for every student.

Hilltop Artists:  Our Website

Hilltop Artists 5-Year Strategic Plan


A Visionary, Inspirational, Values-Driven Leader 

The Executive Director will lead an organization that is dedicated to the essential uniqueness of each student and their potential for success. The ED plays a pivotal role in creating and supporting a community that honors youth voice, that values and advocates for the role of the arts as an intervention and solution for student challenges, and which sees creating broad-based support for closing the opportunity gap as an essential responsibility.

The ED provides dynamic vision and emotionally intelligent leadership to Hilltop Artists, working in partnership with its Board of Directors and community stakeholders and inspiring and supporting a strong, talented, motivated and resourceful staff team. The ED ensures a deep and broad community-based focus, collaboration across established community networks, and works to foster new collaborations as the opportunities arise. The ED believes strongly in, and has proven dedication to, social justice, the importance of quality education, equity, the arts and youth development. 

A Strategic Thinker and Innovator

The ED for Hilltop Artists will build upon a strong organizational foundation to strategically grow the organization in innovative ways to achieve positive impact for young people in our community. The ED will also provide strategic, innovative leadership that continues to foster organizational excellence within Hilltop Artists.

A Top-Tier Manager

  • In addition to providing inspirational vision, The ED:
  • Guides the daily operations of the organization;
  • Rigorously manages the organization’s fiscal resources with integrity and trust;
  • Motivates, cultivates and empowers all staff while providing clear, consistent direction that fosters a highly-engaged team-based culture;
  • Is an excellent, thoughtful delegator;
  • Works actively with the Board of Directors to fulfill its governance function by formulating and implementing policies approved by the Board, and helping set ongoing strategic direction;
  • Works with the team to create and implement the development strategy

A Dynamic Face of the Organization 

Importantly, The ED acts as a key spokesperson and advocate for Hilltop Artists, promoting the visibility of Hilltop Artists as a long-standing asset to our community and a respected collaborator in improving the lives of young people and supporting their aspirations,

The ED reports to the Board of Directors. 



  • As a highly skilled and dedicated leader, the ED:
  • Assumes responsibility for achievement of Hilltop Artists’ mission and provides strategic direction in achieving our organizational goals;
  • Champions a clear vision for Hilltop Artists;
  • Manages and inspires all the people working in the organization with respect, empathy, accountability and clarity around direction, roles and responsibilities;
  • Is dedicated to, and deeply understands issues of, social justice, education, equity, and the value of the arts in building the emotional and intellectual development of our youth;
  • Operates with the highest level of integrity and ethics;
  • Has a strong community focus and sensitivity;
  • Collaborates authentically with Hilltop Artists robust community network and works to maintain and continue to build healthy vibrant relationships across our community;
  • Maintains and builds strong, productive relationships with key stakeholders and engages them in innovative ways;
  • Supports and facilitates a strong relationship with the Board, including:
    • helping to ensure the Board exercises their leadership responsibilities through collaboration, communication and education around relevant issues;
    • engaging the Board through regular meetings;
    • encouraging and supporting Board members as advocates for the work; and,
    • helping provide a through-line of communication, where appropriate, between Board and staff;
  • Ensures financial sustainability of Hilltop Artists and works with board and staff to accomplish sustainability goals.

Internal Management

The ED is responsible for:

  • Hiring, managing and evaluating the Hilltop Artists team and for overseeing strong, consistent supervisory systems to accomplish this role;
  • Building and supporting a broadly diverse team, through:
    • continuously coaching, mentoring and motivating staff on a consistent basis;
    • maintaining a positive and strong organizational culture that attracts and retains highly qualified people--both full and part-time staff and volunteers;
    • managing with an approachable and flexible spirit;
    • providing clear direction in a way that is flexible and empowers and lifts-up a talented, creative team;
    • overseeing effective and high quality personnel training and development;
  • Ensuring rigorous fiscal stewardship;
  • Developing and overseeing a budget utilizing staff budget planning, that reflects Hilltop Artists’ priorities;
  • Ensuring compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.


The ED:

  • Provides leadership to the Board and staff in continuing to develop creative and sustainable ways to ensure the organization has sufficient resources to meet its annual and long-term goals;
  • Leads staff in developing and implementing fundraising goals and fund development strategies;
  • Identifies, cultivates and stewards donors to maximize retention and create vibrant relationships;
  • Guides content and reviews all grants written to funders;
  • Makes connections with people and organizations that can help Hilltop Artists carry out its goals and long-term strategies;
  • Engages community stakeholders from parents to business leaders to broaden the base of committed support and to create a strong source of volunteers.
  • Always seeks collaborations that may increase funding and leverage key elements of collective impact on behalf of students, accessible community-wide arts, and equity.


The successful candidate will be a highly motivated and successful professional who possesses the following knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes:

  • Able to think creatively and strategically;
  • A proven ability to bring a community-based focus and a genuine passion for social justice and equity and keen understanding of the central role education and arts plays in achieving a just society;
  • Comfortable with strong staff leadership and the ability to guide from the side as well as lead a highly independent and creative team;
  • The highest level of integrity and ethics;
  • A dedicated belief in and commitment to Hilltop Artists’ values;
  • Strong background in youth development and the arts;
  • A dedication to diversity and inclusion in all aspects of Hilltop Artists’ work;
  • Able to develop a shared vision with the Board and manage that vision to successful outcomes;
  • Able to lead, inspire and motivate board, staff and community in support of the goals of the organization;
  • A proven dedication and sensitivity to the role of a non-profit organization like Hilltop Artists in a community and to continuous, positive impact for vulnerable youth and families;
  • Proven experience in leading a similar organization, with 5+ years as a non-profit ED and 5+ years of additional non-profit leadership at a management level is considered a key qualification;
  • Superior verbal, written, digital communication skills, including an ability to engage eloquently via multiple platforms with diverse audiences;
  • Capable and proficient in using a variety of technology;
  • Active listening skills;
  • Ability to operate thoughtfully and nimbly in an environment of ambiguity where needed;
  • A highly collaborative mindset;
  • Demonstrated high-level fundraising skills, from donor relationships to grant-writing;
  • Ability to develop and maintain strong, healthy relationships with internal and external audiences and stakeholders;
  • An open, approachable, non-ego-driven temperament;
  • A sense of humor and ability to sustain fun in a creative and intense working environment.

This position is based in Tacoma.  Preference will be given to candidates that live in Tacoma/Pierce County or are willing to relocate.


The salary of the ED will be competitive and commensurate with the new ED’s qualifications, experience and work history.


If you wish to apply for this position, please email a cover letter and resume to Dawn Chirwa at The Giving Practice, which is supporting the search process, at the contact information below.  You may also nominate individuals by submitting names and any supporting materials to the same contact.

Dawn Chirwa

Senior Advisor, The Giving Practice

[email protected]

This position will remain open to new applications until February 17 or the position is filled.

This is an equal employment opportunity.  Hilltop Artists recognizes, respects and appreciates the value and benefits of diversity in the workplace.  People who share this belief and/or reflect a diverse background are encouraged to apply.

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