Executive Director (SMPP)

Full-time (with some nights and weekends)


Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse (“Smith”), is situated on 6 ½ acres of historic landscape in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park and is home to the beautiful 16,000 square foot Playhouse and century old Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide.  The Playground is one of the nation’s first dedicated play spaces and has been a treasured play experience for generations of Philadelphia’s children.

The mission of Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse is to provide and promote opportunities for unstructured free play for children. Smith stewards, consults about and advocates for play in the City, region and nation, serving as thought leader and helping adults understand the importance of play in children’s lives. We are committed to the following values:

  • Creating joyful and meaningful interactions through play
  • Inclusiveness and access to play for all
  • Advocating for play as a practice that should be found everywhere
  • Play as a way to nurture people’s hearts, minds and bodies
  • Play in nature to cultivate love of and responsibility for the natural world

Smith is seeking an Executive Director who provides leadership, oversight and management of the mission and goals of the organization.  S/he is responsible for strategic leadership, short- and long-term goals for fundraising, programming, administrative and financial management. Reporting directly to the Board of Directors, s/he works in partnership with board members, committees’ members (comprised of both board and non-board members), staff and interns, and volunteers who all contribute actively to Smith’s mission and goals.  

The Executive Director is an internal and external spokesperson, drawing a wide variety of audiences to Smith to enhance its visibility, its mission, and the potential for raising funds to sustain and expand the programs that have made Smith a community resource and national model for children’s play. S/he is Smith’s public voice and regional/national representative.

Smith is in a season of momentous change and evolution. We are highly focused on raising the remaining $7.1M of our capital campaign, launching a preschool focused on nature and play and deepening our relationships and commitment to community partnerships and stakeholders. It is paramount that the Executive Director devote significant time, energy and enthusiasm to these priorities.


The Executive Director will oversee four (4) direct reports and other staff, interns and volunteers. During the current capital campaign, the Executive Director will spend a majority of her/his time leading Smith into its next phase of growth through developing and cultivating funds that sustain the organization’s operations as well as completes the remaining planned capital renovations. 

Leadership: With Smith’s values in mind, the Executive Director leads the organization in the implementation of the mission, vision, financial goals and overall strategic plan.

  • Work with direct reports to establish and implement short and long-term organizational goals.
  • Develop partnerships/programming with peer organizations to increase Smith’s brand positioning, regional and national impact
  • Build strong relationships and engage with constituents including local, state and federal government, corporate partners, and volunteers
  • Expand upon strong connections with communities and organizations surrounding Smith’s neighborhood
  • Advocate for Smith’s mission, deepen the thought leadership around the benefits of play, and raise the organization’s profile locally and nationally
  • Work with the Board to develop strategic plans and facilitate the implementation of operational tactics
  • Represent Smith at major public events, community meetings, etc.
  • Establish an Urban Nature Preschool on-site to extend Smith’s mission and goals in the community

Resource Development: The Executive Director leads, develops and oversees all fundraising activities and income-earning programs that bring money into the organization.


  • Oversee fundraising event(s)
  • Lead and provide guidance for Development staff efforts to raise operating and programmatic funds from individual, corporate, and foundation donors
  • Work with staff to increase earned income opportunities
  • Cultivate and manage relationships with current and prospective major donors including major corporate gifts and sponsorships
  • Seek and maintain government funding
  • Explore, apply for, and maintain appropriate grants that support the mission and goals 

Capital Campaign

  • Work closely with consultants to identify and cultivate capital campaign donors
  • Cultivate and steward prospects and donors through individual meetings and events
  • Engage board members in campaign activities and report on progress for board members, donors, and stakeholders
  • Meet annual campaign gift goals to complete current capital campaign by the end of 2020

Programming: The Executive Director oversees the programmatic vision for the organization and ensures excellent on and off site operations and programming.

  • Provide vision and guidance around creating innovative programming
  • Assess community needs for programming
  • Analyze current programs for expansion and enhancement opportunities
  • Provide guidance and support to staff in making best use of facilities and equipment to meet user needs
  • Manage a large cohort of volunteers including recruitment and engagement
  • Provide oversight of Smith’s media and marketing communications

Human Resources, Operational (Administrative) and Financial Management:  The Executive Director oversees the hiring, training and professional development, annual performance reviews, compensation and termination of staff. S/he manages the day-to-day administrative and financial operations.

Human Resources

  • Inspire staff and volunteers to exemplify and champion Smith’s mission and values
  • Support staff development, accountability, innovation and a spirit of collaboration
  • Lead staff-wide process to create annual work plans
  • Conduct annual performance reviews of all direct reports and ensure reviews of the staff
  • Manage all HR processes, including insurance and 403b plan

Operational (Administrative) and Financial

  • Track progress toward programmatic and financial goals on a dashboard for internal assessment and external (and board) reporting
  • Develop annual and capital budgets with Board Treasurer
  • Delegate, review, and approve accounting transactions, including vendor payments, payroll, and deposits
  • Work with Board Treasurer, consultants/accountants to provide timely and accurate financial reports and work with the auditor to complete the annual audit for the Board
  • Ensure that Smith complies with all relevant laws and regulations. Fulfill all administrative and reporting expectations, including but not limited to IRS and PA reporting.
  • Manage capital improvement program including managing contracts, funding, reporting, contractor and consultant oversight
  • Oversight of property and land management


The ideal Executive Director candidate will:

  • Demonstrate an interest in working with/for the children of Philadelphia and surrounding communities in furtherance of the mission, vision and values of Smith
  • Be a strong communicator who is a credible external spokesperson for the organization
  • Demonstrate the ability to work effectively in collaboration with diverse groups of people
  • Be a hands-on leader, who is detail oriented, adaptable, organized and able to successfully manage people, multiple projects and tasks

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities


  • Bachelor of Arts or Science degree and 5 plus years in senior management and leadership
  • Strong development and fundraising skills including donor cultivation and stewardship, grant development, planned giving, major gifts and both capital and operating campaign experience
  • Demonstrated track record of working effectively with a Board of Directors, maximizing participation and effectiveness
  • Track record of managing and growing programmatic activityProven exemplary financial management skills


  • Relevant experience in children’s or nature-related programs


  • Requires ability to climb stairs and lift 25 pounds
  • Requires successful passing of PA State Police Criminal Background Check, Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance, and FBI Clearance required
  • This position is available immediately. We offer a competitive compensation package commensurate with experience.
  • We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and actively seek staff members who reflect the community we serve.

Please email a cover letter, resume and three (3) professional references to: Search Committee, at [email protected].







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  • Biz Ghormley
    published this page in Job Board 2018-09-12 00:03:39 -0400