Executive Director Application

Position Summary

Since 1963, the Fenton History Center has been the place to go for local history education and preservation for the City of Jamestown and southern Chautauqua County. Utilizing two beautiful 19th century mansions in the heart of Jamestown, New York, the Fenton provides educational exhibits, research and genealogical support, diverse programs, and other forms of visitor engagement to get our community involved and interested in the history of our area. The work of the Fenton staff is supplemented by a dedicated and expansive network of volunteers, history practitioners, and partner organizations, who take our outreach and programming to the next level, and allow us to offer opportunities beyond the reach of many local museums.

As the Fenton nears its 60th anniversary, it is seeking a capable, experienced, and enthusiastic nonprofit leader to serve as its next Executive Director. Over the past few years, the Fenton staff and Board have worked on building financial stability for the organization, securing innovative community partnerships which created a strong reputation for the organization, and designing exhibits and programming that are equitable and engaging for the entirety of our community and its guests. These efforts have brought acclaim and funding from across New York State to the Fenton, and have set the stage for an exciting next phase of growth and opportunity for the organization. In conjunction with the Board of Trustees, the Executive Director will be the core element of this new phase, providing forward-thinking, creative, and innovative leadership for the organization, in order to guide its mission and programming efforts.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

Our ideal candidate is someone who is positive, upbeat, and ready to embrace and collaborate with a well-seasoned staff that makes up the backbone of the Fenton History Center, and is eager to learn while also ready to bring a fresh perspective to the organization. Read further for a more detailed job description and expectations.

Strategic and Operational Leadership

Responsible for the long-term planning of the organization, and the implementation of that planning, with activities including: building community relationships; engaging with community partners and stakeholders; maintaining accurate databases of members and donors; working with staff to make exhibit and programming plans; conducting strategic outreach and marketing, including through newsletters, social media strategies, website development, press releases, radio and TV interviews, writing articles, and any other avenues that present themselves; and conducting strategic planning with the Board.

Oversees all day-to-day operations, with an eye towards providing an excellent visitor experience and ensuring staff are equipped with the resources and information necessary to be successful. Ensures a consistent, high-quality brand for the museum across all experiences and for all audiences. Stays on top of finances and revenue streams to ensure that the museum remains stable and has the necessary resources to support basic operations, programs, and any other costs.

Ensures that the necessary organizational structure, policies, systems controls, and procedures are in place and regularly reviewed for effectiveness. Meets regularly with the Board of Trustees, including with Board-established committees, to report on and coordinate organizational activities.

Fundraising and Financial Management

Works with the Board to grow relationships and identify new financial resources that will support the ongoing success of the organization. Cultivates donors and members based on data and analytics; identifies those who have the greatest potential for stewardship and growth opportunities. Builds relationships with volunteers and community partners to help grow donor networks and solidify support for the Fenton. Manages the preparation of the annual operating budget with the Finance Committee, and tracks how the organization adheres to budgetary goals throughout the year. Provides monthly financial reports to the Board.

Manages the stability and further development of relationships with institutional funding sources, including government bodies and foundations. Prepares and administers grant proposals to institutional funders, and ensures that the organization is operating at the highest level of museum standards and ethics. Tracks restricted funding and reports back to institutional or individual grantors/donors about the use of funds.

Oversees the preparations of the annual financial review report and 990 tax filings with an independent CPA, and coordinates reporting by the CPA to the Board. Oversees routine financial transactions, and coordinates necessary insurance coverage and reporting.

Building Maintenance and Grounds Maintenance

Works with the Board and the City of Jamestown Parks Department to ensure that the two historic mansions and surrounding grounds are maintained and kept in good order. Checks with staff and volunteers regularly to ensure that any known problems are identified, and that a plan has been put in place to address issues according to necessary priorities. Works with the Board and Parks Department to attempt to cut down or eliminate instances of vandalism, property damage, or other illegal acts on either property.

Works with the Board, community stakeholders, and larger grantors to fundraise for capital projects, including larger maintenance projects, as necessary to ensure the continued viability of the buildings and grounds encompassing the Fenton campus. Coordinates with contractors, architects, and other professionals during every phase of the project, from quote to execution, and reports regularly on progress to the Board.

Community Relations and Marketing

Serve as the main spokesperson for the Fenton by consistently and clearly articulating a compelling case for support to various audiences, community leaders, donors and prospective donors, corporate interests, grantors, and others. Develop relationships with media partners to ensure that Fenton events are covered consistently, and that the desired messaging is being reported on.

Oversee the development of marketing strategies, content, graphics, compelling material, etc. with the support of staff. Attend community, government, and tourism promotion meetings as a representative of the Fenton, and work actively to build cohorts and partnerships to help get the Fenton noticed by new audiences. Support the development and implementation of a strong organizational brand in all media and organizational communications.

Experience and Qualifications

  • 5+ years of progressively responsible experience in business management, non-profit management, or museum administration.
  • Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, History, Anthropology, Museum Studies, Curatorial Studies, Cultural Studies, Interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities, or a related field. Graduate degree preferred.
  • Excellent writing, interpersonal, and communication skills; experience and enthusiasm for working with a wide variety of constituents.
  • A desire to embrace innovation and new ideas in museum practices and programming, and an ability to transition quickly between strategic planning and operational management.
  • Advanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and an ability to remain level-headed in stressful situations or at times when decisions must be made quickly.
  • Multiple literacy skills preferred: social, business, civic, programmatic, and media.
  • Experience managing staff, independent contractors, volunteers, and/or interns.
  • Familiarity with QuickBooks, WordPress, and the Microsoft Office suite. Experience or familiarity with PastPerfect or other museum collections software is a plus.
  • Knowledge of the local and regional community history, or a willingness to learn.
  • Enthusiasm for participating in a wide range of organizational functions.

Experience managing and overseeing long-term projects and initiatives will be useful. High integrity and sound judgment are essential to success in this role. A management approach that is described as accessible, inclusive, collaborative, and empowering must be demonstrated and balanced by results- oriented accountability.

Salary and Benefits

This is a full-time position with a starting salary range between $35,000 and $45,000 per year. This position also comes with medical and dental benefits, with 100% of plans being covered by the Fenton. Two weeks of paid time off are included, along with 11 paid holidays.


The Fenton History Center is committed to a policy of non-discrimination and equal opportunity for all employees and qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other category protected under applicable law. The Fenton will make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with known disabilities, in accordance with applicable law.