President and Chief Executive Officer

Pennsylvania, United States
Salary Not specified
Aug 11, 2020
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time


History educates us about our past, enlightens our present, and enables current and future generations to chart a path forward armed with all the knowledge of those who came before us. 


One of the nation’s finest archives of American history, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (“HSP”), seeks an incisive and visionary leader. The right candidate will have the tools to build a new and exciting future for a one-of-a-kind cultural gem.


The new CEO must be a fearless fundraiser, a talented organizer, and a bold thinker, while also providing a compelling public face of the organization as we expand our reach into the hearts of Philadelphia communities and extend our message around the world through imaginative use of the internet. We are seeking an individual who is curious and cunning, daring and deliberate, ingenious and inspirational.


From raising money to mapping out a new programming strategy, this job requires an innovator who can help HSP make history matter to all members of our community, whatever their race, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender orientation. History often emerges in stories, and it is in the often-forgotten corners of the past where many of the richest stories dwell. We must use these valuable collections to shine a light into the darkness that separates Americans.


For our new CEO, we offer space to grow, challenges to tackle, networks to build, and the chance to re-invigorate a soon-to-be 200-year-old institution. In return, we must have an executive who can direct a staff of professionals, build a more robust and balanced financial platform, and map a course into a bright future full of promise.


Joining this organization at this time in its history offers the opportunity of a lifetime for the right leader.



The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, founded in 1824, is one of the nation’s largest archives of historical documents, second only to The Library of Congress in its collections of early American documents. As a leader in archival practices, HSP has set an industry standard through the creation of protocols for surveying and assessing collections. These activities, in turn, enable the telling of meaningful stories to a wide range of audiences.


In addition to printed collections of Pennsylvania and regional history covering the 17th-, 18th-, 19th-, and 20th- centuries, the holdings of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies were added in 2002, enriching the collection by providing previously neglected aspects of American history. The collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania were added in 2006, enhancing yet another dimension to the services provided by HSP.


The Historical Society of Pennsylvania serves more than 4,000 onsite researchers annually and millions more around the globe through its online resources. Scholars, teachers, students, genealogists, and amateur historians can find valuable facets of history within HSP. 


HSP has a current operating budget of approximately $3 million and a full- and part-time staff of 24.




Reporting to the Chair of the Board and Board of Councilors, the CEO will guide the institution to its third century and chart a new course toward financial stability. They will provide the leadership, vision, strategy, and management for HSP’s overall programs and operations, ensuring that the organization is fiscally sound, while both preserving the content of the collections and expanding the reach and impact of the education and interpretation programs.


The CEO will have primary oversight for fundraising and, working in close concert with the Board and key staff, will develop and implement fundraising strategies that support the organization’s goal of increasing its private funding base. They will lead a fundraising effort that includes a capital campaign to mark the institution’s 200th anniversary in 2024.


The CEO will also work with the 15-member Board to further refine and implement a plan to expand the visibility and impact of HSP. They will have responsibility for the intellectual and programmatic direction of the institution.




The CEO will be expected in the first 12 months to:


  • Thoroughly know HSP – its mission, collections, programs and constituencies, and its sources of funding; review and assess the structure, operations, content, strategies, and staffing to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and a balanced budget;


  • Develop internal and external communications that raise HSP’s visibility and effectively convey a sense of the organization’s mission, activities, and importance and connection to its constituents;


  • Establish a strong and solid working partnership with the Board; gain the Board’s trust and confidence, and forge relationships that will bring forth their best ideas and efforts to support and enhance a sound funding base, and significantly increase income and generate new sources of support; further stabilize HSP’s financial position and operation;


  • Take a leadership role within the cultural and historical fabric of the Philadelphia region; actively cultivate relationships with HSP’s broad constituency, including members, donors, scholars, educators, philanthropic organizations, elected officials, corporate leaders, peer institutions, and the media; serve as an articulate and persuasive spokesperson for the institution;


  • Lead, positively motivate, and inspire a strong and committed professional staff, understand their strengths and concerns, and encourage each member’s professional growth; ensure a collegial working environment that will enable the staff to function productively and effectively as a whole;




Leadership and General Management


  • Work closely with the Board to set the strategic direction for HSP; unify the Board around a vision for the future and guide the Board in fulfilling its commitment to that vision – in terms of fundraising, active Board leadership, and participation; oversee refinement of the organization’s strategic plan;


  • Refresh the brand; develop internal and external communications that raise HSP’s visibility and effectively convey a sense of the organization’s mission, activities, and importance and connection to its constituents;


  • Identify and help recruit a diverse group of new Board members whose talents, interests, and commitment will materially further HSP’s mission and expand funding opportunities;


  • Work with key staff to ensure the Board is provided with clear, timely, and relevant information about HSP’s finances, operations, and programs; develop and present reports at meetings of HSP’s Board and to other audiences;




  • Ensure appropriate staffing to maximize the effectiveness of HSP’s annual cycle of unrestricted giving through a focus on obtaining major gifts and operating grants; maintain and build on the current system of prospect research and internal tracking of donor prospects;


  • Cultivate further Board involvement in the organization as community liaisons, individual donors, cultivators, and volunteer gift solicitors;


  • Ensure continued and consistent cultivation opportunities through ongoing programs, services, and other interactions such as the annual Founder’s Award and Treasures Society activities; grow and maintain HSP’s membership base, with a focus on member retention;


Collections and Program


  • Assess proposed initiatives for processing and preserving the collections and, working with senior staff, develop a strategic approach to collections management; promote preservation and longevity of collections and ensure ease of handling by simultaneously addressing materials conservation and processing needs;


  • Greatly expand access to the collection through the strategic use of and expansion in investment in technology infrastructure and digital resources;


  • Promote a deepening of collections-based offerings for K-12 educators and build a collection of primary resources to support the interpretation of local historic sites within a broader historical context; continue to develop programming that encourages informed and effective use of historical collections;


Communications and External Relations


  • Function as an effective and persuasive spokesperson for HSP, encourage public interest in history and awareness of HSP, strengthen public and media relations, and work toward greater inclusion of members and audiences in the organization’s activities; broaden the dialogue about historical issues for a wide range of audiences through publications and programs;


  • Evaluate communications and marketing functions needed to promote the collection and add to awareness of HSP;


  • Encourage further pursuit of collaborative projects with Philadelphia-area institutions that build public investment in history and involve local residents in historical interpretation; sustain these collaborative relationships over time.




The President and CEO should have the following experience and qualifications:


  • Proven problem-solving, planning, and fiscal capability as a manager with a nonprofit cultural, educational, or governmental institution or the like; alternatively, the individual could bring corporate experience, provided that they have demonstrated a commitment to history and education, has served on nonprofit boards, and/or has familiarity with HSP;


  • Demonstrated proven track record in sound financial planning and vigorous fundraising, with strong abilities in donor cultivation and solicitation, board relations, and other related fundraising strategies;


  • Aptitude for dynamic and skillful strategic thinking and an ability to manage the organization’s operations and staff effectively; an approach to management that promotes effective and inclusive decision-making processes, listens to and balances multiple perspectives, sets and maintains institutional priorities, and inspires collaboration and cooperation across the organization;


  • Marketing and media savvy.




The President and CEO should be:


  • Dynamic, creative, and visionary, with a profound interest in history and a commitment to HSP’s mission and goals;


  • Energetic, persuasive, and resourceful, with the instincts to anticipate and act on events that may create opportunities for raising funds, expanding visibility, and promoting HSP’s mission;


  • Organized, innovative, strategic, financially savvy, and politically astute; a decision maker who can bend when necessary, yet be firm and decisive with Board and staff when appropriate;


  • A consensus builder and a good listener, who is able to balance diverse agendas and points of view, while maintaining on all fronts a sense of common purpose;


  • A skilled and forceful communicator who establishes a productive and harmonious environment by clarity and consistency of message.


 For additional information, please visit  


Please send applications or nominations to

Susan Meade and Addie Jones at


The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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