Director of Advancement

District of Columbia, United States
Salary Not specified
Jan 05, 2021
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time


Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Director of Advancement

Washington, D.C.

The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) is the largest of the Smithsonian Institution’s 19 museums and maintains the world's most expansive and renowned collection of aviation and space artifacts, encompassing all aspects of human flight, as well as related works of art and archival materials. It operates two landmark facilities that, together, welcome seven to eight million visitors a year, making it the most visited museum in the country. Since it opened in 1976, the museum has welcomed more than 350 million visitors and millions more through its outreach and education programs. The museum produces world-renowned scholarship in aviation and space history, and planetary science.

Beginning in 2022, new galleries will open on the west end of the museum’s flagship location on the National Mall. The transformation of the museum represents an unprecedented moment in the conservation and preservation of thousands of artifacts, as well as a remarkable evolution of the museum’s immersive learning experience. The reimagined galleries will tell the story of flight and space exploration for 21st century audiences. Emphasis will be placed on telling diverse stories ensuring that every visitor sees themselves represented and that technology is used in a way to engage visitors in meaningful and immersive ways. Taking the exhibits outside the museum walls is also a focus as new exhibits are developed. The museum is including in all its designs consideration of how remote digital experiences can link to the physical exhibits in a unified and consistent way. With four years remaining in the overall seven-year project to dramatically transform its exhibitions and renovate the entire museum, inside and out, NASM has embarked on a corresponding campaign to raise $250 million from individual supporters, leaders in the aerospace industry, and corporations and foundations. At the end of FY20, September 2020, the Transformation Campaign had secured $123 million.

Philanthropic support to NASM is buoyed by an extremely powerful brand as the world’s premier aviation and spaceflight museum, exceptional visibility as the most-visited museum in the nation, a highly responsive and collaborative senior leadership team, and the vision and esteemed profile of the John and Adrienne Mars Director Dr. Ellen Stofan. NASM fundraising is overseen and guided by a dedicated Office of Advancement that is regarded throughout the broader Smithsonian Institution as a model for success and frequently cited as an example of a well-operating, efficient team.

Amid an environment replete with institutional preeminence, visionary leadership, organizational investment, and tremendous opportunities for continued growth in contributed revenue, NASM seeks candidates for Director of Advancement (DOA). Reporting to the Director, with a dual reporting relationship to the Assistant Secretary for Advancement, the DOA is the lead executive responsible for planning, directing, implementing, and evaluating both annual and long-range comprehensive fundraising activities for the museum. The DOA is a key member of the executive leadership team who work closely with the heads of the Directorates to set priorities and develop strategies to accomplish the museum’s strategic goals. The incumbent is the trusted partner to the Director in collaborating with, cultivating, and soliciting the active support and involvement of the Museum Board in all the philanthropic activities, including high-priority leadership and principal gifts. The DOA will oversee the work of an already high-performing advancement team, as well as collaborate with other colleagues both at the National Air and Space Museum and across the Smithsonian’s Office of Advancement, to plan, direct and optimize fundraising strategies and initiatives.

The Director of Advancement will prioritize equity as a driver for the National Air and Space Museum. This leader will embrace principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring, mentorship, teambuilding, network activities, and stakeholder engagement. The DOA will actively focus on building equity into structures, systems, and processes for employees and the communities NASM serves. The DOA will bring expertise, an innovative and open mindset, and a commitment to inclusive practice that values different backgrounds and life experiences.

Candidate profile 

The ideal candidate will have the following personal and professional skills, qualities, and competencies:

  • Passion for, and deep interest in, the mission, exhibitions and programs of the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. Deep appreciation for the esteemed place that NASM occupies within the Smithsonian Institution. Ability to inspire and engage others as a senior representative of this powerful brand.
  • Bachelor’s degree is required; advanced degree and strong academic credentials that will be credible to donors and other stakeholders are preferred.
  • Minimum of 10 years of experience in progressively responsible development leadership positions, which includes work in all functional areas (individual giving, institutional giving, annual giving, planned giving, stewardship, Board relations) and leadership in a major capital campaign, preferably within a major cultural institution, nonprofit organization, educational institution, or other environment of similar complexity.
  • Demonstrated ability to provide management oversight, leadership, and direction with at least seven years of supervisory experience, including creating and managing a budget.
  • Proven and inspirational frontline major gifts fundraiser with a long track record of success in securing six and seven-figure gifts and greater. Demonstrated strength in prospect discovery and in building effective strategies to compel new major donor targets to invest in the museum’s programs and mission. Experience in translating annual giving strategies that groom the next generation of leadership gift donors.
  • Particular strength in developing the case for support and strategic, complex, and innovative fundraising plans, and executing against those plans to achieve goals and objectives. Experience working directly with the most senior levels of an organization and the ability to effectively strategize and engage various groups and constituents.
  • Demonstrated ability in planning and executing integrated, strategic communications in support of achieving fundraising goals.
  • Experience identifying, nurturing, and working with Board members and other museum supporters, and an appreciation for their role in building an effective fundraising network.
  • The ability to extract and analyze data to make effective, efficient decisions about donor strategy and process.
  • A forward thinker, driven by innovation, transformation, and impact. The successful candidate must thrive on developing new philanthropic best practices in the current and post-COVID world.
  • Ability and enthusiasm to travel domestically and internationally as necessary.

The Smithsonian Institution is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer.

Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has retained the Diversified Search Group to assist in this confidential search process. Inquiries, nominations, and applications (current resumes and cover letters) should be directed electronically to:

Gerard F. Cattie, Jr.

Managing Director

Practice Leader – Development & Philanthropy

Diversified Search Group

The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue, 49th Floor, New York, NY 10174 | 212.542.2587



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