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President and Chief Executive Officer

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Pennsylvania, United States
Salary Not specified
Closing date
Aug 23, 2021

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Position Type
Executive, Chancellors & Presidents
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time
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Job Details


Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is the nation’s first art school and museum of fine arts. Set out to help Philadelphia become, as artist Benjamin West described, “the Athens of the Western World,” PAFA has a 216-year long legacy of artistic excellence regionally and nationally.


Today, PAFA seeks an experienced, strategic, creative, and collaborative leader to serve as its next President and Chief Executive Officer (President). This position calls for a change agent; someone eager to reimagine an art and educational institution, who is invested in long-term organizational sustainability, and is attuned to the broader cultural conversations taking place at PAFA and across the country. This new President will work closely with a dedicated and passionate Board of Trustees, a senior leadership team, faculty, staff, students, and alumni, to further evolve and cohere PAFA’s uniqueness and move PAFA into its next promising institutional chapter.


Among the many art and design schools across the United States, PAFA is distinctively positioned because of its dual organizational structure as a fine arts educational institution and museum. This structural configuration brings tremendous assets to PAFA, and if fully leveraged, it has the potential to be truly transformational for PAFA. Through instruction and academic programs, instruction and academic programs, acquisitions, exhibitions, and community programming over many years, PAFA has maintained its reputation for its world-class collection of American Art, and it has successfully endured in educating artists to become innovative makers and critical thinkers who bring an understanding of tradition while challenging convention.


PAFA has been the recipient of the National Medal of Arts, and its esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner. Its location enables the organization to be in conversation with the city’s rich and diverse artistic and creative community. Since its founding, PAFA’s mission has been one of service to Philadelphia, the nation, and internationally.


Reporting to a forty-eight (48) member Board of Trustees, the next President of PAFA will leverage the strengths of this notable institution to ensure a thriving and sustainable future for the organization. This leader will have expertise in driving institutional strategy and repositioning an organization, and they must be able to inspire and coalesce diverse stakeholders towards common goals. They will also bring a proven ability to raise and diversify philanthropic sources and funding streams, and they will be a strong fiscal, operational, and personnel manager. While this person need not come from the arts or the academy sector, they must bring a commitment to the mission and values of PAFA, in addition to a keen interest in grappling with the challenges that many arts and higher educational institutions are experiencing today. This President will bring a genuine commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging and will have experience leading organizational culture change. Finally, this leader will be approachable, accessible, and will foster meaningful connections, collaboration, and partnerships, within the community, with PAFA alumni, and across the greater Philadelphia community and nationally.


Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, has been retained to support the PAFA search committee in this effort. Confidential inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed to the firm as noted below.


To Apply


Inquiries, nominations, and applications (including a resume or CV and a 2-4 page letter of interest responding to the opportunities and challenges outlined above) should be sent in confidence and electronically to:


Rebecca Swartz, Partner

Ryan Leichenauer, Senior Associate

Angelo Alexander, Associate

Isaacson, Miller


The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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