Executive Director

Washington Project for the Arts (WPA) seeks an Executive Director to lead the innovative platform for collaborative and experimental artist-organized projects, dialogue, and advocacy. 

Founded in 1975 by the art impresario Alice Denney, WPA has been at the nexus of the Washington, DC area arts community for the past four decades, presenting exhibitions, lectures, screenings, performances, workshops, symposia, and public art projects.

WPA’s artist-driven program model was adopted in 2018 after extensive interviews with artists in the greater Washington, DC area. WPA believes that a thriving arts community is essential to the enduring health of society and holds a vision for the nation’s capital as a place that welcomes, values, and respects the presence and contributions of contemporary artists.

Position Overview

As a thought leader among alternative art spaces, the Executive Director shepherds WPA’s artist-organized projects, and identifies and secures funding to sustain WPA as a leader in contemporary art locally, nationally, and internationally. The Executive Director guides a team of 5-10 full-time and part-time staff and contractors to manage programs and daily operations.

Among administrative priorities, the Executive Director manages relationships with institutions including the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts as part of its Regional Re-Granting Program, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and a number of major donors. 

Like all nonprofit leaders, the next Executive Director should bring a balanced approach as a visionary and operational executive. Specific areas of responsibility include: 


  • Set strategic direction for WPA’s mission, vision, and goals in collaboration with the board of directors, staff, and stakeholders.
  • Hire, manage, and mentor staff so that WPA has the skills and expertise to administer programs with a high degree of inclusion, integrity, curiosity, and creativity. 
  • Work with the board of directors to support good governance and fundraising capacity. 


  • Serve as chief fundraiser, setting strategy with annual and long-term plans that cultivate and maintain relationships with a broad range of supporters. 
  • Raise new sources of revenue to further WPA’s goals. Identify new funding opportunities, pursue partnerships, write grants, manage fundraising events, and secure major gifts. 

Communication and Public Relations

  • Serve as chief spokesperson, representing WPA to a broad constituency of local and regional elected officials, funders, community groups, individual donors, and the media.
  • Build and maintain a broad network among artists and creative professionals.
  • Identify opportunities, strategies, and partnerships that enhance WPA’s artist-centric programs on a regional, national, and international level.

Finance, Operations, and Facilities

  • Create and manage complex annual budgets of approximately $1M. 
  • Manage finances in collaboration with contracted bookkeeper and the board’s finance committee: budget and track expenses and develop clear financial reporting.
  • Coordinate necessary maintenance and modification of WPA office/project space.

Experience, Skills and Qualities 

The most competitive applicants will have many of the following attributes:

  • Passion for WPA’s mission and vision, and commitment to our operation as an artist-centered, equitable, inclusive, service-driven, and sustainable organization.
  • 7+ years of progressive leadership in contemporary art, nonprofit, or advocacy settings. 
  • Skilled fundraiser able to secure long-term relationships with foundations, corporations, and individuals through annual giving, signature events, and capital campaigns. 
  • Networked across multiple contemporary art disciplines on a regional, national and/or international level. 
  • Polished and persuasive written and verbal communication skills. 
  • Equipped with a strong equity and justice frame, with high levels of emotional intelligence, integrity, cultural sensitivity, and interpersonal skills.
  • Experienced manager with a gift for fostering a culture of care, mentorship, transparency, and effective internal communication among staff, volunteers, and the board of directors.
  • Successful record of setting vision for, managing, and implementing strategies that scale programs, initiatives, or organizations to a new phase of growth. 
  • Knowledge of business practices, including a working understanding of contract and lease negotiations, IT and finance systems, budgeting, marketing, and HR. 
  • Demonstrated experience working effectively with a board of directors.
  • Experience developing and managing contemporary art exhibitions and public programs. 


The salary range is $90,000-$100,000, commensurate with experience, and offers unlimited paid time off and health and dental insurance. Some relocation assistance may be provided.

Location & Schedule Requirements

The Executive Director will be located in the Washington, DC area to facilitate on-site work and donor relationships, with the possibility of some remote work in consultation with staff and board. The Executive Director, along with all members of the WPA team, staffs public hours and exhibitions at WPA’s administrative headquarters and flexible project/exhibition space in DC.

Application Process

The WPA Board of Directors has retained the services of Good Insight, a national executive search firm serving small nonprofits, to conduct this search. See the full executive profile and application information at Resume reviews begin immediately. For best consideration, apply by March 3, 2023. Early applications are encouraged due to the pace of the search.

Equal Employment Opportunity

WPA is committed to a diverse workplace and is an equal opportunity employer. Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.