Executive Director

  • Full Time
  • Chicago
  • May 20, 2024

Website Black Arts and Culture Alliance of Chicago

About Us

In 1977, the Black Theatre Alliance was founded by Abena Joan Brown, Okoro Harold Johnson, Useni Perkins, and Pemon Rami focused on providing resources, community support, and visibility for the Black Theater in Chicago. In 1990, the Black Theatre Alliance changed its name to the African American Arts Alliance to expand its reach in the arts community however, they ceased operations shortly thereafter. Seeing a gap and a great need for community interaction and development, Jackie Taylor, Joan Gray, Chuck Smith, and Ron O.J. Parsons came together and, in 1997, incorporated a new African American Arts Alliance to continue the work of the original Alliance to serve the needs of Black performing, visual, literary, technical and design art forms. Since then, these incredible leaders and artists cultivated and supported Black artists and organizations by providing programs and services to increase the interaction, collaboration, and communication within the Black Arts Community. The vision that these leaders saw is why we are here today. In the same way that they were the voice of the time for our community, the board of directors was ready to pass on the torch of leadership to continue the legacy of the Alliance for the next generation. The new President and Vice-President of the Black Arts & Culture Alliance of Chicago are  Charlique C. Rolle and Vershawn Sanders-Ward, respectively.

Our Mission

The mission of Black Arts & Culture Alliance of Chicago is to collectively advance excellence in the work of the Black arts and culture sector.


How this Search will Operate – Values, Communication, and Compensation

Overall Estimated Timeline:

Application Period: April 22 – May 20, 2024

After the end of the application period, please reach out if you are still interested, and we will let you know if there is still an opportunity for consideration.

Initial Screening Meetings: May 13 – May 31, 2024
Finalist Meetings On-Site in Chicago: June 2024
Employment Begins: Summer 2024

After an initial submission of credentials, a candidate may be invited for an initial virtual meeting with Dr. Kim Davis and Calida Jones from Creative Evolutions. Following these initial meetings, a group of candidates will be advanced to in-person Finalist conversations with members of the BACA Chicago Board along with an industry advisor with Chicago Black arts and culture expertise. Candidates who advance as Finalists will be invited to come on-site to interview in Chicago and will be compensated $500 plus reimbursement of all travel, lodging, and food expenses for their trip.
This search process is rooted in values shared by BACA Chicago and Creative Evolutions and will include the following elements: It is important to us that you are treated with respect and are appreciated for the value you create for BACA Chicago through your participation.

Throughout the process, we commit to active communication with you so you never wonder what is happening or where things stand with your application or the hiring process.

Many perspectives have informed this announcement, and finalists will have the opportunity to come on-site and meet other members of the staff before a hiring decision is made. It is very important that staff who rely on or collaborate with the role participate in the selection process to set you up most effectively for success.

If you have questions or recommendations, we encourage you to contact the search team at Creative Evolutions at calida@creativeevolutions.com or kimberly@fivesixteenconsulting.org

What We Are Looking for in Our New Executive Director
Our team originates from diverse professional backgrounds. We are driven by building partnerships and serving all of the Black arts and culture organizations in the Chicago region. We activate the work of centering our Black community from a holistic lens and we strive to empower and foster pride, joy, and unity. BACA Chicago is supported by a dedicated Board of Directors.

Human Expectations and Personal Values
We are excited to have a Full Time Executive Director. The Executive Director will be deeply committed to putting people first and working clearly and directly with the board and team to provide the real support that our organization needs. They will be able to share space and honor cross-generational programming and engagement in an intentional manner. They will also think critically about how we utilize our resources to support our Black artists and Black organizations in real tangible ways. Our Executive Director will be someone who knows and loves Chicago and the arts landscape.

As our Executive Director, you will understand and proactively manage human expectations; personal values are crucial in effectively managing and supporting our employees. Human expectations refer to the desires and anticipations individuals have regarding their work environment, organizational culture, career growth, and overall job satisfaction.

Our executive director will be notable for their desire to contribute to a thriving and healthy organizational culture. They are fueled by being present and getting to know everyone in long-term and authentic ways. They will be able to listen openly and receive feedback from staff and the board to strengthen how the organization shows up externally in the Chicago arts ecosystem.

In order to meet human expectations and honor personal values, the Executive Director should prioritize open communication, transparency, and collaboration within the team. This includes providing opportunities for professional growth and development, fostering a culture of trust and respect, and ensuring that the work environment aligns with the core values of the team members.

By recognizing and addressing human expectations and personal values, the Executive Director can contribute to the overall success and satisfaction of both the BACA Chicago team and the organization as a whole.

Where Our Executive Director will be Exceptional
Our Executive Director will be truly exceptional on two related fronts – successful fundraising and vision execution and resourceful nonprofit leadership.

We’re seeking someone with a proven track record of securing grants and donations, transforming vision into tangible impact. Your success in navigating the complexities of fundraising will be instrumental in fueling our growth and empowering us to realize our ambitious goals.

As a seasoned leader in nonprofit management, you’ll thrive in an environment where resourcefulness is paramount. With experience managing small budgets, you’ll wield your financial acumen to maximize every dollar, ensuring our initiatives are executed efficiently and efficaciously.

Your mastery of marketing will be a game-changer, amplifying our message and attracting support from donors and partners alike. Drawing upon your working knowledge of grant writing and fundraising principles, you’ll work with the team to craft compelling proposals that captivate hearts and minds, forging lasting connections with our supporters.

Your ability to conceptualize and implement innovative strategies for donor identification and cultivation will set us apart, propelling us toward new heights of success. With excellent written and oral communication skills, you’ll work with the team to articulate our vision with clarity and conviction, inspiring action and igniting change.

Your interpersonal skills will be invaluable as you collaborate harmoniously with colleagues, artists, leaders, donors, and volunteers alike. Together, we’ll harness the power of collective action to create a brighter future for all.

What Our Executive Director Will Handle Directly
The BACA Chicago team brings many capabilities to the table, but there are specific tasks and responsibilities that our Executive Director will have to handle personally.

These include:
As the chief administrator of the BACA Chicago, the Executive Director embodies inspired leadership and unwavering commitment to our mission. With a relentless focus on efficiency and effectiveness, they steer the organization in alignment with the visionary policies set by the Board of Directors.

At the helm of fundraising and development efforts, the Executive Director charts a bold course toward our collective aspirations, setting priorities for both the short and long term. They provide visionary guidance, oversee financial operations, and foster seamless communication with the Board, the cultural community, and the artistic community. Through strategic integration and coordination of activities, they propel us toward the realization of our strategic goals with unparalleled cohesion.

Central to their role is the development and execution of a comprehensive fundraising strategy that serves as the lifeblood of our organization. With a hands-on approach, the Executive Director spearheads day-to-day operations, driving forward programming, marketing, and financial oversight with precision and purpose. They are at the forefront of proposal writing, crafting strategic long-term and annual fundraising plans, and evaluating progress toward our goals.

Moreover, the Executive Director cultivates and stewards relationships with major donors, embodying the essence of philanthropy and generosity. They forge meaningful connections with our membership, fostering a sense of belonging and community while devising innovative strategies to attract new members to our cause.

In their tireless pursuit of excellence, the Executive Director embodies our values, propelling us toward a future where the arts thrive and our collective vision becomes a vibrant reality.

What Our Executive Director Needs to Understand
Working with and alongside the rest of the team and Board of Directors, there are important areas where we do not expect our Executive Director to be more knowledgeable and capable than other people in BACA Chicago but where we do need them to have enough expertise to collaborate with us effectively. As the sole full-time employee, you will wield unparalleled influence, shaping the trajectory of our impact with passion and purpose. With flexibility and agility as our guiding principles, we will enlist consultants and assemble a team of part-time or hourly employees as the need arises.

These include:
In this dynamic role, you’ll lead the organization in crafting compelling strategies to illuminate our organization’s mission and programs, ensuring they resonate deeply with our audience. With your strategic guidance, our public relations and communications efforts will transcend the ordinary, captivating hearts and minds while authentically reflecting our brand identity. You’ll supervise every facet of our promotional materials, from conception to distribution, ensuring they serve as powerful catalysts for engagement and advocacy.

In addition to driving creative excellence, you’ll harness the power of data to inform decision-making, supervising the tracking of program attendance and maintenance of our databases with precision. Your keen insights will empower us to adapt and evolve, maximizing our impact in an ever-changing landscape.

Collaborating closely with the Board chair, you’ll shape policy and craft statements that echo our collective vision and values, cementing our position as leaders in the Chicago cultural sphere.
Working alongside the Finance and Development Officer, executive committee, and Board, you’ll strive to exceed annual fundraising targets by meticulously crafting a comprehensive development plan that not only sets realistic income goals but also outlines the strategic avenues for securing vital funding. Together, you will identify diverse sources of funding, actively solicit gifts, and craft persuasive grant proposals to secure vital resources.

You should monitor BACA Chicago’s progress with unwavering vigilance and be agile, suggesting mid-course corrections as needed to ensure the organization’s goals are met. You will foster a culture of philanthropy within the Board, actively involving them in fundraising strategies and providing regular updates on development activities.

In BACA Chicago’s commitment to transparency and accountability, you will supervise the preparation of development materials and grants management, ensuring every aspect is executed with precision—from research and submission to acknowledgment, tracking, and reporting. The organization’s dedication extends to maintaining an accurate donor database and gift acknowledgment system, ensuring every contribution is recognized in a timely and meaningful manner.

As the liaison between the Board of Directors and the organization, you will provide consistent and comprehensive support. You will regularly report to the full Board, respond promptly to requests for information, and facilitate communication between the Board and staff. You will also facilitate strategic planning by assessing organizational needs, making recommendations, and overseeing the orientation of new Board members.

Looking toward the future, you will collaborate with the Board and staff to review the organization’s mission and programs regularly, prioritizing the long-term development of our organization’s programs, facilities, staff, and infrastructure in alignment with our financial capacity. You’ll maintain an archive of organizational materials and generate insightful data and analyses to inform our long-range planning decisions, ensuring our continued growth and impact in the years to come.

How We Will Support Our New Executive Director

We know that we need to support our Executive Director so that our success and their success are aligned.


For this role, BACA Chicago offers a starting salary between $75,000 and $85,000 annually.
Comprehensive benefits include:
Mentorship or Advisory support during the first year with Creative Evolutions and one industry peer (see the Search Process above).

EEO Statement

We highly encourage applications from candidates whose lived experiences include Black cultural identities and Chicago arts and culture.

Instructions to Apply:

How to Express Your Interest: Complete the application in the JazzHR portal. Dr. Kim Davis and Calida Jones will communicate consistently throughout the process. You will not go more than two weeks without an update on your search progress.

With your application, please:
Provide a pdf of your resume. The resume can be of any length and style, though we encourage you to adjust it as appropriate to help us see how your history and experience relate to the current circumstances, intentions, and hopes for BACA Chicago.
Instead of a standard cover letter, the application portal will ask you to answer a set of questions that will help us to understand you more. In case you wish to prepare in advance, the questions are as follows:
Who are you, and what is most exciting for us to know about you as a human being?
What motivates your application for this role, and how do you envision making a meaningful impact within BACA Chicago?
How have your experiences given you particular expertise in prioritizing short- and long-term activities in an ambitious small non-profit organization?
How would you balance your focus on direct support for artists and arts culture workers with your focus on the infrastructure needs of a small non-profit organization?
What makes you exceptional as an organizational leader and in your abilities to build foundations of trust and mutual support in those you collaborate with?
If you wish, feel free to share how you self-identify so we can honor your preferences and perspectives in our communication with you!
If you have any questions about the position or your submission, please feel free to email us, and we will be happy to discuss it with you at any time.
calida@creativeevolutions.com or kimberly@fivesixteenconsulting.org

To apply for this job please visit creativeevolutions.applytojob.com.

Pay Rate/Range*: $75,000 - $85,000