Charleston, SC

Chief Development Officer, International African American Museum

The Organization



Opened on June 24, 2023, the International African American Museum (IAAM) honors the untold stories of the African American journey at one of our country’s most sacred sites. The museum is about a journey that began centuries ago in Africa, and still continues. It is about the journey of millions of Africans, captured and forced across the Atlantic in the grueling and inhumane Middle Passage, who arrived at Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, South Carolina and other ports in the Atlantic World. Their labor, resistance, and ingenuity – and that of their descendants – have shaped every aspect of our world.

The museum sits on the shoulders of 18 strong columns, 13 feet above the sacred grounds of the Gadsden’s Wharf site. On the ground level, the African Ancestors Memorial Garden highlights the original shoreline – the exact spot where so many captive Africans first set foot in America. There are gardens for quiet contemplation, as well as space for performances and programs.

The museum’s exhibitions share untold stories using classic techniques as well as new approaches driven by innovation, technology, and digital interactivity. Themes include connections across the African diaspora, the spread of African American culture and influence, highlights of the history and preservation of the Gullah-Geechee culture, and the movements – past and present – for justice and equality. Core exhibitions neither shy away from telling the story of the horrors and tragedy of slavery, nor omit the stories of skilled craftsmen and women who built the foundations of wealth, artistry, and infrastructure of America. The Center for Family History enables visitors to trace their genealogy, while changing exhibitions and special events keep the museum energized. Educational programs provide lifelong learning opportunities for visitors both young and old.

The museum strives to foster empathy and understanding, empowering visitors with knowledge of the past. The journey will challenge, illuminate, inspire, and ultimately, will move people to action.

Position Overview

The Chief Development Officer (CDO) for the International African American Museum will provide critical leadership and strategic direction to help fulfill the organization’s mission. A seasoned and proven leader, the CDO is responsible for continuing to build out and direct the organization’s development enterprise, which includes fund development, special events, and membership. Reporting directly to the President & CEO and partnering with the executive leadership team, the CDO provides oversight for all elements of philanthropic development and strategic counsel across the organization with regard to development strategy. The CDO will be a trusted partner to the President & CEO in collaborating with, cultivating, and soliciting the active support and involvement of the museum Board of Directors in philanthropic activities, including high-priority leadership and principal gifts. In addition, the CDO works closely with senior leadership, promoting museum-wide collaboration and cohesion while advancing IAAM’s work and enhancing its culture of philanthropy. The CDO will lead a dynamic shift in the museum’s overall fundraising focus from capital fundraising and development of the museum itself to now prioritizing operational strength and the strategic growth and long-term sustainability of the development program. The CDO will collaborate with the President & CEO and others to appropriately frame the museum’s overall approach to fundraising and corresponding goals given this new stage in its organizational evolution.

The CDO oversees a development team currently comprising seven positions. The CDO will be empowered to evaluate and enhance the functional and/or organizational alignment of the current development team in consultation with the President & CEO, with the understanding that additional team members will need to be added over time as the program evolves, including in the area of government relations. A core charge of the CDO is to continue to hone the operational capacity, professionalization, and strategic sophistication of the museum’s development function, including ensuring efficient processes and systems, in order to maximize current and evolving donor interest. The CDO will lead, leverage, and strategically compartmentalize local, regional, and national donors and fundraising campaigns while sustainably growing total annual fundraising revenue to support IAAM’s mission and annual budgets, building from current levels to a working goal of $20 million. Between FY21 and FY22, the museum averaged approximately $13.7 million in total annual contributed revenue. IAAM also anticipates undertaking its next major fundraising campaign effort within the next couple of years under the leadership of the CDO.

The CDO will be an important catalyst in advancing IAAM’s commitment to explore the journey of millions of Africans captured and forced across the Atlantic in the Middle Passage, and to honor their labor, resistance, and ingenuity and that of their descendants as it shapes every aspect of our world.

An Expert in Development and Fundraising

The CDO will be a results-driven and experienced leader in the field of development with a measurable track record of success within a complex environment – minimum of 10 years of overall fundraising experience with progressive levels of responsibility. It is paramount for this candidate to have a broad and deep knowledge of development (e.g., individual, institutional, major, planned, digital, and annual giving; special events; related marketing and communications; stewardship; fundraising operations) with a proven track record of securing significant gifts and evidence of exceptional cultivation and stewardship. Through strong written, oral, and presentation skills, this leader will be a natural partner to IAAM’s internal and external communities and constituencies. The CDO will be able to work effectively with culturally and politically diverse populations. A tactical leader, the successful candidate will have a strong data and analysis orientation and a proven ability to use metrics to drive development decisions and achieve strategic objectives.

A Strategic and Influential Leader
With a proven record of converting strategy into effective execution, the CDO will be a builder with the ability to set priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, assure accountability, and allocate resources to ensure results. This leader will be a detail-oriented, analytical individual who functions well and follows through in a complex environment. The CDO will exhibit an adaptive leadership style, intellectual curiosity, and creativity, including the ability to listen to and learn from multiple voices, particularly when it applies to IAAM’s development goals. They will demonstrate the ability to manage, coach, motivate, and evaluate a team of colleagues in fundraising initiatives, as well as a track record of maintaining best practices, clear goals, shared accountability, and working cross-departmentally when necessary to achieve results.

An Action-Oriented Partner to the CEO
The CDO will work closely with the CEO to advance strategic partnerships. A task-driven leader, the CDO will support the CEO in creating and executing the organization’s strategy, including assessing strategic initiatives to be in line with the organization’s standards and objectives. This leader will develop a synergy with the CEO, helping her to think through decisions.

A Passion for the Mission
The successful candidate will embody IAAM’s values and mission to explore cultures and knowledge systems retained and adapted by Africans in the Americas, and the diverse journeys and achievements of these individuals and their descendants in South Carolina, the United States, and throughout the African Diaspora, and, as a result, will inspire and motivate those around them. An engaged leader, the CDO will be charismatic with superb verbal and written communication skills, a collaborative spirit, and sense of humor. Leading by example, the CDO will call upon a strong faith in humanity, understanding that empathy is an essential quality and treating others with respect. Deeply invested in fostering a sense of belonging for all staff, the CDO will understand the importance of the integration of equity throughout policies, practices, management and culture. In particular, this leader will be passionate about policy and advocacy in the African American community. The CDO will be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values – someone who can be trusted without reservation.

IAAM acknowledges shared histories of historical exclusion and defines underrepresented groups as those from African American, LatinX/Hispanic, Asian and South Pacific, and Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaskan Native communities. Furthermore, IAAM acknowledges that gender-, gender-identity, and sexual orientation-based discriminatory practices exist and persist and seeks to recognize when women and LGBTQ persons must also be included in our definition of underrepresented groups within all communities.

IAAM aspires to equitable practice and consideration in all aspects of its business, inclusive of staffing, vendor spending, visitor welcome, content creation, and voice inclusion.

IAAM provides equal opportunity to all employees and applicants without regard to race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), parental status, national origin, age, disability, family medical history or genetic information, political affiliation, military service, or other non-merit-based factors.

How To Apply

Download the full position description via the following link:

IAAM has retained the DSG Fundraising & Advancement Practice of the Diversified Search Group to assist in this confidential search process. Inquiries, nominations, and applications (current resumes and cover letters) may be submitted at or directed to:

Gerard F. Cattie, Jr.
Managing Director and DSG Fundraising & Advancement Practice Leader
Diversified Search Group
The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue, 49th Floor, New York, New York 10174 | 212.542.2587

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