Washington, DC

Chief Development Officer, WNO, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The Organization

About Washington National Opera WNO
Mission Statement: Washington National Opera, as a leader in opera and a flagship of the Kennedy Center, seeks to inspire, connect, and enrich our community, shape the future of opera, and illuminate the American and human experience. We tell timeless stories with programming that excites, entertains, engages, and educates. We are committed to diversity and balance – presenting classic, contemporary, and American works – to broad local, national, and international audiences.

WNO Core Values: Integrity, Excellence, Inclusivity, Innovation, Joy

Founded in 1956 as a modest but intrepid ensemble known as the Opera Society of Washington, Washington National Opera (WNO) is today one of America’s largest opera companies. WNO moved to the Kennedy Center when the Center opened in 1971, and has been in residence there ever since.

Under the leadership of General Director Timothy O’Leary and Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, WNO draws inspiration from a rich legacy built on the values of artistic excellence, engagement with a broad community, and a thriving future for opera and its audiences. As an artistic affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, WNO performs fall and spring seasons in the 2,200-seat Kennedy Center Opera House. WNO also offers performances on Millennium Stage and at other venues at the Center and throughout the city, and offers training, educational, and social impact programs year-round.

WNO’s artistic profile is marked by numerous highlights, including more than 100 new productions of world and American premieres, including the commissioning of 28 chamber operas from diverse contemporary creators through its American Opera Initiative. With a commitment to presenting dramatically compelling works executed at the highest levels of artistry, the company balances the standard repertory with new and infrequently performed works.

In the past decade, the company has stepped into the international spotlight with ambitious projects such as Francesca Zambello’s acclaimed “American Ring Cycle” and the inauguration of wide-reaching education, training, and community engagement programs.  Most recently, a collaboration with the Kennedy Center’s Department of Social Impact and the National Symphony Orchestra led to the creation of The Cartography Project in order to use music as a source of healing and open dialogue. Inspired by the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a visual interpretation of the moral trauma of our history, The Cartography Project seeks to create a musical map of infamous racial incidents across America and use music as both a source of healing and a way to open dialogue about the future of anti-racism.

WNO’s Cafritz Young Artist Program was founded in 2002 and today stands as one of the premier training residencies for artists on the verge of international careers. Beyond the Opera House, WNO engages a broad public. Free and low-cost audience development programs such as Artist Q&As, lectures, master classes, BravO (a discount ticket program for young professionals 40 and under), and partnerships with other local cultural organizations ensure that WNO performances are accessible to all. The company was among the first to simulcast its productions, bringing free opera broadcasts to tens of thousands in an annual program known as Opera in the Outfield, held at Nationals Park. Coupled with award-winning youth education programs serving public schools in the District, Maryland, and Virginia, WNO’s programs are a vital resource not only for opera lovers, but for students and arts educators throughout the metro region.

About The Kennedy Center

“I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.” – President John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy’s words resonate more strongly than ever for The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in the twenty-first century. The nation’s performing arts center opened on September 8, 1971, and continues to fulfill President Kennedy’s vision by producing and presenting an unmatched variety of music, theatre, dance, international festivals, special events, and multi-media performances for audiences of all ages. The Center touches the lives of millions of people each year through thousands of performances by the greatest artists and ensembles from across America and around the world. The Center nurtures new work and emerging talent through commissioning and creating performances, broadcasts, and touring productions. And the Center serves the nation as a leader in arts education.

Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion:

Diversity is a critical component of our mission, vision, and values. Our staff exhibits a wide variety of perspectives and experiences which enable us to foster and strengthen an environment of diversity and inclusion. The Kennedy Center’s Diveristy & Inclusion Council, composed of staff members from various departments across the organization, is committed to guiding and holding the Center accountable in the integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of the work at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Position Overview

Duties & Responsibilities:

34%   Strategic Planning and Leadership: Serve in a senior leadership role for both the WNO and the Kennedy Center Development teams.  Work with senior colleagues to develop, implement, execute, and evaluate long-term goals and strategies for the WNO and the Kennedy Center Development Department.  Serve as a senior leader in both areas and be able to navigate multiple organizational priorities, goals, and objectives clearly and persuasively.

33%   Management: Direct and oversee the strategy of the WNO fundraising team, comprised of 12 employees, a team within the larger overall Kennedy Center Development Department. This team of 12 is made up of the WNO Individual Giving and Board Relations teams, along with a Corporate Team, and a Foundation/Government Giving Team.  Of these, the WNO Board Relations and WNO Individual Giving teams are under direct supervision of the CDO and comprised of 6 employees. The Corporate and Foundation/Government teams share a portfolio of WNO, NSO (National Symphony Orchestra), and Kennedy Center donors.  Though these two teams are not under direct supervision of the CDO, the CDO works closely with and directs the strategy of the WNO Corporate, Foundation, and Government portfolios. The CDO works with the entire team to produce a high level of performance while creating a culture that emphasizes quality, consistency, and continuous improvement while integrating the WNO Core Values of integrity, excellence, inclusivity, innovation, and joy at the forefront of the team’s daily work.

33%   WNO Fundraising Program: Lead the planning and implementation of a comprehensive fundraising program. Establish and measure annual plans, goals, reporting, and performance metrics for the team, aligning the members of the team in support of new and evolving operational strategies and goals.  Develop and recommend annual departmental budgets for revenues and expenses that support the program and contributed revenue goals of the WNO and the Center. Prepare regular fundraising reports for the WNO General Director and KC Senior Vice President of Development and present to the WNO Board of Trustees at quarterly meetings.  Provide oversight of fundraising for mixed used capital fund, endowment, and planned giving campaigns in coordination with WNO and KC colleagues.

N/A   Responds to the needs and requests of WNO and Kennedy Center management and staff in a professional and expedient manner; Adheres to all employer policies and procedures.

N/A   Other duties as assigned.

Key Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree required.
  • Eight to ten years minimum in professional fundraising.
  • Experience managing a dynamic and highly competent fundraising team.
  • Superior oral and written communication skills are imperative.
  • Knowledge of the arts in general, and opera and symphonic music specifically, are strongly preferred.
  • Must have demonstrated ability to work with donor databases and a desire for continued learning.
  • The position requires a solid understanding of non-profit accounting standards and practices.

Skills & Knowledge Qualifications:

Interpersonal skills: This position requires an extremely high level of interpersonal, organizational, written, and oral communications skills. The ability to relate well in a professional and easy manner to donors of all levels, Board members, and corporate executives, as well as other WNO and Kennedy Center staff members, is critical. The incumbent should be able to create and manage the most aggressive possible fundraising program for the WNO, while simultaneously navigating the highly matrixed nature of the Kennedy Center’s overall institutional fundraising needs.

Decision-making ability, collaboration, and delegation: The position requires regular collaboration with other development managers and other WNO and Kennedy Center staff. The incumbent must have the ability to prioritize work efforts, to clearly and consistently delegate appropriate work to staff, and to ensure that the myriad of details required in any fundraising effort are carefully considered and attended to. The incumbent must have the ability and confidence to work without close supervision, including the ability to foresee development needs.

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to communicate in person and on the telephone.  The employee is frequently required to use hands to finger, handle, or feel in order to operate computer keyboard, office equipment, and other essential tasks.  The employee is frequently required to sit, stand, walk, bend, stoop, crouch, and reach with hands and arms.  This position infrequently lifts, carries, or otherwise moves and positions objects weighing up to 25 pounds.

Work Environment:

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

The noise level in the work environment is minimal.

Travel up to 15% may be required.


We offer a comprehensive range of benefits to all full-time employees including: Medical, Dental, Vision, Paid Time Off, Paid Sick Leave, and a 403(b) Retirement Plan

How To Apply

Please apply online at www.kennedy-center.org/careers

Sign up