Position Description: Executive Director
The Board of Directors of the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society (MFMHS) seeks to fill the position of Executive Director. Founded in 1982 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the basis of the Museum collection comes from artifacts donated to the Museum by Mel Fisher after he found the cargo hold of the sunken Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha in 1985, after a 16 year search which has been chronicled in National Geographic. Since its inception, the Museum has broadened the scope of its collections so that it is now able to tell much of the colonial history of the “New World.”
The MFMHS was accredited by the American Association of Museums in 2002 and is the most visited history museum in the southeastern United States. The Society owns a 98-year old building in downtown Key West, FL amid numerous tourist attractions and within sight of a cruise ship dock. Over 1 million visitors have seen the museum since its inception. The Museum building lies within a National Historic District and sublets space to the commercial ventures of the Fisher family. Currently, the Museum occupies 3 1/2 floors, approximately 24,500 sq. feet. This houses both permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a recently renovated gift store, an education department, artifact storage space, a conservation laboratory, as well as administration offices and a non-circulating library. There is also an active traveling exhibition program which is drawn from both artifacts and other historical materials.
The MFMHS mission statement is as follows: “The Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society exists for the purpose of research, accumulating and disseminating information, providing educational services to the public on maritime and colonial activities in the New World, and preserving maritime cultural resources. It investigates and supports investigation into such topics as are relevant to this inquiry, including Marine Archaeology, related Natural Resources, the Conservation, Preservation and Exhibition of Artifacts, New World Coinage, Admiralty Law, and the Arts, Crafts and Trades practiced during the 16th through 18th centuries.”
The Board of Directors of the MFMHS wishes to attract an executive who is capable of becoming a passionate ambassador for the Society and help it in its goal of being the ultimate maritime history resource for its area of interest as well as an acknowledged leader in marine archeology in honor of explorers worldwide, particularly Mel Fisher, whose vision, passion, perseverance, encouragement and spirit of enthusiasm has enabled the creation of this society.
The Executive Director should also be able to enrich and diversify the collection; continue our fine education program; accelerate the much-needed building restoration; continue to create onsite and traveling exhibits; expand the sales revenue and visitor attendance; establish an emergency fund; expand the endowment; continue to secure state and federal grants; expand our local, state and national reputation; and update our strategic plan with a view to the vagaries of hurricanes, the national economy, the changing nature of Key West residents and tourists, and the possibility of change in US-Cuba policy.
The executive is also expected to set expectations for the staff, oversee execution of the revised strategic plan, and to adhere to ethical standards laid out by the Board and by the American Association of Museums. Importantly, the ability to set direction with the board and staff is vital to the sustainability of the society.
Reports to: Board of Directors
Title: Executive Director
The Executive Director plans and directs all Museum activities and operations and is responsible for the Museum’s direction, collections, scholarship and attendant programs as well as fiscal, operational and funding development.
- Provide overall direction for the Society, including implementation of long-range plans, short-term goals, etc.
- Interact with the Board, helping to give staff perspective to board decisions and to implement Board policies in the Society’s operations. Work with the Board to develop vision, long-range plans, policies and goals. Implement policy established by the Board and encourage active participation by the Board, Museum staff, prospective donors and the Museum’s constituents in realizing the Museum’s vision and goals.
- Oversee day-to-day operations of the Society. Provide leadership in fundraising, strategic planning, facility planning and construction, collections management, educational programming, audience development, acquisitions, membership and donor campaigns.
- Oversee, provide leadership and vision for senior staff, and review midlevel staff. Work with senior staff to develop annual and project budgets. Manage a program to recruit, retain, supervise, and when necessary, dismiss Museum staff and volunteers.
- Review all financial records, bank accounts, and restricted and unrestricted funds monthly. Develop the Museum’s budget; interpret that budget to the Board of Directors for their review; and manage faithfully by that budget once approved.
- Design and direct new initiatives that will achieve the Society’s long-range goal, such as publications, research projects, traveling exhibitions, and educational programs. Prioritize goals for steady improvement of Society’s services to the public.
- Provide basic scholarship and connoisseurship relating to the Society and its collections. Supervise hiring of consultants for curatorial, conservation and other projects.
- Administer the Society’s web site.
- Represent the Society at grant hearings, conferences and other professional venues.
- Take an active role in community affairs as well as museum issues in the State of Florida. Serve as spokesperson and advocate for the Museum by effectively representing it to all community, professional, governmental, civic, and private agencies; and enhance the organization’s public image to expand interest in and support of the Society.
- Working with the Board and appropriate staff and consultants, the Executive Director will actively solicit private support, cultivate gifts and bequests, develop grant proposals and produce a comprehensive and measurable fundraising plan. It is expected that a considerable amount of the Director’s time will be spent on fundraising.
The Executive Director will not be a member of the Board of Directors and will not have a vote on actions before the Board or any of its committees.
- A minimum of seven years of progressively responsible experience in a museum or related history, educational or visitor-centered organization; at least four on a senior managerial level.
- Demonstrated success related to nonprofit board service and leadership.
- A minimum of a Master’s Degree or equivalent related experience in history, a related academic field or museum studies. Law, business, communications or nonprofit management work will also be favorably reviewed. A Ph.D. is desirable but not mandatory.
- A record of professional accomplishments; demonstrated success in fundraising, audience development, institutional planning; and a commitment to excellence in all aspects of management including scholarship, learning, collection care, public outreach and institutional literacy.
- Excellent managerial planning, organizational and administrative skills; strong interpersonal and written/oral communication skills; high level of presentation, negotiation, problem solving and conflict resolution skills.
- Ability to provide strong leadership, vision and strategic direction; ability to inspire and motivate staff, volunteers, donors and the Board; able to establish and maintain effective working relationships with a variety of representatives of public and private organizations, members of boards, foundations, commissions and support groups, Museum staff and the general public.
The Executive Director will be evaluated by the Board of Directors on the results of the revised Strategic Plan that will be developed with the Board and staff during the first 6 months of employment. The Strategic Plan will be tied to the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society Development plan (also revised) and will include measurable goals set by the Executive Director with the Board of Directors.
If you are interested in this position, please submit (preferably by e-mail) a letter of interest, resume or professional vitae and the names of 2 personal references to:
Attn: Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society
1550 Johnson St.
Key West, FL 33040