The Vice President for Historic Sites (VP) provides collaborative and effective leadership to the portfolio of National Trust Historic Sites, working to engage and promote these properties as representative, evolving examples of best practices in preservation, historic site management, public history, and creative interpretation. In total, the VP for Historic Sites is charged with leading the stewardship and interpretation of more than 300 historic structures, 60,000 collections objects and 3,000 acres of landscape owned by the National Trust.
The National Trust’s portfolio of historic sites are places of national significance and impact that utilize a variety of stewardship models, business, uses, and engagement practices to advance the National Trust’s mission and demonstrate best practices in all aspects of their stewardship and operations. Working within this framework, the VP collaborates with the staff and local leadership of the National Trust’s twenty-seven diverse and nationally important historic sites that are open to the public to build and expand their sustainability, inclusivity, creative interpretation, and collective national profile. This includes direct management responsibility for site directors at nine stewardship historic sites owned and operated by the National Trust located around the country, collaborative fiscal and stewardship oversight responsibilities for an additional 12 co-stewardship historic sites owned by the National Trust but operated by separate non-profit organizations, and interface responsibilities for six affiliated sites owned and operated by separate non-profits.
Based at National Trust headquarters in Washington, DC, the VP for Historic Sites leads the Historic Sites Department, which includes the staff at nine stewardship sites and the eight-member headquarters staff that provides technical assistance and support to National Trust Historic Sites and professional leadership in preservation, collections management, interpretation, education, and strategic planning. S/he is responsible for developing and maintaining a strong and impactful management structure that allows the entire Sites Department team to work together with clarity, integration, authority, and accountability.
The VP for Historic Sites also serves as a member of the Preservation Division Management Team, which encompasses most of the programmatic work of the National Trust, including federal government relations, state and local policy, field services, research and development, trainings and conferences, and grant programs, such as the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and the National Fund for Sacred Places. In this capacity, the VP for Historic Sites will work collaboratively and effectively with his/her colleagues on that team to identify and realize opportunities for National Trust Historic Sites to connect with and support the different aspects of the organization’s work to create more impactful outcomes. The VP for Historic Sites will also play a critical role in advancing both marketing and fundraising goals for the National Trust through its historic sites and, as such, will collaborate effectively with leadership in the organization’s Marketing and Development Divisions.
Working within the framework of the National Trust’s current vision for historic sites, a strategic document that outlines the high-level objectives for National Trust Historic Sites, the VP’s primary responsibility is to provide strategic and operational direction and guidance to the site directors, professional staff, and advisory councils and boards of the properties owned and managed by the National Trust. S/he must be comfortable operating in the realms of strategic leadership, fundraising, board development, community outreach, new business development, cultural institution operations, landscape management, restoration project management, and real estate development. S/he is responsible for ensuring fiscal operating responsibility and maintaining healthy and restored historic structures at each National Trust-owned site. S/he is also responsible for monitoring and supporting best practices in financial management, stewardship of historic assets, and interpretive programming at sites owned but not operated by the National Trust. The VP for Historic Sites will be required to engage and utilize staff, donors and external advisors at all levels in this important work.
Additionally, as one of its strategic priorities, the National Trust is engaged in the important work to support and sustain historic sites across the United States both culturally and financially and the VP is expected to play a leadership role in this work, in close collaboration with the President and CEO, the Chief Preservation Officer, and other members of the Executive Team of the National Trust. The VP’s involvement will be as both a thought leader and the senior manager responsible for operational implementation. This will include both direct work with National Trust Historic Sites, as well as coordination with other initiatives of the National Trust, such as the Historic Artists Homes and Studios program and Distinctive Destinations.
The VP of Sites has a team of approximately 16 senior professionals and historic site directors as well as an additional 140 professional and support staff at the nine stewardship sites (owned and operated by the National Trust). Additionally, there are manager-level positions in the National Trust’s Marketing and Development Divisions that are focused on building engagement and revenue associated with National Trust Historic Sites. S/he also works collaboratively with governing boards, CEOs and executive directors, and other staff at 12 NTHP co-stewardship sites (owned by NTHP; operated by a separate nonprofit) and 6 affiliate sites (neither owned nor operated by the National Trust). In addition, the VP is expected to collaborate with his/her colleagues in other departments and divisions of the National Trust to leverage our human resources across the organization. Extensive and regular travel and work outside regular business hours is commonplace and expected. Working collaboratively with the National Trust staff and a broad range of partners, the VP for Historic Sites will:
- Execute the strategic vision for the future of the National Trust Historic Sites and work collaboratively with stakeholders to revise and expand this vision, as appropriate, reflecting guidance from the National Trust Board’s strategic planning process;
- Ensure that National Trust Historic Sites are fiscally responsible, budget properly and meet annual budgets.
- Provide leadership in raising the funds required to support individual stewardship sites, the Historic Sites Department, and portfolio-wide initiatives, as well as other initiatives related to historic sites more broadly;
- Maintain and expand the focus on short and long-term cyclical maintenance of buildings, landscapes, and collections at National Trust Historic Sites;
- Develop and implement new operating models that effectively integrate creative interpretation with commercial activities that are compatible with their cultural resources and resonant with their histories.
- Ensure that individual site operations are successful, sustainable, and inclusive to meet National Trust stewardship, preservation, interpretation, engagement, and business goals;
- Ensure that National Trust Historic Sites are highly inclusive in all aspects of their governance, operations, and programming;
- Continue to align the sites work with the mission of the National Trust both generally and as related to specific campaigns or initiatives;
- Develop and sustain effective local governance models, including developing and supporting co-stewardship and affiliate arrangements with NTHP sites and closer integration with the communications, marketing, field work, partnership, fundraising, and operational functions of the National Trust;
- Articulate the important role of historic sites with in the National Trust, as a part of the preservation movment, and as assets that strengthen communities and offer inclusive opportunities to engage with the full history of the United States.
Ensuring the long-term financial and cultural sustainability of National Trust Historic Sites is a critical role for the VP for Historic Sites. This includes leading the implementation of initiatives to ensure inclusivity in both the programs and operations of these properties, as well as the development of a broad range of partnerships and business models and the cultivation of individual, foundation, and corporate philanthropy in close collaboration with the Development and Marketing Divisions. Meeting fundraising goals and the implementation and support of successful operating and programmatic models is part of the ongoing performance evaluation for the VP for Historic Sites.
Sites Department Management — The VP is responsible for the effective management of a diverse set of professionals within the Historic Sites Department who support the historic sites with architectural, financial, educational, interpretive, curatorial, strategic planning, governance, staff development, and administrative and related skills. Additionally, the VP is ultimately responsible for the effective management of a dispersed group of executive directors at the 9 stewardship sites that are owned and operated by the National Trust. In this work, the VP emphasizes the building and support of sustainable management and business models, as well as the development of inclusive and creative staff and programming and the implementation of a wide variety of partnerships.
Advisory Council and Co-Stewardship Board Interface — Management of the relationships with volunteer stewards of National Trust Historic Sites is critical to the successs and sustainability of these properties. At the stewardship sites that are owned and operated by the National Trust, the VP for Historic Sites will support the work of the site directors in building and maintaining strong advisory councils. At the National Trust Historic Sites that are operated by independent nonprofit organizations, a collaborative co-stewardship relationship with boards and CEOs at these sites is essential. Developing and maintaining relationships that reflect the values of the National Trust and best practices in site management, intentionally balanced with flexibility to address the unique needs of each site, will be a priority for the VP for Historic Sites.
Refining and Implementing a Strategic Vision — The VP oversees the implementation of the vision for the historic sites of the National Trust. The vision currently includes elements tied to national impacts, effective governance, financial sustainability, mission alignment, the implementation of creative operating models, and demonstrating best practices in preservation. It is expected that the vision will be re-examined and refreshed by the National Trust’s board of trustees and executive management staff in their upcoming strategic planning process and the VP will play a coordinated role with the Chief Preservation Officer in this work. Establishing and meeting metrics and implementation timelines related to this work will be a part of the VP for Historic Sites annual work plan and evaluation criteria.
Portfolio-Wide Networking — The VP is responsible for working with the directors of the National Trust Historic Sites to ensure they have the skills, capacity, authority, support, and resources to steward the historic buildings and landscapes, collections, and businesses operations within the National Trust’s portfolio of historic sites, while representing best practices in preservation, historic sites management, inclusive interpretation, and other related areas. To this end, the VP leads efforts to build an effective network of the leaders of all National Trust Historic Sites, including regular communications, biannual site directors meetings, and other portfolio-wide gatherings and other initiatives. The VP is also responsible for identifying and realizing internal and external opportunities to elevate and highlight the work and thought leadership of National Trust Historic Sites.
Integration Between National Trust Historic Sites and Advocacy — The VP for Historic Sites ensures collaborative integration of National Trust Historic Sites with the advocacy-focused programs, offices, and initiatives of the National Trust. To this end, the VP for Historic Sites actively works to identify and utilize strategic points of intersection and alignment to support advocacy efforts and, more generally, to develop collaborations across the organization.
National Thought Leadership — As a part of the country’s only national non-profit organization focused on historic preservation that has stewarded a national portfolio of historic sites for more than 50 years, the VP plays a critical role in defining the impacts, challenges, and future priorities of historic sites and house museums around the country. By identifying and utilizng a variety of opportunities for communication and collaboration both internally and externally, the VP for Historic Sites will provide thought leadership that is informed by substantive work at National Trust Historic Sites and that provides inspiration and strategic guidance to historic sites and house museums, the broader preservation movement, and allied fields and organizations.
Leadership and Management Skills
- Demonstrated success in developing and managing a diverse staff with varied skills, including effective team leadership skills, and a strong commitment to diversity and inclusivity, and the ability to support a workplace culture that is creative, highly-responsive, and accountable.
- Aptitude for creative problem-solving and collaborative leadership, including the development of impactful initiatves that involve a variety of stakeholders.
- Demonstrated capability to work effectively within a geographically distributed organization and across internal departments and divisions.
- Demonstrated capability to develop and implement strategies with paid and volunteer staff.
- Minimum of 20 years of combined experience with historic site management, cultural arts management, facilities management, real estate development, and/or business development.
- Demonstrated success in building, managing, and leading complex sites, facilities, or businesses to meet quantifiable outcomes.
- Significant experience in developing and implementing creative and collaborative partnerships.
- Demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit and skill set and effective leadership in developing and implementing place-based marketing strategies and initiatives.
Development & Marketing Experience
- Demonstrated success in small and large-scale fundraising and building relationships with potential donors, including development of case and cause statements to raise capital funds for stewarsdship of buildings, landscapes, and collections, as well the creation of new interpretive and business development initiatives.
- Experience in developing and implementing successful, place-based marketing initiatives. Experience in working outside the traditional historic site model to build sustainable business models or the equivalent experience in similar fields.
- Experience in business development and the ability to be open-minded and creative with past experience working collaboratively with outside parties, such as in work with public/private partnerships.
Experience in the non-profit and advocacy sectors and experience or interest in preservation and historic architecture.
- Experience working with, and serving on, non-profit boards.
- Academic and Related Qualifications
- Related academic and professional experience. A Bachelors degree and Masters degree or equivalent experience are required. An MBA, a dregee in historic preservation, art history or arts management a plus.
General Qualifications for Vice Presidents:
- Minimum 20 years professional experience, including at least 12 years in progressively responsible senior management roles. Demonstrated experience executing successful non-profit revenue-generation and donor-management strategies and tactics.
- At least 12 years of experience in collaborative leadership supporting impactful initiatives with a variety of stakeholders, preferably in a national level, non-profit setting.
- Advanced analytical, problem solving (issue identification and prioritization) skills are essential for this role, plus the ability to exercise sound judgment and make decisions based on accurate and timely analysis. · Demonstrated success with place-based marketing, including use and implementation of digital analytics and other tools.
- Advanced project management, department-management and client-management skills, with the ability to develop and execute short and long terms plans including the establishment of goals and outcome measures. Dependability essential, with a strong sense of urgency and results-orientation, preferred.
- Ability to achieve results with minimal supervision
- Demonstrated experience leading departments, as well as successfully managing key internal and external stakeholders and relationships. Proven ability to train, motivate and manage staff in a fast-paced, high-performing environment.
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills, with the ability to communicate plans and outcomes at all levels of the organization. Ability to communicate with staff at remote locations essential.
- Persuasive, polished presentation skills.
- Strong interpersonal skills, with proven ability to collaborate across departments to implement processes and achieve results. Track record of building and maintaining productive relationships with multiple stakeholders.
- Ability to prioritize, multi-task efficiently and respond to a high volume of ongoing requests in a timely fashion. Ability to adapt and be flexible in a dynamic work environment.
- Proven ability to continually develop skills related to use of rapidly changing technology and communications best practices.
- Entrepreneurial spirit and skill set essential.
- Ability to delegate as possible.
- Demonstrated success in marketing to and engaging culturally diverse audiences and partners.
- Excellent verbal, written and electronic communication skills.Advanced knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel required. Familiarity with other software, including databases, financial reporting systems.
- Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent years of experience) required. Master’s degree or equivalent experience required.
- Demonstrated interest in, and commitment to, the values and goals of the National Trust is required.