Founded in 1877 by a passionate group of pre-Suffragette women who asserted that artists and designers were uniquely capable of challenging and restructuring convention, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is one of the oldest and best-known colleges of art and design in the world. RISD is recognized for its accomplished faculty of artists, designers, and scholars, the breadth of its specialized facilities, and its immersive approach to studio-based learning. Each year, approximately 2,400 students from around the world pursue a creative, studio-based education at RISD, which offers rigorous bachelor's and master's degree programs in 19 architecture, design, fine arts, and art education majors complemented and animated by essential study in the liberal arts. The RISD Museum, with the third largest university museum collection in the country, is an integral part of the institution and a resource for the larger community.
RISD's 26,000 alumni stand out in their fields and make an enormous impact on the world, with 10 alumni to date recognized with MacArthur Awards (including painter Nicole Eisenman in 2015) and many others influencing the world of business (both Airbnb cofounders, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, are RISD alumni), entertainment (television and film directors Seth MacFarlane and Gus Van Sant), fashion (Nicole Miller, Marcia Patmos), and fine arts (Janine Antoni, Jenny Holzer, Shahzia Sikander, Kara Walker). RISD produces more Fulbright scholars than any other art school.
RISD has a long history of advancing the creative problem-solving and design-based innovation so critical in the rapidly changing, complex world of today. The arts are increasingly seen as essential to business and commerce, instead of being on the margins. Consistent with the institution's roots and embracing present-day challenges and opportunities, RISD is seeking to bring its teaching methods and creative culture to a broader audience, while also boosting the role of art and design in Rhode Island's economy. RISD stakeholders are brimming with optimism as the school is becoming more publicly engaged and visible to an extended community, and is pursuing an agenda that prioritizes increased access and social equity in fulfilling the school's mission.
Advancing RISD's culture of philanthropy has been a priority under President Rosanne Somerson's leadership, with externally facing functions becoming more prominent at the institution, including its development efforts led by the Institutional Engagement office. Fundraising activity has tripled during the past few years, with Institutional Engagement shifting from more transactional practices to a markedly strategic approach to development. The administrative structure supporting frontline development has been significantly enhanced, including a retooled research team, and strong, collaborative partnerships have been established between Institutional Engagement and the President's Office, academic deans, program heads, and marketing and communications colleagues. The philanthropic partnership with the RISD Board of Trustees is also being enriched. RISD's philanthropic ambitions have indeed been raised, coinciding well with an emerging strategic planning process and pending physical plant improvements that will inform the institution's next campaign.
Amid this favorable context, RISD seeks its next Vice President for Institutional Engagement (Vice President). Reporting to the President, the Vice President serves as the chief development officer responsible for the integrated leadership of all functions and aspects of fundraising, including major and principal gifts from individual and institutional sources, annual giving, planned giving, campaign initiatives, donor relations and stewardship, and development operations, as well as support for select government grants and partnerships. S/he will lead a team of approximately 24 staff in the Institutional Engagement office, while also working closely with the Director of Development and External Affairs for the RISD museum. The Vice President is a member of the President's cabinet and senior leadership team.
The Vice President, in collaboration with RISD's senior leadership team, will have primary responsibility for fundraising success, fostering new levels of engagement for alumni, families, and friends, and must advance the culture of philanthropy across the institution. Given RISD's campaign and broader philanthropic ambitions, the Vice President must continue to increase the overall sophistication of the development program, championing strategic, data-informed decision-making, industry best practices, and dedication to continuous improvement, transparency, and accountability.
Required qualifications and experience: dedication to the mission and goals of RISD, and demonstrated affinity for arts and culture; must be a highly compelling representative of a leading art and design school in terms of mission connection and stylistic qualities; bachelor's degree required, advanced degree preferred; minimum of seven to 10 years of experience in progressively responsible development leadership positions, which includes work in individual giving, institutional giving, planned giving, stewardship, and participation in a major capital campaign, preferably within an institution of higher education, major cultural institution, nonprofit organization, or other environment of similar complexity; demonstrated ability to provide management oversight, leadership, and direction with at least five years of significant supervisory experience, including experience creating and managing a budget; must be steeped in modern philanthropy best practices and able to effectively integrate advancement functions; must have the breadth of skills required to devise macro-level external relations strategies, including those related to organizational branding, marketing, and communications; particular strength in developing the case for support and strategic, complex, and innovative fundraising plans, and executing against those plans to achieve goals and objectives; track record of success in securing six and seven-figure gifts and greater, including cultivation through solicitation and stewardship, as well as experience working with annual giving strategies for grooming the next generation of annual leadership and major gift donors; strength in international fundraising and the cultural sensitivity it requires; experience identifying, nurturing, and motivating volunteers, and an appreciation for their role in building an effective fundraising network; ability to extract and analyze data to make effective, efficient decisions about donor strategy and process.
Rhode Island School of Design recognizes diversity and inclusivity as fundamental to its learning community and integral to and art and design education. RISD welcomes candidates whose experience in leadership and higher education has prepared them to contribute to our commitment to diversity and excellence. RISD is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetics, or any other protected characteristic as established by law.
Rhode Island School of Design has retained Diversified Search to assist in this confidential search processes. Inquiries, nominations, and applications (current resumes and cover letters) should be directed electronically to:
Gerard F. Cattie, Jr.
Practice Leader – Development & Philanthropy
The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue, 49th Floor, New York, NY 10174