The Menil Collection: Director of Advancement

Houston-based philanthropists and art patrons John and Dominique de Menil established the Menil Foundation in 1954 to foster greater public understanding and appreciation of art, architecture, culture, religion, and philosophy. In 1987, the Menil Collection’s main building opened to the public. A major art museum with a growing collection of more than 17,000 objects, the Menil embodies the ideals and values of its founders, in particular, that art is vital to human life and should be readily accessible to all persons.

The Menil is located in central Houston and receives extensive local, national, and international recognition for its innovative exhibitions, conservation research, publications, scholarship, and unique architecture. The landmark Renzo Piano- 2 designed main building houses much of the permanent collection, which focuses on Greco-Roman and Near East antiquities; Byzantine and medieval art; the cultures of Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the American Pacific Northwest; and twentieth-century and contemporary painting, sculpture, film, works on paper, books, and installations. The thirty-acre residential neighborhood features several dedicated arts pavilions, including the Cy Twombly Gallery, the Dan Flavin Installation at Richmond Hall, and the former Byzantine Fresco Chapel, which now houses long-term contemporary installations, and the Menil Drawing Institute, which opened in 2019.

In 2009, David Chipperfield Architects was engaged to envision a new master plan for the Menil campus. The plan recognizes as fundamental principles the meandering green spaces and dialogue between arts buildings and residences. Resulting projects include the new Energy House, Stern and Bucek’s Bistro Menil, and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates’ gateway landscape and parking lot, all of which were funded through the Menil’s first ever capital campaign (2012-17), which raised $121 million. The most extraordinary of these additions is the most recent, Johnston Marklee’s Menil Drawing Institute, a vibrant yet peaceful space designed to foster the acquisition, study, teaching, conservation, exhibition, and storage of drawings.

The Menil Collections’s many green spaces and varied outdoor sculptures contribute to the unique vitality of what English architectural critic and writer Reyner Banham has referred to as a “neighborhood of art.” Admission to the museum buildings, green spaces, and public programs is always free of charge to visitors.

The Role

Reporting to the Museum Director, Dr. Rebecca Rabinow, the Director of Advancement will collaborate with the Board to plan a comprehensive program of fundraising for the Menil. The Director of Advancement has a rare opportunity to take a thriving, missiondriven institution to a new level of charitable funding performance. The Menil seeks a person who has a combination of entrepreneurial drive, innovative thinking, and technical proficiency. The position oversees the management of a staff of professionals in trustee and individual giving; corporate, foundation and government support; donor and information services; membership; and endowment fundraising. The position is responsible for the strategic advancement of the Museum’s development efforts, participating directly in key donor relationships, overseeing long-range strategic fundraising initiatives, and participating in institutional policymaking. Through personal example, the Director of Advancement will need to manage the balance between sustaining effective programs with implementing innovative initiatives to generate significant growth in programs yet to be undertaken.

The Director of Advancement will serve as a member of the Museum’s senior management team.

Essential Responsibilities

1. Serves as the guiding architect of a cohesive and comprehensive fundraising program that celebrates a culture of philanthropy and extends opportunities for those who embrace the museum’s priorities, mission, and values to participate in support of that work.

2. Provides strategic and operational fundraising leadership for both ongoing initiatives and special campaigns that enable the museum to accomplish its mission.

3. Establishes ways to build capacity to support increasing funding requirements, particularly through the expansion of the pool of major gift prospects. Emphasizes the identification and cultivation of the next generation of donors.

4. Identifies and capitalizes on opportunities to expand the museum’s endowment so that the resulting income stream can support a larger physical operation, expanding collections, important and relevant exhibitions, and thriving educational and engagement programs.

5. Brings together, as well as guides and supports, development staff, senior staff, board members, and other volunteers to develop fundraising goals and strategies for each giving program and to cultivate and solicit prospective donors.

6. Oversees and coordinates the volunteer activities of the museum’s Development Committee.

7. Manages a personal portfolio of top-tier donors.

8. Sets clear direction and priorities for the entire Advancement Department. Promotes excellence through well-defined and measurable goals; inspires and motivates staff through fostering a work environment that rewards new ideas and risk-taking, builds confidence, encourages team-based efforts within the museum and across the Menil community, and promotes inclusion and diversity.

9. Establishes policies, systems, and procedures, with a particular emphasis on professionalism and ethical standards for soliciting, acknowledging, tracking, and reporting gifts.

10. Fosters a culture of continuous improvement and utilization of best practices and internal and external customer service.

11. Provides the highest level of personal support to Trustees for their activities on behalf of the museum; ensures that their volunteer experience is meaningful, productive, and enjoyable, and that the Trustees’ intellectual and emotional connection to the Menil and each other is strengthened.

12. Works with the Director, President of the Board and the Nominating & Governance Committee on the identification, cultivation, and recruitment of new Board members.

13. Holds signing authority on development-related documents such as foundation/corporate grant agreements and matching gift forms as an official representative of the Menil Collection and Foundation.

14. Acts as a leader within the Menil Collection, adding expertise, guidance, and collegial participation in the discussion, formulation, and implementation of policies, procedures, and priorities of the organization.


1. 10 to 15 years of development experience, with an ability to articulate programmatic objectives and strategically seek support for these endeavors with energy and passion for the Menil’s core values.

2. A Bachelor’s degree with an advanced degree is preferred.

3. Extensive knowledge of fundraising principles, techniques, and ethics; an understanding of annual giving, membership support, and planned giving strategies.

4. Knowledge of the major sources of funding, including foundation, corporate, individual, and government.

5. Proven track record in organizing fundraising activities effectively and participating personally in high-level development negotiations.

6. Excellent writing and organizational skills; sound judgment and strong professional presence.

7. Excellent administrative and management skills, including experience managing team members performing diverse tasks. Must have experience inspiring performance.

8. Strong collaborative skills necessary to effectively partner with other key areas of the museum.

9. Collegial management style that promotes teamwork, creativity, and open communication.

10. Ability to interact effectively with Board, volunteers, donors, and staff at all levels, as well as an ability to understand and effectively articulate the mission and goals of the Menil.

11. Interest in and appreciation for the visual arts.

12. Previous employment at a cultural institution, notable academic institution, or national non-profit organization is strongly preferred

13. A demonstrated interest and ability to share the collection with diverse audiences and build a positive image and strong relationships for the Menil Collection.

14. Innovative thinking and clear communication skills.

15. A reputation for the highest level of integrity and credibility.


The Menil Collection’s institutional culture is guided by the following core values:

Empathy We are a small staff who work closely together. We are committed to acting with kindness, respect, and understanding towards one another.

Excellence We uphold the highest professional standards. We consistently strive to exceed expectations.

Intellectual Curiosity Guided by our founders’ vision, we are socially and culturally aware, and pursue new and challenging ideas.

Community We are a thoughtful and active member of the Montrose and greater Houston community; we are a good neighbor and responsible partner.


Interested applicants are encouraged to submit a cover letter and resume to:

To ensure full consideration, please apply by September 15, 2019; however, applications will be received until the position is filled.


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