Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden,
Chief Executive Officer (Search closed)

Staten Island, NY


Founded in 1801 as a three building haven for retired sailors, Snug Harbor grew over the 19th Century into one of the New York area’s largest organizations, with over 50 structures and over 900 residents from all over the world. Since its rebirth in 1985 as the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and after many years of restoration and development, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden honors and preserves its historical roots while serving as a vibrant regional arts center.

Snug Harbor’s 83-acre property on Staten Island features 26 Greek Revival, Beaux Arts, Italianate and Victorian style buildings, along with several unique outdoor spaces, including a traditional Chinese garden, a Tuscan garden, a vineyard and an outdoor fully electrified and covered stage with seating for 4,000. One of several Greek Revival buildings, Snug Harbor’s 680-seat Music Hall is New York City’s second oldest music hall and the centerpiece for the performing arts at Snug Harbor.

The entire campus includes 26 buildings containing 380,000 square feet of space, 4 miles of underground utilities, 2.5 miles of sidewalks, and 220 parking spaces. In addition to Snug Harbor’s own programs, its campus houses five separate major nonprofit institutions and receives about 450,000 visitors per year.

Snug Harbor looks toward the future with the mission of creating a world-class cultural complex, modeled on the Smithsonian Institution, “that fosters both artistic excellence and a spirit of community.” In support of their vision of Snug Harbor as a must-see destination that provides arts, education, and entertainment to the people of Staten Island and its surrounding communities, Snug Harbor’s board has adopted several initiatives. These include creating an environment that attracts first-class artists and a diverse audience, communicating Snug Harbor’s maritime heritage, increasing programming and outreach that integrates humanities into everyday life, and adapting and preserving Snug Harbor’s buildings and architectural heritage for public use.


Snug Harbor seeks a seasoned nonprofit executive with demonstrated experience in helping organizations grow to scale. Knowledge and expertise in
organization planning, all methods of fundraising, communications, operations, and management as well as a strong entrepreneurial vision are important to the success of this position.

The Chief Executive Officer reports to and is accountable to the organization’s Board of Directors for providing leadership and strategic direction toward achievement of Snug Harbor’s goals and vision.

This highly visible and hands-on executive will be responsible for the leadership, management, and growth of Snug Harbor including planning, annual budget development, and implementation and evaluation of all operations in conjunction with senior staff and the Board of Directors.

Professional leadership is an integral component of the position. The CEO is expected to be a leader and resource to the Board and staff in addressing Snug Harbor’s opportunities and challenges. The CEO must be a strong communicator in groups and with individuals, able to interpret issues clearly, and effectively persuade others in a manner that leads to agreement and action.

Snug Harbor serves an important role as caretaker to a historic 83 acre facility replete with botanical gardens and landmarked buildings and structures. It also provides programmatic and operational space to other nonprofits. The chief executive must ensure sound management of the physical site and build positive and collaborative relationships with its tenant nonprofit organizations.

It is expected that the CEO will spend the majority of his/her time working externally to increase awareness and recognition of Snug Harbor’s work that will result in growth in private and public support. It is expected that the CEO will be deeply involved in working with the Board to fundraise in order to build programs.

The CEO will work actively with members of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and other government agencies and elected officials to ensure that Snug Harbor’s public funding continues at current levels and, as appropriate, increases to meet growing needs. The CEO is tasked with increasing public awareness about Snug Harbor’s programs to further develop the brand throughout the New York metropolitan area that will result in greater attendance, recognition, and private funding through corporate, foundation, and individual donors.

The Board will seek a chief executive skilled at diversifying and maximizing the organization’s revenue stream. The ability to think creatively about program development and to be entrepreneurial will be integral to the executive’s success.



Organizational Leadership

• Provide leadership and management for staff and volunteers in the development and implementation of Snug Harbor’s plans. Set goals and strategy with staff. Review and evaluate progress and implementation.

• Ensure sound management of all facilities on the Snug Harbor’s campus.

• Ensure the sound financial management of the organization and oversee the preparation of reports, records and other documentation as requested by the Board that presents the progress and status of Snug Harbor’s plan and activities.

• Recruit, motivate, deploy and supervise a professional team that can effectively carry out the organization’s programs. Lead a management team whose work in directing daily activities will ultimately allow the CEO to spend the majority of his/her time off campus with private donors, government funders, community leaders, and other stakeholders.

Revenue Development

• Work with the Board to develop and implement a plan that will diversify the organization’s revenue stream from government, foundation, corporate, and individual sources.

• Create significant earned income opportunities that can succeed by leveraging the organization’s massive array of programmatic space.

• Interact effectively with city and state funding agencies to secure continued funding necessary to support and subsequently grow Snug Harbor’s programs.

• Lead the process of developing and implementing an integrated financial resource development model, in which Board members and volunteers actively participate in fundraising.

• Direct the cultivation and meaningful involvement of volunteers at all levels in income producing activities.

Board & Volunteer Development

• Be proactively involved in building and maintaining a strong Board to ensure that individual members understand and fulfill their volunteer expectations.

• Work effectively with the Board and its committees to maximize their efforts. Ensure that meetings are properly arranged, organized, and conducted productively. Work with leadership to develop the skills and knowledge required to build agreement on issues.

• Serve as professional advisor and resource to the Board in all areas of programs, development, finance, policy, and governance.

Community Development and Public Outreach

• Provide leadership for the cultivation of productive relationships with elected leaders, government agencies, media, corporate leaders, and other nonprofit organizations.

• Ensure that the organization’s story, message, program success and positions are effectively developed and disseminated to the appropriate communities.

• Build productive relationships with other similar organizations.



• At least 10 years progressive senior level management and organizational leadership experience.

• Demonstrated track record of performance excellence in a multi-faceted similarly-sized nonprofit institution.

• Understanding of and successful professional experience in all areas of fundraising, planning, implementation, and financial resource development. A proven track record and the willingness and desire to be personally involved with these efforts are required. Experience with cultivation and solicitation of major donors is critical.

• Strong leadership skills with a philosophy and style that encourages creativity, growth, collaboration, problem solving, open communication, and accountability.

• Experience overseeing physical plants, capital construction or renovation.

• Proven effectiveness in serving as a spokesperson and representative with funders, community leaders, government officials, the media, and other stakeholders.

• Exceptional leadership, supervisory, and team-building skills in a nonprofit environment that involves significant volunteer participation.

• Track record of building and motivating a Board of Directors.

• Financial management experience (budget development and management).

• Bachelor’s degree required. Graduate degree preferred.


• A creative and skillful professional able to motivate others and instill a positive work ethic.

• An open and inclusive style that encourages teamwork and acknowledges enthusiasm and success.

• Ability to present as a confident, informed, and inspiring leader and spokesperson.

• Excellent written and verbal communication skills.

• Superior active listening, observation, analytical, and problem recognition and solving skills.

• Ability to make sound judgments independently and to take initiative.

• Well-disciplined and results-oriented self-starter who is extremely resourceful and resilient.

• Extroverted, outgoing, and entrepreneurial.

• A strategic, creative, and original thinker.


David Hinsley Cheng, Managing Partner

DRG, Inc.
275 Madison Avenue, 12th Floor
New York, New York 10016
Tel: (212) 983-1600
Fax: (212) 983-1687

This search began in January 2017 and is currently active. This position description is based upon materials presented by Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, an equal opportunity employer.