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Arts and Culture, Fundraising and Advancement, Nonprofit and Social Impact

Director of Patron Engagement

  • Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation
  • New York, NY
About Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation

Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation (“Ailey”) was founded and built on a key premise: no limitations. For more than 60 years, the Ailey organization has furthered the pioneering vision of the choreographer, dancer, and cultural leader Alvin Ailey by building an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training and education, and community programs for all. Since its founding, the Ailey organization has been widely recognized for its unparalleled artistry and commitment to social change.

More than a dance company, this performing arts community plays a crucial social role, using the beauty and humanity of the African American heritage and other cultures to unite people of all races, ages, and backgrounds. Housed within the Joan Weill Center for Dance, the largest building dedicated to dance in New York City, the Ailey organization includes:

  • Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance. The Ailey company has gone on to perform for an estimated 25 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents—as well as millions more through television broadcasts, film screenings, and online platforms.
  • Ailey II: Ailey II is universally renowned for merging the spirit and energy of the country’s best young dance talent with the passion and creative vision of today’s most outstanding emerging choreographers. Founded in 1974 as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, the company embodies Mr. Ailey’s pioneering mission to establish an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training, and community programs for all people. Ailey II has flourished into one of the most popular modern dance companies, combining a rigorous touring schedule with extensive community outreach programs.
  • The Ailey School: The Ailey School has been training world-class dancers since Alvin Ailey first opened his school in Brooklyn, NY in 1969. -Guided by Mr. Ailey’s mission that dance is for everybody, its prestigious faculty trains 3,500 students annually in its Professional Division and Junior Division programs for aspiring dancers, as well as open classes for professionals.
  • The Ailey Extension: Offers“Real Dance for Real People” by making dance accessible to everyone with recreational classes open to dance enthusiasts of all levels. The Ailey Extension embodies Mr. Ailey’s legacy that dance comes from the people and should be given back to the people.
  • Arts In Education & Community Programs: The mission of Ailey Arts In Education & Community Programs (AIE) is to cultivate and energize youth and adults to take, make, and see dance. Through its school and community outreach programs, the Ailey organization inspires audiences to explore their own creativity and experience the joy of dance.

Moreover, the Ailey organization has developed civic partnerships and hubs in Atlanta and Kansas City.

Mr. Ailey said, “I am trying to show the world we are all human beings, that color is not important, that what is important is the quality of our work, of a culture in which the young are not afraid to take chances and can hold onto their values and self-esteem, especially in the arts and in dance. That’s what it’s all about to me.”

Before his untimely death in 1989, Alvin Ailey named Judith Jamison as his successor, and over the next 21 years, she brought the company to unprecedented success. Ms. Jamison, in turn, personally selected Robert Battle to succeed her in 2011, and The New York Times declared he “has injected the company with new life.”

Today, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater continues Mr. Ailey’s mission by presenting important works of the past and commissioning new ones. In all, more than 235 works by over 90 choreographers have been part of the Company’s repertory.

In keeping with its values, the Ailey organization will continue to honor the legacy and achievements of Mr. Ailey by achieving ever-greater heights of excellence, pursued with integrity, commitment, and creativity—now and into the future.

About Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey was born on January 5, 1931, in Rogers, Texas. His experiences of life in the rural South would later inspire some of his most memorable works. He was introduced to dance in Los Angeles, and his formal dance training began with an introduction to Lester Horton’s classes. Horton, the founder of one of the first racially integrated dance companies in the United States, became a mentor for Mr. Ailey as he embarked on his professional career. After Horton’s death in 1953, Mr. Ailey became director of the Lester Horton Dance Theater and began to choreograph his own works.

In 1958, he founded Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to carry out his vision of a company dedicated to enriching the American modern dance heritage and preserving the uniqueness of the African American cultural experience. Mr. Ailey pioneered programs promoting arts in education, particularly those benefiting underserved communities. Throughout his lifetime, he was awarded numerous distinctions, including the Kennedy Center Honor in 1988 in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to American culture. In 2014, he posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, in recognition of his contributions and commitment to civil rights and dance in America. 

When Mr. Ailey passed away on December 1, 1989, The New York Times said of him, “you didn’t need to have known [him] personally to have been touched by his humanity, enthusiasm, and exuberance and his courageous stand for multi-racial brotherhood.”

Mr. Ailey is globally recognized as one of the most important figures in American dance, and a key leader in the Civil Rights movement. At a time when tensions are high and the principles of racial and social justice are again at the forefront, his legacy stands tall.

For more information on the Ailey organization, please visit its website.

The Opportunity

Ailey seeks an experienced fundraising professional to lead the organization’s individual giving strategy. Reporting to and partnering with the Managing Director of Development, the Director of Patron Engagement leads a four-person team dedicated to raising $3.8M+ each year from individuals. The Director develops and implements strategies to maintain and increase revenue from individual donors, including targeted major gift solicitations, direct mail campaigns, online campaigns, planned giving, and special events. A strong focus on building and managing individual connections through in-person visits and personalized, direct, written and telephone communications is key.

This is a senior administrative position on the Development Team and is responsible for developing and managing talented and committed staff. The Director will also work closely with the Board of Directors, as appropriate, to support their fundraising efforts. This full-time position will be housed in the New York City office, with a network, reach, and community in New York and beyond.  

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Managing an individual giving team of three full-time and one part-time employees responsible for meeting annual contributed revenue goals.
  • Supervising, mentoring, and cultivating staff members to meet their individual goals in service of the team’s fundraising plan(s), as well as contributing to the cultivation of their expertise, interests, and skills.
  • Developing and implementing strategies for the research, cultivation, stewardship, and solicitation of donors and prospects to grow engagement and contributed revenue.
  • Creating and implementing a strategy for Ailey’s major gifts program and donor pipeline in collaboration with the Chief External Affairs Officer, Managing Director for Development, and individual giving team.
  • Working with the Executive Director, Artistic Director, Development Committee of the Board, and Board of Trustees overall on cultivation, stewardship, and solicitation of donors and prospects.
  • Conducting research into Ailey’s current individual donors to determine opportunities for increased giving potential, as well as researching the donor potential among other Ailey constituencies, such as ticket buyers, parents of children enrolled in The Ailey School, and adults taking dance classes through the popular Ailey Extension program. 
  • Creating cultivation events and other opportunities to engage individual donors and build relationships.
  • Soliciting contributions from individuals with the goal of growing the Artistic Director’s Circle membership program ($10,000+ annual membership) and other groups of major donors.
  • Overseeing monthly, quarterly, and yearly plans to quantify individual giving and special events moves management and outcome goals. Director should furnish organization with ambitious evidence-based revenue projections annually, while establishing longer term goals. Director will monitor goals’ efficacy over time and course correct as necessary.
  • Partnering with content creation staff, alongside the Managing Director of Development and Chief External Affairs Officer, in ensuring to produce written and online fundraising collateral and maintain the integrity of Ailey’s messaging and case for support.
  • Working with Programmatic staff to align Ailey’s fundraising with programmatic priorities and meaningfully include Programmatic staff in Development activities, as appropriate.
Candidate Profile

While no one candidate will possess every quality outlined for this position, strong candidates will bring many of the following professional qualifications and personal attributes:

Expertise in Individual Giving

The Director of Patron Engagement must possess exceptional communication and organizational skills and the ability to manage multiple projects while maintaining deadlines. The Director of Patron Engagement manages a team of fundraisers who are responsible for all aspects of individual giving. In addition to developing fundraising strategies and formulating solicitation procedures for the full team, the Director of Patron Engagement is responsible for the cultivation and stewardship of Ailey’s individual major donor program and the development of a systemized approach for cultivating and securing increased gifts from those donors, while also identifying and pursuing new prospects in the NYC-area and in key tour markets.

Relationship Builder

Critical to success in this role, the Director will be skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships internally and externally. The Director will be a natural partner with a demonstrated ability to connect and build bridges. A highly adept and fluent communicator, this leader will attract and steward high-level donors by effectively conveying Ailey’s case for support. The ideal candidate will take a creative approach to proposing pathways for new, innovative approaches to broadening Ailey’s base for support, resulting in long-term relationships.       

Inclusive and Strategic Leader

The Director will be highly strategic, having the ability to set priorities decisively but collaboratively, delegate responsibilities, ensure accountability, and allocate resources to ensure results. This leader will bring experience affecting change in a complex organization and a proven record of converting strategy into effective execution. The ideal candidate will be an innovative and energetic individual who functions well in a fast-paced, team environment, which includes cross-department coordination. Moreover, this leader will build bridges and engage colleagues interdepartmentally. Most importantly, the Director will possess a strong sense of confidence and an adaptable style that will resonate with all internally and externally.

Passion for the Legacy and Mission of the Ailey Organization

The Director will embody the values and mission of the Ailey organization and, as a result, will inspire and motivate others. This leader will treat others with respect and lead by example, understanding that at times, empathy and humor are essential qualities. In addition, the Director will be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics, and values—someone who can be trusted without reservation. Moreover, the ideal candidate will believe in the power of dance to transform individuals and communities and create social change.

In addition, strong candidates will offer:

  • Minimum of 10 years of successful fundraising experience, with emphasis on individual giving.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills with great attention to detail.
  • Ability to thrive in a fast-paced, goal-oriented work environment.
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite and Salesforce.
Compensation & Benefits

The salary range for this role is $150,000 -$170,000 and it is offered along with a competitive benefits package, which includes employer-provided health/dental insurance, a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), retirement plan, and savings on transit/parking.

Contact

Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Chartíse Clark and Tracy Michelle León of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Koya Partners is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email NonprofitSearchOps@divsearch.com. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.

Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Employment is based upon personal capabilities and qualifications without discrimination based on race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, marital status, veteran status, citizenship status, or any other protected characteristic as established by law.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

At Koya, we don’t just accept difference—we celebrate it, support it, and thrive on it for the benefit of our team, our clients, and the communities we serve.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit koyapartners.com.

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