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Arts and Culture, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Nonprofit and Social Impact

Managing Director, People, Equity, and Inclusion

  • 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, the company 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 Ailey 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

The Managing Director, People, Equity, and Inclusion will be a thoughtful problem solver who supports Ailey’s organizational development by building and implementing its people strategy with an eye towards equity and inclusion. The Managing Director will lead Ailey’s initiatives and activities regarding staff recruitment and retention, equity and inclusion, skill building and capacity, and performance evaluation. The Managing Director will also be responsible for providing thought partnership and capacity building to Ailey’s senior leaders. Most importantly, this leader will have an eye continually focused on the future of HR, ensuring that best practices and emerging developments in HR policies and strategies are brought to the organization and implemented, where appropriate.

Moreover, this new position will work in tandem with the recently formed Diversity, Engagement, and Advisory Committee. Comprised of staff from across the organization, the Committee and Managing Director will partner together as Ailey implements recommendations to strengthen its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition, this role will support and partner with the Board of Trustees’ DEI Committee to help advance the Board’s DEI priorities while keeping them informed of organizational developments in DEI.

The Managing Director will create the vision for the people, equity, and inclusion function at the Ailey organization. In close partnership with the Executive Director, General Counsel, Director, People and Culture, and the senior leadership team, the Managing Director will ensure that this vision is fully aligned with overall organizational strategy, objectives, and values. This vision for people, equity, and inclusion will strengthen Ailey’s culture, foster a sense of belonging, and inspire others to do their best work. This focus on the development and growth of staff, their potential and their pathways will help Ailey achieve new heights and serve as a powerful example for other performing arts organizations.

Specific responsibilities include:

PARTNER ACROSS THE ORGANIZATION TO BUILD LEADERSHIP AND TALENT STRATEGY

  • Equip senior leaders with the resources and knowledge necessary to manage courageous conversations about equity and inclusion that lead to action and results; as needed, lead these conversations with staff and dancers.
  • Expose senior leaders to the most effective and innovative coaching and development practices within and beyond the mission-driven space.
  • Support the Board’s work and priorities in DEI by working in close partnership with the Chair of the Board’s DEI Committee.
  • Ensure the Board of Trustees’ DEI Committee remains informed about the Ailey organization’s DEI initiatives and priorities.
  • Facilitate shared learning and communication of best-in-class human capital practices across Ailey while fostering an environment of continuous improvement.
  • Help build the capability of senior leaders to proactively attract, develop, and retain the best talent.
  • Support all staff by designing and implementing highly effective human capital functions.

PEOPLE MANAGEMENT

  • Manage, coach, and supervise staff (currently a team of 1) overseeing HR and DEI.
  • Serve as a mentor through thoughtful opportunities for leadership development, identifying pathways for professional development strategies and opportunities.
  • Lead the growth and development of the HR and DEI function, including oversight of training and professional development.
  • Exhibit a transparent and trusting leadership style, empowering direct report(s) to work autonomously while assuring accountability and providing feedback and support.
  • Oversee performance management of direct report(s) through evaluations, coaching, and supporting the team to have a strong culture of feedback.

FOSTER AN INCLUSIVE ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE AND SENSE OF BELONGING

  • Champion and advance the Ailey organization’s equity and inclusion efforts.
  • Help shape Ailey’s culture and ethos across departments and teams, with an emphasis on strengthening a sense of shared purpose and belonging across the organization.
  • Partner with the Executive Director and senior leaders to plan and implement initiatives that reinforce Ailey’s core values, with a focus on developing and retaining staff.

DRIVE OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE, RESULTS, AND GROWTH THROUGH EFFECTIVE LEARNING, DEVELOPMENT, AND PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

  • Ensure ongoing development and long-term career planning for all staff through practices such as robust goal setting, individual development plans, succession planning, and development of a culture of consistent and honest feedback.
  • Offer coaching and support to managers in assessing, training, and developing their teams, with a focus on building development plans that leverage the strengths and assets of staff.
  • Help staff and managers improve their expertise and address skill gaps through internal and external learning opportunities for individuals and groups.
  • Identify the most pressing learning needs of the organization to support excellence.
  • Support staff by identifying and communicating internal leadership opportunities and career pathways.

FORMALIZE AND IMPLEMENT RECRUITING PROCESS ACROSS ALL INTERNAL HIRING PROCESSES

  • Formalize standard recruiting processes for roles at the Ailey organization.
  • Promote rigorous selection practices to enable the Ailey organization to continue building a world class team and consistently hire the best talent.
  • Nurture and develop a pipeline of candidates interested in and aligned with the Ailey organization’s core values and culture.
  • Implement a strategic compensation system that ensures consistency around job titles, salary bands and increases, and promotions.
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:

Strategic and Entrepreneurial Leader

The Managing Director will have an entrepreneurial spirit, with a measurable track record of strong results and an outcome-driven mindset. A proven strategic thinker, the Managing Director will oversee planning and development of human capital initiatives; diagnose critical areas for attention; build consensus; and implement decisive, clear strategies. A catalyst for change and growth, the Managing Director will inspire others to think entrepreneurially and inject new ideas. This leader will bring an ability to operate with confidence, transparency, and clarity, with a consultative approach that is empowering to Ailey’s community and culture. Moreover, strong candidates will bring experience partnering with and supporting a Board of Trustees.

Committed and Engaged Manager

Leveraging prior management experience, the Managing Director will bring an ability to build and lead high-performing, dedicated staff to achieve organizational goals. With the ability to engender trust, honesty, and integrity, the Managing Director’s management style will be simultaneously organized, efficient, and inclusive, allowing for the building of consensus and recognition of teamwork. Outcomes-driven, this leader will ensure the HR and DEI functions successfully meet benchmarks while maintaining a positive employee experience. The Managing Director will also bring a consultative and inclusive approach to developing policy and process changes so that staff feel included, understand their roles, and are engaged in decision-making processes.

Expertise in Leadership and Talent Development

The Managing Director will bring a proven track record of developing and leading world-class teams with a superior understanding of human capital and talent management strategies. The Managing Director will thrive in an environment with open communication and a commitment to equity and inclusion. An experienced leader with a background in managing significant organizational change, the Managing Director will maintain a thorough and wide-ranging perspective on Ailey’s community and culture across departments and geographies. With Ailey’s short and long-term personnel needs in mind, the Managing Director will employ a comprehensive approach to forecasting progress towards goals and achieving sustainable, well-supported solutions. The Managing Director will evaluate and advise on Ailey’s policies and systems concerning equity and inclusion and will have the proven ability to foster and strengthen a culture of continuous improvement.

Advocate of Equity and Inclusion

The Managing Director will come to Ailey with a deep commitment to equity and inclusion. Equipped with a multi-faceted understanding of the evolving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) landscape, the Managing Director will help Ailey’s staff develop a shared language to discuss, identify, evolve, and/or dismantle current policies and procedures in support of a more equitable and inclusive environment. The Managing Director will have a thoughtful, empathic approach and will be known as an active listener and responsive leader throughout the organization. A resourceful coach and capable facilitator, the Managing Director will have the ability to motivate others to action, even in the face of daunting challenges. The Managing Director will be energized by the prospect of leading Ailey’s staff in developing awareness, comfort, and confidence to address equity across the organization.

Strong Relationship Builder, Communicator, and Collaborator

Critical to success in this role, the Managing Director will be skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships across Ailey. The Managing Director will be a key partner to staff at all stages of their careers, with a demonstrated ability to connect, build bridges, and garner respect. It is imperative that the Managing Director fosters an atmosphere of collaboration and partnership across the organization, bolstered by excellent communication skills. The Managing Director will be an excellent communicator with extensive experience in all forms of organizational communication, written and verbal, with the ability to communicate complex information effectively to all levels of staff, management, and Board members. In addition, this leader will have practical experience in communicating change, including those related to new systems, policies, and procedures.

Passion for the Legacy and Mission of the Ailey Organization

The Managing Director will embody the values and mission of the Ailey organization and, as a result, will inspire and motivate others. The Managing Director will treat others with respect and lead by example, understanding that at times, empathy and humor are essential qualities. The Managing Director will have an eye consistently focused on the future and how to best adapt the organization in a rapidly changing environment. The Managing 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.

Compensation

The salary range for this role is $235,000 – $250,000. The Ailey organization’s benefits include an employer-provided health/dental insurance, 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 resume and cover letter 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 www.koyapartners.com.

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