About Firelight Media
Firelight Media is the premier destination for non-fiction cinema by and about communities of color. Firelight Media produces documentary films, supports filmmakers of color, and cultivates audiences for their work.
Founded by award-winning filmmakers Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith, Firelight Media began in 1998 as an independent nonprofit documentary production company that produced stories on topics that are typically underrepresented in the mainstream media.
In 2008, Firelight Media transitioned to focusing on supporting emerging filmmakers of color, while Firelight Films was launched as the new for-profit documentary production company led by Stanley Nelson. Firelight Films’ recent projects include Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre for the History Channel; Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy for Netflix; and Attica for Showtime.
Today, Firelight Media’s key programs include:
- Documentary Lab, a flagship mentorship program that seeks out and supports emerging filmmakers of color;
- The FRONTLINE/Firelight Fellowship, which supports diverse, independent producers interested in investigative documentary filmmaking and audio storytelling;
- The William Greaves Fund, which resources talented, mid-career nonfiction storytellers from racially and ethnically underrepresented communities in the United States, as well as filmmakers from Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Colombia; with a particular interest in those who identify as being of Indigenous and/or of African descent;
- The Impact Campaign Fund, which addresses a resource gap in the nonfiction space for impact and audience engagement-related projects by and for communities of color in the U.S.;
- Beyond Resilience, a series of online screenings, essays, and curated conversations that explore the challenges, strategies, and experiences of creating and distributing work during periods of social transformation.
- The Spark Fund, which offers support to established independent documentary filmmakers who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (BIPOC), and whose work on humanities-themed projects was disrupted by COVID-19 public health emergency and
- Documentary short film series produced in partnership with a variety of public media outlets and production companies.
Firelight’s 12+-person team consists of recognized leaders and rising stars with deep expertise and commitment to amplifying marginalized voices. What sets Firelight apart is its extraordinarily diverse, multi-racial team of emerging leaders of color.
For more information on Firelight Media, please visit its website.
This is a remarkable opportunity for an exceptional leader to join a pioneering organization and lead a group of passionate and talented stakeholders in transforming access and opportunity for filmmakers of color.
As Firelight Media enters its next chapter of evolution, it seeks an exceptional Senior Vice President (SVP) to lead the organization to achieve even greater levels of strategic influence, impact, and innovation – knowing that these external indicators derive from an organization with talented staff, strong partnerships, and a solid reputation in the field.
Reporting to the President, the SVP will help lead the continued growth of Firelight Media. The SVP’s primary responsibilities will be internal facing, with shared responsibility for carrying out the organization’s consistent achievement of its mission, strategic vision, and financial objectives. The SVP will bring transparency and visionary leadership to all areas of Firelight Media, providing oversight of the organization’s programs, culture, and talent.
In partnership with an exceptional team, the SVP will spearhead the development and implementation of strategies to ensure the programmatic and operational health of Firelight as it evolves to enable even greater impact.
The SVP will embody Firelight Media’s theory of change and strong commitment to advancing racial and social justice through documentary film. The SVP will enhance the organization’s current and emerging programs, supporting the President in accelerating the organization’s impact, resource development and recognition. This leader will be a highly capable manager, demonstrating investment in and maintaining a presence with each member of the team.
In collaboration with the Board and staff, the SVP will lead Firelight Media into its next chapter, ensuring the organization’s internal structures and external presence are aligned with its mission and vision.
The SVP of Firelight Media will be at the forefront of this fight, alongside the team and Board, at a time when racial tensions and social inequality have led to challenges and pervasive fears that mirror decades past.
Key responsibilities will include:
- Serve as an inspirational, innovative, and visionary leader for Firelight, balancing a collaborative, relational spirit with organizational acumen to ensure sustainability and continued impact for the organization
- In collaboration with the President, staff, and Board of Directors, enhance and drive the overall strategic plan and priorities to thoughtfully maximize capacity and resources
- Promote the Firelight’s aspirations, encouraging engagement and inspiring others to lend support
- Provide empowering leadership for a diverse range of passionate, committed, and skilled staff members
- Apply a focus on thoughtful and intentional organizational development with a commitment to growth for team members at all levels; demonstrate attentiveness, availability, and willingness to invest in staff development and cohesion
- When called upon, serve as a compelling and persuasive spokesperson for Firelight by effectively representing its mission, goals, and programs to both current and prospective partners and supporters
- Inspire trust and confidence by developing and strengthening new and existing partnerships
The SVP will possess the following attributes, characteristics, and competencies:
Movement Leader and Change Agent
You believe in systemic change anchored in social movements and want to shift power and resources to those most affected and marginalized by injustice. You are excited to create strategies that disrupt the traditional approaches to documentary filmmaking — and have the tactical and project management experience to make this a reality. You are eager to enter a role that focuses on supporting filmmakers of color at all stages of their careers, overseeing innovative programming and grantmaking, and building and nurturing collaborative relationships.
As a thought leader, you are comfortable bringing new and innovative ideas to the table. You’re able to provide strategic counsel, clearly articulate ideas, and successfully navigate differing points of view. You welcome opportunities to challenge the status quo and push people to see things in a new way, with a new perspective. You bring keen analytical skills and the ability to think critically, evaluate risk, make sound decisions, solve problems, and explain and justify recommendations to diverse audiences.
Action-Oriented with Strong Execution Skills
You are an adaptable and adaptive leader who brings both creativity and determination to your work. You are not daunted by the opportunity to course-correct when ideas or priorities shift and see new challenges as a chance to grow and evolve your work. As a leader and partner, you view flexibility and the ability to see the big picture as critical to being a high performer and demonstrate the accountability and team-orientation needed to succeed in a small organization.
You have a demonstrated track record of success moving a project or initiative from vision to impact in partnership with others. You have direct experience in documentary filmmaking that strengthens your ability to advance Firelight Media’s mission. You bring an understanding of and connection to the experience of filmmakers of color; appreciation of artists and their connections to social and racial justice movements; and a track record of working with diverse communities.
Influential Relationship and Coalition Builder
You thrive by engaging with individuals from a diverse range of lived experiences. An empathic, proactive, and values-driven leader, you can achieve consensus among differing opinions. With a track record of building good working relationships across a diverse team, you have a nuanced awareness of the complexities of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity and orientation, and other aspects of identity that speak to who we are.
You embody humility, with an emphasis on getting the work done and when appropriate, leading from behind. You understand the multifaceted nature of communities and have a track record of success in building diverse coalitions and effective partnerships through successful planning and deep relationship development. Comfortable operating in times of ambiguity, you are highly organized, with the ability to manage and move multiple projects forward simultaneously. Most importantly, you are committed to continuous improvement and learning.
Inclusive and Engaged Manager
You are skilled at listening to and learning from others, with a deep belief in fostering a transparent, empowering, and productive organizational culture by amplifying community, collaboration, and partnership. You can continually strengthen Firelight Media’s powerful sense of shared purpose by empowering and engaging others in facing the opportunities and challenges ahead. Equipped with an instinctively inclusive leadership philosophy, you can assure the personal and professional development and growth of all staff, with experience guiding others as they work in concert toward a broader vision and set of goals.
You are known as an active and responsive listener, a resourceful coach, and a capable facilitator. Culturally competent, you have the character and integrity necessary to develop rapport with people of varying experiences, backgrounds, and philosophies. In your current role and communities, you are known for leading by example, demonstrating transparency, humility, empathy, respect, and a sense of humor. Fundamentally, you encourage others to bring their whole selves to work and excel.
Passion for the Mission
You envision a world where communities of color thrive. As a result, your life’s work is focused on challenging and dismantling systems that create barriers to opportunity. You are an accomplished and visionary leader who is passionate about having impact and committed to justice and equity. You bring the richness, passion, and wisdom that comes from being grounded in the experiences of the marginalized communities, gained either through personal lived experience or through community-based work. Most Importantly, you are an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values — someone who can be trusted without reservation.
Compensation & Benefits
Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. The salary range for this role begins at $150,000 annually.
Benefits include 100% employer-paid health insurance; 20 vacation days accrued annually; a 403b retirement plan with employer matching and one-year vesting period; reimbursable gym membership through the employer health care plan; flexible spending accounts for transit and health care; and professional development.
Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Chartise Clark of Koya Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. To express interest in this role please submit your materials here, or email Chartise directly at FirelightMedia@koyapartners.com. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
Firelight Media is an equal opportunity employer committed to inclusive hiring and dedicated to diversity in our work and staff. We do not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions), age, marital status, sexual orientations, gender identity or expression, veteran status, uniform service member status, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law. Women, people of color (including bilingual and bicultural individuals), LGBTQ+ persons, and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.
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.
For more information about Koya Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.