Senior Vice President for Advancement - Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT

Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT

Founded in 1929, Mystic Seaport is the nation’s pre-eminent maritime museum, and its mission is to inspire an enduring connection to the American maritime experience.  Mystic Seaport is unwavering in its commitment to present America’s maritime history, culture, and artifacts, which underlie their unique national character and inform how the economic foundation of this great country was created.  Its vision is to seek to significantly influence how new generations engage with America’s past, present, and future.

Attracting more than 270,000 visitors annually, the Museum’s assets include four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the Charles W. Morgan, built in 1841, the last surviving wooden whaling ship from the great days of sail; the H.B. duPont Preservation Shipyard; an authentically re-created 19th century coastal village; the world’s largest collection of watercraft and maritime photographs; a state-of-the-art Collections and Research Center, and the Nation’s most extensive (non-Naval) maritime library.  Mystic Seaport also offers visitors educational programs for all ages, ranging from summer day camp and sailing lessons to unique higher education programs, including the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program in a long-standing partnership with Williams College.  The Museum has multiple distinct and diverse lines of business, including retail gift shops, restaurants, catering and other food venues, intellectual property development and marketing, a sail training vessel, numerous membership programs, and a highly-regarded retail art gallery.

Mystic Seaport has been led by President Stephen C.  White since January, 2009.  The Museum concluded a successful capital campaign in December 2016, raising $15.3 million.  The Museum in Motion campaign funded the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle project and the 15,000 s/f Thompson Exhibition Building and three new exhibitions and related programming.  At the same time, $900,000 was raised to complete a major restoration of the steam vessel, Sabino, one of the Museum’s four historic landmark vessels.  Also in 2016, annual fund efforts brought in $1.7 million.  In 2014, Mystic Seaport completed a $12.5 million campaign to restore the Charles W. Morgan and to return her to sea again for an historic 38th voyage to key New England ports.

Mystic Seaport has a full and part time staff 275 and is governed by a 34-member Board of Trustees.   With an operating budget of $17 million, the Museum has a $44 million endowment and seeks to double its endowment, a key element of the new strategic plan.  The Museum has 14,000 member households and a strong volunteer program with approximately 600 volunteers who contribute each year some 80,000 hours of work across all departments of the Museum.


Historic Mystic, settled in 1654, is located within the towns of both Groton and Stonington, divided by the Mystic River.  A picturesque village, Mystic is conveniently located between Boston and New York on the I-95 corridor and is accessible by Amtrak train and is close to airports in Providence, Rhode Island and Hartford, Connecticut.

Mystic is part of a scenic coastal community rich in maritime history poised on the shores of Fisher’s Island Sound and known for its excellent protected harbors.  It has a rich legacy of historical sites and events, where nature’s beauty and rural heritage have been preserved in woodlands, rolling hills and farmlands.

Other charming coastal towns in the Mystic region include Stonington, Groton, New London, Waterford, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Essex.  Sailing and other water sports, art galleries, theaters, fine dining, shopping, and other activities abound.


A key member of the senior management team and one of five direct reports to the Museum’s President, the Senior Vice President for Advancement is responsible for providing innovative leadership and strategic vision to all aspects of Mystic Seaport’s advancement program, which includes the Annual Fund, Capital Campaign, planned giving, grants – both corporate and foundation, restricted projects, and gifts in kind.  Corporate sponsors have included Microsoft, Capital Group, Travelers, Rolex, Gowrie, Citizens Bank, Northern Trust, Bank of America, and Mohegan Sun.  Foundation and government supporters include the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS), and the National Maritime Heritage Grants, as well as notable support from private foundations.

As half of the Museum’s overall revenue derives from advancement-related efforts, it is essential that the Senior Vice President for Advancement design, develop, and implement a comprehensive fundraising program that will build and maintain a secure foundation to support the Museum and its collections for future generations.  It is expected s/he will take a leadership role in the design and implementation of upcoming capital and endowment campaigns.

The position supervises a full-time staff of 16; direct reports include the Director of Development, Director of Annual Fund, Director of Major Gifts & Strategic Partnerships, and Director of Membership and Volunteer Services.


The Senior Vice President for Advancement will have the following responsibilities:

1. Further build and execute a strategic and comprehensive development plan that will support the operating and capital needs of the institution for the present and the long term.

2. Set expectations for performance of direct reports to ensure all aspects of the fundraising program function optimally.

3. Staff the Board in all fundraising related activities and work to ensure that Board members are energized, motivated, and engaged by their association with Mystic Seaport.

4. Participate in Board building/enhancement strategy and the identification and recruitment of additional Board members and volunteer leadership. 

5. Provide leadership and service to the President, Board members and other volunteers on solicitation calls.

6. Develop programming to support advancement activities in key geographic areas.

7. Develop strategies and assemble the teams to conduct major gift solicitations and in specific cases where the Senior VP for Advancement is the lead solicitor.  Oversee the major gift process to ensure robust and successful giving from all sectors- trustees, individual, foundation corporate giving, and sponsorship program.

8. Oversee and set expectations for growth in the grants program so that funding is maximized from Federal, State and private foundations and promote other long-term fundraising vehicles such as real estate and donated boats.

9. Promote a robust and integrated membership and volunteer program and engage in a significant way with the local community.

10. Empower and mentor the four direct report department directors; manage a diverse and committed Advancement staff and further build the capabilities of fundraising staff through training and mentor-ship.

11. Oversee special events staff and ensure maximum effectiveness and efficiency of all fundraising, cultivation and stewardship events.

12. Oversee compliance with IRS guidelines for donor acknowledgment and stay current on tax laws that impact charitable giving.

13. Assist in the development of an effective operating budget for all contributed revenue related areas and serve as a key member of the Gift Acceptance Committee of the Board of Trustees.


The successful candidate must:

1. Be a highly accomplished and well-rounded advancement senior executive with proven ability in raising leadership and transformational gifts for all purposes- capital, operating, endowment and programs - and a demonstrated track record in the management of successful development programs, including the completion of a major campaign under his/her leadership, successfully soliciting and closing gifts, and staff and volunteer management.

2. Be a strategic leader with solid experience in managing, mentoring and motivating staff, and the ability to inspire those working with him/her toward accomplishing common objectives.

3. Be very well-organized, able to plan strategically, set priorities and focus on details and follow through while not losing sight of the big picture, with the flexibility and nimbleness to respond to changing needs of the organizations and the external environment, including the maritime and museum communities.

4. Be a sophisticated, warm, highly personable and proactive individual, with an entrepreneurial mindset, results-oriented work ethic, and diplomacy, who works effectively with the President, Board of Trustees, donors, volunteers, and inside staff, and who enjoys taking an active, public role as a representative of Mystic Seaport Museum.

5. Understand and support the mission of the Mystic Seaport Museum, appreciate the important role cultural institutions play in the life of a vibrant community, and have the ability to articulate this mission and role to others.

6. Possess excellent verbal and written communication skills, and experience with fund raising technology and integrated database systems.

7. Have, at minimum, a Baccalaureate degree, though postgraduate training is a plus, and at least seven years of progressive fund raising experience in a not for profit or academic institution.

8. Keeping abreast of philanthropy trends and philanthropists as well as knowledge of the Boston/New York region philanthropic community is a plus.

The ideal candidate will also:

• Have a passion for history and a love of the sea.

• Be a creative, energetic, and collaborative team player.

• Have a desire to be part of the greater Mystic community.


A review of prospective candidates will commence immediately, continuing until the position is filled.  Interested and qualified individuals, and recommendations of same, are encouraged to submit their credentials as soon as possible for full consideration to the below consulting firm retained for the search.  Complete credentials should be submitted electronically and should include the following:

• Cover letter;

• Résumé or CV;

• Four professional references, including name, email, phone and relationship. 

The salary will be competitive with other organizations of comparable stature and size.

Management Consultants for the Arts, Inc.
Attn: Louise Kane

Email only:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Subject Line: Mystic Seaport Senior VP Advancement

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 November 2017 08:10