Executive Director

Scion Executive Search has been retained to lead a search for the Executive Director of Arts Council of Santa Cruz County. Arts Council Santa Cruz County generates creativity, vibrancy, and connection. It envisions a stronger Santa Cruz County, where creative expression thrives and the arts are integral to all aspects of our diverse community.

This full-time permanent position is for immediate hire onsite in beautiful Santa Cruz.


For 40 years, Arts Council Santa Cruz County has led the charge to support the unique, ever- evolving Santa Cruz County arts community. We’re heartfelt advocates for the arts and the organizations and people who make art happen. We believe in the power of the arts to transform our community, and our daily work of art reflects that belief. Our staff and board team are deeply committed to and passionate about our mission to generate creativity, vibrancy, and connection in Santa Cruz County.

We believe that cultural equity in the arts is central to our work and enriches life and fosters joy, vitality, appreciation and celebration. With a strategic priority to address equity, diversity and inclusivity, we’re dedicated to deliberately and continuously addressing and dismantling systemic barriers to opportunity in our communities.


Through our programs and services we:

Invest in the creative economy. Our Grants program awards $200,000 to artists and arts organizations to produce diverse, high quality arts and cultural activities.

Produce the Open Studios Art Tour. More than 300 artists participate annually, bringing thousands of people to our community and generating approximately $775,000 in taxable art sales for the county each year.

Support the Tannery Arts Center to realize its vision as a national model for an arts center and a local destination for the arts. The Tannery is a first-in-the-nation community providing a diverse home for the arts and offering a dynamic cultural destination to all. It is also home to the Arts Council offices.

Generate tomorrow’s leaders. Through arts education, 17,000 youth learn to problem-solve, innovate, and think critically in SPECTRA and Mariposa Arts.

Bring people together to address community challenges. Our Ebb & Flow River Arts Festival has transformed engagement across sectors to support the San Lorenzo River and the Tannery Arts Center.

Strengthen the Arts Sector. We support artists and arts organizations, and help build the creative sector by providing fiscal sponsorship, strategic guidance, and financial oversight.

Inspire people where they are. We coordinate five rotating exhibits of local artists at the County Government Center, including a Student Art Exhibit featuring 400+ works created in our programs.

Draw tourists to the County. Our Arts & Economic Prosperity Study revealed that 74% of all out-of-town attendees of arts events came to Santa Cruz County specifically for the arts.

Stimulate the economy. Nonprofit arts and culture are a significant industry in Santa Cruz County – one that generates more than $38 million in total economic activity and supports 877 full-time equivalent jobs.



The Atlantic Monthly ranked the cities of Santa Cruz and Watsonville #5 on a list of the Most Artistic Cities in America. Santa Cruz is host to internationally known artists and artisans, Fulbright scholars, a robust Burning Man population, and thousands of creators and makers. Our nonprofit sector features world-class organizations such as the Cabrillo Festival for Contemporary Music and Kuumbwa Jazz Center, as well as exceptional and varied arts organizations including Santa Cruz Shakespeare, the Watsonville Film Festival, Santa Cruz Symphony, and Watsonville Taiko.

Santa Cruz is the county seat and largest city of Santa Cruz, California. As of 2018 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Santa Cruz’s population at 64,725. Situated on the northern edge of Monterey Bay about 32 mi south of San Jose and 75 mi south of San Francisco, the city is part of the 12-county San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Combined Statistical Area.

Santa Cruz is known for its diverse and lively music and art scene, moderate climate, natural environment, coastline, redwood forests, and socially liberal leanings. It is also home to the University of California, Santa Cruz, a premier research institution and educational hub, as well as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park operating continuously since 1907. Downtown, Pacific Avenue has vintage clothing stores, cafes and galleries. Along West Cliff Drive, Natural Bridges State Beach is known for its bridge-shaped rock formation.


This position requires a dynamic, mission-driven leader who is passionate about leading and directing operations, fostering growth, as well as developing and championing art programs and opportunities for all residents of Santa Cruz County. The Executive Director will provide visionary leadership for the staff who are providing impactful essential services to the county’s diverse population. We seek someone natural at coalition and partnership building. The ideal executive leader is passionate about creative program development and expanding organization funding and mission impact.

The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors and partners strategically with elected officials, community partners, businesses, foundations, and individuals. In partnership with the Deputy Director, the Executive Director oversees the agency’s annual budget, pursues additional funding opportunities, stewards donor relationships, establishes policies and procedures, adheres to compliance and regulations, and ensures quality of program delivery while maintaining alignment with the Arts Council’s mission and organizational values.

The ideal candidate for this role embraces servant-leadership as well as an intelligent approach to day-to-day operational management, strategic planning, and visionary, creative leadership. As a highly competent personnel manager, the candidate is someone skilled in building effective, practical consensus and creating dynamic solutions that advance the work of the organization.



  • Lead, manage, and guide the organization to attain continued growth, success, and optimal mission impact for the Arts Council’s programs and services in Santa Cruz County.

  • Advance the Arts Council’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusivity by actively engaging in the reorganization of policies and practices to remedy systemic cultural disparities, dismantle structural barriers to access, and work toward equitable distribution of resources, power, and opportunities in the arts.

  • Guide the organization toward meeting the existing 5-year strategic plan goals, with an eye to envisioning what’s next for the organization.

External Relations

  • Provide leadership bolstering organizational brand, forging new and strengthening existing partnerships, actively seeking new and creative sources of funding, prospecting and developing new programs, and promoting diversity and inclusion.

  • Strategically represent the Arts Council to the community through events and public speaking engagements in order to promote programs and services and engage new and existing donors, advocacy partners, and members of the general community.

  • Act as a community-builder, integrator, liaison and ambassador for the Arts Council.

Staff and Culture

  • Foster a collaborative working environment, encourage and empower professional development throughout the staff, and champion accountability amongst staff.

  • Participate in the selection, training, and evaluation of key personnel; establish and interpret policy and procedure.

  • Be an effective advocate for staff by responding to and addressing inquiries, suggestions, complaints, or problems.

Board of Directors

  • Serve as chief liaison to the Board of Directors, including facilitating agenda setting, Board member orientation, and proactive communication and record keeping.

  • Prospect potential new additions to the Board that align with the Arts Council’s work or would be beneficial to the organization. Support and advise the Board in its work so as to best meet the organization’s needs.

  • Advise the Board in the development of policies and procedures, the creation of training materials, and the fostering of a fund development & resourcing culture.

Finance and Operations

  • Working closely with the Deputy Director and the leadership team, chiefly oversee administrative services, resource development, and all program service functions.

  • Engage in complex fiscal management through hands on budgetary development and oversight; routinely report performance and financial activities to the Board.

  • Maintain contract compliance, adherence to laws, and internal financial standards and controls.

  • Ensure all aspects of operations align with established organizational mission and values.

Fund Development

  • Fundraising and fund development with key donors, businesses, and foundations.


8-15 years’ leadership experience as an ambitious, resourceful, and transparent leader of a nonprofit, community-based organization. Appreciation of and passion for the visual, literary and performing arts, cultural diversity inherent to a healthy arts ecosystem, and the impact the arts can make in the community. Additional experience in the tech and business arena is also welcome in conjunction with recent nonprofit leadership experience.

  • Demonstrated successful management of a dynamic, multi-program organization; a strong understanding of what it takes to maximize program effectiveness, maintain deliverable quality, and optimize resources.
  • Comfortable working on issues of diversity, equity, inclusivity and intersectionality.
  • Extensive experience in program, budget, and staff management.
  • Proven track record in identifying and raising new funds and building long term relationships with a variety of donors and funders.
  • Knowledge of compliance with contracts, regulations, and laws.
  • Ability to review, evaluate, and make recommendations to support staff team in forwarding organizational goals.
  • Knowledge of and deep interest in fostering an environment of accountability, meeting ambitious goals, and maintaining healthy work relationships to sustain a positive, inclusive, and collaborative workplace.
  • Excellent public speaking skills.
  • Stellar networking skills and ability to effectively interface with political decision makers and key community figures.
  • Welcoming, thoughtful, and collaborative leadership style.
  • Enjoy listening, learning, and problem-solving as part of a team.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Courageous, optimistic, positive, and authentic leader.
  • Ability to navigate conflict and change with grace and strength.
  • Adept at balancing attention to detail with promoting broader vision.
  • Passionate about social justice and competent in racial justice.
  • Ideally, have strong relationships throughout the County of Santa Cruz and look forward to identifying new partners, audiences, and artists who can benefit from interfacing with the Tannery and the Watsonville offices. Also possess relationships with national funders.


$100-120k base salary, dependent on experience.

Full-time exempt position, 40 hours a week. Benefits include: 10 vacation days, 12 sick days, 11 paid holidays, and a flexible, family friendly schedule. Arts Council supports work-life balance and reasonable workloads in alignment with true hours worked,

Medical, dental, and vision insurance with the Arts Council covers 100% of the costs of the insurance package and 30% of dependent coverage.

Schedule: Full-Time, Monday-Friday. Flexible hours, evenings and weekends on an as-needed basis.

Location: Arts Council office on the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz; regular travel countywide. Reliable transportation with valid insurance required.

Reporting: This position reports directly to the Board of Directors

Supervisory Responsibilities: Program Directors and ultimately entire staff



Arts Council is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


What’s it like to work with us? “Fit” at the Arts Council is as important as skills and experience. We operate a highly collaborative and supportive workplace where staff is largely self-directed. We all have the opportunity and are expected to contribute not just to our own work but also to the strategic direction of the organization. We work hard, we have fun. We take responsibility for mistakes and celebrate successes. We live and breathe by our core values: collaborative, adaptable, innovative, service-oriented, effective and professionally run. A sense of humor and a compassionate disposition are required. We are an award-winning Family Friendly Workplace; we always have plenty of chocolate and coffee; and we love our work.

Most importantly, we are all here to be of service to the arts and to our community.


Scion Executive Search (www.scionexecutivesearch.com) has been retained to lead this search. For immediate consideration please send your resume/curriculum vitae and cover letter in a Word.docx format to the attention of Braden Busch, Managing Partner – Scion Executive Search via email to bbparse@scionstaffing.com with the subject line: “Executive Director- Arts Council”


Scion Executive Search is a retained executive search firm connecting executive nonprofit leadership to nonprofit organizations, community organizations, and educational institutions across the country. Cultivated in the nonprofit sector, we provide expert search strategies and leadership for your organization. Our executive candidates are true agents for change, and we are experts at matching their talents, motivations, and passions to your organization’s mission. Scion Executive Search has led hundreds of successful executive searches. Information about our firm and successes can be found online at www.nonprofitexecutivesearchfirm.com.

Scion Staffing is an Equal Opportunity Employer and service provider and does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, religion, gender, gender identity, national origin, citizenship status, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation or belief. We are committed to the principles of Equal Opportunity Employment and are dedicated to making employment decisions based on merit and value, for ourselves, our client companies, and for the candidates we represent.