POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT: Executive Director, Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation, Des Moines, IA 50312

Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation

Executive Director, Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation, Des Moines, IA 50312


Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established in 2004, under an agreement between the city of Des Moines, Iowa and the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation, for the purpose of placing art in accessible public spaces through public and private collaborations.

The Foundation has the responsibility to acquire works of art to be displayed in streetscapes, parks, buildings, or infrastructure, for access by the city’s diverse, multicultural population as well as visitors. The Foundation also reviews public arts proposals for the city of Des Moines and provides corresponding recommendations.

The works of art are insured, maintained and supported by the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation (GDMPAF) which is funded by the city of Des Moines, the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation, the Board of Directors, community-based philanthropists, and grants, with the remaining income from earned revenue and endowment earnings. The budget and distribution of revenue and expenses is dependent on active projects.

Local, national and internationally recognized artists are represented in our collection. To learn more, visit: www.dsmpublicartfoundation.org and download one of our apps.

Key works of art and sculpture installed 2020–2022 include but are not limited to:

  • Alice Aycock’s Liftoff (2021)
  • Juanjo Novella’s Threshold (2021)
  • Jordan Weber’s Swish – King Yore (2021)
  • Gail Folwell’s Ragbrai: River to River (2020)
  • Sheena Rose’s 6th Avenue Bus Shelters (2021 and ongoing)

Community collaborations include, but are not limited to: Des Moines International Airport; The Science Center of Iowa; Oakridge Neighborhood; RAGBRAI; Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority; National Bar Association; NAACP; and Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department.

The Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation’s Board of Directors has 20 current members (minimum of 9), each serving a 3-year term, with an option of renewing a second and third term. One position on the Board is reserved for an individual, nominated by the Mayor, and appointed by the City Council. A liaison from the City Manager’s office is also represented.

The Executive Director reports to the GDMPAF’s Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors is seeking a skilled leader, committed to building on our success of selecting local, national, and internationally recognized artists, and commissioning temporary and permanent public art to complement our world-class collection. We seek an experienced professional with a demonstrated track record for building and managing relationships with stakeholders, developing funding and financial stability, and employing a depth of knowledge about public art, artists, and project management.

The individual selected will recognize that the work is demanding and full of opportunity to effect transformational projects for a variety of outcomes. The Executive Director must have the capability to effectively manage multiple projects simultaneously, follow each project to completion, oversee the maintenance of each artwork in accordance with the artist’s contract, and facilitate the Foundation’s processes and programs.



The successful candidate will implement the GDMPAF’s shared vision in supporting and championing greater equity, inclusion, and access in the arts.

The Foundation’s new leader will build on past successes and forge new collaborations and partnerships with the Board of Directors, city officials, community leaders, grass root organizations, and artists. The Executive Director will lead the organization in executing its mission to place increasing numbers of inspiring art in visible public spaces, through public-private collaborations and partnerships, and to educate and engage the community in experiencing the art.

Early in the new Executive Director’s tenure, partnering with the Board, an implementation plan, which reflects the 2020 – 2024 Strategic Plan, will be defined.

The new Executive Director will be called upon to fulfill the following key responsibilities:

Artist Selection and Project Management

Proactive artist research, opportune site identification, facilitation of review processes, and innovation in programming are key elements of the Foundation’s long-term planning strategy to ensure the expansion of Des Moines’ world-class collection.

Artist selection and art placemaking is led by the Executive Director — requiring short-term planning and management of the formal selection process once a project is generated. Methods include direct commission, open or limited competition, invitational, or purchase of an existing work. Values of equity, inclusion, and access are upheld.

The budget, timeline, and scope of the project are considered during the selection process, as are the membership of the “artist selection panels” as well as requests for qualifications and requests for proposals. The panels, requests for qualifications, and requests for proposals are designed by the Executive Director.

The Executive Director ensures that the artistic quality, equitable and free public access, and quality of craftsmanship are primary criteria for the Foundation to proceed with a proposed artwork/project.

The Executive Director guides and oversees all processes relating to implementing artworks/projects, including: managing projects within budget and agreed upon time frames, supervising routine inspections to ensure ongoing integrity of the artworks and their sites (in accordance with the artists’ original intentions), ensuring proper documentation registry information including condition reports, arranging repairs or conservation treatment, registering and updating of insurance coverages, and overall maintenance of the collection.

The Executive Director manages the presence and development of the GDMPAF’s website, IOS app, Android app as well as communications via social media. A working knowledge of these media is preferred.


Building and Managing Relationships

Regular dialogue and strong working relationships are essential for success with artist selection, project management, the creation of associated educational programs and fund development.

Developing and managing professional and personal contacts with Foundation Board Members, city officials, the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation, community supporters, businesses, grass- root organizations and artists, will position the director to connect with those who are interested in conceptualizing, pursuing, and supporting public art in the Greater Des Moines community. Being proactive is essential in guiding stakeholders to meet the Foundation’s standards when developing projects — from facilitating artist selection to executing efficient implementation processes.

Partnering with the board on member selection, recruitment, orientation, and retention, is needed to ensure diversity and relevant skills, so that the Foundation is empowered and the Executive Director enabled to implement the vision and mission.

Effective board governance is a core responsibility of the Executive Director, providing the members with the information they need and efficient processes to meet objectives and requirements.

The Executive Director serves as the public representative of the GDMPAF. Successful engagement with the organization’s stakeholders and ongoing evaluations of these partnerships should aim to provide the best working relationships and artistic, programmatic, and fundraising opportunities.


Fund Development and Financial Performance

The Executive Director is responsible for identifying and securing funds to support artwork development, artists’ fees, installation, programming, and administrative expenses.

Building sustainable, diversified funding streams and increased philanthropic investments will help to ensure the expansion of both temporary and permanent works of public art in the collection and an endowment for future projects.

The Executive Director will maintain ongoing communication with community philanthropists, private foundations, businesses, the city of Des Moines, the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation, artists, and local, regional and national grants — all of which have funded our projects.

The Executive Director is responsible for educating each board member on their role in fund development and supporting their pursuit of further funding and development opportunities.

Quantifying, articulating, and communicating the GDMPAF’s impact on an ongoing basis will be vital in motivating the Board, philanthropists, the city of Des Moines, as well as, grant-makers’ organizations to support the Foundation financially.



The new leader must demonstrate a firm commitment and passion for the GDMPAF’s mission and vision. They should possess a depth of knowledge and forward-looking interest in national and international art and artists. Similarly, they should have a core commitment to engage local artists, art, organizations, and community.

The Executive Director needs to inspire, lead, and collaborate with our diverse constituency through effective interpersonal and written skills. A deep understanding and commitment to public art projects and programs being diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible is essential.

A creative thinker, experienced leader, responsive collaborator, and contemporary art professional with demonstrated capacity to execute fully on objectives will build on the Foundation’s momentum. The Executive Director should be ready to build consensus efficiently for implementation plans — for realizing future projects, reviewing new artists and projects, exploring potential sites, and developing appropriate community partnerships.



The Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation seeks to hire an individual who is knowledgeable and passionate about public art. Our new Executive Director needs to incorporate active approaches to encourage access, diversity, equity, and inclusion in all engagement with public art.

This leadership position is best suited for a motivated self-starter with five or more years of experience in non-profit organizations, preferably with experience in director-level responsibilities. The Foundation is looking for candidates with demonstrated success in fulfilling an organization’s strategic objectives, working with a wide variety of stakeholders, increasing revenues through fund development, managing projects at budget and on time, and utilizing technology to build community engagement and maximize organizational efficiency.

Relevant background as a director of a public art program, art historian, and/or curator is preferred, and experience with construction management, architecture, and/or landscape architecture will be helpful.

A bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university, with emphasis in fine arts, arts administration, art history, architecture, landscape architecture, and/or urban planning/design is recommended.

The Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment with regard to all characteristics protected by applicable federal, state, or local laws and ordinances. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Foundation will provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities and encourages prospective employees and incumbents to discuss potential accommodations with the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation.



To apply, visit our website at https://dsmpublicartfoundation.org/about/hiring/. You will see instructions for submitting your application and resumé.

In case of any technical problems, contact [email protected]. No phone calls, please, and no applications will be accepted through third-party sites.

The review of candidates will begin in March of 2023. This is a full-time position. The job and workplace are physically and organizationally based in Des Moines. Salary and benefits will be commensurate with experience. Applicants, please submit salary expectations.

Job Summary