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Executive Director

NATIONAL WRITERS SERIES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR (January 2022)

This is a full time position that can be either interim on a contract basis, or permanent. Position to start in February, 2022.

The executive director of the National Writers Series is tasked to lead a nonprofit that has a two-fold mission: to hold great conversations with great writers and to help build the literacy skills of readers and writers living in the five-county area. To do this job effectively, the director must enjoy meeting people, enjoy being onstage, enjoy public speaking, be empathic, be comfortable and adaptive in changing environments, and have nerves of steel and bountiful good cheer in a creative environment that is part newsroom, part Oscar ceremony, and part air traffic control. The director works alongside a group of creative people with an entrepreneurial spirit in a collaborative organizational structure. An understanding of the challenges writers and publishers face in bringing their stories to their readers is helpful.

The director oversees a $420,000 budget and a staff of three that includes a part-time education manager, part-time business manager, and part-time communications manager. The director also oversees three contractors with responsibilities for 1) graphics/sponsors, 2) website design, and 3) grant writing, as well as one to two student interns. The executive director should be comfortable developing partnerships with other nonprofits, leading development efforts, creating a diverse line-up of nationally renowned authors and guest hosts, working with educators, and handling many ongoing tasks at once.

The Ideal Candidate Will:

  • Write and edit effectively in multimedia—both persuasive copy and newsworthy narrative
  • Have a passion for books, authors, and creating effective events
  • Live (or be willing to relocate within 3 months) to the Grand Traverse Region (Antrim, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, or Benzie County)
  • Bring a reputation of trust and collaboration with community leaders 
  • Demonstrate ability to generate revenue through entrepreneurial, development, grants, and/or sales experience
  • Demonstrate a high level of simultaneous, multi-project management skills
  • Be comfortable utilizing a wide variety of tech programs including Google Workspace, Trello, Asana, Zoom, Mailchimp, Salesforce, and more
  • Be familiar with nonprofit management best practices

AUTHOR EVENTS

The National Writers Series draws hundreds of people at a point in time to meet an author, learn more, and ideally, buy the book. The organization currently conducts virtual, in-person, and hybrid events—approximately 18-22 per year.  The following list outlines the types of tasks to do this effectively. 

Authors

  • Work within the NWS organization, and others in the reading community, to gather intel on upcoming authors; work with committee and board members to help select authors for upcoming season
  • Write proposals for authors and submit to publicists who work for major NYC publishers, in consultation with others
  • Persuade authors to engage with community, including media, and students
  • Write confirmation letter and submit to publicist
  • Gather author consent, headshot/book cover, galleys and marketing materials 
  • For live events, write up author itinerary & distribute
  • For virtual and live events, ensure sponsors and donors are recognized
  • For virtual events, oversee technical and artistic elements
  • Write author and guest host bios, and thank you to sponsors
  • Organize announcement and launch of season: winter/spring, summer, and fall.
  • Speak at events, and invite others when appropriate to introduce events
  • Serve as author escort or identify an author escort
  • Resolve any problems that come up 
  • Write thank you notes to authors, publicists, sponsors, etc.

Website 

  • Oversee design and functioning, in consultation with NWS board
  • Edit copy and images, as necessary 
  • Proficiency working in WordPress recommended
  • Oversee publication of Authors Next Door articles

Promotion 

  • Ensure press releases are sent to media (communications manager does this)
  • Conduct media interviews, and include relevant persons when possible 
  • Ensure TV/Radio/Print interviews are set up for authors/intermediary with publicists (communications manager does this)
  • Write column every seven weeks for the Traverse City Record-Eagle 
  • Oversee author write-up for MyNorth online magazine 
  • Oversee writing and design of program guide in consultation with relevant persons. Write the ED letter in consultation with relevant persons, and organize photos with assistance from graphic designer
  • Write copy for posters and ads
  • Oversee efforts of communications manager, which should include targeting related interest groups.
  • Ensure that posters are printed and displayed throughout town

DEVELOPMENT

Revenue development is a key component of the executive director’s responsibilities. The executive director secures funding annually (roughly $420K) through fundraising, grant writing, ticket sales, sponsorships, and other means. This includes:

Sponsors 

  • Work with graphic design contractor to secure sponsors each season which involves defining sponsor benefits and levels
  • Ensure the website is always up to date with sponsor opportunities
  • Ensure sponsors receive their benefits and are acknowledged on all marketing platforms

Donors

  • Develop relationships with major donors
  • Develop strategies to retain existing donors, increasing existing levels of giving, and to better target stratify giving motivation
  • Define donor benefits and levels
  • Ensure each and every donor, large and small, is valued and promptly thanked
  • Effectively use Sales Force software to manage donors (business manager assists with this)

Fundraising & Grants

  • Organize and execute three major fundraising efforts: summer membership drive, summer gala and year-end mailing fundraiser
  • Identify grants, write when necessary, and ensure deadlines are met and reports are satisfied (work with grant writing contractor)

BOARD RELATIONS

  • Keep board members apprised of all policy issues
  • Meet with board and citizen subcommittees
  • Prepare agenda and schedule monthly board meetings. Ensure minutes are written and distributed by board secretary.
  • Deliver reports at monthly board meeting and provide financial forecast and performance against budget and prior year.
  • Work with board to recruit new board members, engage with donors, create policies, and build development strategies.
  • Provide reports on all aspects of the nonprofit that are meaningful (i.e., visual charts that  provide the big picture of audience attendance, donor trends, book sales, financial highlights.) Also, qualitative reports on trends within the book industry, lurking challenges, professional writing opportunities as it relates to Raising Writers, relations and partnerships with bookstores, regional book festivals, etc.

COMMITTEES

  • Coordinate, communicate with, and staff the 8 standing committees of NWS
  • Ensure committee agendas and minutes are saved in the NWS shared file system

MANAGE STAFF & BUDGET

  • Maintain/manage high-performing team and great work culture
  • Manage expenses to resources; meet or exceed budget
  • Ensure financial reports are timely and correct

VOLUNTEERS

  • Ensure that event volunteers are properly recognized and thanked at the end of the year. We usually hold an event at Cordia in November/December for both volunteers and board members.
  • Oversee business manager to ensure that volunteers are properly managed, including receiving advance communication of upcoming events.


EDUCATION/RAISING WRITERS

Raising Writers is important to our mission, our community, and our business model. This part of the NWS mission is the responsibility of the part-time education manager, however, the executive director oversees, guides and assists the education manager in the implementation of the following Raising Writers programs:

  • Front Street Writers
  • Battle of the Books
  • Traverse Heights Poetry Workshop 
  • NWS Literary Journal 
  • Scholarships
  • NMC Writing Workshops 

COMPENSATION

Salary $55-65K with benefits, commensurate with experience.

TO APPLY

Please submit a resume and cover letter to Christie Bacon: christie@nwstc.org.

Post will stay open until filled.