The Urban Civil Rights Museum will tell the story of the struggle for civil and human rights in urban environments across America. It will empower people to continue to struggle to improve their lives and the lives of all Americans.
In 2025, New York’s first museum dedicated to civil rights – and one of the first in the nation to focus on the history of civil rights in the North – will make its highly anticipated debut in Harlem. Located on 125th Street’s main thoroughfare, and next to legendary cultural institutions like the Apollo Theater and the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Urban Civil Rights Experience Museum will function as a cultural cornerstone in the community and a first stop for area visitors, curious about the development of Harlem as the epicenter for African American cultural and social progress.
Occupying 25,000 sq ft of the National Urban League Empowerment building, the Museum’s signature permanent installation will coalesce around three themes: the Great Migration and Civil Rights, the evolution of the National Urban League, and the story of Harlem’s Cultural Renaissance. Using Harlem-based narratives as a springboard, the Museum’s exhibits and learning experiences will:
explore the impact of urbanization on African Americans and its influence on politics, music, food, literature, and major movements like the Harlem Renaissance,
share the stories of the role played by the urban civil rights movement in the development of cities, and
provide interactive experiences about the role organizations like the Urban League played in pursuing, securing, and maintaining economic self-reliance, parity, and power for migrants and subsequent generations of African Americans.
For more information on the Urban Civil Rights Museum, please visit the website.
About the Urban League Empowerment Center
The Urban League Empowerment Center is one of the most significant economic development projects in Harlem’s recent history. Located on Harlem’s “Main Street,” 125th Street, the $242 million, 414,000-square-foot Center will include the National Urban League’s headquarters, the Urban Civil Rights Experience Museum, and the National Urban League Institute for Race, Equity and Justice. In addition, the building will provide 170 units of affordable housing and retail space featuring Target and Trader Joe’s.
Several nonprofit organizations that play a significant role in the Harlem community will have access to below-market office space including One Hundred Black Men of New York, United Negro College Fund New York, and Jazzmobile.
Since its founding, the National Urban League has worked to strengthen and vitalize urban neighborhoods through community investment. This well-funded and community-backed, public-private partnership not only marks the return of the National Urban League to its birthplace in Harlem but also demonstrates the organization’s continued commitment to enhancing the economic and cultural revitalization of communities of color.
National Urban League Today
The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment, equality, and social justice to help elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. Headquartered in New York City, the National Urban League was founded in 1910 in response to the Great Migration that brought millions of African Americans from the rural South to the industrial North. One of the nation’s preeminent civil rights and social justice organizations, and the only one dedicated to the economic empowerment of historically underserved urban communities, the National Urban League collaborates at the national and local levels with community leaders, policymakers, and corporate partners to elevate the standards of living for African Americans and other historically underserved groups.
With 90 affiliates serving 300 communities in 37 states and the District of Columbia, the Urban League spearheads the development of social programs and authoritative public policy research and advocates for policies and services that close the equality gap. At the community level, the National Urban League and its affiliates provide direct services that improve the lives of more than two million people annually.
The concept for the Urban Civil Rights Experience Museum is eight years in the making. The National Urban League has been working in partnership with a distinguished group of museum and cultural planning advisors, to lay the groundwork for this visionary endeavor. Now that the ground has been broken on the Urban League Empowerment Center, this devoted team is excited to embark upon the next phase of the Museum’s inception by identifying an inaugural Executive Director to embrace the vision they have tirelessly championed and guide it from inception to a vibrant and successful reality.
The Urban Civil Rights Experience Museum seeks a bold, entrepreneurial, and influential leader who can develop, articulate, and execute on an inspired vision for the future Museum.
Reporting to the President and CEO of the Urban League and working collaboratively with their leadership team, the Executive Director will be responsible for the strategic and operational direction of the institution. This leader will continue the development of a vision that ensures the museum reflects the organization’s history, mission, and future ambitions. Additionally, the Executive Director will oversee the day-to-day administrative and operational management of the Museum ensuring strategies are effectively implemented across all sectors of the institution.
While many museums and monuments exist to chronicle and memorialize the long and well-documented history of racial inequality and the struggle for civil rights in the Jim Crow South, the Urban Civil Rights Experience Museum represents a historic opportunity to build a premier cultural and historical institution that will concentrate on the exploration of those narratives specific to the history of the Black freedom struggle that expanded dramatically in the aftermath of the Great Migration of Blacks northward in urban environments across America.
This prominent role is a unique and enviable opportunity for a dynamic and sophisticated leader, one driven by a commitment and a deep personal connection to the lived experiences of the civil rights movement, to advance the mission and goals of the Museum, with impactful leadership to communicate these stories broadly and with deep integrity.
Strategic and Visionary and Leadership
Embrace and lead NUL’s vision to create the Nation’s most compelling and immersive museum dedicated to the story of the struggle for civil and human rights in urban environments across America; passionately communicate the Museum’s mission and a belief in its future and impact to internal and external stakeholders.
Direct strategy development and implementation, development and fundraising, community relations, curatorial and exhibitions, educational program development, personnel administration, facilities and financial management, marketing, and archival and collections management; Ensure that the Museum has both short and long-range strategy and implementation plans that honor the original vision and achieve its mission in a consistent and effective manner.
Lead the development and articulation of organizational offerings that reflect the mission and create revenue opportunities well into the future.
Provide inspirational leadership and direction to the team, encouraging innovation while ensuring the development and management of a high performing and effective organization; establish decision-making processes that will support the Museum in achieving its objectives.
Cultivate a strong and transparent cross-functional working environment; create and promote a positive, equitable and inclusive culture that supports and ensures open communication and alignment around the Museum’s organizational goals.
Cultivate a strong and transparent working relationship with NUL’s President & CEO that ensures open communication and helps drive strategic organizational goals and priorities that are aligned with Museum’s core mission.
Organizational Excellence and Business Acumen
Assume ultimate oversite for the effective and sound management of the Museum’s operational infrastructure including optimizing policies, practices and systems ensuring the organization operates within budget guidelines.
Provide direction and vision on the infrastructure needed to ensure that there is capacity to achieve programmatic goals.
Hire and manage a small team of full and part-time employees; provide empathetic leadership and development to department staff and amplify the contributions through mentorship, strategic instruction, and management.
Relationship Building & Resource Development
Serve as the inspirational key spokesperson and ambassador for the Museum; play an influential role in raising the visibility and stature of the institution in the public, philanthropic, political, and cultural communities.
Devise and implement compelling, comprehensive, and successful brand marketing strategies that will create consistency of voice and messaging throughout the organization, drive understanding and awareness of the Museum, and ultimately grow audiences and revenue across multiple streams.
Create and lead a development strategy that engages donors around a compelling mission through strategic partnerships, government alliances, private foundation philanthropy, and/or individual giving.
Maintain and deepen existing relationships while building bridges and cultivating new innovative partnerships amongst a broad range of stakeholders, with a focus on advancing the Museum’s mission.
Innovation and Engagement
Direct the creative development and delivery of the Museum’s content and design; work collaboratively with Museum consultants in the development, creation, interpretation, and installation of permanent galleries and special exhibition spaces.
Support the articulation and realization of a curatorial vision that yields creative, forward thinking and thought-provoking exhibitions and educational programming; encourage ongoing technological, programmatic and marketing innovations that develops and attracts repeat audiences and maintains the Museum’s relevance and expertise with the historical and ongoing US civil rights movement.
Encourage a variety of opinions and viewpoints that result in innovative and creative initiatives and spark new and existing visitors’ curiosity and create meaningful personal experiences with the Museum’s exhibitions and program offerings.
Preferred Candidate Profile & Qualifications
The Executive Director will possess the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:
A strong commitment to racial and economic justice and will ensure these values will be reflected in every aspect of the Museum.
Experience designing and implementing a high-quality strategy in alignment with organizational vision and goals; superb resource management skills.
Proven ability to set the strategic vision of the organization and to develop and promote the strategies needed to advance the work; ability to lead through change and growth in the evolving landscape of data and racial equity.
A highly respected, collaborative and diplomatic professional with a track record of success leading a growing organization of similar size and complexity.
A financially savvy and politically astute leader with the ability to set clear priorities, delegate, and guide investment in people and systems; keen analytic, organization and problem-solving skills, which support and enable sound decision making.
Demonstrated success and appreciation for fundraising; ability to galvanize support and generate excitement while effectively partnering with staff and stakeholders in the process.
Exemplary relationship-building skills; highly respected yet humble and approachable leader who can create and nurture partnerships with colleagues and external stakeholders.
Compelling and effective communicator with superb negotiation, project management and organizational skills.
Empathic leader with high emotional intelligence who values trust, ethics, integrity and transparency.
A big-picture thinker with proven success moving from conceptualization to fruition through clear, goal-oriented execution.
Bachelor’s degree required; background in museum management or arts administration, preferred.
Senior management experience in non-profit, government, or for-profit environs required; A minimum of 15+ years of progressive experience.
Preferred candidates will have a commitment and connection to the missions of the Museum and NUL, and an unwavering belief in the transformative role of arts and cultural education in empowering and sustaining thriving communities and changing lives.
Compensation & Benefits
Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience.
A comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, and vision coverage, 100% paid life insurance, short- and long-term disability insurance. Paid time-off for vacation, sickness, and holidays and a 403(b) Retirement Plan.
The National Urban League is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to complying with all federal, state, and local equal employment opportunity (“EEO”) laws. The National Urban League strictly prohibits discrimination against any employee or applicant for employment because of the individual's race, color, sex (including pregnancy), religion or creed, national origin, alienage, citizenship, age, sexual orientation, disability, gender, identity or expression, sexual and reproductive health decisions or decision making (of employees or their dependents), familial status, marital status, partnership status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, veterans status, domestic violence victim status, arrest or pre- employment criminal conviction record, or any other characteristic protected by law. This policy applies to all National Urban League activities, including, but not limited to, recruitment, hiring, compensation, assignment, training, promotion, discipline, and discharge. This policy also bans discriminatory harassment. Employment at the National Urban League is at will.
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