Director of Learning and Civic Engagement

Peabody Essex Museum

Salem, MA 01970




Jul 13, 2023

Full time / $130,000-$150,000 annually / Peabody Essex Museum / Salem, MA

Situated in the historic city of Salem, Massachusetts, Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is a premier cultural institution renowned for its diverse collection, engaging exhibitions, and innovative programs. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity by collecting, stewarding, and interpreting objects of art and culture in ways that increase knowledge, enrich the spirit, engage the mind, and stimulate the senses through its exhibitions, programs, publications, media, and related activities. With a rich history spanning over two centuries, PEM has firmly established itself as a hub of artistic and cultural exploration, attracting visitors from around the world. PEM aspires to create experiences that transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. Founded in 1799, PEM is one of the oldest and most distinguished museums in the United States. It houses an extensive collection of art and cultural artifacts, spanning continents and centuries. The museum’s collection encompasses American, Native American, Asian, Oceanic, Maritime, African, and European art, as well as historic houses and grounds and the Phillips Library.

PEM is globally recognized, welcoming between 165,000 to 170,000 visitors annually. A pioneer in the acquisition, relocation, restoration, and interpretation of historic environments, PEM hosts more than 20 pre-Civil War buildings, including four National Historic Landmarks and many listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house brought to the States and re-erected on PEM’s Salem campus. Current notable exhibitions include Gu Wenda: United Nations, an expansive installation recreating the 188 flags of the member states of the United Nations using hair sourced from twenty-eight countries around the world, and Anila Quayyum Agha’s All the Flowers are for Me, a sculptural installation of light and shadow exploring the differences and commonalities that shape our lives and relationships. PEM also houses the oldest ongoing collection of Native art in the Western Hemisphere. Beyond stewarding the collection through exhibitions and publications, PEM furthers its commitment to it by fostering and advancing the next generation of Native American leaders in the cultural sector through the Native American Fellowship (NAF) program.

The main Salem campus consists of the historic East India Marine Hall of 1825, joined by the various additions, including the historic houses. The second campus in Rowley, Massachusetts, features the Collection Center, which houses the Phillips Library and offers facilities for storage, conservation, photography, and digitization. A third, “metaphorical” campus embraces the museum’s digital and virtual realms.

Lynda Roscoe Hartigan is the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Executive Director and CEO. The first appointed Chief Curator at PEM, Lynda returned to become the Museum’s first woman director and to boldly lead the nation’s oldest, continually operating, and ever-evolving museum. PEM has an 18-member board of trustees led by the Chair, Stuart W. Pratt, and a staff size of 220. For fiscal year 2023, PEM reported a total revenue of $33.3 million, with $5.1 million in contributions and grants and $2.6 million from memberships and admissions. Total expenses were $32.5 million.

PEM extends its respect and gratitude to the many Indigenous communities who have lived and moved through this place over hundreds of generations. The rich histories and vibrant communities of this ancestral territory include the Pawtucket, Pennacook, Massachuset, Nipmuc, and Wampanoag peoples, and Indigenous people from many nations live and work in this region today.

Nestled on the scenic North Shore, Salem has established itself as a vibrant and thriving city, offering an exceptional quality of life and a host of positive attributes that make it a truly remarkable place to live. The economy of Salem is a shining example of resilience and growth. With a thriving economy that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, Salem’s strategic location, just 16 miles north of Boston, provides ample opportunities for both local and international trade, bolstering economic prosperity. Salem’s population has been steadily increasing, a testament to the city’s appeal as a place to call home. Residents are drawn to the city’s vibrant energy, historical significance, and strong sense of community.

Beyond its economic and population growth, Salem boasts a flourishing arts scene that enriches the cultural fabric of the city. Artists from various disciplines find inspiration in Salem’s historical heritage and natural beauty, resulting in a dynamic creative community. Art galleries, theaters, and music venues abound, offer an array of performances and exhibitions that cater to diverse tastes. This includes the Salem Theatre Company, Salem Athenaeum (a library and cultural center), and the Salem Jazz and Soul and Film Festivals. Annually, Salem can attract more than 1 million visitors.


Position Summary
The Director of Learning and Civic Engagement (DLCE) is a member of the Executive Leadership Team, which is responsible for developing the overarching strategy of the institution, in collaboration with the Board of Trustees. Reporting to the Executive Director and CEO, the DLCE will be a spokesperson for the value of educational programming at the museum, collaborating cross-departmentally to define and implement a programmatic vision aimed at reaching and cultivating new audiences with learning and civic engagement at the forefront. In collaboration with numerous museum departments (Curatorial, Marketing, Exhibition Design, etc.), the DLCE will integrate PEM’s strategic goals into public, interpretation, and Volunteer Guide programming, explore new opportunities for earned and contributed revenue, and introduce innovative, inclusive programs to foster new audiences and community connections.

The Director will lead the department of Learning and Civic Engagement with 13 full-time staff (including the DLCE) and two contracted employees. They will partner extensively with other senior leaders that manage the organization’s marketing and communications, advancement, and finance functions; with board members, Volunteer Guides, and other volunteers; and with groups and communities external to PEM.

The DLCE will foster an inclusive culture in the Learning and Civic Engagement department and be a champion for identifying ways for PEM to engage new visitors, students, educators, and families. The Director will contribute to the strategic discussion around the development of the museum’s learning initiatives and civic engagement goals, with input and support from senior management, staff, community partners, and other constituents. It is important for the DLCE to seek a deep understanding of the characteristics and needs of PEM’s local, regional, and national communities. Collaborative and innovative, the DLCE will possess a strong understanding and practice of DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and access) values within cultural institutions.

Roles and Responsibilities
Organizational Collaboration and Departmental Leadership
▪ Establish productive working relationships with staff, colleagues, board members and community partners; sustain and strengthen a culture of trust, communication, entrepreneurship, teamwork, and integrity.
▪ Provide supervision and support to managers for teacher professional development, K-12 school and college programs, teen programs, gallery teaching, distance learning, digital programming and the interns and fellows program.
▪ Develop programming and learning experiences that foster a culture of belonging and engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds, in collaboration with colleagues in other departments, i.e., curatorial, collections, exhibition design, etc.
▪ Partner with the Executive Director and CEO and Chief Philanthropy Officer on fundraising initiatives; identify current and potential sources of program funding and pursue them in close coordination with the appropriate leaders within the advancement group.
▪ Work with the Finance Department to develop and manage the Learning and Civic Engagement’s operating budget with long-term planning and revenue generation opportunities in mind.
▪ Cultivate and retain a diverse Learning and Civic Engagement staff such that PEM’s audiences see themselves reflected in the programs.
▪ Support professional development needs and leadership opportunities for the Learning and Civic Engagement staff to further establish the presence in the region and in the broader museum and cultural learning arenas.

Program and Civic Engagement
▪ Design a strategy of programming that engages a diverse representation of audiences both locally and nationally, while developing curriculum to support learning experiences for all ages and backgrounds.
▪ Grow new and strengthen existing relationships with schools, universities, patrons, volunteers, and other community groups, and with other museums through innovative collaboration, partnership, and civic engagement programming.
▪ Establish and maintain policies and procedures for integrating outcome-based evaluation and learning research into all department initiatives and programs related to the collections, temporary exhibitions and ongoing collection galleries, events, performances and demonstrations, educational publications, Volunteer Guide tours, and schools.
▪ Develop an in-depth understanding of PEM’s interpretive philosophy and take a leadership role in both guiding the interpretive development activity for exhibition projects and collection galleries and enhancing PEM’s position as a national interpretive leader.
▪ Re-imagine and oversee the Volunteer Guide Program and internship and fellowship programs, while also defining and supporting the new role of Manager of Interns and Fellows Programs recently created through grant funding.

Strategic Vision and Leadership
▪ Bolster PEM’s national model in Museum Learning, guided by PEM’s innovative reputation and substantive programs in alignment with the Museum’s new strategic plan, and serve as an advocate for the organization assuring that the interests of PEM are constantly forward-thinking.
▪ Unite the various programs of the Department under a unified Learning and Civic Engagement philosophy and mission aligned with PEM’s mission, resulting in overall programming that is cohesive and coherent.
▪ Prepare regular status reports for Executive Team and Board of Trustees regarding programming, with particular emphasis on metrics of impact and visitor satisfaction; participate in discussions related to PEM’s overall operating strategy.
▪ Actively participate in the national and international museum learning field and adopt current models and best practices.

Traits and Characteristics
The DLCE will be an innovative, collaborative leader who is adept at both inspiring people to deliver on ambitious goals and objectives while fostering a harmonious, inclusive work environment for staff and volunteers and a culture of belonging for PEM’s diverse learning communities. This leader will balance the need to deepen PEM’s relationship with both local and national communities while ensuring that the Learning and Civic Engagement staff is adequately guided, resourced, and supported to do their best work. Driven by new ideas, methods, and opportunities, the DLCE will work closely across departments and the organization to deepen and expand programming that delivers measurable outcomes and impact with adequate financial and human resources.

Other key competencies include:

▪ Diplomacy and Teamwork – The dexterity to effectively and tactfully handle difficult issues in a manner that demonstrates sensitivity and respects differences while modeling and cultivating a culture of collaboration, accountability, joy, and excellence.

▪ Personal Accountability and Planning/Organization – The potentiality to establish courses of action, to ensure that work is completed effectively while remaining answerable for one’s own actions.

▪ Leadership and Project Management – The capability to organize and inspire people to believe in a vision while living and modeling the museum’s values, creating a sense of purpose, and cooperating with others to meet objectives, as well as identify and oversee all resources, tasks, systems, and people to obtain results.

▪ Time and Priority Management – The capacity to prioritize and complete tasks in order to deliver desired outcomes within allotted time frames.

Compensation and Benefits
This is an exempt, executive/senior level position with a full-time salary range of $130,000-$150,000. Benefits include paid vacation time, sick time, parental leave, short-term and long-term disability, 401(A) and 403(b), health/dental/life insurance, and tuition assistance. PEM staff currently maintains a hybrid work schedule that requires regular in-person work at its Salem location and offices, as well as evening and weekend events and engagements.


Eight to ten years of professional experience in a leadership role managing learning and community engagement initiatives and strategies in a museum or similar cultural nonprofit setting is required. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and experience in staff, budget, and project management are essential. Experience designing curriculum and programming serving a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and learning styles, including a range of evaluation tools and strategies to inform program revision, improvement, and/or expansion is key. A demonstrated understanding and practice of DEIA (diversity, equity, inclusion, and access) values within cultural institutions is essential.

Application Instructions

To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity, including the anticipated salary range, please contact:

Dat Ngo, Associate Vice President

1030 15th Street NW, Suite 283
Washington, DC 20005-1500
Tel (888) 234.4236 Ext. 235

The Peabody Essex Museum is committed to diversity among its employees and encourages qualified candidates from all backgrounds to apply.

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