Executive Director

April 2024 | New York, NY
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The New York Society for Ethical Culture seeks an Executive Director to lead and grow an organization whose mission is to encourage respect for humanity and nature and to create a better world.

About The New York Society for Ethical Culture

exteriior of new york society for ethical cultureFounded in 1876 by philosopher and educator Dr. Felix Adler, the New York Society for Ethical Culture (the Society) is a non-theistic, Humanist community dedicated to ethical relationships, social justice, and democracy. As the founding institution of the Ethical Movement and a cornerstone of Progressivism in New York City, the Society’s members put “Deed before Creed” and ethics in action to educate, advocate, and organize to end racism, poverty, and war; abolish the death penalty and mass incarceration; guarantee reproductive freedom; welcome refugees and immigrants; fight climate change and pollution; and more.

The Society offers programs and activities primarily for its membership, such as the weekly Sunday meeting (called the Platform) and activities for children and youth; produces open forums on key timely social issues and discussion groups on ethics and philosophy; and fosters partnerships with other organizations to serve the public good. The Society has hosted dialogues, events, and lectures on issues of war, social policy, and human rights featuring speakers like Al Gore, Paul Krugman, Cornell West, Naomi Klein, Toni Morrison, and many others throughout its history.

The Society serves its community by offering programs and services to help “alleviate the symptoms of systemic injustice to promote a more compassionate city.” These activities include:

  • “Ethical Friends,” who bring food security, medical services, information clinics and organizational support to the nearby public housing project;
  • Partnering with neighborhood organizations such as Fordham University, Lincoln Center and Goddard Riverside;
  • Providing a women’s overnight shelter in conjunction with other faith organizations; and
  • Conducting food, toy, and coat drives.

Located in a historic building on Central Park West, the Society hosts a range of special events including television and movie shoots, lectures, art and cultural performances, weddings, memorials, and other gatherings that generate a large part of its revenue each year.

For more information about New York Society for Ethical Culture, please visit https://ethical.nyc/

About Leadership of the Society

The Society is governed by a Board of Trustees who are elected from the membership of the Society. In addition, there are three Clergy Leaders who fulfill the traditional functions of clergy, including performing marriages, memorials, funerals, and other ceremonies, and offering pastoral counseling to the Society’s members. They deliver Sunday addresses, oversee and partner with staff and key Committees to promote and carry out a diversity of gatherings, and lead programs and educational series that embody the central tenets and mission of Ethical Culture.

Membership and Committees

Volunteers from the membership are key to the Society’s success, and members are invited to join a variety of committees that support the mission, including Communications, Ethical Action, Environmental Stewardship, Ethical Education, Membership, Sunday Programming, and Youth and Family Programming. There are also administrative committees to help manage the finances, board governance, buildings and grounds, personnel, and the rental program.

About the Executive Director Opportunity

woman dancing at the New York Society for Ethical Culture

Arbor World Premiere with Artist in Residence Jody Sperling

Reporting to the Society’s Board of Trustees and working in close collaboration with Clergy Leaders and highly engaged volunteers, the Executive Director (ED) will utilize their business acumen and exceptional relationship, program, and project management skills to oversee the day-to-day operations for the Society.

The ED will model the ideals of Ethical Culture through collaborative and inclusive leadership of a complex, multi-layered organization and to promote a workplace and community culture in the Society that welcomes, respects, and appreciates the diverse voices, lived experiences, and identities of its members and staff.

The ED will inspire, mentor, and manage a staff of eight and oversee an organizational structure to help ensure that the mission and work of the Society is met through transparent, effective, and regular communication and partnership with the Board of Trustees, volunteer-run Committees, Members, Leaders, and other lay leaders of the Society.

In collaboration with the Clergy Leaders, Board, Committees, and Society staff, the Executive Director will be responsible for budget development and fiscal management, overseeing the room rental program and management of the building, and working with the Board and Committees in long-range planning and developing programs for membership and the public.

Key Responsibilities

Organizational Leadership

  • In partnership with the Board and Leaders, develop and track short-term and long-term goals to raise brand awareness, grow membership, increase programming, and expand the rental program for the Society; establish an evaluation process and adjust goals as needed.
  • Provide a safe and professional environment that cultivates open intercultural communication, transparency, and buy-in from the Society’s diverse constituents, i.e., staff, Board, Members, Committees, Leaders, lay leaders, vendors, and neighbors.

Financial Management and Legal Compliance

  • Work with the Board Finance Committee to develop and manage the annual operating budget and execute decisions regarding funds and accounts; identify savings and/or revenue options to balance the budget and ensure financial stability.
  • Assist the Treasurer and Finance Committee in fulfilling their fiscal responsibilities.
  • Prepare operating budget reports and other financial reports as requested.
  • Arrange for audits by external professionals as directed by the Audit Committee.
  • Arrange for expert opinions and reports as directed by Finance Committee and Treasurer.
  • summer interns with New York Society for Ethical Culture

    Summer Democracy Campers

    Work with the Bookkeeper and Society treasurer to create monthly budget and variance reports and to track progress against revenue and spending targets.
  • Work with the Bookkeeper to manage payroll and staff benefits.
  • Coordinate and arrange employee health, dental and other benefits.
  • Monitor and report to the Board on compensation trends in non-profit institutions of comparable size and type to the Society.
  • Oversee all contracts with office service providers (phone, copy machine, computer, etc.) and purchases of building and office supplies.

Personnel Management

  • Hire, manage, motivate, and mentor salaried staff of eight, including a Communications Manager, Facilities Manager, Office Manager, Membership Coordinator, Ethical Action Coordinator, Youth and Family Programs Coordinator, Membership Coordinator, part-time Bookkeeper, and other staff as needed.
  • Support the Facilities Manager in supervising union maintenance staff; implement progressive discipline if needed and negotiate union contracts alongside the Personnel Committee.
  • Provide mentorship, coaching, and professional development to the staff; conduct talent assessments and metrics-driven performance evaluations; manage conflict and resolve problems to ensure optimal outcomes for objectives and priorities.

Building Operations and Rental Program

  • In collaboration with the Rental Committee, oversee the rental/licensing program which includes, but is not limited to, client relations, customer service guidelines, compliance, risk management, processing, service orders, vendor contracts, and the operating budget.
  • New York Society for Ethiical Culture Youth in Actiion

    Youth in Action

    Ensure rental revenue targets as determined by the Board/Rental Committee are met by identifying new prospective renters, keeping abreast of significant developments and trends in the New York City rental market.
  • Provide outstanding client and customer service and manage internal and external stakeholders, often with competing priorities.
  • Design and implement a marketing plan to ensure a steady stream of new prospective renters and strengthen existing relationships while tracking metrics-driven customer satisfaction.
  • Maintain ongoing professional relationships with co-sponsoring organizations in collaboration with Leaders.
  • Work with Ethical Culture Fieldston School personnel on issues arising from joint occupancy.

Building Maintenance

  • Oversee the Facilities Manager’s office to ensure the appropriate management of the maintenance operations.
  • At a basic level, understand building systems used to operate the Meeting House such as heating and air conditioning; work with the facilities manager and the Building Committee to ensure safe, effective, and professional operations of the building.
  • Have a general understanding of construction contracting in relation to renovation projects that may be required from time to time.

Board, Committee, Member Relations, and Fundraising

  • Serve as an advisor and partner to the Society’s Board of Trustees, Clergy Leaders, and lay leaders; serve as the staff liaison for Finance, Endowment, Bylaws, Building and Rental Committees, and other Board or Committee activities as needed.
  • Assist the Board President in preparing for weekly Executive Committee and monthly Board meetings.
  • Prepare regular reports on new and continuing rentals, budgets, co-sponsored programs/events, and status of plans for and condition of the physical plant to be communicated out to all stakeholders as appropriate.
  • Group of people posing iin Alder Hall

    Gathering at Alder Hall

    Assign staff to support Committees and Society activities as needed to ensure that organizational priorities are being met and staff duties are in keeping with their positions.
  • Support engagement of current and potential donors by providing them with opportunities to contribute to the Society and by arranging for a lay leader or professional from the Society to contact them.
  • In partnership with the Fund Development Subcommittee, set annual fundraising goals and solicit contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporate partners in support of Society community programming and community service.
  • Represent the Society to the public and groups seeking co-sponsorship with the Society.

Key Qualifications

  • Authentic interest in the mission and work of the Society.
  • Minimum of ten years of experience managing complex projects, operations, facilities, staff, volunteers, and external relationships in a multi-layered organization.
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills and the ability to create buy-in and enthusiasm for the work; collegial, collaborative, and diplomatic nature; ability to develop productive relationships with members and leadership, vendors, partner organizations, and others who contribute to the effective and efficient functioning of the Society.
  • Demonstrated skills in planning, organizing, integrating information, problem-solving, making decisions, and attaining results.
  • Experience developing effective service-level agreements with vendors and contractors that provide a variety of services in aged-building property for a variety of services including cleaning, rentals and programming, security, and general contractors.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills; ability to synthesize material and focus quickly on the essence of an issue; ability to identify major opportunities in a specific area and to see the big picture.
  • Ability to foster an inclusive environment as part of a multidisciplinary team with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • Proven ability to design, build, and resource a team; coach, develop, and guide team members; conduct talent assessments; manage conflict; and resolve problems to ensure optimal outcomes for objectives and priorities.
  • Position requires regular weekday hours as well as regular attendance at evening and weekend meetings and Society events as appropriate.
  • Experience managing hospitality vendors such as caterers, musicians, and rental companies; familiarity in the New York City rental market, building codes, and regulations a plus.
  • Fundraising experience a plus.

All qualified candidates will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.


The salary range for this position is $130,000-$150,000. Final offers for the role will be based upon several factors including the position requirements, candidate’s experience and qualifications, and track record.

If you are interested in being considered for this search, please use the form below to submit your cover letter and resume in confidence.

Tracy Marshall

Executive Director, Search Practice

Development Guild DDI

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