Chief Executive Officer, The National Gallery of Canada Foundation
THE OPPORTUNITY The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is seeking a Chief Executive Officer to lead our donor...

The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is seeking a Chief Executive Officer to lead our donor engagement strategy, operations, and efforts. Reporting to the Foundation Board of Directors through the Chair, the CEO will collaborate closely with Gallery colleagues and leadership volunteers to cultivate private and corporate support in Canada and abroad. Based in Ottawa, Toronto, or Montreal, candidates for this position will preferably have working facility with both English and French.


When the National Gallery of Canada was established in 1880, its collection consisted of a single 19th-century landscape. Nearly 140 years later, the Gallery is home to more than 75,000 works of art, along with extensive library and archival holdings. Comprising works from antiquity to the present day, the Gallery has one of the finest collections of Canadian and Indigenous art in the world, as well as masterworks from numerous other artistic traditions.

In addition to showcasing works of art, the Gallery preserves, studies and shares works in every conceivable medium, including photography, sculpture, painting, installation and the decorative arts. It does this through conventional means such as exhibitions and publications, as well as through its website, social media channels and other forms of national and international outreach.

Housed in one of Canada’s most iconic public buildings, the National Gallery of Canada is among the world’s most respected art institutions. As part of its ongoing evolution, and in response to the changing expectations of museumgoers, the Gallery recently renewed its entire narrative on Canadian and Indigenous art, sharing a new and compelling story of artistic production in this country, from time immemorial to the present day.

While remaining committed to core values that include tradition, outreach and the sharing of knowledge, the National Gallery remains ever-alert to new ways of connecting with audiences, while showcasing the importance of art to the human condition — now and for generations to come.


The strength of the National Gallery of Canada lies in its collection of art, especially Canadian art, and its accessibility to the public across the country. The collection opens the way for appreciation of the finest in artistic expression: The works of art reveal the past, celebrate the present, and probe the future. The collection must be expanded, preserved, interpreted, and used extensively by the public for pleasure and understanding, for research and the advancement of knowledge.


The National Gallery of Canada strives to provide Canadians with a sense of identity, and to foster pride in Canada’s rich visual arts heritage. Through its collections, onsite and travelling exhibitions, loans program, educational programs, publications, professional training programs and outreach initiatives, the Gallery aspires to be a model of excellence in furthering knowledge of the visual arts, both at home and abroad. Through collaboration with national and international institutions, it seeks to make art accessible, meaningful and vital to diverse audiences of all ages.


  • Accessibility: Programs are developed with the public in mind – not only visitors to the Gallery, but all Canadians.
  • Excellence and Scholarship: The Gallery builds upon the high standards it has attained over the years in all of its endeavours, from research to acquisitions, exhibitions, publications and public programs.
  • Corporate Citizenship: The Gallery meets its public policy and legal obligations.
  • Leadership: The Gallery acts as a recognized leader in the national and international art museum communities.
  • Collaboration: The Gallery collaborates with the network of art museums in all regions of Canada and abroad, and with its partners in the Government of Canada.
  • The Gallery’s Workforce: The Gallery values its workforce and creates a work environment in which people can maximize their potential and contribute fully to the success of the organization.

Founded in 1997, the National Gallery of Canada Foundation is an independent not-for-profit registered charity dedicated to achieving sustained private financial support for the Gallery. In 2009, the Foundation also launched the American Friends of the National Gallery of Canada to facilitate the support of art patrons living in the United States.

The Foundation aims to support initiatives and to establish strategic endowments and restricted funds in support of all key priority areas of the Gallery including:

  • Acquisition of outstanding works of art for the national collection;
  • Curatorial and technical research;
  • Exhibitions and public programs;
  • Education and community engagement;
  • National outreach initiatives;
  • National Gallery of Canada Library and Archive.

Since inception, the Foundation has raised more than $75 million in financial contributions and has facilitated donations of art to the National Gallery valued in excess of $62 million. Financial assets currently under management are valued at $25 Million and include a range of general and designated endowments and special purpose funds.

The Foundation focuses primarily on cultivating and receiving individual and corporate donations at the major gift level (above $10,000) including an exceptional Gallery Naming Opportunity program for donations of $1 Million and above. The Foundation also manages all corporate sponsorship above $1 Million. The new CEO will explore expanding annual giving programs at the major gift level.

Key recognition categories include the Distinguished Patrons of the National Gallery of Canada for gifts of $100,000 or more and the Distinguished Business Leadership Circle for unrestricted corporate philanthropic donations of $150,000. We actively engage with this dynamic pan-Canadian and international Distinguished Patrons community, regularly benefiting from their financial support, ideas, engagement and ambassadorial representation of the Gallery and Foundation across the nation.

[NOTE: The National Gallery of Canada’s internal advancement department manages all Gallery membership categories, annual giving below $10,000, corporate sponsorship below $1 Million, government funding and other special initiatives by mutual agreement. These areas do not fall under the operational oversight of the Foundation.]

We are a small but dedicated team of six staff, who in turn support and catalyze the efforts of our passionate and committed board members and fundraising volunteers. We also work in collaboration with our Gallery colleagues to engage with donors. In the 2018/2019 fiscal year, we raised approximately $7.7 million.


The ideal candidate will be an optimistic and creative strategist with exceptional executive leadership skills. The Chief Executive Officer will bring the energy, ideas, and initiative to grow our donor base, our financial results, and our impact.

A seasoned fundraising professional who understands that they are first and foremost in the relationship business, the successful candidate will be warm, genuine, and outgoing. The CEO will be an empathetic listener and a persuasive communicator. A closer who authentically advances relationships with donors to secure investment in the Gallery, the new incumbent will possess excellent instincts and a nuanced sense of timing. Candidates must be curious and passionate about visual arts and must be eager to engage with and learn from experts.

The successful candidate will be an exceptional project manager who smoothly balances the many demands of the role. Possessing solid business and financial management acumen, the CEO will align roles to the Foundation’s business plan and establish key performance indicators in partnership with the Board and staff team. Thoughtful and always prepared, the CEO will carefully weigh options to find win-win solutions. The ideal candidate will be comfortable with a high pace and high expectations and will be excited about the incredible potential to grow collaboration, engagement, and results.

A flexible thinker and calculated risk taker, the ideal candidate will embrace strategic change. The CEO will assess our current fundraising mix and model to identify areas of opportunity and growth and will help us to modernize our fundraising culture and practices. Digitally savvy and excited about increased digital engagement, the successful candidate will bring an entrepreneurial approach that encourages innovation and selective experimentation.

The Chief Executive Officer will believe in the importance of investing time, energy, and effort in people. As the leader of a small team that relies on leveraging the expertise, knowledge, and relationships of others, the CEO will care deeply about people, and will seek to involve and engage them. The ideal candidate will be a strong team leader who is adept at able managing up, down, and sideways. The new incumbent will also champion equity and inclusion at the Foundation, and support EDII efforts at the Gallery.

A bridge builder who believes in collaboration and transparency, the successful candidate will understand the importance of aligning donor interests with Gallery needs, priorities, and areas of excellence. To maintain ongoing alignment between the Foundation and Gallery, the CEO will work with Gallery leadership to ensure a deep understanding of the Gallery’s vision and strategic priorities.

Ideally having previous experience with national scope, the CEO will support the Gallery in its efforts to raise its profile and community engagement across the country. Possessing superlative communication skills and poised leadership presence, the new incumbent will be a credible ambassador and representative of the Foundation. Calm, confident, and self-aware, the successful candidate will bring excellent judgement, integrity, and strength of character.

The ideal candidate will be diplomatic and politically astute and will effectively navigate the dynamics of a geographically diverse and multigenerational board, along with the complexity of the relationship with the Gallery. The CEO will provide guidance, coordination, and encouragement to Gallery staff and Foundation volunteers in order to heighten engagement with patrons in an impactful manner that deepens the donor-institution relationship.


Strategic Leadership

  • Plan, develop and execute a multi-year strategy for the Foundation to achieve short-, medium- and long-term philanthropic goals and objectives
  • Ensure that plans and resources are in place to ensure that activities are on track to meet or exceed the Foundation’s revenue goals
  • Grow the Foundation’s Major Gifts and Planned Giving pipeline and programs to meet the long-term financial needs of the Gallery
  • Develop strategies and programs to maintain and ideally increase unrestricted giving
  • Build endowments through major gifts and planned giving
  • Recommend programs and policies by analyzing the changing needs of the donors and the industry, identifying and anticipating trends and evaluating options

Fundraising and Philanthropic Activities

  • Implement a strategic and comprehensive philanthropy program including prospect identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of major, principal, and planned gifts
  • Manage a substantial personal portfolio of major and principal gift prospects, and develop significant contacts with individuals, corporations, and foundations
  • Maintain regular engagement with the Foundation’s Distinguished Patrons
  • Support staff and volunteer participation in major gift fundraising and donor prospect evaluations.
  • Oversee the process for identifying and applying for foundation grant opportunities
  • Oversee the planning and execution of events and provide direction and oversight to ensure maximum net financial and/or institutional results from such efforts
  • Oversee the process and efforts to research, cultivate, and present prospective candidates to become donors to the Foundation
  • Partner with the NGC’s marketing staff to ensure strong branding and messaging

Staff and Volunteer Leadership

  • Oversee the recruitment and retention of the Foundation staff team, including hiring, training, performance management, and professional development
  • Serve as a role model to illustrate the values and behaviors expected of all staff
  • Create a positive, inclusive, and encouraging work environment and culture
  • Support staff in achieving growth, success, and professional goals
  • Ensure that appropriate Human Resources practices, policies and guidelines are in place to support staff and volunteers, and to ensure a safe, healthy, and inclusive work environment
  • Monitor, investigate, report, and take/direct corrective action as required on any HR-related issues or incidents with staff and volunteers

Board Governance

  • Act as a liaison between the Foundation Board and the National Gallery of Canada
  • Proactively inform the Board of Directors of risks, issues, opportunities, or activities that may significantly affect the Foundation, and refer to the Chair any matters which may require Board awareness, discussion, or action
  • Present reports and recommendations to the Board regarding the operations and finances of the Foundation and proposed changes to major policies
  • Prepare agendas for its regular biannual and special Board meetings
  • Prepare and present strategic updates and financial statements to the Board of Directors
  • Provide information, options, and commentary pertinent to the deliberations of the Board
  • Attend when asked, on behalf of the Foundation, the Gallery’s Senior Management Committee meetings and the plenary sessions of the Gallery’s Board of Trustees

Operational and Financial Management

  • Ensure that effective systems and processes are in place to record donor/prospect information, and to systematize appropriate communication, actions, and follow-up
  • Establish the necessary strategic, legal and administrative structure to secure and receive Foundation gifts, and manage them according to best practices and CRA regulations
  • Formulate and implement business strategies and plans to provide for efficient and profitable operations, to meet short-term objectives and to ensure long-term growth and success
  • Develop and implement adequate measures to meet the fiscal needs of the Foundation to conserve its assets, and to maintain an effective system of budgetary control
  • Submit the annual consolidated budget for approval, review forecasts and proposed expenditures
  • Oversee the preparation of monthly financial reports and reconciliation, and an annual report
  • Propose amendments to existing policies to improve operations and align to industry best practices

Knowledge & Experience

  • Progressive leadership experience in a complex not-for-profit organization, including strategy development, project management, and managing and leading a staff team
  • Strong financial management and reporting experience, including program and operating budgets
  • Significant experience supporting not-for-profit Board, Board committees, and other senior volunteers who are involved in both governance and fundraising
  • Proven experience developing proposals for and securing gifts over $100,000 both with individual and corporate donors, and exceptional abilities in donor relations and successful stewardship of gifts
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively and effectively with subject-matter experts as partners in donor cultivation and stewardship
  • Working knowledge of income tax rules and regulations related to philanthropic activities
  • An understanding of how to navigate and partner effectively with Gallery colleagues who themselves work within the complex and unionized environment of a Crown Corporation
  • A deep personal interest in the arts is essential for this role; previous experience working in a cultural organization could be an asset

Skills & Behaviours

  • Strong strategic mindset, and an exceptional ability to implement effectively and efficiently
  • Warm, professional demeanour, and possessing excellent interpersonal skills
  • Superior business development skills
  • Solid financial management skills
  • Strong management skills, with the ability to be an encouraging, supportive coach and mentor
  • High-level of energy and stamina, but calm under pressure
  • Proactive, flexible, and creative, and effectively able to manage multiple priorities and activities
  • A team player with a reputation for transparency, collaboration, and goodwill
  • Strong judgement, integrity, and discretion
  • Impeccable communication and presentation skills
  • A functional level of proficiency in French is preferred for this role, and fluent bilingualism would be considered a strong asset


The National Gallery of Canada Foundation has retained KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.) to support the Search Committee with this search. For more information about this exciting leadership opportunity, please contact Tara George, Partner / Lead, KCI Search + Talent or Sylvie Battisti, Vice President / KCI Search + Talent at

All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence. Candidates who wish to explore the opportunity are asked to please submit a resume and letter of interest to the above email address no later than Thursday, September 16, 2020.

To view the full Executive Brief, please visit:

The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is committed to having a skilled, diversified workforce reflective of Canadian society. As a result, it promotes employment equity and encourages candidates to indicate voluntarily on their application if they are a woman, an Indigenous person, a person with a disability, or a member of a visible minority group.

The Foundation is committed to an inclusive, barrier-free selection processes and work environment. A variety of assessment tools may be used to assess candidates, and alternative selection tool methods and/or reasonable accommodation are available upon request. Candidates are entitled to participate in the selection process in the official language of their choice.