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President and CEO, Terra Foundation for American Art
Terra Foundation for American Art in Chicago, Illinois
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Date Posted 01/03/2020
Philanthropy-Senior/Executive Management
Employment Type Fulltime
Application Deadline Open until filled

“Bringing American Art to the World and the World to American Art.”

The Terra Foundation for American Art is dedicated to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts of the United States for national and international audiences. Recognizing the importance of experiencing original works of art, the foundation provides opportunities for interaction and study, beginning with the presentation and growth of its own art collection in Chicago. To further cross-cultural dialogue on American art, the foundation supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research, and educational programs. Implicit in such activities is the belief that art has the potential both to distinguish cultures and to unite them.


The Terra Foundation for American Art was founded in 1978 by businessman, art collector, and United States Ambassador-at-Large for Cultural Affairs Daniel J. Terra (1911–1996) who believed that art is a dynamic and powerful expression of the nation’s history and identity, and that the engagement with original works of art could be a transformative experience.

Based in Chicago, the Terra Foundation’s entrepreneurial successor, Elizabeth Glassman, led a bold revisioning of the foundation’s operational model, which resulted in the innovative transition of the foundation’s two museums, the creation of the Paris Center & Library, the global circulation of important works of American art from its 800-object collection, and the establishment of a grants program that has to date awarded more than $100 million for the creation of approximately 1,000 exhibitions and programs in 31 countries. The foundation’s approach now leverages both its extensive collection and granting capacity to explore how we create national narratives, bringing the art of the United States to a wide range of audiences, spurring important dialogues on visual culture, national identity, and the importance of building connections across places and peoples, and exploring the possibilities for impact as a museum without walls.

With its global reach, the Terra Foundation has remained committed to supporting the cultural fabric of its home city of Chicago. Important works from the foundation’s collection are displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago for the benefit of the public. In 2014, Glassman, in collaboration with staff and Board, began conceptualizing an initiative that would reveal Chicago as an important center for the creation, production, and dissemination of innovations in art and design, bringing Art Design Chicago to fruition in 2018, working with approximately 95 cultural partners to yield 40 exhibitions, hundreds of public programs, and numerous scholarly publications that included the work of more than 700 artists from the city and attracted 2.5 million visitors to the featured exhibitions and programs. 

Such programming relies on informed scholarship, and Terra Foundation has established programs to support Chicago’s K-12 students, graduate and postdoctoral candidates, and emerging and established scholars. The foundation’s international fellowships and teaching professorships connect students and scholars with its rich network of partners, providing opportunities for academic awards, residencies, travel grants, and visiting professorships. This international network, which to date stands at more than 500 scholars, is working at the highest level of teaching and publishing to promote American art within universities worldwide. 

During Glassman’s almost two decades as president and CEO, the Terra Foundation has realized cash and investment assets in excess of $380 million, a collection valued in excess of $500 million, property worth around $9 million, an annual operating budget of approximately $19 million, of which $10-12 million is dedicated to annual grantmaking. The President and CEO works closely with a 15-member Board and a staff of 30 (20 in Chicago, 10 in Paris) to envision creative ways to fulfill the Terra Foundation’s mission. Glassman leaves her successor a healthy, widely respected institution that is seen to have radically influenced the field of philanthropy, museums, and American art through its hybrid model, partnerships, and national and international programming.



The President and CEO leads the Terra Foundation for American Art internationally, nationally, and locally to maximize the foundation’s reputational, financial, human, and collection assets in achievement and advancement of its mission and goals.


Strategic Vision                                                                    

  • Creates and recognizes opportunities to enhance and expand the Terra Foundation’s leadership in the field of American art in the USA and abroad.

  • Monitors and anticipates changes in the fields of American art and global philanthropy to remain a “thought leader” in proactive partnerships that align with the foundation’s mission.

  • Develops and advances the foundation’s vision through originating and overseeing implementation of short- and long-range plans for future growth and impact.

  • Identifies and prioritizes key issues impacting the foundation and facilitates the collection of critical information through direct or indirect contacts with museum directors, national and international cultural leaders, academics, Board members, staff, and other relevant professionals.

  • Sets direction for growth and expenditure of financial, human, and collection assets.

  • Is mindful of reputational impact of all aspects of foundation actions and priorities to ensure desired outcomes.



  • Works closely with the Board to develop and align the foundation’s vision, mission, strategies, and priorities and for the purpose of institutional advancement, evolution, and planning.

  • Engages the Board in major discussions around prioritization of the foundation’s three key assets – financial, art, and staff.

  • Works closely with Board Chair and Nominating Committee to define Board needs and to identify and recruit prospective Board candidates.

  • Orients new Board members and actively ensures successful Board transitions.

  • Translates Board decisions into executable plans.


Executive Management 

  • Responsible for the achievement of all strategic plans, initiatives, and policies.

  • Manages Executive Team in shaping vision, setting goals, and inspiring staff to action.

  • Responsible for effective acquisition and use of financial, human, and collection assets.

  • Sets the tone for problem resolution and decision-making throughout the organization.

  • Approves and/or determines allocation of staff responsibilities and functions.

  • Responsible for professional staff development, performance review, and pay.

  • Oversees legal compliance of financial, grants, and human resources in coordination with CFO and EVP in the USA and in France.

  • Works closely with the CFO in developing the budget, obtaining approval, and ensuring adherence.

  • Under the current structure, directly manages EVP, CFO, director of Paris office, curator (Chicago), curator (Paris), registrar, and executive assistant.



  • Ensures that the 800-object collection is a working asset, harnessing it to underscore the mission and reflect the foundation’s effective participation in the field of American art.

  • Cultivates partnerships with other institutions to identify and foster domestic and international exhibition opportunities.

  • Evaluates and approves strategies and approaches for acquisition, deaccession, and negotiations.

  • Works closely with staff to craft and implement plans and policies according to approved Collection Plan.

  • Under the current structure, directly manages senior collection staff in the USA and abroad.

  • Provides Board guidance and recommendations regarding collection funding requirements, management, and alternatives.


External Relationships                                                         

  • Acts as spokesperson and ambassador for the foundation to peers, partners, the media, public, and civic leaders in the USA and abroad.

  • Acts as a “thought leader” for American art in professional encounters and public statements.

  • Initiates and cultivates sustained professional relationships with international and domestic cultural institutions, academics, and museum colleagues.

  • Collaborates with Executive Team to develop communications goals and strategy.

  • Leverages professional relationships to facilitate and support Terra Initiatives, creating unique partnerships for the advancement and support of exhibitions and other grants programming partnerships.


Programming and Grants 

  • Terra funds: exhibition grants and initiatives; academic programs; and K-12 education and other Chicago programs.

  • Sets the direction and develops strategies for grant investments and initiatives.

  • Originates programming concepts and identifies grants partnerships which support the foundation’s vision and mission.

  • Provides leadership for grants agenda and sets programming target opportunities for the USA, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

  • Reviews and approves grants structures and guidelines, as well as dockets for Board review.

Please send applications or nominations to Sarah James and Becky Klein at:

*Please mention to employers when applying for this job*
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