School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza
Executive Director Position Announcement

The School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza seeks a creative, innovative and visionary leader to become its next Executive Director. The School’s mission is to catalyze creativity and empower community and is guided by five core values: creativity, heritage, inclusion, place and service. The successful candidate will assume the leadership of a six-acre, $35M facility and anchor organization for Mayfair community, located in San Jose, California. As the School’s chief executive officer, the position will report directly to the organization’s nonprofit Board of Directors and serve as top spokesperson, fundraiser, and management leader of an organization with an operating budget of $2.9M.

The School of Arts and Culture is committed to universal access to arts and culture that fosters pride, place and cultural identity, intercultural exchange and multicultural perspective and understanding of social, historical, and political context. The School is a creative convener and community hub for arts, cultural, and community events such as the Fiesta Navideña and La Última Parada: A Celebration of Life on the Day of the Dead; and numerous cultural events, classes, and performances staged by several Bay Area arts organizations.

The Role

The Executive Director is responsible for directing and/or overseeing the following key activities:

  • Maintain and expand upon the School’s established community engagement and collaboration work.
  • Supervise a multi-functional facility that includes 55,000 square feet of programmable space, including a 500+ seat theater, pavilion, plaza, gardens, classrooms, and a dance studio.
  • Maintain a positive relationship with the City of San Jose, the building’s owner. The City provides significant funds for the operation of the facility.
  • Implement a fundraising plan that includes management of a significant facility rental earned income program, the continuation and expansion of substantial funding from private foundations, and the cultivation of donors.
  • In concert with staff, envision and execute a variety of institution-generated cultural programming and facilitate programming provided by affiliated cultural organizations.

Required Qualifications

Applicants for this position are required to have the following core qualifications:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education in arts, public policy, business management, or a related field.
  • Five or more years of senior management experience.
  • High-level fluency in Spanish and English.
  • The capacity to serve as a community leader.
  • Direct experience in the preparation and administration of a multifaceted budget.
  • Strong organizational abilities, including planning, delegating and program development.
  • An ability to convey the School’s values, vision, and strategic future to staff, board, volunteers, and donors.
  • Experience engaging with diverse volunteer and donor groups.
  • Knowledge of fundraising strategies and donor relations unique to the nonprofit sector.
  • Strong written and public speaking communication skills.
  • Demonstrated success with effective fund development strategies.

Desired Qualities

The following are qualities that are highly desired in applicants:

  • A commitment to the importance and values of community development, resident and youth empowerment.
  • Cultural sensitivity and awareness of the unique issues, challenges, and opportunities of San Jose’s East Side.
  • Familiarity with Silicon Valley arts organizations, funders, and community organizations.
  • An ability to collaborate with partner organizations for the benefit of the low-income families living in the Mayfair community, particularly members of the Si Se Puede! Collective, whose members include Amigos De Guadalupe Center for Justice and Empowerment, Grail Family Services, and SOMOS Mayfair.
  • A collaborative work style.
  • Comfort with a fast-paced, multi-tasked work environment.


The organization is based in San Jose, California.


  • The salary range for this position is $106,000 – $112,000, depending on qualifications. The selected candidate will be compensated within this range at a level that is commensurate with the experience they bring to the position.
  • Benefits provided.

To Apply

Complete applications will include:

  • Cover letter
  • Résumé
  • Names and contact information for three references

The deadline for applications is Thursday, November 1, 2018. All materials must be submitted electronically to Laurel Sherman, WESTAF Search Manager, Please note that only electronic applications will be accepted. Questions about this search and clarification regarding the qualification and qualities sought can be directed to here to download the PDF version of the position announcement

About The School of Arts and Culture at Mexican Heritage Plaza

In 2007, the City of San Jose sought new uses for the Mexican Heritage Plaza (MHP). A community assessment determined that the facility should become a school of arts and culture. In 2010, the City approved the Committee’s recommendation to create the School of Arts and Culture, which was incorporated as a nonprofit agency in 2011. In 2013, the School was designated the permanent operator of the six-acre, $35M facility with a 15-year lease and an option to renew for another 20 years. The School serves local residents by providing opportunities for creative engagement, expression, and growth through arts education, creative placemaking, events that speak to their heritage, and leadership development, as seen through its core programs. Over 70,000 people engage with the School annually through its nearly 500 public and private events.