Executive Search for Not-for-Profit Cultural Institutions

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Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, Washington, D.C.

Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens

Challenge

The dedicated Board of the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens needed to replace their highly-respected Executive Director, who was planning his retirement after more than 20 years. Hillwood was the home of Mrs. Marjorie Merriweather Post, who bequeathed it to the public, and it opened as a museum in 1977. The Board was looking for an innovative candidate with a strong combination of leadership, communications and fundraising experience. The new executive director would be only the third professional director in Hillwood’s history as a museum.

The successful candidate would have the breadth of experience to lead this unique institution comprised of 25 acres of landscaped gardens and several historic structures, including the 26,000 square-foot mansion housing one of the nation’s most important collections of 18th-century Russian and French decorative arts. The Board recognized the need for a forward-looking executive director able to reach broader audiences and strengthen the institution fiscally by diversifying its revenue streams.

Solution

Right off the bat, Hillwood’s gracious, enchanting history and singular collection of decorative arts provided Opportunity Resources with an unusually large number of excellent candidates. We presented six of the most highly qualified  for the Board to interview. Of these, Kate Markert, who was then serving as Associate Director at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, stood out for her expertise in strategic planning and development as well as her experience with community outreach. In her seven years at the Walters Markert helped steer increased engagement with the broader public, developing partnerships with city and county governments to provide greater access to the Museum. Prior to her tenure at the Walters, Markert had directed the distinguished Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, heading a major fund-raising campaign for an ambitious renovation and expansion program. Kate’s unique combination of attributes provided the Board with the leadership they require to grow and evolve. Kate began as Executive Director at Hillwood in August, 2010.