14 Nov 2023


Chief Development Officer

Walnut Hill School for the Arts

 Natick, Massachusetts, United States

Walnut Hill School for the Arts jobs

Job Description

Walnut Hill School for the Arts seeks an innovative and visionary fundraising leader to re-envision the future of philanthropy for this global leader in arts education, one of only three independent arts high schools in the U.S. As a key member of the Head of School’s cabinet, the Chief Development Officer serves as an influential strategist and tactician in advancing the school’s fundraising aspirations, constituent engagement, and institutional priorities. This is a once-in-a-career opportunity for an advancement professional to serve a highly-regarded, mission-driven day and boarding school that is developing some of the world’s most promising young artists.

The Chief Development Officer (CDO) serves as a key thought partner to the Head of School in strategically increasing philanthropic support to advance the School’s mission and vision for the future. As an important member of the senior leadership team, the CDO will work closely with the Board of Trustees, articulating a vision of philanthropy to current families, alumni, and current and future donors; playing a critical role advancing the School’s reputation and most importantly, actively cultivating, soliciting, and closing transformational gifts.

Positionally, the CDO, Head of School, and Board of Trustees will execute a “pathway to eminence” that will result in Walnut Hill attracting substantial philanthropic support by positioning itself as an arts entity worthy of support from arts benefactors and major foundations in major metropolitan markets. This is a very rare position for an independent school to occupy; essentially behaving as much like a symphony or ballet company as it does a school, which increases the potential to secure transformational gifts.

The CDO will create and execute Walnut Hill’s overall fundraising and engagement strategies investing in deep partnerships with the Strategic Marketing and Enrollment Management teams. Collaboration with other areas of the school will be critical as well, including arts and academic departments, senior leadership, deans, faculty, parent/guardians, and students.

Visit the Walnut Hill online Career Center for the full overview of this exciting opportunity.


Primary Responsibilities: 

  • Engage with the Head of School in high-level strategic thinking to grow and optimize the school’s overall development efforts, as well as for key initiatives such as the launch of Walnut Hill’s strategic plan;
  • Serve as a lead front-line fundraiser. Develop and manage a significant personal portfolio of highly-rated prospects and donors, including cultivation, solicitation, and maintaining accountability for revenue expectations; work toward achievement of annual success metrics (e.g., donor meetings, prospect identification/qualification, gift closure);
  • Balance travel and front-line work (65%+ of time) with staff oversight, ensuring a well-run office with effective cultivation and stewardship of prospects and donors;
  • Devise, implement, and manage effective and complex strategies to secure principal gifts (6-7+ figures) for capital and programmatic priorities, along with appropriate and timely cultivation and stewardship;
  • With Head of School and Board committee involvement, develop, test, and refine a compelling case for support and related messaging to position Walnut Hill as an organization deserving of transformative philanthropy;
  • Employ a data-driven approach to planning, reporting on, and measuring results, identify key opportunities for improvement, and address obstacles to fundraising performance;
  • Develop and oversee the execution of a comprehensive data-driven development plan that differentiates and prioritizes projects by constituency and is strategic, compelling, and efficient;
  • Understand the lifecycle of each Walnut Hill constituent to curate a relevant, meaningful, and mission-inspiring set of touchpoints and experiences with the goal of proximal engagement and philanthropy;
  • Supervise, coach, and provide vision to the department to build a strong, collaborative team that serves the high-level goals of the school; meet regularly with staff, providing constructive feedback and support, and identifying opportunities for professional growth; mentor and develop staff, adjusting and aligning job responsibilities and contracted work, ensuring alignment with the school’s strategic priorities;
  • Manage the budget, prioritizing all resources for a strategic ROI;
  • In collaboration with the Head of School, establish a rubric of metrics that determine the effectiveness of the school’s philanthropy program, and periodically survey key constituencies to inform decision making;
  • Be visible in the school community, observing classes, attending assemblies, and performances; participate in parent events to gain insight into the Walnut Hill parent experience and philanthropic interest; and
  • Actively participate in the student community by chaperoning school events, or other opportunities for community involvement that arise throughout the school year; this work informs understanding and builds visibility/credibility.

Qualifications and Desired Attributes

  • BA/BS; advanced degree in related field preferred with 8+ years’ progressive experience in development; at least 5 years managing a comprehensive program and team, including Annual Fund, major gifts, planned giving, corporate and foundation relations, and capital campaigns;
  • Established track record of elevating the success of an organization through fundraising and constituent engagement, and specifically through cultivating, soliciting, and closing principal gifts (six- and seven-figures);
  • Proven relationship manager with strong interest in developing strategic and long-lasting relationships with Walnut Hill constituents, coupled with exemplary listening skills and EQ to secure transformational gifts that advance the school’s mission;
  • Sophisticated understanding of the donor journey and the ability to segment and provide inspiring experiences for them along each stage of the philanthropic “funnel;”
  • Substantial experience with time management, balancing travel and time on the road with oversight of the team;
  • Inspirational, charismatic speaker and communicator who can serve with the Head of School as a “chief evangelist” for Walnut Hill; proven ability to present and work closely with a wide range of internal and external constituents;
  • A compelling writer who can articulate key fundraising and stewardship messages throughout the year over multiple channels: proposals, appeal letters, newsletters, annual reports, etc.;
  • Proficient at data collection and analysis and the ability to use data to hone strategy; solid understanding of development database technology;
  • Impeccable organizational and project management skills with the ability to successfully manage near and long-term projects with precision and aplomb;
  • Innovative mindset that seeks best practices and stays abreast of trends and advancements in development, both in the educational space and other industries;
  • Commitment to, and strong understanding of, cultural competency and DEIB principles; ability to work successfully with constituents from a wide variety of identity sets and in line with expectations;
  • Experience working in/knowledge of education and/or the arts; and
  • Fluency in Korean or Mandarin Chinese is a plus.

Benefits Statement

The Chief Development Officer will have access to the full slate of Walnut Hill benefits, including a generous matching 403b plan, health care, two weeks per annum of paid sick leave, and six weeks per annum of paid time off. In addition, this key role qualifies for on-campus housing and meals in the School’s on campus dining hall.

Compensation: $180,000 – $205,000

To Apply    

Submit a resume and cover letter through the Walnut Hill School for the Arts online Career Center.


Full-Time Job in Education:
Chief Development Officer
Walnut Hill School for the Arts
 Natick, Massachusetts, United States

Job Categories: Education. Job Types: Full-Time. Job Tags: arts school, development, fund-raising, and school. States: Massachusetts.
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