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Executive Director - Ballet Des Moines

Executive Director - Ballet Des Moines

Reporting to and working closely with the board of directors, the Executive Director (ED), in partnership with the Artistic Director, will be responsible for the overall success and creative growth of Ballet Des Moines, including the vibrancy of its programs, operations, brand, facility, financial sustainability, and impact. This individual will be the organization’s lead fundraiser, creating development strategies and implementing action plans that deepen relationships in all segments of the philanthropic community. The ED will effectively manage strategic partnerships, administration, marketing, development, finances, operations, and the supervision and development of human resources. The person in this role will be an active community member in Des Moines to build visibility and financial support for Ballet Des Moines, working collaboratively with the Artistic Director, board and staff members, other arts organizations, and community members to fulfill the organization’s mission.

Roles and Responsibilities

Development and Government Support

Spearhead the formulation of fundraising strategies and implement them with support from the staff and board to increase financial resources through the annual fund, special events, and planned giving fundraising activities.

Create corporate sponsorship opportunities, foundation and government grants, and special campaigns to maintain Ballet Des Moines’ position as a leading arts organization in Iowa.

Drive the cultivation and solicitation of major donors, individuals, foundations, corporations, and government.

Strategic Planning and Community Engagement

Establish, with the Artistic Director and board, the vision for Ballet Des Moines as an organization dedicated to maintaining a comprehensive performance and training institution and oversee short-term operational and long-term strategic planning and implementation processes.

 Serve, along with the Artistic Director, as a main spokesperson to establish a broad public image for Ballet Des Moines, clearly articulating the organization’s needs and its long-term impacts on the community it serves. 

Initiate, develop, and ensure strong, collaborative, and effective relations with arts organizations, community decisionmakers, government leaders, and other stakeholders in achieving mutually beneficial outcomes.

Oversee the planning, scheduling, management, and evaluation of a diverse array of annual activities.

Affirm Ballet Des Moines’ role as a vital regional arts organization with multiple constituents and develop relationships that enhance the organization’s goals.

Marketing and Sales

Develop marketing, communication, sales strategies, and initiatives that maximize ticket sales and other earned revenue opportunities.

Ensure the highest levels of excellence in the delivery of outstanding customer service.

Governance and Financial Accountability

Collaborate with the board to ensure strong fiscal health and organizational governance, including the scheduling of board meetings and the preparation and delivery of all relevant materials.

Provide support to best utilize the talents and resources of board members, stimulate board involvement, and recruit new members.

Advise the board and its committees on matters within the ED’s scope of responsibility to promote the efficient operation of Ballet Des Moines.

Develop and maintain fiscal responsibility for Ballet Des Moines’ annual operating budget and financial objectives and provide the most effective use of financial resources, working closely with the board.

Establish sound financial management and administrative policies and supervise the development of financial reports.

Enable sound practices and accountability for Ballet Des Moines’ information technologies and cyber security, including donor and patron information.

Understand and maintain compliance with best accounting practices, tax filing requirements, and audits.
Initiate ongoing effective communication with the Board Chair, board of directors, staff, volunteers, and other stakeholders.

Management and Operations

Supervise administrative staff and volunteers to ensure patrons, artists, students, and community members have a welcoming and high-quality experience.

Hire, train, mentor, evaluate, and create accountability measures for staff and volunteers while actively addressing their concerns in creating a safe, forward-thinking, and productive work environment.

Establish appropriate staffing levels with job descriptions, facilitate employee development, and maintain an environment where diverse individuals bring various talents, skills, and cultural competencies together to achieve common goals in support of Ballet Des Moines’ mission.

Monitor programming, operations, and facilities personnel to ensure that organizational policies are efficient and effective in resource utilization.

Ensure that all activities at Ballet Des Moines adhere to contractual agreements, meet legal and ethical obligations, and are consistent with the organization’s mission and values.

Create and actively promote a comfortable and welcoming environment where every stakeholder is treated with dignity and respect in a friendly and personal manner.

Traits and Characteristics 

A strategic, diplomatic, and entrepreneurial leader, the ED will articulate a vision and, in partnership with the Artistic Director and board, set the tone for Ballet Des Moines as a vibrant center for artistic, cultural, educational, and community activity. With an appreciation for practical accomplishments, the successful candidate will have the ability to manage the long-term strategic goals of the organization along with daily tasks. Resourceful and instinctive, the ED will value partnership, creativity, and self-expression. 

Other key competencies include:

Leadership and Goal Orientation – The capacity to organize and motivate other people with a sense of purpose and direction while setting, pursuing, and attaining goals.

Self-Starting, Personal Accountability, and Time and Priority Management – The dexterity to demonstrate initiative and self-control, be answerable for personal actions, and manage time and priorities

Project Management and Conflict Management The ability to identify and oversee all resources, task, systems, and people to obtain results while demonstrating resolve to address conflict constructively.

Influencing Others and Futuristic Thinking – The commitment to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions, or thinking to achieve a positive outcome while envisioning or predicting what has not yet been realized.


Qualified applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of five years of increasing responsibility in a senior management role at a similar dance, arts, cultural, or nonprofit organization. Direct experience in a nonprofit dance company would be an asset. Candidates should possess a strong command of the business and financial side of a nonprofit organization, including financial management, staff development, communication skills, and stakeholder relations. Candidates must know how to work effectively with an artistic director, board members, staff, volunteers, and community leaders. A commitment to Ballet Des Moines’ priorities of creating a highly regarded ballet company, training dancers, building a culture of engagement and innovation, and ensuring a broad base of stakeholder support and financial sustainability is needed.

Compensation and Benefits

Ballet Des Moines provides competitive compensation and a benefits package that includes extended health insurance, paid time off and holidays, and the extraordinary quality of life and recreation opportunities offered by the beautiful Des Moines region.

Ballet Des Moines was founded in 2002 as the Ballet Theatre of Iowa. Its inaugural season included The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Divertimento. In 2005 Serkan Usta was named Artistic Director and the company was renamed Ballet Des Moines. In 2012 Ballet Des Moines launched its first professional company of resident dancers. Today, the organization focuses on enriching lives in the Greater Des Moines area by delivering excellence in the performing arts and striving to provide the highest level of dance education in the region. Ballet Des Moines’ mission as a professional organization is to offer people of all ages an opportunity to experience world-class ballet. Its vision is to be an integral part of the vibrant arts community by delivering excellence in ballet performance.

In 2009 Ballet Des Moines II was established as the company’s corps of pre-professional dancers who represent the organization through community outreach events and public performances. All members of Ballet Des Moines II are ambassadors for the organization and act as role models in the dance community. The purpose of Ballet Des Moines II is to be a transitory experience for artists pursuing a professional dance career. The experience gives the dancers not only a greater depth of training and diverse performance opportunities but also the tools and real-world experiences that all professional dancers come to expect.

Ballet Des Moines performs a season of three ballets and multiple outreach events in the beautifully restored 1,252-seat Hoyt Sherman Place Theater and other venues in Des Moines. The company is governed by a 12-member board of directors, led by Board President Erin Hockman. 


State capital, business hub, and Midwestern town, Greater Des Moines prides itself on its schools, friendly communities, short commutes, affordable living, and world-class amenities. Greater Des Moines has been nationally recognized as a top place to live and work by publications such as Forbes and U.S. News & World Report. The city also ranks third in the nation for working parents and first for young families. At 88 percent, the state of Iowa boasts the highest high school graduation rate in the country. Iowa’s ACT and SAT college-entrance exam scores are also among the nation’s best. Des Moines’ employers include corporate leaders such as Principal, Wells Fargo, and Meredith Corporation, more than 80 insurance companies, various agencies headquartered in the Iowa Capitol Complex, and numerous science and health organizations, including five area hospitals. 

Greater Des Moines has witnessed rapid development in recent years, with the third highest number of economic development projects in its population group in 2018.  A revitalized downtown, changing demographics, multi-billion-dollar investments from Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple, have all been made possible by a forward-looking community that embraces new ideas. These developments are also reflected in the region’s arts and culture environment. New initiatives such as the Des Moines Social Club and Bravo Greater Des Moines are unique examples of visionary partnerships and approaches to investing in the arts. 

The region has been rapidly growing over the past decade. In 2017 Des Moines had the fastest population growth of any major metropolitan area in the Midwest—a nearly 42 percent growth since the 2000 census. Since then, the number of people living downtown has more than doubled. As the surge continues, the region’s creative boosters are helping create culture by marketing Des Moines as an affordable option for creative and artistic entrepreneurs. As a result, Mainframe Studios, a 160,000-square-foot studio space located in Downtown Des Moines, is now the largest nonprofit arts space in the United States. 

Greater Des Moines is home to a number of signature events, including the Iowa State Fair, Des Moines Arts Festival™, and the Iowa caucuses. Arts, cultural, heritage, and recreational opportunities abound. The Principal Riverwalk includes landscaped public spaces, world-class public art, and unique pedestrian bridges and pathways that connect more than 800 miles of trails throughout the region. The 4.4-acre John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines features artwork from some of the world’s most celebrated artists. Other noted institutions include the Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines Art Center, and Des Moines Performing Arts, among others.