Strategic planning is something I do well. And it’s exciting. I love making structures – both physical and organizational – so I take leadership design seriously.
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The Morbid Anatomy Museum
When I helped co-found the Morbid Anatomy Museum, designing the structure for the new organization was our first challenge. Working with the right people was essential, so we started by building a team. Once the preliminary board had been set, we made a strategic plan that included starting the state charter process, some early fundraising, and putting our ridiculously talented co-founders' publicity skills to work immediately.
Book sales at the Morbid Anatomy Museum
What the fledgeling board learned quite rapidly was that our strategic plan was a living document that required care and consideration. Because the project had such a quick timeline, the real estate landscape was changing on a day-to-day basis. But we designed each step so that we could solidify what worked while still reacting efficiently to any new realities. A leadership structure solidified while site evaluation remained up in the air. Our fundraising plan evolved at a different pace than our architectural master plan, but the infrastructure was there for both.
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Coney Island USA
Coney Island provided me 10 years of intense project management experience. When I began work for Coney Island USA, the purveyors of the Mermaid Parade, the last 10-in-1 sideshow in the nation, and founders of the New Burlesque Movement, the Coney Island Museum was a derelict space. By the time I left, the museum had a new life and thousands of visitors annually. And I’d developed a curatorial strategy of bringing artists in to tell stories using the museum’s collection as a medium. But we were still struggling to develop a stable overall organizational structure.
Coney Island USA’s Board, hard at work
As Associate Director, I spent a lot of time creating a long-term vision so that we could evaluate every decision based on whether it was taking us where we wanted to go. In this way, we increased the budget 5-fold, brought in new board members and new audiences, and executed a capital plan that resulted in purchasing 2 historic buildings in the heart of Coney Island.
The NYC Economic Development Corporation’s Master Plan for Coney Island, which Coney Island USA helped craft.
When I left Coney Island, it was essential that we take the opportunity to consider whether the position I’d created was the right role for the organization in the long term. By doing the hard work of researching similar organizations' structures and talking to other boards, we developed an improved org chart and designed a different role for supporting the Artistic Director. I managed the executive search for that role and left knowing that I’d given them the tools to succeed.
A new org chart for a producer of theater and museum programming
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Other Leadership Roles
A huge part of being a good manager is knowing what allows all levels of a company to thrive, from the C-suite to the box office, development to product managers. In a nonprofit, for example, understanding the entire lifecycle of a grant is essential. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting on grant review panels as well as writing proposals, so I know what funders are looking for.
In the for-profit world, marketing and dev ops are important teams that need to understand each other. A good leader understands both and can help them communicate effectively.
Some of the companies I’ve consulted for
Developing an small business incubator with the New School for Social Research