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Executive Director, Onassis Foundation USA

Onassis Foundation USA, dedicated to promoting cross-cultural relations through the lens of Greek tradition, seeks a sophisticated and intellectual arts and cultural impresario to serve as Executive Director.

DHR, International has been exclusively retained to conduct a search for the Executive Director of Onassis Foundation USA.


Under the guidance and leadership of the President, Anthony S. Papadimitriou, and the global Board of Directors of the Foundation, the Onassis Foundation USA continues the longstanding commitment to exploring the contribution of culture and education and social solidarity (the three major pillars of the Onassis Foundation), to a more democratic, open and inclusive society. All initiatives within the three pillars of the Onassis Foundation USA, are done through the lens of promoting Greek culture in the United States and to cultivate cultural bilateral relations. In the present cultural environment of international interaction and globalization, the Onassis Foundation USA deems it necessary to draw attention to the importance of the classics and humanities spirit, and their significant contribution to contemporary civilization and our understanding of Western culture.

The Onassis Foundation USA both funds outside projects and runs its own initiatives. We accept grant applications on a North American and global scale for projects that comply with the Foundation’s funding guidelines. And we cooperate with international partner organizations and institutions in the planning and development of our initiatives. Our general focus is on projects that promote exchange and encounters in North America, Europe and SEMMEA (South East Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa), as well as discursive events in the fields of educational work, contemporary visual and performing arts, open commons, and public space.

The Onassis Foundation USA puts emphasis on cross-disciplinary and contemporary projects that explore immediate and experiential approaches in art, culture and education into practice and that help shape social change across borders. We particularly support programs that promote exchange, encounters and the open commons.


Reporting to the President and the Board of Directors of the Onassis Foundation (“The Foundation”), the Executive Director (“ED”) of Onassis Foundation USA (“OFUSA”), will be a visionary leader who is future-focused, daring and bold, building upon the Foundation’s philanthropic legacy in the United States, and the longstanding commitment to promoting and supporting global advancements in the fields of contemporary Culture and Education, the two strategic pillars of the Foundation. The ED of OFUSA will be a convener of extraordinary ideas and a curious, inspiring, innovative, entrepreneurial and experienced leader who brings to the role a record of achievement reflective of the Foundation’s standards of excellence. As a member of the Foundation’s senior management team, the ED of OFUSA also acts as an adviser and collaborator to colleagues worldwide and a partner in developing and implementing global strategies, by working closely with the President of the Onassis Foundation, the Senior Consultant, and the Director of Culture.

Primary Responsibilities:

The position will play a key role in developing a new strategic and programmatic vision for OFUSA that reflects a commitment to excellence by:

  • Developing robust and relevant cultural and educational initiatives with a dedication to programming that is made accessible to a wide range of audiences, and alignment with global thematic strategies developed by the President and the Board of Directors of the Foundation;
  • Identifying avenues for introducing contemporary art and culture, as well as Modern Greek culture, to the broadest audience possible;
  • Positioning OFUSA as a convener and catalyst of ideas relevant to the complexity of our contemporary global and local societies;
  • Identifying opportunities to collaborate across a broad spectrum of regional, national and international cultural and educational initiatives and institutions;
  • Under the leadership of the Foundation’s Director of Culture, developing and implementing the Onassis Future initiative that focuses on supporting process-oriented support, professional development and advancement within contemporary art, culture and education.

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Collaborate with the senior management of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (the parent Foundation), and other affiliates of the parent Foundations on initiatives within the three major pillars of the Foundation;
  • Develop and manage local and national programming initiatives by creatively applying the Foundation’s global priorities, recruiting external and project-based staff such as curators, contemporary communicators and thinkers to develop highly challenging and relevant programming within the three major pillars of the Foundation;
  • Provide a high level of visibility for the organization and be the “face” of OFUSA, representing its mission and values to internal and external audiences;
  • Oversee the management of the organization’s staff, prioritizing participatory decision making practices;
  • Support the professional development of staff, sustainable and positive staff culture and structure, as well as a culture of feedback and accountability;
  • Work with the President, the Senior Consultant, the Board of Directors, and the Director of Culture on budgetary priorities, manage annual budget that maximizes the impact of the program budget for the office;
  • Make and adjust budget allocation based on the prioritized outcomes of the office strategy and undertake regular (e.g., quarterly) reviews of grant making and other initiatives’ plans;
  • Develop an annual management budget (for operating costs), for approval by the President and the Board of Directors of the Foundation;
  • Regularly review expenditures against budget and recommend spending adjustments or budget modifications as necessary;
  • Ensure oversight and stewardship of foundation resources through timely and diligent oversight of purchasing, travel, and consultancy approval processes;
  • Provide strategic programmatic direction and mentorship to the Education Director as it pertains to the overall mission and priorities of the organization;
  • Provide strategic direction and mentorship to the Marketing & Communications staff, in close coordination with Onassis Foundation’s global M&C office in Athens, Greece, to productively explain and promote the Foundation’s mission, role, and programmatic strategies;
  • Participate and actively contribute to regular board meetings of the Foundation.


An ideal candidate will possess a good and wide understanding of and commitment to all facets of contemporary art and culture, Modern Greek, European, and American culture and a knowledge of the international contemporary art world and its key players, and an ability to translate this awareness into meaningful collaborations, research/scholarship, exhibitions and other cultural and educational events for the Foundation that speak to the local, national and international audiences.

Other qualifications will include:

  • Senior staff-level administrative experience in a philanthropic or global arts organization known for quality and excellence and familiarity with a contemporary art or culture setting;
  • Track record of developing, articulating and implementing a shared strategic vision and plan;
  • Direct experience planning and implementing innovative and experimental programming within arts, culture or education related fields;
  • Proven experience in administration, infrastructure development, and budget and facilities management;
  • Ability to guide and empower a dynamic and creative team;
  • Ability to build and nurture relationships with a wide range of individuals from artists to academics to collectors to business and civic leaders;
  • Experience and familiarity with the NYC and North American arts, culture, education and funding environments;
  • Appropriate post graduate academic qualifications with solid classics and humanities foundations, with an emphasis on the contemporary art, culture and humanities;
  • Familiarity and experience with innovative trends in information technology, both on administrative and cultural levels;
  • Comfort and experience with public speaking and communicating with community members, community leaders, funders and the media;
  • Outstanding English speaking and writing skills, and a good command of the Greek language will be a plus, but is not a requirement.


  • Strong interpersonal and leadership skills: decisive, confident, humane, generous, open, and with a sense of humor.
  • A great interest in celebrating the diversity of the arts and an affinity for the multi-cultural community that defines New York City and most modern urban cities.
  • Consistent curiosity combined with a deep respect and appreciation for artistic excellence.
  • Self-awareness and empathy; a healthy combination of confidence and humility.
  • Ability to converse broadly in the arts, humanities, and social sciences – well read and articulate.
  • Ability to cultivate effective relationships with a wide variety of stakeholders (donors, staff, corporate sponsors, government officials, audiences, the national and international arts community, the media).
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English.
  • Strong organizational and management skills with proven ability to focus, prioritize and execute.
  • An impeccable reputation for integrity, and widely recognized for strong, creative leadership.
  • A team-builder and effective internal collaborator.


  • Bachelor’s or equivalent degree required; Master’s degree or higher preferred.


  • A competitive compensation package including base salary and benefits will be provided. OFUSA is prepared to assist the selected candidate in obtaining the appropriate visas to relocate to and work in the United States.

Please send résumé to:
Phil DeBoer
DHR International
(708) 450-4003

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