Executive Director Job Description

November 29, 2018

Job Listing: Executive Director

Organization: Writers & Books (www.wab.org)

Mission: Writers & Books promotes reading and writing as lifelong activities for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Vision: To be nationally recognized for serving and empowering a more inclusive community through the literary arts.

At Writers & Books we believe…

      • In the power and importance of the written word and in celebrating the value of the written word both as a communication tool and as an art form.
      • In creating a safe space for voices of all backgrounds, beliefs, origins, and abilities.
      • That storytelling is a vital aspect of the human experience and that stories unite humanity.
      • That reading builds empathy and brings people together.
    • In engaging children and youth to have a lifelong passion for literature.


Established in 1981, Writers & Books is one of the nation’s oldest and most active community-based literary centers, offering more than 300 creative writing classes and workshops for youth and adults each year. We maintain two facilities, our full-resource urban literary center in Rochester, and a rural retreat center in the Finger Lakes.

At Writers & Books, we bring words and people together. We have an extensive schedule of readings, talks, and performances presented in our own facilities and in other locations throughout the community. Every summer over 600 children and teens participate in SummerWrite, our camp program that engages students in exploring a vast array of topics from poetry and fiction writing to filmmaking, theatre, illustration, cooking and writing, Harry Potter, and other popular book series. Throughout the year over 800 adults participate in our creative writing workshops. Every spring thousands of Rochesterians read the same book for our Rochester Reads program, which brings a nationally recognized author to town for nearly a dozen free events. One of our newest programs is our one-day literary conference, The Ladder, which in its inaugural year brought over 200 writers together for panels on the four “rungs” of the writing life—write, edit, connect, publish—and which allowed participants the chance to pitch their book to literary agents.

For over 37 years these programs, held at our Rochester and at our Finger Lakes facilities, have reached a growing audience of thousands annually, making us the literary center with the highest per capita audience participation in the entire country. Our programs have received regional and national recognition for their quality while inspiring generations of Rochester-area residents to make literature a part of their everyday lives. Writers & Books has a budget of over $600,000, a part-time staff of 12, 60+ contracted teaching artists, and a 24-person Board.


The right candidate for the Executive Director position is a strategic thinker capable of implementing the mission and vision of Writers & Books. As the public face of the organization they will have excellent interpersonal skills and will nurture and grow important relationships with individual donors, community leaders, writers, members and participants in our programs, leaders of other arts and cultural organizations, and those with a vested interest in the mission and sustainability of Writers & Books. This will include regularly attending events and speaking on behalf of the organization. Additionally, the Executive Director should be prepared to engage in hands-on work with the staff and board.

Writers & Books is at a critical moment for growth as we seek to reinvigorate our adult workshops and programs, increase our operating budget, further develop our staffing, expand our rural facility, Gell: A Finger Lakes Creative Retreat, and look toward the future to have a deeper reach into our local community, and a higher profile nationally. The Executive Director will lead these efforts, working closely with our development team, programming staff, and Communications Director to ensure the success of these initiatives.

The right candidate must have leadership experience in the non-profit world, a proven development track record, and a passion for and understanding of the literary arts. They must be dedicated to the grassroots community aspect of the organization, as well as have the vision to implement a national presence for the organization.



    • Team with staff to develop programs that create a stronger, more widely recognized, more inclusive, and more community-minded public presence for Writers & Books.
    • Consult and work harmoniously with board, staff, community leaders, and donors to formulate and achieve the best vision and purpose for Writers & Books.
    • Supervise and support the success and growth of staff, including payroll management, annual evaluations, and team-building activities.
    • Be responsible for all aspects of organizational management, including hiring and handling staff-related matters.
    • In coordination with appropriate staff members, develop, implement, and, with the Board of Directors, evaluate all Writers & Books programs.
    • Lead efforts to achieve existing strategic goals and define goals for the future.
    • Maintain high standards of financial management and reporting.
    • Prepare annual budget for organization and work with Director of Development and Program Directors to set income and expense goals.
    • Attend monthly Board of Directors and committee meetings.
  • Ensure compliance with all applicable legal, fiduciary, and regulatory requirements related to the operation of the organization.


    • Work with Development Director to achieve fundraising goals within the areas of Major Donors, Planned Giving, Foundation and Government Grants, Annual Giving, and Membership, and develop and implement plans for expanded major donor cultivation on a state, national, and international level, with focus on Rochester and the Finger Lakes Region.
    • In conjunction with Development Director set goals for yearly contributed income.
    • Ensure accountability for all development revenue and expense items within budget.
    • Help identify and support annual fundraising events, providing assistance to Director of Development in the recruitment of event chairs, committees, venues, honorees, featured artists, and event supporters.
    • Maintain and explore additional funding sources for programs, including:
        • SummerWrite
        • Adult and Youth Workshops
        • The Ladder Literary Conference
      • Rochester Reads
  • Support all strategic initiatives for upcoming Capital Campaign in the Finger Lakes Region to expand the facilities and programs at our Gell: A Finger Lakes Creative Retreat.


    • Serve as the public face and principal spokesperson of the organization in the community, within philanthropic circles, in the media, and throughout Writers & Books events.
    • Engage with the community throughout Rochester and the Finger Lakes in order to:
        • Heighten the organization’s public visibility
        • Cultivate a more robust recognition and support of the mission and vision of Writers & Books
      • Develop, coordinate, and oversee activities focused on connecting more diverse communities with Writers & Books
    • Articulate the vision and mission of the organization on a local, regional, and national level.
  • Serve as chief liaison between the staff and Board of Directors, ensuring a clear line of communication between staff and board.


    • Minimum 3-5 years executive leadership experience in the non-profit or for-profit sector
    • Passion for and understanding of the mission and culture of Writers & Books.
    • Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree in relevant field or equivalent experience in relevant setting preferred.
    • Development experience with a solid track record of fundraising.
    • Experience in sound management of the finances of an organization of similar capacity and complexity.
    • Ability to interact with a broad range of people.
    • Demonstrated record of success in strategic planning and problem solving.
    • Excellent writing, editing, communication and public speaking skills.
    • Hands-on management experience.
    • Entrepreneurial in spirit and the ability to find innovative ways to grow an organization.
    • Ability to develop relationships with related organizations and stakeholders.
  • Self-starter working with the highest level of personal integrity.


Range $65,000-$75,000.  Benefit package also includes vacation, sick leave, personal days, and paid holidays.  


Please prepare your cover letter and resumé as an MS Word or PDF document, and the names and contact information for three confidential references (you do not need letters of reference). Applications can either be mailed to Executive Director Position, Writers & Books, 740 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607, or emailed to edp@wab.org.

Contact Joe Flaherty with any questions: (585) 473-2590 x102.

Applications must be received by January 15, 2019.

Writers & Books is an equal opportunity employer.