Chief Operating Officer, Detroit, MI


Founded in 1885, the Detroit Institute of Arts moved to its current site on Detroit's Woodward Avenue in 1927. The museum covers 658,000 square feet that include more than 100 galleries, a 1,150-seatauditorium, a 380-seat lecture/recital hall, an art reference library, and a state-of-the-art conservation services laboratory.

The DIA's collection is among the top five in the United States, with more than 65,000 works. Among its notable acquisitions are Mexican artist Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry fresco cycle, which Rivera considered his mostsuccessful work, and Vincent van Gogh's Self-Portrait the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S.museum collection.

A hallmark of the DIA is the diversity of the collection. In addition to outstanding American, European, modern and contemporary, and graphic art, the museum holds significant works of African, Asian,Native American, Oceanic, Islamic, and ancient art. In 2000, the DIA was the first museum in the country to establish a center for African American art as a curatorial department. Furthermore, the museum provides its visitors with the unique opportunity to learn the history of African American art with galleries dedicated solely to this area of the collection.

Over the past several years, the DIA has been working to advance in the areas of talent and culture, focusing on people operations, team member learning and development, workplace culture, anddiversityandinclusion.

In the fall of 2019, the DIA was awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services(IMLS) in the area of diversity.As part of the grant, the museum proposedathree-yearInclusion,Diversity,Equity,andAccess (IDEA)journey. This work will guide the DIA in becoming a museum of relevance where a diverse team serves a diverse audience.The ultimate vision is to create a culture of belonging that is felt with its visitors and all stakeholders.In the fall of 2019, the DIA selected The Kaleidoscope Group as its consultative partner for the foundationalIDEA work.Through this foundational work, the DIA team will increase internal capabilities to lead thiswork far into the future.As the DIA moves forward on this transformative journey, it will incorporatethe IDEA lens inallmuseumwork.


Reporting to the Director, President and Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operating Officer will be responsible for providing leadership, strategic vision, and managerial oversight to the museum's building operations, visitor and environmental services, events and food service operations, group sales and reservations, protection services and security, volunteer services, and other operational functions. The COO is a key member of the leadership team who will partner with the Director in many aspects of institutional management. The COO will coordinate cross-functional teams and work to achieve institutional goals in a manner that promotes collaboration and recognizes and celebrates the efforts of a dedicated and talented diverse team

The COO will maintain and build a high-performance team, oversee several operational departments, and ensure that the various departments are integrated and aligned with the overall strategy of the museum.


The Chief Operating Officer will:

  • Quickly gain the trust and confidence of the Director and the Board of Directors; take ownership of the DIA's operations; review and strengthen the museum's administration through measured, thoughtful analysis; provide organizational leadership and build upon the DIA's commitment to delivering high-quality visitor-centered experiences;
  • Gain a comprehensive grasp of the DIA's current operations; oversee and promote the highest standards for visitor services and experiences; provide strategic thinking, guidance, tools, and resources necessary to help departments function and bring new ideas to the table; balance near-term priorities with long-term vision of sustainability;
  • Quickly become familiar with the complex requirements and standards for operation of the DIA's facilities including scheduled and deferred maintenance, service requirements and contracts, and upgrade and replacement of systems and equipment as necessary;ensure the efficient and amiable delivery of the DIA's visitor services functions;
  • Strategically assess operational, aesthetic, maintenance, security, and safety issues in the most cost-effective manner possible; assure that the building maintains highest standards for cleanliness and attention to detail in both public and office spaces; create high-level forward-thinking plans for overall operational needs;
  • Ensure that museum guests have a positive visitor experience and feel a sense of belonging within the museum; evaluate visitor experience data and collaborate with department leaders to ensure team members and volunteers are providing the highest level of customer service; address visitor experience issues and strategically design and implement plans to maintain and improve the visitor experience;
  • Integrate goal setting and use of performance management tools as mechanisms for ensuring consistency, high standards and best practices in service delivery, general management, and maintenance of the DIA's facilities and maintenance functions;
  • Through the leadership of various high-level directors, ensure that all internal and outsourced security systems and procedures are well maintained and effective; ensure the cleanliness, safety, and maintenance of the building;
  • Lead Board of Directors committee meetings relating to museum operations; prepare thoughtful and strategic reports and presentations for Board and committee meetings;
  • Partner with community stakeholders on cultural district projects and events;
  • Run all profit centers effectively and efficiently, though earned revenue is a proportionally small part of the DIA's overall budget;
  • Recruit, mentor, develop, and lead a team which reflects the DIA's commitment to IDEA; oversee the DIA's efforts within the operations department which promote IDEA in the workplace;
  • Review and enhance as necessary the museum's front-of-house systems and procedures to guarantee timely and accurate delivery and analysis; instill a sense of transparency, accountability, and ownership and facilitate financial discipline at the departmental level.


Providing both strategic and hands-on operational leadership and strong business and hospitality orientations, the ideal candidate will have or be:

  • Proven senior-level, problem-solving and planning capability and/or responsibility in the public, private, or nonprofit sector; a team player who drives strategic business decisions;familiarity with the complexities of a multidimensional cultural institution preferred;
  • Ten years of progressively responsible experience in varied operational functions as required in an organization with 200 or more team members;
  • Five years of experience in an executive level role or equivalent; experience leading and managing multiple teams with diverse functions;
  • A strategic thinker with the ability to plan and execute goals and objectives across multiple departments; significant analytical experience in developing and executing multiyear plans; and the ability to course-correct as necessary;
  • MBA; master's degree in business, management, or related field preferred;
  • Outstanding communication skills articulate and persuasive verbally and in writing; able to effectively relate to the Board and its committees, staff, outside professionals, and the community in general.

The COO must also be or have:

  • Demonstrated high level of emotional intelligence; excellent leadership skills and the ability to lead diverse teams to meet museum strategic goals; demonstrated competencies in IDEA;
  • Resourceful and results oriented; demonstrated openness to new ideas; politically savvy, with the ability to change directions yet make tough calls and/or compromise as necessary; adept at planning, prioritizing, organizing, and following through;
  • Dedicated and self-motivated executive who can take charge, work cross-functionally, and affect change; decisive, resourceful, and responsive; a skilled yet fair negotiator; someone who can impart credibility, integrity, and enthusiasm;
  • Emotionally mature, with good judgment and a sense of humor.

The DIA is an equal opportunity employer.

Please send applications and nominations to Mark Tarnacki at DIACOO@PhillipsOppenheim.com.