Teiger Foundation

Executive Director, New York, NY



David Teiger assembled a brilliant and distinctive collection of contemporary art with fiercely independent judgment and a keen eye. He reveled in the discovery of visionary creative talents, and championed those arts institutions and professionals especially curators who pursued bold and pioneering paths in exhibition making and writing. Having devoted the majority of his life to celebrating artistic expression at its highest level, Teiger chose to similarly dedicate significant assets from his estate. With his passing in 2014, it was announced that the disposition of his entire collection would benefit the ongoing advancement of cultural production, interpretation, and experience. Per Teiger's wishes, outright gifts of select pieces were made to public institutions and almost all were sold, with a few in process, to enable the endowing of Teiger Foundation whose founding purpose was to encourage and support excellence and innovation among artists, curators, and writers working in the field.

David Teiger was widely known for both meticulous looking and clarity of vision. He insisted on reaching for the truly exceptional and placed a premium on "best in type," "mastery of materials," and the promise of ongoing resonance and impact. While he moved among an elite cadre of international arts patrons and professionals, David was ever his own most demanding judge and jury. And he especially recognized the challenges that both artists and curators face when following a resolute but perhaps "difficult" path. In fact, David drew considerable inspiration from his close relationship to curators and placed a premium on empowering them to pursue their creative and intellectual visions without regard to inherent institutional resistance toward work considered challenging, difficult, controversial, or "unfundable."

To honor that spirit, Teiger Foundation has been conceived as David's lasting gesture of empowerment to those talents whose particular creative investigations and pursuits demand a rare degree of rigor, conviction, and tenacity. The Foundation seeks to be a bold, imaginative, and enabling force in the field, shaped by a driving ethos to be international, responsive, agile, and unencumbered by bureaucracy so far as foundation protocols and practices allow.


While David chose not to specify the precise programs to be undertaken by the Foundation in his name, its incorporating trustees believe that the purpose and parameters of the fund should reflect David's utmost values, highest aspirations, and impeccable standards. The Foundation Board of four is chaired by David's personally chosen associates Joel Wachs, John Silberman, Gary Garrels, and Kati Lovaas.

The Teiger Foundation has identified the following areas of primary focus, all which must pertain to the field of contemporary art:

A. Curatorial Initiatives

  • Exhibition development, realization, interpretation, and documentation
  • Production and presentation of visual art in all its forms, including time-based media
  • Curatorial research, travel, professional development, and sabbaticals
  • Acquisitions

B. Arts Writing

The Foundation will predominately channel its support of arts professionals and programs under the auspices of qualified not-for-profit institutions as opposed to funding individual artists or independent curators. Arts writers will be supported through their respective not-for-profit publications or through those regranting agreement(s) that Teiger Foundation establishes with select not-for-profit peers it deems appropriate. While the Foundation recognizes and appreciates the importance of institutional stability, it will not provide support for general operating expenses, endowments, capital or infrastructural needs, conservation, or capacity building. It will, however, consider emergency requests on a case-by-case basis.


Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Director will provide vision, leadership, and management to the Foundation's overall operations and activities. The Director will work closely with the Board, particularly in the startup phase, to establish priorities, refine areas of programmatic interest, and develop policies and procedures. The four founding trustees of Teiger Foundation bring deep and varied sector expertise to the institution through their respective personal and professional experiences and affiliations with museum boards or committees; as art foundation leaders; in curatorial roles; as practitioners of art law; and through continuous engagement across the art world at large. Each of the trustees enjoyed longtime personal relationships with David, and he entrusted them implicitly with his legacy as a contemporary arts patron, provocateur, and catalyst.

The founding trustees agree that the management model for the Foundation should be relatively lean, especially at the outset. They anticipate that the Executive Director will be fully engaged in all aspects of the operation, and oversee the grants program, including its creation and its assessment and selection processes. The individual selected for this position will also work closely with the Board to develop an overall operating plan and budget, along with shaping additional programs and the augmentation of staff when and as appropriate. There are several other important decisions that logically await the selection and input of an Executive Director. These pertain to policies and procedures around proposal vetting, as well as the selection of possible regranting partners, particularly in the category of arts writing and international curatorial grants.

The Foundation's legal affairs and investments will be handled largely through trustee affiliates and outside consultants. And though Teiger Foundation is incorporated in Delaware, its office can be located elsewhere at the discretion of the Board of Trustees.


During the first 12 months, the Director will be expected to:

  • Become familiar with David's legacy and the Teiger Foundation's granting history;
  • Get to know the Foundation's Board members, understanding their interests, priorities, philanthropic history, and level of desired involvement in the Foundation; develop and nurture personal and collegial relationships that will lead to all working together to advance the goals of the Foundation;
  • Establish best practices in all areas of operation as a private foundation to ensure the Foundation's long-term integrity, sustainability, and success;
  • Assist the Board to develop a plan for awarding grants that honors the Foundation's mission and priorities;
  • Lay the groundwork to develop grantmaking procedures and guidelines that eschew bureaucracy and encourages excellence and rigor;
  • Initiate the guidelines for funding publications, criticism, and related contributions to the field through writing;
  • Identify a permanent home for the Foundation that will support its strategic objectives
  • Initiate and leverage opportunities to connect the Foundation and its granting efforts to the international cultural arena through contact with curators, scholars, writers, critics, artists, and related professionals worldwide;
  • When appropriate, hire a deputy or assistant and establish the parameters of staff responsibilities and authority;
  • Identify, recommend, and coordinate resources and partners to move the Foundation's vision and mission forward.


The Executive Director will be accountable for the following ongoing areas of responsibility:


  • Provide leadership to the Board in carrying out its philanthropic mission; pursue the objectives that have been established by the Board and, over time, develop new responses to opportunities and challenges that arise;
  • Work comfortably with diverse philanthropic approaches, including strategic grantmaking, collaborative efforts, capacity building, program-related investments and others; explore new intellectual frameworks and innovative ways of addressing issues, cutting across traditional boundaries of thought and action as called upon;
  • Along with Board members, provide public leadership on critical issues related to the interests of the Foundation; when appropriate, represent the Foundation to its outside constituencies, interpreting the values and programs of the Foundation;
  • Establish and preserve an organizational culture, characterized by transparency, gravitas, creativity, intellectual stimulation, international reach and excellence;
  • Assume responsibility for ongoing evaluation of program quality and effectiveness;
  • Monitor key trends and issues impacting the interests of the Foundation; communicate implications to the Board, together with recommended action;
  • Work collaboratively with other institutions relevant to the Foundation's purposes;

Administration and Management

  • Assure sound management of all Foundation operations;
  • Continually assess the efficiency of management systems; effectively maximize use of Board members' limited time;
  • Working in concert with the Board's legal counsel and accounting/business advisor, oversee compliance with all local, state, and federal requirements, assuring that the Foundation maintains its tax-exempt status and good standing as a charitable organization;

Governance and Board Relations

  • Take a leadership role in the implementation of Board philosophy and policies; develop, recommend, and monitor standards of performance and principles for the conduct of the Foundation's work;
  • Develop and implement benchmarks for assessing effectiveness of all Foundation activities;
  • Make recommendations to the Board regarding the direction of the Foundation's impact, operating policies and grants; keep the Board advised of the activities and financial position of the Foundation; provide the Board sufficient and high-quality information for making sound policy decisions;
  • Structure regular meetings with the Board, supporting an open and participatory process, and encouraging the active involvement and leadership of Board members in accordance with their interests;
  • Develop a means for continued Board education in applicable trends and areas of the Foundation's grantmaking, the mechanics of foundation governance, and issues affecting the philanthropic community at large;

Communications and Public Relations

  • Along with interested Board members, serve as Foundation representative and advocate to peer arts organizations, the foundation community, media, and professional associations;
  • Manage the Foundation's external communications efforts, assuring an appropriate level of public visibility of the Foundation's mission by effective speaking and writing; create and shape the Foundation's public presence, using both traditional media and new technologies.


The Executive Director should have the following experience and qualifications:

  • Measurable respect within the arts arena supported by a highly credible command of art history and a clear grasp of what constitutes curatorial excellence;
  • Direct relationships with significant curators, scholars, artists, museum professionals, and art dealers whose work and institutions may be useful in implementing the Foundation's mission;
  • A demonstrated commitment to the core values and philanthropic interests of the Foundation; strong analytical skills and knowledge of current issues, principal theories and strategies, leading thinkers and major concerns in arts and culture;
  • Demonstrated experience as a thoughtful risktaker with a record of converting vision into action;
  • A proven and personable facilitator, with experience successfully managing operations and the fiscal affairs of a private, nonprofit, or governmental entity; experience working with boards;
  • Strong oral and written communications skills; capable of public leadership and vision as a foundation representative;
  • Solid relationship-building skills; ability to cultivate and nurture partnerships with a wide variety of constituents;
  • An understanding of the strategies and mechanics of grantmaking is a plus.


Ideally, the individual should have, or be:

  • A deep expertise in curatorial contributions; committed to the mission and values of the Foundation;
  • Open-minded, with the flexibility necessary to provide direction in a startup operation; comfortable with the process of first steps; skeptical of rigid or bureaucratic procedures, while ensuring complete integrity and accountability;
  • Intellectually curious, with a sense of adventure, and a willingness to work with and learn from others;
  • An inspiring and service-oriented leader who has long-term vision and can affect change; must impart credibility, trust, integrity, and enthusiasm, and ideally motivate others in a similar vein;
  • A good listener and consensus builder, able to balance diverse agendas and points of view while maintaining on all fronts a sense of common purpose;
  • An ability to subordinate ego without impacting or impinging on the ability to take concerted and definitive action; a level of energy that will match that of Board members;
  • A catalyst who can anticipate and act on events which may create beneficial opportunities for the Foundation;
  • Mature, with a sense of humor, good judgment and the ability to maintain balance and perspective.

Please submit nominations or applications to Sarah James at Teiger@PhillipsOppenheim.com.