Executive Director, Alumni + Family Relations

Posted on 02/07/2023

Rhode Island School of Design

Providence, RI

Rhode Island School of Design seeks an innovative Executive Director of Alumni + Family Relations to lead and manage operations and programs that engage alumni and families. RISD students and staff come from a wide range of geographic, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, representing all forms of diversity. We seek a culturally competent candidate who will thrive in a campus environment that advances principles of social equity and inclusion, environmental and climate justice and equal access to resources and opportunities. All potential candidates must recognize diversity and inclusion as central to excellence.

The Vice President of Institutional Advancement, O’Neil Outar, is setting a high bar for the current Executive Director’s successor. During his tenure, Alumni + Family Relations has grown significantly with staff increasing to seven from three; the launch of new volunteer structures that has led to more than 3500 volunteers today, up from fewer than 100 in 2018; new websites and newsletters to engage and inform alumni and parents; and a range of engagement programs ranging from clubs and affinity groups to mentoring to offerings to support emerging artists and designers. During its 145+ year old history, alumni and parents have not been as engaged as they are today or will be in the next several years as the programs and culture take root and expand.

If you’re looking to join a cohesive and talented team dedicated to being creatively strategic and engaging alumni and parents, we are interested in hearing from you.

Founded in 1877, RISD has earned a global reputation as a leader in art and design education. It is recognized for its renowned faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities, and the intensity of its studio-based approach to learning—an approach where critical thinking informs the making of works by hand. Approximately 2,500 students from around the world study at RISD, pursuing full-time bachelor’s or master’s degree programs in 19 fine arts, architecture, or design majors, complemented by essential study in the liberal arts.

The RISD Museum, with the fourth largest college or university museum collection in the country, is an integral part of the institution and the larger community. RISD’s mission incorporates artistic and scholarly achievement with social impact, and the institution has played a vital role in preparing students for leadership roles in all sectors, as demonstrated through the outstanding and varied accomplishments of its 31,000 alumni.

Providence, Rhode Island offers its own vibrant art scene and is conveniently located between two other major cultural centers: Boston and New York. The RISD campus is contiguous with the campus of Brown University and the two institutions share social, academic, and community resources.

Position Overview: 

The Executive Director, Alumni + Family Relations will provide oversight and coordination of aspects of programming associated with the RISD Alumni Association including programs, communications and digital engagement, clubs and affinity groups, and volunteer management. In partnership with the Executive Director, RISD Fund, and Student Affairs, the Executive Director, Alumni + Family Relations will lead engagement activities (volunteers, events, communications, programs) associated with the RISD Families Association. The Executive Director will work with the leadership of Continuing Education and Career Services to develop educational programming for alumni and support career services opportunities for RISD students and young alumni. The Executive Director will also provide leadership and supervision for staff responsible for planning, coordinating and executing the RISD Alumni Association five-year strategic plan within the Institutional Advancement and RISD strategic plans.


  • Design and implement alumni relations programming with a goal of increasing alumni engagement with RISD and creating a new climate of engagement and sustainable philanthropy.
  • Oversee strategic outreach to families, providing resources, information and support and grow and expand an engaged group of parent and family volunteers.
  • Work strategically and synergistically with the Office of Special Events to establish and maintain an annual schedule of special events directed at increasing involvement in the life of the college by alumni, parents and friends, including RISD Weekend, Commencement + Reunion Weekend, and signature presidential events.
  • Create and administer programs to promote positive feelings among students toward RISD and to educate them about the benefits of their continued involvement and consistent annual support after they graduate.
  • Ensure all administrative functions relating to the Office of Alumni + Family Relations are carefully managed and executed on a timely basis.


  • Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s degree preferred.
  • Ten or more years of experience in alumni relations for educational and/or arts organizations including a focus on integrating alumni relations with annual giving.
  • Seven years managing staff, including experience managing work at the intersection of staff and volunteers
  • Ability to identify, cultivate and lead volunteers is critical.
  • Strong organizational, interpersonal, oral and written communication skills are important, including an ability to work and communicate effectively with a broad spectrum of divisional and institutional colleagues, within an environment that values diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Demonstrated interest/experience in art and design desirable.
  • Computer literacy required. Demonstrated experience in the use of Google (G Suite) collaboration tools, Microsoft Office suite, email marketing software, project management tools and CRM/databases.

Supervision and Scheduling Demands: 

Receives moderate supervision. Gives moderate supervision to staff. Full-time, administrative position. Work hours are not confined to weekdays but also include evenings and weekends. Must be available to travel for approximately 25 percent of time.

Application and Nomination: 

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. A resume and cover letter explaining how the applicant meets the qualifications specified in this announcement may be submitted to [email protected], attention Maureen Pena.

Rhode Island School of Design recognizes diversity and inclusivity as fundamental to its learning community and integral to an art and design education. We welcome candidates whose experience in leadership and higher education has prepared them to contribute to our commitment to diversity and excellence. RISD is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Employment decisions are made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetics, or any other protected characteristic as established by law.

To apply for this job please visit www.risd.edu.