Chief Curator

Company Name: 

Young America's Foundation


217 State St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Contact Name: 

Andrew Coffin


Job Description: 

Young America’s Foundation is seeking a chief curator who will preserve and protect the Presidential properties of the greatest President of the 20th century, Ronald Reagan. The chief curator would oversee the preservation of Rancho del Cielo, known across the globe as Ronald Reagan’s Western White House, and President Reagan’s Boyhood Home in Dixon, Illinois, along with the related properties, archives, and exhibit halls.

The chief curator will work with YAF’s leadership and program team to advance the public outreach and educational impact of the Reagan properties. The ideal candidate will have a strong grounding in history, preservation, and curation and a commitment to the mission and work of Young America’s Foundation. The candidate should also have excellent research, communication, project management, and problem-solving skills and display enthusiasm for sharing the life and ideas of Ronald Reagan.


Projects will vary and will include:

  • Managing unique and high-value historical collections, both original artifacts from the Reagan properties and gifted collections (including letters, memorabilia, artwork, etc.)
  • Preparing exhibits for display at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California, and the Reagan Boyhood Home Visitor Center in Dixon, Illinois—utilizing internal resources and exhibit design professionals
  • Sharing the exhibit galleries and Presidential homes with students, key stakeholders, historians, and Reagan contemporaries, as well as developing creative approaches to marketing public visitation to these Presidential properties
  • Preserving artifacts from the Presidential properties and finding effective and creative ways to protect original features as they age
  • Completing research projects which further Young America’s Foundation’s mission
  • Conducting oral histories with those connected to the history of the Reagan Presidency, Reagan Boyhood Home, Reagan Ranch, and Young America’s Foundation
  • Oversee an assistant curator and curatorial interns, assigning tasks and projects as necessary
  • Working with and managing dedicated corps of volunteer docents

This position is a unique opportunity to advance professionally within the field of curation, historic preservation, and non-profit work.



  • Collection Management – The chief curator managemeand preserve original historical artifacts from YAF’s collections in California and Illinois and—on occasion—at the Foundation’s National Headquarters in Reston, Virginia, and Capitol Hill Townhouse in Washington, D.C. This includes monitoring and recording environmental conditions, assessing and addressing preservation issues, archives accessioning and cataloguing.
  • Preservation – Assess, monitor, and complete preservation needs and projects, working with YAF operations staff and outside consultants as necessary
  • Volunteer & Intern Management – Working with other staff and volunteer coordinators, manage the Docent Volunteer program at the Reagan Ranch Center, coordinate volunteer assistance with Reagan Ranch tours and other events, and assign tasks, as appropriate, to interns
  • Exhibit Design & Creation – Execute design and installation of rotating displays in California and Illinois and other locations as necessary, making the best use of extensive archival collections. Work with design firms to create both traveling and permanent exhibits.
  • Tours & Oral Histories –  Host tours for academics, authors, and approved media; host Reagan administration members, Secret Service agents, and other contemporaries while conducting oral histories; work with the program team to arrange and lead tours of the Reagan Ranch and Reagan Ranch Center for classes and other student groups
  • Research and Research Requests – Undertake research projects that will continue to expand YAF’s knowledge of the Reagan Boyhood Home, the Reagan Ranch, Ronald Reagan’s life and Presidency, and the Conservative Movement broadly; provide research support for YAF projects and special events highlighting significant anniversaries; respond to external research requests

The responsibilities above are not all-inclusive or limiting. Candidates are expected to help fulfill the mission of Young America’s Foundation and the Reagan Ranch project by working closely with YAF leadership and staff on institutional priorities.


Personal Qualities: 

  • Committed to and enthusiastic about Young America’s Foundation’s mission and programs
  • Self-motivated, resourceful, and flexible
  • Ability to create excitement and energy around Young America’s Foundation’s exhibits and programs
  • Excellent project management skills
  • Persuasive, persistent, and determined in the pursuit of the organization’s goals
  • Committed to ongoing education and training in the preservation and curatorial fields
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including some public speaking
  • The successful candidate should know best museum practices, including collections care, management, and interpretation



The ideal candidate will have a master’s degree in museum studies, history, preservation, or a related field and at least three (3) years of curatorial or museum education or museum exhibit development experience, including two (2) years of supervisory or managerial experience. Must be willing to research, work independently, and be a team player. Must be flexible and willing to assist with programs and special events throughout the year. Excellent communication skills are required.


Hours and Benefits:

Full-time; salary commensurate with experience. Complete and very competitive benefits package offered.



Please submit a comprehensive resume with full work history and organization affiliations/involvement, references, and a cover letter to Andrew Coffin, Vice President & Director of the Reagan Ranch.

Applications must be submitted by email:



*Incomplete applications (i.e. those suggesting references upon request) will not be considered.


While we thank all applicants in advance for their interest in this position, we are only able to contact those to whom we can offer an interview. Only complete and direct applications will be considered. No phone calls, please.