In 1962, Wing Luke made history, elected as the first person of color on the Seattle City Council and the first Asian American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest. His unique combination of politics, compassion, and advocacy of diverse communities made him a powerful force for equal housing, urban revival, and historic preservation of the Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, and the Seattle Waterfront. Wing Luke was a trailblazer of his time. After his untimely death in a plane crash, the community founded the museum to uphold Wing Luke’s legacy.
The Wing Luke Museum was established to empower the AAPI voice and strengthen the work of diverse neighborhood partners in the face of enduring racism, using exhibitions and programs to center identity, healing, and community empowerment with intersecting discussions of issues such as discrimination, classism, or transphobia/heterosexism.
The Wing Luke Museum continues to serve as the neighborhood’s cultural and artistic anchor and as one of its economic drivers. Its distinctive role as a pan-AAPI museum (representing 26+ ethnic/cultural groups) has invigorated the community. As a Smithsonian Affiliate, National Park Service Affiliated Area, and the only pan-Asian Pacific American museum in the nation, the Wing Luke Museum is a national treasure, preserving and sharing the narratives of the Asian Pacific American community. Through its unique, community-rooted Community Advisory Committees (CACs), WLM has institutionalized a practice of engaging everyday community members to envision and implement exhibitions, programs, and projects to create powerful, authentic stories and experiences. CACs are the curators and direct decision-makers, determining messages, themes/storylines, content, design, and engaging their communities, a framework for which WLM is nationally renowned. WLM’s deep commitment to its community and the Chinatown-International District Historic Neighborhood in Seattle (“C-ID”), ensures the community has a strong platform to share their experiences and voice their perspectives on critical issues.
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
Historical Museum and Cultural Storytellers: The Wing Luke Museum welcomes 80,000 visitors annually who leave transformed by the museum experience. Its 60,000 square foot museum occupies a historic hotel in the C-ID and offers three floors where visitors are immersed in community stories with contemporary galleries showcasing both temporary and permanent exhibitions as well as preserved historic spaces accessible only through daily guided tours. The museum invites visitors to explore its historic Chinatown-International District neighborhood through a vibrant and popular walking-tour program that brings visitors into local restaurants and businesses. A long-standing partner of the Bruce Lee family, WLM will open a fifth installation celebrating Bruce Lee in 2022. At its heart, the Wing Luke Museum tells the story of the neighborhood and encourages visitors to explore beyond the Museum’s walls.
Local and National Collaborators and Partners: The Wing Luke Museum supports community and school-based Asian Pacific American history projects in a myriad of ways by providing training and curriculum materials; providing access to its Oral History Lab’s recording and transcribing equipment; making referrals to potential narrators or partner organizations; acting as a repository for recordings, transcripts, photographs, documents, and artifacts, and more. WLM nurtures national partnership affiliations including the National Park Service, Smithsonian, and International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and continues to build its national leadership within these entities. WLM collaborates with other local cultural partners to tell cross-sectional stories, like the Redlining Heritage Trail project in collaboration with Northwest African American Museum (“NAAM”) and others. WLM is a founding member of Seattle’s Race and Social Equity Task Force, which helped launch the City’s Equitable Development Initiative.
Youth and School Programming: Students and youth experience history first-hand through immersive stories of immigrants, refugees, and Americans of all generations, learning how they helped transform the state and region. WLM works across grade levels, from kindergarten through graduate-level students. From school partnerships to curriculum plans and training, to school tours and summer camps, WLM programs adopt state and national standards in English Language Arts and Social Studies and engage youth and schools to increase awareness, provide unique educational opportunities, and engage younger generations in AAPI stories, histories, and issues. The team works with regional and national partners to create and disseminate curriculum resources and train the next generation of arts and cultural leaders. Through YouthCAN, WLM’s nationally recognized, award-winning teen program for high schoolers, and TeensWay for middle schoolers, AAPI youth work with mentor artists to create artwork about issues important to them, learn about arts careers, and produce exhibitions of their work. Finally, WLM hosts Camp Bruce Lee in partnership with the Bruce Lee Foundation.
Cultural Anchor in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District: The Wing Luke Museum utilizes a “campus” approach to expanding and activating other AAPI cultural anchors throughout its neighborhood, linking to local AAPI businesses and cultural organizations as community resources and assets for all community members. The neighborhood is WLM’s largest exhibit, and the museum is committed to building community through creative placemaking and place-keeping, leveraging the power of authentically rooted arts, culture, and history to bring community, nonprofit, government, and businesses together to shape the future of the neighborhood.
The Wing Luke Museum is in the process of acquiring property one block south of the museum that will expand its footprint and further invest in the neighborhood, cultural preservation, and education. This opportunity also opens the potential to support neighborhood capacity for affordable housing and the development of a community gathering space.
As the pandemic has shaped the world’s collective experience since 2020, WLM has responded and adapted by quickly and successfully pivoting programming online, fostering a continued sense of community and connection and continuing to lift up the stories and experiences of the AAPI community and the pandemic’s impact. It has continued to serve as the heart of the Chinatown-International District community throughout these uncertain times and, in the past year, has been recognized by the Ford Foundation as one of America’s cultural treasures and received generous support from Philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FACING THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Vision and Leadership: The Future of Museums Beyond Brick and Mortar
As racial reawakening, arts and culture, social movements, and digital experiences converge, arts and cultural organizations are being asked to reimagine a world beyond their four walls and their role in broader social conversations. The new Executive Director will bring vision and a values-grounded approach to charting WLM’s future, staying true to its community-centered approach while strengthening its voice, programs, reach, and leadership. With a flexible and innovative approach, the Executive Director will envision and guide Wing Luke Museum’s presence and impact beyond its walls and partner with staff to explore how to creatively engage audiences in person and digitally and build community and strategic partnerships to advance the mission. The ED will thoughtfully approach how WLM serves as a conduit for the community’s voice by engaging, responding to, and leading social and racial justice movements regionally and nationally.
Nurturing Community and Leveraging Partnerships
Visionary, highly relational, and committed to WLM’s mission and community engagement model, the ED will build and foster strong connections across the rich diversity of AAPI communities, particularly in the Pacific Northwest/West Coast, that support WLM’s role as a community leader and authentic partner, and an inspirational example of programmatic innovation, integrity, and community reach and impact. WLM is a leader in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District and committed to shaping the future of the neighborhood and community as the urban core of downtown Seattle evolves, to preserve and protect the legacy of the AAPI experience in Seattle and beyond. The Executive Director will be a community builder, creative placemaker and placekeeper, and leverage the power of authenticity rooted in arts, culture, and history to bring together community, nonprofit, government, and businesses to shape the future of the neighborhood.
The new ED will be a passionate storyteller and advocate for the AAPI community and understand the need to strengthen relationships and representation within the AAPI community and beyond. They will continue to strengthen WLM’s local, regional, and national stature through strategic development of The Wing’s brand and digital presence, and through participation in activities that broaden its reach and connection.
Fundraising and New Revenue Models
The Executive Director will ensure a sustainable, long-term fundraising strategy, building on and strengthening WLM’s strong base of individual giving and philanthropic support. This includes building up reserves and nurturing the next generation of donors and supporters. The new ED will have the unique opportunity to lead WLM’s physical expansion with the acquisition and management of new properties and relationships, in addition to the potential to diversify revenue streams through development opportunities. S/he/they will ensure revenue diversification supports the long-term financial health of WLM and aligns with its mission and strategic plan.
Organizational Management and Leadership
The Executive Director will nurture an inclusive and supportive team culture that values diversity, equity, authentic connection, and clear communication. S/he/they will oversee a current team of 49 and an operating budget of $4.5M. The ED will ensure the financial health and effective business operations, including strengthening infrastructure (both technological and the physical space) to increase reach, engagement, and access by the community and patrons. S/he/they will build opportunities for strengthening staff capacity and investment to support WLM’s ambitious plans grounding in the value that the organization’s greatest resources are its people.
The Executive Director will build a strong partnership with the Board of Trustees and engage board members as thought partners and advisors, effectively leveraging their diverse talents, perspectives, relationships, and passions. S/he/they will celebrate and leverage all trustees and develop a plan to nurture the next generation of WLM supporters and board leadership.
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the new Executive Director will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
Connection to the Mission
- Deep connection and understanding of AAPI culture, history, and communities; experience advancing AAPI narratives as American narratives.
- Commitment to community and place-based connections, specifically Seattle’s Chinatown-International District or a similar context, as a vital AAPI residential and commercial neighborhood with strong AAPI cultural anchors.
- Experience in arts and culture, in movement- and narrative-building, and an understanding of how these intersections support social change.
- Deep commitment to advancing racial equity and social justice; ability and willingness to self-reflect and engage in challenging conversations within the community and within the organization.
Vision, Leadership, and Strategic Planning
- Creative thinker with the ability to boldly chart an ambitious vision paired with the ability to define short and long-term strategies, goals, and priorities.
- Adept at creating a dynamic space that encourages collaboration with board trustees, staff, and community members to elevate areas of collective interest and champion compelling ideas to meaningful action.
- Proven ability to translate shared values and goals to concrete strategies, moving from concept to operations; nimbleness to shift and create space within a strategy for new learnings, opportunities, and timely action.
Community and Relationship Building
- Natural connector and strong relationship builder with an authentic interest in listening to and learning from others. Ability to establish trust, engage local and national partners, businesses and community, and act with intentionality and accountability.
- Willingness, wisdom, and initiative necessary to further grow a bold, impactful national arts and culture program.
- Success developing and cultivating authentic relationships with donors and funders, and the ability to leverage creative approaches to fundraising and developing high-impact, meaningful partnerships.
- Flexibility and sensitivity to work effectively in a wide variety of geographic, political, and cultural settings.
- Clear, relatable communication skills with the ability to connect and inspire one on one, in small group settings, and with large audiences.
Organizational and Operational Management
- Demonstrated organizational, financial, and operational management expertise of a similar-sized organization.
- A collaborative and inclusive style and a management approach that fosters respect, teamwork, and open communication; ability to recruit, retain, manage, and develop a talented, dedicated staff.
- High emotional intelligence; the ability to effectively command the spotlight combined with the wisdom to know when to strategically direct it elsewhere and share leadership.
- A healthy sense of humor and appreciation for the creativity, fun, and inspiration that can accompany work in a mission-focused and entrepreneurial environment.
- Ability to build strong relationships with board members and strategically leverage their time and effort.
For more information about the Wing Luke Museum, please visit: www.wingluke.org
For the full position description and to apply, please visit: https://npag.com/wlm-ed
This search is being led by Carolyn Ho, Catherine Seneviratne and Christine Domingo of NPAG. Candidates may submit their cover letter, outlining their interest and qualifications, along with their resume via NPAG’s website.
The salary range for this position has been set at $155,000-$180,000 and includes a comprehensive benefits package.
The Wing Luke Museum is an affirmative action employer and strongly supports the social goals of affirmative action. Therefore, we make special efforts to recruit individuals from historically underrepresented groups in professional environments or suffer broader societal discrimination.