Executive Director, Yakima Valley Museum

Company Name: 

Yakima Valley Museum


2105 Tieton Dr
Yakima, WA 98902

Job Description: 

Summary of Position       

The Yakima Valley Museum Board of Trustees seeks a creative, experienced leader to serve as Executive Director of a dynamic museum of history and culture in a valley rich in diversity and layered with stories. The successful candidate will be a persuasive, resourceful, and energetic leader, able to inspire and empower the Board, staff, and other key internal and external stakeholders to advance the Museum’s mission, which is “to inspire our community, learn from our past, celebrate our present, and guide our future.” The Executive Director will be responsible for the overall vision and financial and operational leadership of the organization. Priorities will include actively supporting fundraising initiatives and efforts to build donor relationships and grow revenues, initiating the development of a strategic plan to refresh the Museum’s vision and priorities, continuing to update exhibits and programs for greater relevance to Yakima Valley’s diverse communities, and increasing overall engagement with the Museum.


About the Museum          

Founded in 1952, the Yakima Valley Museum provides residents and visitors with high-quality, engaging, accurate, and educational exhibits and programs on central Washington’s cultural and natural history. The Museum is one of only three museums in Eastern Washington accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and with a 65,000 square foot facility, is one of the largest cultural history museums in the state. The Museum’s collection consists of over 48,000 objects, including an art collection of 1,400 works, and a large regional archive and library.


Building on years of positive momentum, the Museum today is in a position of organizational strength. In FY2023, the Museum has an operating budget of $938,000 and over $5 million in reserves, employs six full-time and two part-time staff, and will engage with 15,000-20,000 visitors. With financial stability and a sophisticated behind-the-scenes infrastructure, the Museum has made significant strides in updating its exhibits to ensure their appeal and relevance to the diverse communities of the Yakima Valley. Current exhibits contain hands-on exhibit techniques and bilingual interpretation; examples of newly updated permanent exhibits include Land of Joy and Sorrow, which documents the history and experience of Japanese immigration to the Yakima Valley, and Let’s Take the Sporting Route, which details the history of mountaineering in the Cascades. Other examples include an Apple Label exhibit, which features a searchable database of all 8,000 labels in the collection—one of the largest collections in the country, and a significant exhibit of Yakama Nation artifacts, which showcases part of the Museum’s extensive Native American collection.


The Museum is also a major repository of the personal belongings of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, including a permanent exhibit of the contents of his supreme court office. In 2022, the Museum held its first William O. Douglas Award Banquet to honor his legacy by recognizing a person who has carried on the values he espoused. The Honorable Sally Jewell, former Secretary of the Interior, was the first recipient. Building on this success, the Museum anticipates several major new projects based on the legacy of Justice Douglas.


About Yakima Valley       

Yakima is located in south-central Washington, in the shadow of the Cascade mountains, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams. A diverse group of over 250,000 people live in the Yakima Valley in 11 small communities, including the City of Yakima, which has the bulk of the population. Yakima is a family friendly community with a moderate cost of living and a pleasant desert climate. With its proximity to desert, mountains, and ocean, Yakima offers myriad opportunities for outdoor adventure and recreation, including hiking, fishing, and skiing. In addition, Yakima has a vibrant arts community, including a full symphony orchestra; the historic 1500-seat Capitol Theatre, which presents The Best of Broadway and a speaker series, among other offerings; and Seasons Performance Hall. Yakima is also home to the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, Heritage University on the Yakama Reservation, Yakima Valley College, and Perry Technical Institute. The Yakima Valley is one of the richest agricultural regions in the country, providing a high percentage of the nation’s apples, pears, cherries, hops, and mint. It is home to thriving wine and craft beer industries, with over 90 wineries and almost 20 craft breweries and tap houses within 70 miles.



The Executive Director reports to the Board of Trustees and has full authority and responsibility as the chief executive officer of the Yakima Valley Museum. Responsibilities include:

  • Providing visionary leadership and strong administrative oversight of all aspects of Museum operations
  • Initiating and implementing a strategic planning process that will result in a renewed vision and priorities
  • Shaping the direction of Museum exhibits and programs, and ensuring they reflect the diversity and dynamism of the surrounding community, their evolving needs, and expectations
  • Maintaining the Museum’s financial stability by developing, managing, and growing the annual operating budget to support the Museum’s operations and programming
  • Working with Board and staff to grow revenues, including increasing contributed revenue and reserves, playing a vital role in fundraising activities and cultivating relationships, maximizing existing earned income opportunities, and developing new funding sources  
  • Providing direction, mentorship, and leadership to Museum staff in support of the organization’s mission, vision, and goals; ensuring a supportive work environment
  • Working closely with the Board of Trustees, helping to further grow and diversify the Board, communicating with full transparency, and maintaining strong working relationships with Board members
  • Providing a high degree of visibility in the community, strengthening community relations, and serving as chief spokesperson for the Museum
  • Developing marketing and public relations strategies to raise awareness of the Museum as a dynamic community asset and to grow audiences


Ideal Candidate Characteristics               

The ideal candidate will possess the following:

  • Proven track record of leadership, a high level of initiative, interpersonal and cultural sensitivity, and flexible problem-solving skills
  • Knowledge of museum practices and standards
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and creative approach to program and exhibit development, audience-building, and income generation
  • Demonstrated experience with financial management, fundraising, community relations, marketing, and Board development
  • Experience developing and maintaining positive relationships with collaborating partners and multicultural stakeholders
  • Ability to motivate, direct, and mentor staff
  • An open and transparent communication style that keeps the staff and Board informed on relevant issues in real time
  • Persuasive and authentic communicator
  • A core commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • A strong work ethic, good sense of humor, high energy level, and strong commitment to teamwork



A minimum of five years of senior leadership experience, including work with a board of trustees. Possession of a bachelor’s degree is required; a master’s degree in a related field is preferred.



The salary range for this position is $115,000 - $125,000. The compensation package includes free, off-site housing in the Museum’s historic Gilbert House, IRA with 3% match, medical and dental, generous vacation/sick leave, and reimbursement of relocation expenses up to $10,000.


Application Procedure    

Individuals applying for this position should send a letter of interest and resume to:


Museum Management Consultants



Position is open until filled