The Board of Trustees of the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House (Ford House) is seeking a qualified individual to lead its divisions of historic resource stewardship and interpretive/educational content. The Vice President also will be closely engaged with restoration and reinterpretation of the Henry Ford Estate (Fair Lane) that will be transferred to the same governance and leadership as Ford House at the end of 2011. The Vice President will report to the President/CEO of Ford House/Fair Lane and will spearhead initiatives to increase accessibility to the Ford family story through preservation and sharing of the family’s historic resources, including the collections,
historic buildings, and grounds of both estates.
About the Museum
Eleanor and Edsel Ford moved into their home in Grosse Pointe Shores in 1929. Edsel, the only child of Clara and Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, was appointed president of the company at the age of 25. Together, Eleanor and Edsel raised four children at Ford House and were cultural, social, and economic leaders in an era of great optimism, as well as a turbulent time of economic depression and world war. Ford House encompasses 87 acres of lakefront grounds and expansive gardens designed by Jens Jensen; numerous historic structures including the main house, gate lodge, and powerhouse were designed by Albert Kahn. The collection includes art, antiques, furniture, automobiles, and more that reveal the Fords’ progressive and educated tastes in art and design.
When Eleanor died in 1976 she left the home, its furnishings, and an endowment for its preservation for the benefit of the public. The estate opened to the public in 1978. Guided tours were available with the primary emphasis being on stewardship, not program development or the provision of a diverse and engaging visitor experience.
Clara and Henry Ford moved into their new home, Fair Lane, in 1915. In 2011, ownership of their beloved home, a national historic landmark located adjacent to the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus, will transfer from the university that has owned and operated it for 53 years. Moving forward, Fair Lane will be managed in partnership with Ford House under an innovative
model of coordinated stewardship that will realize new efficiencies, synergies, and opportunities for preservation, interpretation, and operation. The estate closed in December, 2010 in preparation for substantial restoration and full reinterpretation. Talented consultants are
being retained to guide the campaign, the restoration work, new construction, and development of the entire programmatic (product) component. The intent is to incorporate a high level of creativity and innovation into the program components, using 21st century learning skills
and design-thinking techniques. Approximately 50 acres of the estate will transfer, including the main house, powerhouse/garage, and potting building/ greenhouses. The landscape, designed by Jens Jensen, includes garden structures, formal and informal gardens, boat house, and dam which powered the estates turbine system. The estate is located on the Rouge River, just a short distance from The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village which were started by Henry himself.
In 2009, Ford House undertook a year-long strategic planning process – the organization’s first. A new mission, vision, core values and key goals were established to create a balance between stewardship and provision of high quality experiences for on-site and virtual visitors. This document is guiding organizational restructuring of the estate and incorporation of Fair Lane under the same governance and leadership umbrella. This summer, a branding and messaging process will kick off to craft the brand, message, look, story-lines, etc. for the umbrella under which the two estates operate, as well as for each estate independently.
Ford House is a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation with an annual operating budget of approximately $5 million and 45 full time and 50 part time employees. It is anticipated that the joint operating budget will expand to $8.5 million, with 60 full-time employees and 70 part time
employees when Fair Lane is in full operation.
The Vice President will report to the President/CEO and will supervise all aspects of Historic Resources and Education/Content. Along with the Vice President for Communications & Development and the Vice President for Finance & Administration, the Vice President Collections & Visitor Experience will serve as a member of the senior management team.
* Overseeing the Directors of Education, Landscapes, Buildings, Collections for Ford House and Fair Lane.
* Managing daily operations of these functions; establishing, implementing, and evaluating action plans in line with strategic plans and visionary guidelines.
* Providing, guiding, and leading the process to create visionary, creative, and innovative programming and services for the estates, employing cutting edge means for program delivery.
* Ensuring a balance is maintained between good stewardship of historic and financial resources and provision of a quality visitor experience for on-site and virtual users.
* Providing strong leadership and management direction to staff through a team-work approach; ensuring attention is paid to strategic plan initiatives, and that operations are in compliance with appropriate personnel policies and human resource procedures; recruiting, hiring,
training, motivating, and evaluating staff.
* Serving as a collaborative member of both the leadership and management teams, working to encourage team work among and across departments.
* Possessing the presence, verbal and written communications skills necessary to represent Ford House and Fair Lane in a variety of internal and external settings; being able to professionally interact with colleagues, as well as civic organizations, volunteers, donors, etc.
Ideal Candidate Characteristics
The ideal candidate will possess a combination of the following:
* Expertise in a discipline associated with the missions of Ford House and Fair Lane.
* Demonstrated ability to research and disseminate information through exhibit content, writing, speaking, and provision of information for messaging, marketing, grant-writing, etc.
* Demonstrated experience in creatively and innovatively developing programs and interpretive initiatives
* Experience providing leadership and management with staff and volunteers; a style that demonstrates initiative, patience, flexibility, fast-paced decision-making, sound judgment, empathy, and collaboration.
* A high level of initiative, strong interpersonal skills, and creative and flexible problem solving skills
* A strong work ethic, good sense of humor, sincerity, a high energy level, and a strong commitment to teamwork
A minimum of 5 years experience that demonstrates increasing responsibility, leadership, management, and decision-making. Possession of a master’s degree is preferred in a field relevant to the missions of Ford House and Fair Lane such as American History, American Studies, Landscape History, Architectural History, or Material Culture.
Individuals interested in applying for this position should send a letter of interest and resume to:
Museum Management Consultants, Inc.
120 Green Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA 94111
Closing date for filing applications is July 31, 2011