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Executive Director

The Congregational Library & Archives (CLA) fosters deeper understanding of the spiritual, intellectual, cultural, and civic dimensions of the Congregational story and its ongoing relevance by collecting and sharing materials and by actively engaging with faith communities, scholars, and the general public.  

To carry out this mission, the CLA preserves and makes available materials pertaining to Congregationalism, the history of which has been interwoven with the development of the United States since the seventeenth century. The CLA’s library and archives holds a rich collection of historical materials, 225,000 archival and published items, which have significance not only for church history, but also for social and political history, and genealogy. It shares them freely by facilitating research and offering programs designed to explain the nature of the Congregational tradition, helping to illuminate our society’s past and to inform the present. In the last two decades it has acquired, digitized, and transcribed early New England records in collaboration with an array of churches, historical societies, universities, and cultural institutions.

In the two years before the COVID pandemic, the CLA embarked on a significant transition, selling its building, conducting a capital campaign, and renovating its facilities, now leased from the building owner. A staff of five currently operates the library and archives with an annual budget of $1.9 million.

After a two-year period of limited public access to its facilities due to COVID, the CLA now seeks to build on its expert staff, its extensive holdings, and its fascinating history to make itself valuable and accessible for the twenty-first century. It now seeks a new leader to guide its exciting transformation into a widely known and connected cultural institution contributing vitally to the nation’s intellectual life.

Opportunities

The Director will have the chance to lead and execute strategic planning, enhance the team, and fashion a successful, sustainable operating mode. This includes the hiring of a development director to support fundraising, a position which has been budgeted for. The essential foundation is in place to give an inspiring, skilled executive the opportunity to make the CLA a contributor to our current public discourse: a rich collection of national importance, dedicated staff, a committed Board of Directors, the financial flexibility provided by a substantial endowment, and an attractive Boston location. With the 400th anniversary of Boston’s founding on the horizon, the CLA has its place among the important scholarly and cultural institutions in New England and the nation, with a potentially international reach.

Challenges

The CLA needs to refine its direction and retool to build the enthusiasm, participation, and financial support necessary to pursue that direction. The Board requires guidance as it tailors itself to meet the demands of today’s culture. The organization lost focus on its constituencies and partners recently as it coped with the sale of its building, the effects of the pandemic and ineffective executive leadership. The new Director can anticipate the following interwoven challenges:

  • Defining a sustainable business model and the steps toward realizing it.
  • Raising funds to support operational rebuilding and growth.
  • Restoring relationships with critical constituents and partners and building new ones.
  • Creating and promoting a renewed public presence.
  • Expanding the capabilities of the staff, especially in the areas of fundraising, communications, and programming.
  • Helping the Board add new talent and adopt best practices, supporting the executive actively in relationship-building and fundraising.
  • Widening our audience.

Candidate Profile

The successful candidate will be a motivated, ambitious person with a record of effective leadership in a nonprofit, scholarly, or cultural organization. Outgoing and sociable, the Director will relish renewing and establishing connections among and beyond the CLA’s traditional stakeholders. The Director will be an experienced, skilled fundraiser. Respect and enthusiasm for scholarship, American history, and the Congregational story is essential; expertise in any of these is valuable, but not required. A high regard for the value of research libraries and the challenge of defining the role of such institutions in a digital world is essential, but experience working in one is not required. This person will need to be focused on management, external partners, and donors. The new leader will have a record of strong, collegial working relationships with a governing board and staff.

Key Responsibilities

  • Collaborate productively with the Board and staff to forge consensus around strategic and operational plans which link CLA activities to funding sources and key constituencies.
  • Play a central role in raising funds from individuals, foundations, and government grants to support operations.
  • Manage human and financial resources wisely to achieve agreed-upon goals.
  • Ensure effective public relations and communications to support a positive profile for the CLA.
  • Oversee development of engaging programs that expand the CLA’s audience.

Qualifications

  • Proven skills as a manager of people and operations in a nonprofit setting. A good morale builder.
  • A record of successful fundraising: capital, major gifts, sponsorships, and grants.
  • Strong oral and written communications skills.
  • Ability to convey enthusiasm for and commitment to research libraries, the Congregational tradition, history, and related public programming to all current and potential constituents.
  • B.A. required. M.A. in public history, nonprofit management, or a similar field preferred.
  • At least three years of successful experience leading a humanities organization (or a department within one) with significant supervisory and financial responsibility.
  • Comfort in working with faith communities.

About the Congregational Library & Archives

A group of Congregational ministers and church members in Boston formed the Congregational Library Association in May 1853, with an initial collection of fifty-six books and pamphlets donated by ministers housed in a rented room. The next year the Massachusetts legislature granted a charter to the Association “for the purpose of establishing and perpetuating a library of religious history and literature of New England, and for the erection of a suitable building for the accommodation of the same, and for the use of charitable societies,” and a few years later approved changing the name to the American Congregational Association. While this is the legal name of the organization, it is currently known to its users, partners, and supporters as the Congregational Library & Archives.

As the CLA and its collection grew during the second half of the nineteenth century, it owned three buildings in succession, renting space to Congregational benevolent societies to fund its operation. It built the current structure at 12 and 14 Beacon Street and dedicated it as the Congregational House in 1898. By then the CLA held 40,000 books and 50,000 pamphlets. Begun as a reference library, it became a circulating library in the early years of the twentieth century. In 1924, the library began mailing books to those who requested them and extended its free borrowing privileges to Unitarians and Universalists. The books-by-mail program was extended to the entire United States in 1942.

Numerous associations, organizations, and movements from the Congregational tradition have given their records to the library. In 1965, the CLA raised funds to create its Rare Book and Manuscript Room. The records of scores of local congregations, including Old South Church and Park Street Church, and the records of many other Congregational societies and conferences are maintained there.

In the early 21st century the CLA began a concerted effort, in partnership with the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, to ensure preservation and accessibility to early New England church and town records, many languishing in attics and basements. The CLA has taken in some records as donations to its collection and digitized others. Transcription of records with the help of volunteers is also underway, now aided by specialized software. Records from more than fifty churches and other institutions have been preserved, organized, and made available through this effort.

Digitization and sharing of records have been boosted by three successive Humanities References and Resources grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities supporting the New England Hidden Histories program. This project is an expansion of the earlier effort to include many other partners, such as the American Antiquarian Society, state historical societies in New England, and the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum. The ready access to rich historical collections this created has enabled the CLA to facilitate research more effectively. It has helped raise the CLA’s profile and bring historical perspective to the discussion of contemporary issues, most recently the pandemic.

Because 14 Beacon Street needed more work than the organization could afford, the Board of Directors in 2017 sold it and leased back a portion for the ongoing operation of the library and archives. The proceeds of the sale became a board-designated investment fund to generate income crucial to the CLA budget, replacing tenants’ rent as the major source of operating funds. A capital campaign funded renovations to program and administrative areas that made the facilities more functional and enabled new ways to share collections and scholarship with wider audiences through technology, exhibits, and public programs. Construction costs rising beyond projections led the CLA to borrow funds, a loan that will be fully paid off in late 2023.

The last two years have been a time of transition with the impact of the pandemic, reduced staffing, and the need to adapt the governance and leadership to the CLA’s new situation. The Board is working with an interim executive director to adapt the way it operates, retool its mission statement and core commitments, and start the framework for a strategic plan. A new director will step into an organization eager for new leadership. The CLA remains a small, well-situated institution that is welcoming and user-friendly, and capable of making great contributions to regional and national life.

About the Region

Boston is one of American’s leading intellectual centers, with some of the country’s most prestigious universities. It is also a world-class center for banking, health care and technology. The city is steeped in nearly 400 years of history, which it preserves and celebrates, maintaining many distinct and historic neighborhoods. As a metropolis, it is home to numerous attractions including museums, theatres, musical events, and a lively restaurant scene. The suburbs have some of the nation’s top-rated school systems. Boston is served by a strong public transportation system and offers outdoor recreation along the Charles River and Atlantic Ocean. Sports fans enjoy the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins, as well as the soccer team, the Revolution. CLA staff members cite the city’s walkability and note that there are always interesting things to do.

HOW TO APPLY

Apply in confidence: Email cover letter, resumé or CV, salary requirement and names of 3 references and your professional relationship, with contact information by May 2, 2022, to: Scott Stevens, Senior Search Consultant, Museum Search & Reference at: SearchandRef@museum-search.com. References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant.

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Communications Manager

Part-time (20 hours per week)

Fully remote option available

The Congregational Library & Archives is a specialty library located in Boston. While CLA’s origins and many of its holdings are religious, it is not a church institution. Rather, CLA’s focus and approach are broadly historical and cultural. The organization is a well-kept secret, and the Communication Manager’s goal is to change that. CLA seeks an ambitious communications professional eager to build a comprehensive external communications program and raise the visibility of an important historical and cultural organization. This part-time position offers a flexible work schedule that can be fully remote.

Responsibilities

  • Create and implement a comprehensive communications strategy that is revised over time based on performance metrics.
  • Create original content and manage CLA’s social media presence (including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).
  • Manage the writing and design of email newsletters.
  • Manage CLA’s website, including web page edits and posts about CLA’s work.
  • Create content (speeches, handouts, presentations) for CLA staff to use at meetings with external stakeholders.
  • Publicize CLA’s programs (lectures, history talks, etc.), including posting videos of completed events.
  • Support the organization’s fundraising activities through the creation of compelling materials, including an annual report, stewardship materials, and other materials describing CLA’s work.

Qualifications

The ideal candidate for this role has hands-on communications experience, enjoys working on various aspects of communications, has strong writing skills, is creative, and has a strong attention to detail. While no candidate will possess every quality outlined for this position, the successful candidate will bring many of the following professional qualifications, experiences and personal attributes as well as a demonstrated ability to learn new skills quickly.

  • Experience implementing communications strategies as well as using data to drive content strategies.
  • Experience managing social media accounts and creating original content.
  • 2-3 years of experience in communications.
  • Strong writing with impeccable grammar and good basic design skills.
  • Experience with a variety of communications software and applications is preferred, along with willingness and ability to learn on the job. Experience with Constant Contact, Adobe, basic photo and video editing, web page edits, paid social media campaigns, and other communications tools a plus.
  • Curiosity about American, Congregational, and/or religious history.

Compensation

The salary range for this position is $28,000 to $31,000 annually.

CLA provides a generous package of benefits, including medical and dental insurance and 403(b) matching contributions. Also, significant paid time off is offered, including holidays, vacation time, and sick days.

Application

CLA encourages and welcomes diversity throughout the organization. CLA does not discriminate and protects against harassment based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by law. CLA employs people based on ability, experience, education, and character.

CLA’s policy applies to all aspects of employment, including recruitment, hiring, retention, promotion, compensation and benefits, working conditions, performance evaluation, professional development, disciplinary action, and termination.

Applicants are required to submit a resume and cover letter that describes how your qualifications and experience match CLA’s needs and mission. Send to Marty Walz at mwalz@14beacon.org by May 31, 2022. Please include “Communications Manager” in the subject line.

About the Congregational Library & Archives

CLA’s mission is to foster deeper understanding of the spiritual, intellectual, cultural, and civic dimensions of the Congregational story and its ongoing relevance in the 21st century by collecting and sharing materials and by actively engaging with, among others, scholars and the general public.

To carry out this mission, CLA preserves and makes available materials pertaining to Congregationalism, the history of which has been interwoven with the development of the United States since the seventeenth century. CLA’s library and archives holds a rich collection of historical materials, which have significance not only for church history, but also for social and political history and genealogy.

CLA offers educational programs, including exhibits, author talks, and book discussion groups for a broad range of audiences. It provides free access to the collection, including online through the New England’s Hidden Histories initiative, excellent patron services, and the global reach of modern technology.

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