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Vice President, Programs, Interpretation & Education

Posted: 10/25/2023

Department: Programs, Interpretation and Education
Supervisor: President & COO
Status: Full-time, Exempt
Salary:  $85,000 a year, Commensurate with experience

Rooted in the stories of the Underground Railroad, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (“NURFC”) illuminates the true meaning of inclusive freedom by presenting permanent and special exhibits that inspire, public programming that provokes dialogue and action, and educational resources that equip modern abolitionists.

NURFC opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, millions of people have visited our exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Millions of people have utilized our educational resources online at, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom.

Job Overview
The Vice President, Programs, Interpretation & Education (“VP, PIE”) is a key leadership position critical in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center's (“NURFC”) growth and success.

This position reports to the President and COO and oversees NURFC’s Programs, Interpretation and Education initiatives, which include the Curatorial teams, Collections and Volunteer programs.

The VP, PIE will work closely with the President & COO and senior leadership team to implement NURFC's strategic plan with an emphasis on building collaboration and efficiency (internally and externally), cultivating sustainable funding opportunities, and improving and sharing NURFC's knowledge core through dynamic and innovative anchor initiatives, informative and engaging exhibitions, and impactful educational outreach programs.

The successful candidate must be a self-starter with a proven ability to lead a large department effectively, develop a team of high-performing professionals, work closely with others to manage budgets and raise funds, and create and implement long-range plans. The VP, PIE will be an exceptional collaborator and communicator who is mission-driven, leads by example, and thrives in a dynamic and collaborative environment.  

A particular focus for the VP, PIE for the next several years will be the transformation of permanent and featured exhibits and programs to honor NURFC’s 30th anniversary and chart its path for its next 30 years. 


  • Department Management - Lead global vision and implementation for the NURFC’s interpretive plan, all educational initiatives, public programs, and exhibitions
    • Oversee the development and implementation of the NURFC's vision to transform its educational initiatives plan, which includes renewing existing academic relationships, strengthening collaborations with area colleges and universities, extending the program's geographic reach, and enhancing community outreach. 
    • Provide creative oversight in developing and applying a diverse mix of mission-based programming and exhibits to meet education and audience engagement goals.
    • Collaborate with other departments to strategically integrate the operations of programs, education, and interpretation operationally.
    • Coordinate program, interpretation, and educational planning to meet and enhance the mission and strategic goals of NURFC.
    • Be an active member of the NURFC's remake leadership team (which is led by the Project Leader).  Participate in the institution's remake of permanent exhibitions (now in process) to create compelling, engaging, and updated experiences that combine world-class objects with interactivity, media, and immersive environments.
    • Implement approved strategic and action plans and program innovations as delegated by the President and Board of Directors.
    • Carry out all related organizational policies and procedures to ensure compliance with professional museum standards.
    • Oversee the safe acquisition, display, processing, digitizing, and storage of the NURFC's 1,600+ artifacts and images, as well as a federally funded expansion of the NURFC’s collections storage space and operations.
    • Find ways to make the NURFC’s collections more accessible, usable, and relevant; help identify and address pertinent gaps of the NURFCs collections and research knowledge. Integrate the NURFC's collections and curation into exhibitions, programs, partnerships, and other opportunities to share relevance and meaning.
    • Build partnerships with academic and other institutions to add working resources and deepen the NURFC's knowledge and perspectives.
    • Promote and implement practices that comply with American Alliance of Museums, (“AAM”) and Smithsonian Affiliate standards.
  • Organizational Development Leadership – Build organizational excellence.
    • Recommend a yearly budget proposal for the Program, Interpretation and Education Department and responsibly manage the approved budget.
    • As needed, assist in fundraising, board engagement, financial monitoring, and other senior leadership duties. 
    • Provide thoughtful leadership, stakeholder engagement, and oversight for programming, education and exhibit initiatives related to grants, comprehensive and annual campaigns, and key donor relationships.
    • Create high-value local, regional, and national collaborations with school, industry, and community partners.
    • Inspire, lead, and develop a team of staff, volunteers, and community partners with diverse backgrounds and expertise. Build and reinforce a positive, productive, healthy, and fun work culture at all levels, prioritizing teamwork, innovation, and collaboration.
    • Promote practices that encourage and facilitate open communications, cooperation, effective employee engagement, and teamwork among the staff, volunteers, and external cohorts.
    • Embody and model the 'NURFCs core values:  Safety, Welcome, Credible, Effective, and Engaging.


  • Education or Equivalent Work Experience
  • Degree or equivalent work experience in a related subject
  • At least ten years of experience working in a museum, library, historic property, or comparable public-facing organization.
  • Proven ability to lead, with a record of increasing responsibility; candidates' current responsibilities should be at department director level or above.
  • Special Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
  • Entrepreneurial, creative attitude that identifies and seizes relevant opportunities.
  • Strategic decision-making, forward-looking curiosity, and appetite for learning; ability to make meaningful connections between audience, experience, content, collections, and research.
  • Flexibility to creatively adapt to and lead in an environment of rapid change.
  • Dedication to both internal and external communication and collaboration
  • Excellence in building positive and productive relationships at all levels throughout a community.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills; ability to adapt messages for a variety of audiences, from guests to partners, researchers, elected officials, donors, trustees, and media.
  • Sound operational and business acumen with the ability to create and adapt successful structures, models, and systems, experience with leadership theory and practice a plus.

Working Conditions

  • Typical office setting at NURFC, with time spent at offsite meetings.  Some travel, as needed; a valid, clean driver's license is required.
  • Regular, frequent computer and phone use. 
  • 40-hour work week with occasional evenings and weekends.
  • Supervise ~10 staff members, interns, and volunteers.

National Underground Railroad Freedom is an EOE employer and does not discriminate against any person or group based on age, color, disability, gender, pregnancy, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, or genetic information. NURFC is building a culturally diverse staff committed to working in a multicultural environment and encourages applications from minorities and women. 


Apply at or send resume to

National Underground Railroad Freedom Centere
Melissa Allen

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