Executive Director

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Executive Director

Founded in 1947, the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) is the national nonpartisan organization for the advancement of Canada’s museums—art, science, natural, human, cultural art, zoos, aquariums, gardens, history, archeology, children’s, architecture, and more.

The CMA’s role is to ensure meaningful connections with their communities by providing leadership, fostering a national museum community, and increasing the value of museums to society. The CMA works for the recognition, growth, and stability of the sector, serving to aid Canada’s 2,600 museums and heritage institutions in preserving Canada’s collective memory, shaping its national identity, and promoting tolerance and understanding. Its vision is to ensure that museums are valued public institutions that inspire understanding and encourage solutions for a better world.

The CMA has four guiding principles focused on engaging the membership, being the leading advocate, practicing the highest level of governance, and building and sustaining mutually beneficial partnerships. The principles are based on the values of the CMA in leadership, innovation, social benefit, inclusiveness, collaboration, and membership. Among its long-term strategic goals, the CMA is committed to museum professionals having the required information, tools and resources, and effective networks to connect with each other and the sector. Museums are integral public places, and the CMA seeks to ensure that they have the financial resources and community support to do their work.

The CMA presents an annual general conference and periodic, theme-specific conferences for industry professionals to network with their peers, share innovative work, and discuss best practices. It also confers awards in several relevant categories, which serve to strengthen its member institutions’ capacity and recognize excellence in the Canadian museum sector. The CMA’s numerous programs, partnerships, and initiatives include:


  • CMA Reconciliation Program includes addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action #67.
  • Member Insurance Program ensures that CMA members have access to the best and most appropriate coverage available while leveraging group buying power and competitive rates.
  • Museums Foundation of Canada receives donations and bequests to support education, research, and awards, including the Barbara A. Tyler Award, the Dr. Shirley L. Thomson Young Curators Award, and the Fellows Lecture at the national conference.
  • Wholesale Consortium Program offers retail purchasing opportunities to CMA’s member institutions.


  • Young Canada Works provides summer jobs and internships, which benefitted over 800 museums in 2017 through the generous $8.85 million support from Canadian Heritage.
  • CMA Fellows recognizes distinguished leaders in the museum field and provides a forum for a national peer and mentorship network.
  • Provincial and territorial museum associations address the unique regional needs, challenges, and opportunities to advance the field.


  • CMA and International Council of Museums Canada advocates in legal affairs at the World Intellectual Organization, a body of the United Nations.
  • Additional service initiatives over the past several decades include the Task Force Report on Museums and First Peoples, the Canada China Museums Consortium, and national advocacy work for the revitalization of federal funding programs and legislation such as the Indemnification Act.
  • The CMA is an active proponent of the museum sector and responds to societal and industry challenges with initiatives that address opportunities as needed.

The CMA’s nine-member board of directors governs with a style that emphasizes outward vision and encourages diverse viewpoints, values strategic leadership, prefers collective decisions, focuses on the future, and strives to be proactive. Its supporting committee structure includes standing committees, such as board nominations; awards committee; compliance, risk management, and insurance; and ad hoc committees, such as LGBTQ2, national conference, and Young Canada Works, among others. The CMA has an administrative staff of 22 employees and had total revenues exceeding $10.3 million in 2017, with approximately $8.7 million to administer the Young Canada Works program of Canadian Heritage and $1.6 million for core CMA activities.


The CMA office is located in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. Situated in Ontario at the Quebec border, the Ottawa-Gatineau region is a dynamic, multicultural showcase of more than one million people. It is a place where English and French can be heard in the streets and where residents and international visitors can discover Canada’s proud heritage at impressive national sites and famous landmarks, including the Rideau Canal—a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a community steeped in culture, with world-class museums and galleries displaying stunning national collections and special exhibitions from Canada and around the world.


Reporting to the CMA board of directors, the Executive Director will provide the strategic leadership and public advocacy needed to fulfill the CMA’s mission and vision while embodying its values. The Executive Director will embrace the CMA’s four guiding principles in serving as a champion for the public value of museums and heritage organizations and the numerous citizens that those entities serve. A highly visible individual responsible for advancing the CMA’s policy agenda, the Executive Director will cultivate resources, develop relationships, and provide programs that are beneficial to museums and heritage organizations. Working in both official languages, the Executive Director will collaborate with the board of directors, members, staff, and partners. This individual will travel throughout Canada and internationally, as required, to develop and fulfill the CMA’s strategic plan and to sustain the organization as an innovative professional association.

Roles and Responsibilities

Public Visibility and Advocacy:

  • Serve as the spokesperson for the CMA and for museums, delivering the message of their value to the public, including policy makers, partners, and the media.
  • Set and attain federal policy and advocacy objectives, in consultation with the CMA board, that advance museums and heritage organizations.
  • Cultivate productive working relationships with Canadian Heritage and members of Parliament, especially those playing key roles relating to appropriations and priority policy issues.
  • Foster planning and policy collaborations between Canadian Heritage, Provincial Heritage Associations, and other national and provincial partners to represent the interests of museums nationally.
  • Exemplify and propagate best practices in cultural advocacy at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels.
  • Build alliances with and present to other organizations in the museum and heritage policy arenas that strengthen the CMA and provincial and regional associations.
  • Develop and maintain strong relationships with indigenous peoples and exemplify Truth and Reconciliation standards in meeting the museum sector’s far reaching role.
  • Embrace other public visibility and advocacy roles and responsibilities, as needed.

Member Relations and Support:

  • Communicate regularly with CMA members and foster high levels of member involvement, satisfaction, and retention.
  • Develop industry research and analytical tools that add value and knowledge to and for the museum sector.
  • Serve as a trusted advisor, resource, mentor, and thought leader for museums, heritage organizations, and their allies.
  • Maintain a deep knowledge of significant developments and environmental trends affecting museums.
  • Facilitate consultative decision making and effective policy-driven governance.
  • Promote the benefits of CMA membership to a wide range of urban and rural museums, business partners, museum professionals, and others who support the museum field.
  • Develop and maintain strong relationships with culturally diverse communities nationally.
  • Embrace other member relations and support roles and responsibilities, as needed.

Resource Identification and Cultivation:

  • Ensure a collaborative relationship with Canadian Heritage in enhancing the public and financial support for the CMA and its members.
  • Develop and diversify the financial resources necessary to fulfill the CMA’s strategic plan and ensure future stability and sustainability.
  • Lead fund development efforts that secure memberships, government support, business partnerships, sponsorships, and philanthropic contributions.
  • Cultivate, maintain, and enhance relationships with current and potential contributors.
  • Embrace other resource identification and cultivation roles and responsibilities, as needed.

Planning and Management:

  • Oversee the CMA’s strategic planning and plan fulfillment, including programs and services, communication, evaluation, and operations.
  • Guide, supervise, and evaluate all organizational operations and personnel, delegating such authority as is deemed appropriate to other senior staff.
  • Mentor the staff, maintaining a positive, productive, and collaborative working environment.
  • Oversee and ensure adherence to the CMA’s personnel policies, procedures, and performance standards.
  • Ensure that the CMA, as a steward of public and private resources, exemplifies excellence and demonstrates accountability, transparency, and compliance with federal, provincial, and municipal regulations.
  • Embrace other planning and management roles and responsibilities, as needed.

Traits and Characteristics

A passionate and knowledgeable advocate for the museum and heritage sector and underlying museological policy, the CMA’s Executive Director will have a well-rounded set of competencies that is distinguishable from others in the field. As a persuasive leader with the ability to set and attain goals, the Executive Director will have a clear focus on the CMA’s role in serving its members and interact with members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers. With a contagious enthusiasm for the museum and heritage sector and the work of CMA members, the Executive Director will have the leadership capacity to move initiatives forward through the mobilization of numerous stakeholders.

The Executive Director will have superior conceptual thinking capabilities, with the ability to proactively analyze abstract concepts and scenarios and thereafter establish specific, measurable, attainable, reviewable, and time sensitive (SMART) goals and objectives that achieve results. The Executive Director will deeply recognize, respect, and actively promote diversity in all its forms, including with and for indigenous peoples, cultures, and communities. Genuinely appreciating the geographical, cultural, and ideological differences of a wide array of stakeholders who come from all backgrounds and political parties will be equally important.

An experienced, self-assured, and dynamic leader with extensive knowledge and experience in public policy, the Executive Director will demonstrate exemplary team building capabilities, exceptional management expertise, ingenuity, dedication, enthusiasm, humour, and energy. The Executive Director will be politically savvy and forward thinking, with a focus on how museums and heritage organizations best contribute to the progress of society.

Other key competencies include:

  • Leadership and Teamwork – The capacity to organize and motivate others to accomplish goals while creating a sense of order, direction, and active participation among a variety of stakeholders.
  • Customer Focus and Diplomacy – The tenacity to commit to customer satisfaction, with a high value on multiple stakeholder needs and the ability to anticipate challenges and develop appropriate solutions, build rapport, and relate well to all kinds of people regardless of cultural background.
  • Interpersonal Skills – The flexibility to communicate persuasively and effectively to individuals and groups of all sizes through presentations, discussions, remarks, and written and verbal communications.
  • Planning and Priority Management – The dexterity to work within established timeframes and ascertain top priorities for optimum productivity with policies, procedures, systems, and structures that result in mobilizing resources to achieve significant outcomes.
  • Personal Accountability – The ability to accept responsibility for actions and decisions, inspire others, build trust, and acknowledge responsibility to be accountable for personal actions and professional decisions.


Qualified applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, with a master’s degree strongly preferred, and a minimum of eight to 10 years of executive experience in relevant association, government, or nonprofit leadership. Experience in public policy development and a successful advocacy track record at the federal, provincial, or municipal level is required. A deep understanding of and sensitivity to the political environment in which the CMA and its members function is needed. Leading candidates will be bilingual (English/French) Canadian citizens or permanent residents and have broad knowledge of the museum and heritage sector, particularly the public benefits and roles that government agencies and philanthropic support play in advancing positive impacts nationwide.

Compensation and Benefits

Competitive salary and benefits package includes vacation time, professional development opportunities, a generous RRSP matching plan, a flexible work environment, a group health plan with extended health care, dental, short-term and long-term disability insurance, life insurance, critical illness coverage, and the quality of life that the multicultural and multilingual Ottawa-Gatineau region provides.

Applications and Inquiries

Please submit a letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred) to:

Bruce D. Thibodeau, DBA
2 Toronto Street, Suite 217
Toronto, Ontario M5C 2B5

Tel: 1.888.234.4236 Ext. 201
Email: cma@artsconsulting.com

The CMA Secretariat is currently located on traditional unceded Algonquin territory.

The CMA extends sincere appreciation for the opportunity to live and learn on this territory in mutual respect and gratitude.

The CMA recognizes its responsibility to respect the dignity of its members and those it serves in museums and cultural institutions and their audiences regardless of race, creed, nationality, ancestry, language, religion, age, colour, geography, socio-economic status, disability, family status, social condition, gender identity or expression, sex, sexual orientation, political, or religious belief.

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