2024 Membership Renewal is now open! Renew your organization’s membership today!

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

Chief Advancement Officer

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens


Job Summary

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens

Cheekwood is distinguished as one of the leading Country Place Era estates in the nation and is currently the third highest attended destination in Nashville, Tennessee, welcoming on average 400, 000 visitors annually, with a membership base of 18,000. Formerly the family home of Mabel and Leslie Cheek, this 1930s estate, with its 30,000-square-foot Mansion and 55 acres of gardens, today serves the public as a botanical garden, arboretum, and art museum with furnished period rooms and galleries devoted to American art from the 18th to mid-20th centuries. The property includes 13 distinct gardens as well as a 1.5-mile woodland trail featuring outdoor monumental sculpture and regularly hosts contemporary sculpture exhibitions on its expansive property. Annually it presents seasonal festivals, including Orchids at Cheekwood, Cheekwood in Bloom, Harvest at Cheekwood, and Holiday LIGHTS. Cheekwood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and nationally as a Level II Arboretum. It is a three-time voted USA Today Top 10 Botanical Garden and in 2021 was recognized by Fodor’s as one of the 12 Most Beautiful Gardens in the American South.

Position Overview

The Chief Advancement Officer (CAO) is a pivotal member of the Senior Leadership Team, reporting directly to the CEO.  This role is integral to the development and implementation of a comprehensive five-year strategic plan, and future plans, driving the financial sustainability and growth of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.  The CAO will oversee all aspects of fundraising, including annual giving, major gifts, corporate sponsorships, government grants, municipal support, planned giving, and future capital campaigns.  The CAO will also personally manage a robust portfolio of high-level donors in collaboration with the CEO.

Job Responsibilities

Strategic Leadership

  • Develop and execute annual and long-range fundraising plans to advance the institution’s strategic goals, including annual giving strategies, major gifts, planned giving, and capital campaigns.
  • Provide visionary leadership to the advancement department, fostering a culture of innovation, accountability, and excellence.
  • Collaborate with the CEO and Senior Leadership Team to develop and execute the institution’s five-year strategic plan.

Fundraising Strategy and Execution

  • Design and implement a comprehensive development strategy to meet short-term and long-term financial goals.
  • Oversee all fundraising activities, including annual giving, major gifts, corporate sponsorships, government grants, municipal support, planned giving, and capital campaigns.
  • Cultivate and maintain relationships with key donors, corporate sponsors, foundations, government agencies, and community stakeholders.
  • In close collaboration with the CEO, facilitate cultivation and solicitation opportunities involving the Board of Trustees and Board Alumni Council.
  • Function as the primary liaison with the Board Fundraising Leadership Committee to actively engage Trustees in identifying, cultivating, and soliciting support.

Team Management

  • Lead, mentor, and manage a team of advancement professionals, ensuring alignment with organizational goals and fostering professional growth.
  • Set clear performance expectations and provide regular feedback to team members.
  • Encourage and organize regular team meetings for collaboration and idea sharing.
  • Encourage staff members to attend networking events and engage with the community to build relationships with potential donors and partners.

Donor Engagement and Stewardship

  • Cultivate, solicit, and steward a personal portfolio of funding sources while exploring innovative opportunities for philanthropic expansion.
  • Develop and implement door engagement strategies to enhance donor loyalty and increase donor retention.
  • Educate donors about planned-giving options and build the institution’s planned-giving program to ensure the future of the institution.
  • Ensure timely and meaningful stewardship of all gifts, including appropriate recognition and reporting to donors.

Budget and Reporting

  • Develop and manage the advancement department’s budget, ensuring efficient use of resources.
  • Provide regular reports to the CEO, Board of Directors, and Senior Leadership Team on fundraising progress and financial performance.

Collaboration and Partnership

  • Work closely with the Marketing and Communication team to ensure consistent and compelling messaging across all fundraising materials.
  • Partner with programmatic and operational departments to identify funding needs and opportunities.
  • Foster open communication channels between the advancement team and other departments within the organization.

Capital Campaigns

  • Provide strategic leadership for future capital campaigns, including the development of a case for support, feasibility studies, campaign structure, objectives, and performance metrics.
  • In collaboration with the CEO, identify and recruit new board members, educating them on means by which to promote our philanthropy.
  • Encourage current and past board members’ financial support and maximize their engagement with the museum and gardens, building relationships that can expand their networks to our donor base.

Compliance and Integrity

  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of relevant laws and regulations pertaining to fundraising and donor privacy.
  • Exhibit integrity and ethical behavior in handling sensitive information and donor relationships.
  • Uphold organizational values and standards in all interactions and decisions.
  • Navigate complex situations with tact and diplomacy, ensuring trust and confidence among stakeholders.
  • Foster a culture of confidentiality and trust within the advancement team.


This position requires a dynamic leader deeply engaged in the community, with a talent for enhancing philanthropy, awareness, and excitement. The individual should confidently add value to the institution, demonstrating strategic thinking and strong fundraising experience to cultivate a culture of giving among our supporters.  This individual should possess a proven ability to meet revenue goals, a strong affinity for the institution’s mission and programs, and a dedication to our long-term success.

  • Bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit Management, Business Administration, or a related field; advanced degree preferred.
  • A minimum of 10 years of progressively responsible experience in advancement, with a proven track record in major gifts, corporate sponsorships, government grants, and capital campaigns.
  • Demonstrated experience in strategic planning and execution at a senior leadership level.
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills, with the ability to build relationships with diverse stakeholders.
  • Strong leadership and team management skills, with a commitment to fostering a collaborative and inclusive work environment.
  • High level of integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the mission of Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.
  • Proactive in building and maintaining strong donor relationships and internal partnerships.
  • Proven track record of securing significant donations and comfortable leading fundraising efforts, including large-scale campaigns.
  • Experience in botanical gardens or cultural institutions is desired.

Additional Information


The well-being of Cheekwood employees is essential. So, when it comes to our benefits package, we offer one of the best. We offer the following benefits to all full-time employees:

  • Health Insurance with an HRA
  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Life Insurance (100% paid by Cheekwood)
  • Long Term Disability Insurance (100% paid by Cheekwood)
  • Voluntary Life Insurance
  • Short-Term Disability Insurance
  • 403b and Roth 403b with a generous employer match
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Paid Time Off and 11 Paid Holidays
  • Aflac products are offered.

How to Apply

Interested candidates are invited to submit a resume and cover letter to Pbruckse@cheekwood.org.

You may also apply on the Join Our Team page at https://cheekwood.org/about/join-our-team/

Cheekwood is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity and inclusion.


  • Date Posted: May 30, 2024
  • Type: Full-Time
  • Job Function: Executive Leadership
  • Service Area: Arts / Culture