Congratulations to the 2021 Salute to Excellence finalists!

President James K Polk Home & Museum

Executive Director

President James K Polk Home & Museum


Job Summary

The President James K. Polk Home & Museum is seeking an experienced and innovative leader to serve in the role of Executive Director. This position is full-time, salaried, and reports to the Board of Directors. 

About the President James K. Polk Home & Museum

The President James K. Polk Home & Museum is located in Columbia, Tennessee, a growing town 45 miles south of Nashville, at the only surviving home of the nation’s eleventh President. Encompassing a downtown campus of five buildings and historic gardens, the site offers daily tours and maintains a robust schedule of educational and community-oriented events and programs throughout the year that highlight James K. Polk’s singular story.  

Built in 1816, the Polk Home is a federal-style brick structure which served as James K. Polk’s residence from 1818 to 1824. The home is furnished with a remarkable collection of objects belonging to James and Sarah Polk from their lives before, during, and after the White House. In addition to the Polk Home and its kitchen outbuilding, the site also includes a modern Visitor Center and Museum Shop, located in a c. 1820 Polk-family home; the Garden House, a c. 1900 residential structure used for educational programming; and Polk Presidential Hall, a recently-renovated exhibition space. 

The President James K. Polk Home & Museum is operated by the James K. Polk Memorial Association, a nonprofit organization founded in 1924 by the heirs of Sarah Childress Polk, in cooperation with the Tennessee Historical Commission. For more information, please visit

Job Responsibilities


The Executive Director is responsible for overseeing the administration, fundraising, marketing, programs, community outreach, and strategic planning for the James K. Polk Memorial Association.  General responsibilities include: 

Leadership and Administration

  1. Works closely with the Board of Directors in order to fulfill the mission of the James K. Polk Memorial Association
  2. Prepares and maintains annual budget and oversees the financial health of the organization
  3. Hires and develops a strong professional staff that maintains a high standard of museum excellence, organizational and fiscal stability, and a positive, productive internal culture 
  4. Serves as the liaison between the James K. Polk Memorial Association and the Tennessee Historical Commission

Development and Engagement 

  1. Takes primary responsibility for fundraising, to include pursuing major gifts, planning and leading capital campaigns, cultivating membership, encouraging corporate giving, writing grants, and exploring new avenues for revenue generation 
  2. Serves as primary representative and spokesperson from the President James K. Polk Home and Museum to the Board and the community
  3. Enhances the Polk Properties and the Association’s image by being active and visible in the community and by working closely with other professional, civic, and private organizations

Governance & Planning 

  1. Develops and communicates institutional vision by working closely with the Board to create a strategic plan and oversee the strategic plan’s implementation 
  2. Communicates regularly with the Board and present monthly reports 

Museum Operations 

  1. Oversees property management and facilities planning, including building maintenance needs and the day-to-day operation of the properties 
  2. Oversees the Museum’s robust schedule of programming and community outreach initiatives 
  3. Develops a marketing and communications plan and works with local partners to encourage visitation and grow the Museum’s programs and events 
  4. Creates and maintains emergency preparedness plan and regularly communicates with staff and relevant community partners to ensure its efficacy 


Required Qualifications

The ideal candidate will have a minimum of 7-10 years of experience in the museum, public history, or nonprofit sector with progressively increasing responsibility, including at least three years in a leadership role. Candidates should also possess: 

  • Experience with nonprofit development and administration
  • Strong problem-solving skills, innovative leadership ability and vision, excellent organizational skills, and commitment to ensuring outstanding visitor experience
  • Passion for the mission of the organization and a belief in the ability of museums and history sites to make a positive difference in their communities 
  • Ability to prepare financial reports and manage the daily financial operations of the site
  • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to build and strengthen relationships between the organization and its stakeholders; desire to engage new audiences with the mission 
  • Ability to communicate the significance of the site and its mission to stakeholders, including the local community, donors, members, scholars, and civic leaders 
  • Experience supervising full time and part time staff members 

Preferred Qualifications: 

  • Academic background in history, art history, political science, museum studies, nonprofit management, or a related field; advanced degree preferred
  • Experience with strategic planning
  • Demonstrated success writing grants and/or managing fundraising campaigns
  • Knowledge of museum collections care & best practices

Additional Information


Monthly benefits stipend negotiable.

How to Apply

Please submit a resume and cover letter to by July 2, 2021 at 5:00PM Central to be considered for this position. References will be requested of final candidates. 

The James K. Polk Memorial Association is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants are welcome and encouraged to apply. 


  • Date Posted: June 16, 2021
  • Type: Full-Time
  • Job Function: Executive Leadership
  • Service Area: Arts / Culture
  • Salary Range: 45,000-55,000