Design Trust for Public Space

Executive Director

To Apply

The Design Trust for Public Space has retained the services of Harris Rand Lusk to conduct this search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed in confidence to:

Anne J. McCarthy, COO
Harris Rand Lusk
122 East 42nd Street, Suite 3605
New York, NY  10168


Please put “Design Trust ED” in the subject line of your e-mailed application.

The Design Trust for Public Space is an influential nonprofit organization dedicated to the future of public space in New York. Its projects bring together city agencies, community groups and private sector experts to make a lasting impact–through design–on how New Yorkers live, work and play. The Design Trust facilitates partnerships among the various stakeholders with an interest in developing innovative and inclusive ideas for sustainable communities, including government agencies, design firms, funders, community groups, the public in general, and the private sector.  Since its founding in 1995, the Design Trust has initiated and coordinated many projects that have impacted New Yorkers’ quality of life, including developing the plan and laying the political groundwork that led to the creation of the High Line park, working with the Taxi & Limousine Commission in designing the taxi of tomorrow, and creating a blueprint for urban agriculture in New York, among many other acclaimed projects.

The Design Trust will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2020 and is looking to build on its success at being an innovator in New York’s public space movement. The Board is therefore seeking a dynamic, entrepreneurial and strategic leader to guide the organization into its next phase.

The Position:
The Executive Director (ED) of the Design Trust for Public Space is the leader of the organization and is responsible for the overall direction and management of the organization, including the oversight and development of staff. Reporting to and working with the Board of Directors, the ED must be dynamic and entrepreneurial about developing opportunities for the Design Trust, be able to identify and create appropriate funding strategies, and be a clear and passionate advocate for the Design Trust and its work. The position is a critical, highly visible one requiring a demonstrated ability to work with other non-profits, local community organizations, city and state governments, regulatory agencies and NGO’s, as well as private sector entities in New York City and beyond.

The ED is a leader and consensus builder who is able to promote cooperation and collaboration among partnerships and constituencies to advance the core goals of the organization.  They should have a demonstrated commitment to and experience with community development, architecture and design, urban planning, or a related discipline, and be a skilled organizational and financial manager. The ED should have experience working with elected and appointed officials, City agencies, community development organizations, cultural organizations, the real estate industry, and/or construction, design and architectural firms.

The successful candidate should be an excellent communicator, politically astute, a strategic thinker and planner, and a problem solver. The ED must have the ability to promote an open, inclusive work environment with the Board and staff that emphasizes cooperation, teamwork and consensus.  Candidates should demonstrate a long and diversified track record of accomplishment including successful project-based and operational fundraising. In addition, they should be diplomatic, of the highest integrity, and possess sound judgment as well as a sense of humor.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

  • With the Board, set the long-term vision and short term goals for the organization
  • Develop operating financial and strategic projections and plans, as well as materials and presentations to articulate the organization’s direction
  • Set long-term fundraising strategy and establish near term plans to support it
  • Identify and cultivate individual and corporate funders; plan and create fundraising events; explore innovative ways of broadening and diversifying revenue streams
  • Work with City agencies to source public capital and program funds; identify state and federal funding and oversee the application process and compliance requirements
  • Serve as the public face and spokesperson for the organization. Work with staff and the Board to develop the overall communication/marketing/press strategy and serve as point person for any communications and outreach
  • Develop and maintain relationships with key figures in government, non-profits, community and civic organizations and other stakeholder groups
  • Provide team leadership and meet regularly with staff. Assess organizational team needs and staff performance; recruit and retain talented and passionate staff for programmatic, fundraising, communications and administrative needs; approve benefits and salaries; and conduct annual reviews.


  • Undergraduate degree required; master’s degree in public administration, urban planning, architecture, public policy, business, or not-for-profit management preferred
  • Background and passion for community-driven, place-based strategies for urban planning
  • Ability to develop, organize and balance multiple projects with complex funding streams
  • Demonstrated knowledge of urban design, urban planning, civic engagement, social equity, mobility and built environment issues
  • Personal qualities that include integrity, passion for the work of the Design Trust; respect for diversity; and the ability to inspire and motivate
  • Demonstrated record of accomplishment in supporting, leading and inspiring project or program-based teams
  • Experienced leader with at least 10 years senior management experience, with non-profit management experience preferred
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills

For more information about The Design Trust for Public Space, please visit their website at www.designtrust.org

All positions at the Design Trust are filled without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, HIV/AIDS status, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law.  Women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply.

122 East 42nd Street, Suite 3605, New York, NY 10168