Hurston/Wright Foundation

Executive Director

The Hurston/Wright Foundation seeks an experienced leader to direct a dynamic team of literary arts professionals and attract new resources to build high-quality programs for aspiring and established Black writers.


A mecca for Black writers and fans of Black literature since 1990, the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation helps writers produce high-quality literature, preserves the voices of Black writers, creates a supportive community for writers, and provides financial support to emerging writers. Through writing workshops, public readings, juried competitions, and an annual awards ceremony, H/W offers diligent instruction, careful critique, intensive writing, and opportunities to sharpen skills while in a community of Black writers.

In 1990, author Marita Golden and bibliophile Clyde McElvene created the foundation to nurture Black writers and diversify the literary arts. They began to build a community that provided training, mentorship, recognition, and financial resources. Since then, our mission and vision remain unchanged: we will support emerging and established Black writers, promote the cultural impact of Black literature, and expand our partnerships to increase our reach. We are excited to continue our dynamic legacy by expanding our highly regarded workshops, author readings, and annual ceremony honoring accomplished and up-and-coming writers.

H/W is approaching an exciting new chapter as we seek to further amplify the voices of Black writers. This fall, the board of directors will engage in a biennial strategic planning process to expand our vision, set new goals, and underscores our commitment to discovering, honoring, and mentoring Black writers. In 2020, we celebrated H/W’s 30th anniversary and 2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Legacy Awards, a signature event that honors the best in Black literature in the United States and abroad. 


POSITION SUMMARYThe incoming Executive Director will not only be passionate about literary arts, but also committed to advancing equitable and safe creative spaces for writers. The incoming Executive Director will bring an entrepreneurial approach to the business of running a nonprofit literary organization. They will balance the needs of internal and external stakeholders, create and support programming, and navigate a competitive funding landscape.

The Executive Director will report to a Board of Directors, comprised of business leaders and members of the literary arts community. They will oversee an operating budget of $400,000 and a team of employees and consultants, including a program manager, communications director, events and logistics manager, and a social media specialist. This position is fully remote, with the Executive Director working from their home office or location of their choosing.

The incoming Executive Director joins H/W at the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the organization’s history. They will be the first full-time Executive Director in a decade, taking over from an Interim Executive Director who oversaw a period of organizational growth and stability. The next Executive Director will play a significant role in expanding the H/W base of support and further grow its financial sustainability. They will be a creative and active fundraiser, amplifying the unique value we bring to the community, and bringing new vision to our potential. They will be the face of the organization and will be an eager and effective spokesperson for H/W, conveying enthusiasm for Black writers and literature to a broad range of publics.




The next Executive Director should bring a balanced approach as a visionary and operational executive. They should have the capacity for organized, focused work, and an ability to manage multiple projects under tight deadlines, while maintaining an openness to changing situations and opportunities. Specific areas of responsibility include:


Strategy, Management & Governance

  • Provide thought leadership for H/W by devising and implementing short- and long-range plans and strategic goals to meet the organization’s objectives and developing performance metrics, in collaboration with the board of directors, staff, and stakeholders.
  • Hire, manage, and develop staff and contract with consultants and vendors so that H/W has the skills and expertise to administer programs with a high degree of professionalism and creativity.
  • Manage finances in collaboration with the board’s Finance Committee, including budgeting and tracking expenses, clear financial reporting, accurate cash flow projections, and overseeing a contracted accountant who produces reports, tax filings, and external audits.
  • Collaborate with the board of directors to achieve good governance, including recruiting and onboarding new board members. Engage the board with donor solicitations and stewardship.


  • Lead fundraising strategy by developing annual and long-term plans to maintain and cultivate relationships with individuals, corporations, and institutional funders.
  • Cultivate contacts with prospective foundations and government agencies and raise new sources of revenue to further H/W’s goals. Identify new funding opportunities, pursue partnerships, write grants, and secure major gifts.
  • Manage communications with current donors and funding agencies and oversee grant writing and reporting functions.
  • Direct a messaging and marketing plan that integrates fundraising and programmatic goals.
  • Serve as chief spokesperson, representing H/W to a broad constituency of writers and readers, publishers, local and regional governmental and elected officials, staff, and commissions, funders, community groups, and the media.


  • In partnership with the program manager, oversee the development and delivery of all programming, including writer’s workshops, competitions, master classes, and the Legacy Awards.
  • Collaborate with the H/W community of writers, readers, staff, and board on long-term strategies for current and future programming to strengthen community and amplify Black writers.
  • Build and maintain a broad network among Black writers, publishers, and related creative professionals in the U.S. and abroad.


  • Passion for H/W’s mission to discover, mentor, and honor Black writers.
  • Seven (7) years progressive leadership experience in a nonprofit, public, or literary environment, or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience developing successful fundraising campaigns and events and identifying corporate and individual donors.
  • Superb writing, interpersonal, and communication skills.
  • Successful track record of engaging, collaborating, and building relationships to achieve meaningful results and serve future generations of writers and readers. 
  • Excellence in organizational management with the ability to develop high-performing teams, create a positive working environment, help the team set and achieve strategic objectives.
  • Nonprofit business acumen, including a working understanding of contract negotiations, IT and finance systems, and budgeting and financial management.
  • Experience working with a Board of Directors with the ability to cultivate existing board member relationships. 
  • Experience balancing strategic thinking and decision-making to facilitate program execution. 
  • Proven ability to build and maintain collaborative, working relationships with funders and diverse stakeholder groups. Self-directed and able to prioritize competing priorities.
  • Proficient in office technologies, including Microsoft Office Suite, and donor management platforms.
  • Able to travel 5% of the time. 



H/W is committed to access, equal opportunity, and reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities in employment, services, programs, and activities. This position requires sitting and/or standing for several hours at a time, repetitive motion activities including typing on a computer keyboard, frequent communication via telephone and/or digital communication tools, and travel throughout the DC region, with occasional national travel with overnight stays (5% of time). The Executive Director may occasionally be called upon to perform a variety of physical tasks, such as pushing, pulling, and lifting up to 20 pounds unassisted. Contact Kessa Thompson ( to request reasonable accommodations.


The starting salary for this role has been budgeted in the $80,000s, which is expected to increase over time and based on meeting performance and revenue objectives. H/W offers a monthly health insurance stipend and generous paid leave.


The H/W Board of Directors has retained the services of Good Insight to support this search.

Interested applicants should submit a resume and a cover letter that describes their interest in and qualifications for this role, emphasizing related leadership experiences they have had. Visit to upload application materials. Confidential inquiries about the role may be directed to Kessa Thompson at

For best consideration, apply by July 3, 2021. Qualified applicants will be contacted on a rolling basis. Early applications are encouraged due to the pace of the search.

H/W is an equal opportunity employer that values diversity. Candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. To learn more about H/W, please visit

Contact Information

Kessa Thompson, Talent Acquistion Specialist
Good Insights - Careers
810 7th Street NE
Contact Phone: 
(202) 248-5051