Executive Director, The Connecticut Forum

Job Locations US-CT-Hartford
Posted Date 3 weeks ago(9/12/2023 12:14 PM)
Job ID
# of Openings
Arts, Culture, and Humanities
Executive Search
Location : Name
The Connecticut Forum



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Executive Director


Are you a thoughtful, experienced non-profit leader interested in promoting open-minded civil dialogue?

The Connecticut Forum seeks dynamic and accomplished leaders to be considered for the position of Executive Director.




The Connecticut Forum (The CT Forum) is a dynamic, one-of-a-kind nonprofit organization serving Connecticut and beyond with live, unscripted panel discussions highlighting renowned experts, thought leaders, and personalities since 1992. The CT Forum has presented topics ranging from politics to food, technology to music, global affairs to social justice featuring panelists like Michelle Obama, Yo-Yo Ma, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Ronan Farrow, Malcolm Gladwell, Justice Stephen Breyer, David Chang, Toni Morrison, Seth Meyers, Patti Smith, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Anita Hill, Fareed Zakaria, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Karl Rove, John Legend, Martina Navratilova, David McCullough and SO many more!


The next Executive Director of The CT Forum will have the unique opportunity to lead and be part of a provocative organization full of potential and energy. The Executive Director will grow and advance programs that inspire community and individual participation, attract corporate and foundation partnerships, and build strong board and volunteer support. The Executive Director will foster an organization that provides thoughtful and entertaining programs, dynamic forum discussions, and unique opportunities to learn and experience open dialogue with high-profile speakers. The Executive Director will engage the community and be committed to promoting the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Executive Director will cultivate an organization that promotes open, honest, civil dialogue - the free and active exchange of ideas that allows us to question our assumptions, consider new points of view, entertain our souls and connect with each other.




The CT Forum is a nationally recognized, one-of-a-kind nonprofit organization serving Connecticut and beyond. Co-founded in 1992 by Doris and Richard Sugarman, The CT Forum’s mission is to encourage the free and active exchange of ideas in forums that inform, challenge, entertain, inspire, and build bridges among all people and organizations in our community.


The CT Forum fulfills its mission by presenting large scale, high profile, issue-focused in-person panel discussions and events among renowned experts and celebrities, and through outreach programs serving youth and the community. In addition to its core programming, The CT Forum shares its expertise with the community by providing leadership, resources, and consultation services to community organizations, nonprofits, corporations, schools, and others. The 2023-2024 season has been announced and will feature: An Evening with Ken Burns in Conversation with Audie Cornish; Liz Cheney & Ezra Klein: On Defending Democracy and a Path Forward; Being Human in an Age of AI: Debating Advances and Ethics Featuring Kate Crawford; and Chefs! Top Chefs Dish on Food, Flavor and Culture Featuring Marcus Samuelsson.


The CT Forum is led by an effective Board of Directors of 25 and staff of seven, and with an annual operating budget of approximately $1.4M. The CT Forum has a current strategic plan, working succession plan, clean annual audits, a formal Board DE&I Work Group, and a history of successful partnerships and programs. During this leadership transition, The CT Forum has retained the support of an interim executive and formed a Transition Work Group led by the current and incoming Chairs.  


The CT Forum engages a wide range of people and organizations as sponsors, donors, subscribers, and volunteers in support of its programming and initiatives. The CT Forum enjoys a strong brand presence and positive reputation from its 30-year history of presenting unique and powerful programming that connects the community and adds to the cultural and economic vitality of Connecticut’s capital city.


For more information about The Connecticut Forum, please visit www.ctforum.org.




The Executive Director provides leadership and direction in successfully establishing and implementing organizational goals and objectives and maintaining excellence in advancing The CT Forum’s mission. Working with The CT Forum Board of Directors, staff, and others, the Executive Director is responsible for fulfilling the organization’s mission and vision, managing the budget, financial reporting, staff development, and overall organization health. Key organizational priorities for the Executive Director include:

  • Strategy and Vision: Continue to advance a sustainable model that engages large and diverse audiences and attracts highly popular speakers. Explore strategies to migrate programs to the next generation, create experiences that people talk about, hone measurements for impact and direction, create operational efficiencies, and build upon the vision of the founders.
  • Finances and Funding: Assess the current revenue model and funding sources, including corporate and grant funding; explore and realize alternate funding models, broadened geographic support, and cost efficiencies. Build upon current funding streams, think creatively on how to secure more funders/donors, and engage organizations to work collaboratively with the CT Forum on new initiatives and funding. Achieve financial sustainability through expansion of supporters, new programs and fee for service offerings.
  • Audience Growth and Community Engagement: Expand community access to CT Forum content. Increase community outreach to target broader audience participation and reach untapped audiences. With the board and staff, define community and audience, develop more community partnerships, and identify new and different ways to reach audiences. Develop and manage external relationships to connect to the community, corporations and CT Forum attendees.


The Executive Director will provide leadership, management, and oversight for the executive team and staff, serve as a key figure for community relationship building, be central to the annual fundraising, budgeting, and financial reporting processes, report to an active and engaged Board of Directors, and lead an executive team comprised of the Producer and Creative Director and the Director of Philanthropy and Corporate Giving. 


Strategic Plan Implementation

Provide overall leadership and management in accomplishing strategic mission-based goals, maximizing opportunities, and ensuring the organization has the appropriate resources to be successful. Implement the current 2023-2025 strategic plan priorities and initiatives aligned around funding, audience, programming, marketing, and staff development.  Provide leadership and direction in successfully establishing organizational goals and objectives and maintaining excellence in service to The CT Forum’s mission.


Resource Development & Financial Management

Develop and implement a fund development plan aligned with The CT Forum’s strategic and operational plans. Set strategy and tactics for fund development. Develop revenue streams, including Forum Event Consulting services and activities, grants, major gifts, and endowment. Create new opportunities for fund development and advancement; drive new initiatives and cultivate clients. Review and manage CT Forum program and grant budgets, financial reporting, and cash flow management. Work with accountants and auditors for sound financial records and reports.


Fundraising, & Donor Relationships

Play an active and direct role in fundraising. Establish sponsor and subscriber communication strategies, maintain commitments and contacts.Oversee and support staff progress in securing funding from corporate sponsors, foundations, and individual donors, season subscribers, and ticket purchasers. Bring on new funders, make new important connections, and activate known networks.


Audience Expansion

Develop and manage external relationships with The CT Forum community and attendees. Be an authentic and active presence in the community, meeting with people to help engage and unite the Hartford Community. Represent The CT Forum and its interests as lead organizational spokesperson in the community, at community high profile events, promoting The CT Forum’s brand and reputation. Oversee outreach and engagement of high school students in Forum events and activities. Build and grow the audience through community engagement, marketing, branding, social media, programming, and technology. Oversee the design, promotion, and presentation of high-profile mission-based forums.


Organizational Management & Leadership

Supervise event planning and logistics for all CT Forum produced events. Hire and evaluate staff, oversee payroll, employee benefits, personnel issues, and reporting requirements. Establish policies, procedures, and practices to encourage staff retention, stability, and performance. Continue to develop an inclusive work environment that supports effective decision-making and collaboration. Utilize and implement technologies to streamline operations and increase social media presence and audience engagement. Serve as the key liaison with The CT Forum Board of Directors, work groups, Advisory Board, and others as determined. Oversee all contracts and agreements, including those with The Bushnell Performing Arts Center, speakers, consultants, insurance coverage, office leasing, equipment agreements, special events, program activities, etc.


Ideal candidates will meet most if not all of the following qualifications, experience and/or skills:

  • Leadership: Creative and visionary leadership with demonstrated experience in fundraising, budgeting, organizational management, and programming. Experience working with nonprofit organizations and a board of directors is helpful.
  • Passion for the Mission. Deep interest in civil dialogue and an understanding of current events and culture. A finger on the pulse of what’s on people’s minds, what people are reading about, worrying about, talking about, and laughing about is critical to successfully carrying out the mission of The CT Forum.
  • Financial Management: A working understanding of the non-profit financial model and the nuances of the associated economics as related to CT Forum productions, events and audiences. An understanding of financial reporting, analytics and associated business management tools and models.
  • Fundraising: Demonstrated comfort and success with new and traditional fundraising approaches. Ability to identify and connect with diverse constituents to build and maintain networks, bring on new funders, and make new and relevant connections. Able to secure funding and build an audience in different market segments.
  • Communication: Strong communication skills, both verbal and written, at multiple levels and with a variety of audiences; comfort and interest in being an active and visible face of The CT Forum.
  • Community Building and Engagement: Experience with grassroots initiatives --locally or in an analogous region-- working with people from different backgrounds; diversity, equity and inclusion training, a plus. An expressed interest in community engagement.
  • Audience Development: Experience with the media and/or events landscape, entertainment partnerships and collaborations, and/or cultural and arts education. Familiarity with producing content and an audience experience.



Interested candidates can submit materials at the top right link on this page.


This search is in partnership with TSNE and Search Consultant Jodi Dowling (jdowling@tsne.org). All submissions receive acknowledgment and are confidential within the search committee and TSNE. Electronic submissions sent through the above link are preferred.


Candidates should include a resume or profile summary that showcases their skills and experiences, as well as a cover letter describing their interest and how their qualifications and experience match the needs and mission of The CT Forum. While candidates are encouraged to apply by October 31, 2023, the position will remain open and applications accepted until the right candidate is identified.


The Executive Director position is full time and based in Hartford, Connecticut with hybrid work-from-home days. The CT Forum offers a comprehensive benefits package. Salary is competitive with relevant experience, within the framework of the organization’s annual operating budget, and in the approximate range of $115,000-135,000. 


The Connecticut Forum is an Equal Opportunity Employer and provides opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, The Connecticut Forum complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment.


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