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Organizational Overview

The Museum of Us (formerly the San Diego Museum of Man) is located on the unceded ancestral homelands of the Kumeyaay Nation in what is now known as Balboa Park. Our mission is inspiring human connections by exploring the human experience—in all of its beauty and its messiness. With our community’s guidance, we’ve transformed an old-school anthropology museum with a legacy of colonial and racist harm into a human-centered museum that builds understanding, empathy, and belonging, and—in turn—the capacity to effectuate positive change. We’re a place for everyone, but especially for those who haven’t been able to tell their own stories in mainstream museums. We’re also a place for the new and future generations of museum-goers, who will continue to expect more from their cultural institutions. The driving force behind our work is developing better and better practices in what a decolonial and anti-racist museum can look like and then creating a ripple effect in the museum field (and beyond). Four interrelated themes loom large for us: Identity, Home, Wellness, and Justice. Every one of our projects/initiatives begins with an examination of whether (and, if so, how) the work is oriented around and informed by our decolonial and anti-racist commitments.

Position Summary

The Museum of Us strives to intentionally incorporate a decolonial ethos into everything it does. For this reason, the (Associate – Senior) Director of Decolonizing Initiatives (DI Director) is an interdepartmental position that supports every aspect of the Museum’s work. The DI Director is a highly collaborative and trusted advisor who provides wise-counsel to our entire leadership team. The DI Director also provides support to each and every team/team member at the Museum, as needed, relative to our decolonial work, including serving as a valued thought-partner with our CEO. This support goes both ways in that the leadership team, including our CEO, recognizes the heavy emotional labor required from the DI Director and the need to make a wide variety of community care resources available to them.

From a practical perspective, the DI Director is the primary team member responsible for implementing our Decolonizing Initiatives Strategic Action Plan, which serves as the foundation for our decolonial work and operationalizes our decolonizing initiatives. In doing so, the DI Director partners with a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders. These include, but are not limited to, the Indigenous and other BIPOC communities with whom we closely work, our community-centered consultants, our colleagues (both in Balboa Park and throughout the museum field), and our board of trustees. The DI Director also focuses on extensive trust/relationship-building with Indigenous and other BIPOC communities as well as our engagement with a wide variety of external stakeholders who want to learn more about our decolonial work. Consistent with our decolonial values, the DI Director is an active participant in helping us define how the role itself can best serve our museum, our community and our field (including the best allocation of their time) in intentional and purpose-driven ways.

The DI Director is a full-time, salaried position that sits on the leadership team. The position reports to our Executive Director. They do not supervise any other team members. There is a meaningful line item in the annual budget that supports the DI Director’s work, giving them flexibility to allocate monies as they deem appropriate in partnership with other members of the leadership team. The DI Director has extensive lived and/or professional experience with Indigenous communities and works in a highly collaborative/supportive manner. Due to the nature of the role, the DI Director works on-site three days per week, on average. Depending on experience/readiness, the role may be at the level of Associate DI Director, DI Director, or Senior DI Director, allowing more emerging professionals room for growth over time. We hope to make an offer to the right candidate by late August 2023, with an anticipated start date of early October 2023, if possible.

Key Responsibilities

  • Internally-focused work (approximately 50% time)
    • Implement Decolonizing Initiatives Strategic Action Plan, including recalibrating, tracking, measuring, evaluating, and reporting to the leadership team/staff/board. (Among other key accountability projects, this includes the development and implementation of a Decolonizing Initiatives Fellowship for Indigenous museum professionals.)
    • Serve as a trusted advisor and multi-faceted support to leadership team members, including the: (1) Senior Director of Cultural Resources, (2) Senior Director of Exhibits & Operations, (3) Senior Director of Development & External Communications, and (4) Executive Director.
    • Serve as a thought-partner to the CEO (and, at times, our Board of Trustees) relative to internal and external aspects of our decolonial work.
    • Support the work of each team/team member at the Museum relative to our decolonial initiatives from inception to fruition. This includes listening to, sharing resources with, providing mentoring and/or coaching when appropriate, team-building, and de-briefing across the organization.
  • Externally-focused work (approximately 50% time)
    • Visitor/field-focused work (approximately 25% time)
      • Co-create and implement vision for engagement with a wide variety of external stakeholders who want to learn more about our decolonial work.
      • Lead and otherwise support public tours related to our decolonial work.
      • Present at museum and museum-related conferences as a means of sharing our decolonial and community-centered work with others.
    • Community-focused work (approximately 25% time)
      • Trust/relationship-building with Indigenous communities, including, but not limited to, the Kumeyaay and Payómkawichum (Luiseno) Nations.
      • Attend Kumeyaay and Payómkawichum (Luiseno) representative organization meetings and serve as a key point of contact with Kumeyaay and Payómkawichum (Luiseno) partners.
      • Support other Indigenous consultation processes at the Museum, as needed.
      • In partnership with our Indigenous and other BIPOC partners, continually co-develop, share, and help implement ideas for how we can develop better and better practices in what a decolonial and anti-racist museum can look like.

Lived/Professional Experience, Skill Sets, & Strengths

  • Lived and/or professional experience with:
    • Indigenous communities; and
    • Supporting others in navigating the harmful traumas of the colonial past/present.
  • Demonstrated commitment to our DI orienting principles, including:
    • Truth-telling/accountability about the harm the Museum has caused to Indigenous peoples;
    • Repatriation/transfer of ownership back to Indigenous communities;
    • Policy/systems reform within the Museum to reflect our decolonial values;
    • BIPOC inclusion/representation at all levels of the Museum; and
    • Reciprocity in support of our Indigenous partners.
  • Proven track record of:
    • Building long-term, community-centered relationships rooted in trust, transparency and support;
    • Productively working in highly collaborative ways with a diverse group of internal and external stakeholders;
    • Highly productive communication skills, including an ability to “call people in,” rather than “out” as they continue down the path of their anti-racist and decolonial journeys; and
    • Values-consistent policies/procedures development and implementation.
  • Deep understanding of:
    • Decolonial and anti-racist work within museums, nonprofits, and other related contexts.
    • Diversity, equity, access, inclusion (DEAI), and equitable/just practices within museums and/or other non-profits.
    • Self-care and community-care practices, particularly when working with anti-racist and decolonial projects that are inherently tied to structural oppression.
  • Well-developed emotional intelligence, including the ability to:
    • Hold space for messiness;
    • Anticipate the needs of others; and
    • Build bridges.
  • High adaptability quotient, including the ability to:
    • Identify and focus on a north star;
    • Constantly read ever-shifting landscapes; and
    • Pivot, when circumstances require.
  • Minimum of five years working with decolonial and/or anti-racist initiatives involving community outreach, organizing, coalition-building, relationship-building, and/or related social justice positions within museums, non-profit or other applicable contexts.

Salary & Benefits

  • Full-time salary range of $70,000 – $90,000 per year (depending on experience, readiness, and title).
  • Ongoing professional development opportunities, including but not limited to attendance at conferences, to be identified in partnership with the DI Director, depending on the needs that they identify as most important for their self-care and growth.
  • Rooted in a focus on equitability and sustainability, we offer an exceptional employee benefits package, including:
    • Medical/dental/vision/life insurance and disability benefits;
    • 14 paid holidays, with the ability to substitute employee-designated holidays for museum-designated holidays;
    • Vacation (10-20 days/year, depending on seniority) and sick leave (10 days/year);
    • Three days paid Community-Centered leave to support and build community however define it;
    • Matching retirement contribution plan, up to 6% of your annual salary;
    • $200 in “Museum Bucks” for you to support your work-life balance;
    • Birthday and anniversary gift cards;
    • Hybrid work from home arrangements, when feasible; and
    • A human-centered and highly supportive environment, which encourages team members to bring their whole selves to work.
  • The Museum will reimburse reasonable moving expenses in the event of relocation to the San Diego County area.

Application Process

To apply for the Decolonizing Initiatives Director position, please email your resume and a one-page letter specifically addressing why your lived/professional experience, skill sets and strengths are a good fit with the position responsibilities, along with why you are passionate about this opportunity, our work, and the Museum of Us, to Please use the subject title “Decolonizing Initiatives Director Position.”

Applications for this position will be accepted until 12:00 a.m., midnight PDT, on Friday, July 28, 2023.

The Museum of Us recognizes that it sits on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Kumeyaay Nation. The Museum extends its respect and gratitude to the Kumeyaay peoples who have lived here for millennia.

The Museum is open Wednesday-Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1350 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

Affiliations & Memberships:San Diego Museum Council logoCharity Navigator Four Star Charity logoBalboa Park Cultural Partnership Collaborative for Arts, Science and Culture logoAmerican Alliance of Museums logoSmithsonian Affiliate logoInternational Coalition of Sites of Conscience logo
Financial support provided by:San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture logo
Museum of Us California Tower logo