Employment Opportunities | Mechanics' Institute

You are here

Employment Opportunities

Photograph of the staircase at the Mechanics' Institute building

About the Mechanics’ Institute

The Mechanics’ Institute was founded in 1854 and is one of San Francisco’s enduring literary and cultural institutions. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as a place where “tradition and progress meet”, the Mechanics’ Institute is a fantastic place to work and has nearly 5,000 members, serving individuals and families throughout the Bay Area, offering a magnificent library, the oldest chess club in the United States, and a full calendar of excellent events.


Executive Director


The Mechanics' Institute seeks a visionary Executive Director to lead and manage this historic and thriving cultural institution.

Founded in 1854, and with more than 4,500 members, the Mechanics’ Institute offers a vibrant general-interest library, the oldest continuously operating chess club in the United States, and an evolving program of literary and cultural events. The Institute has also formed and continues to seek a variety of partnerships with other San Francisco and Bay Area cultural institutions. In 2017, the Mechanics’ Institute was named "Best of the Bay" by the San Francisco Chronicle, which reported that "the institute stands as a beacon of what a cultural institution can be for all citizens."

Located in downtown San Francisco in a landmark building, the Institute provides a gathering place, haven, forum, and workspace for its members, guests, and building tenants. The Institute funds its operations from building rents, annual membership dues, donations, and income from its healthy endowment fund.

With a recent grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and an increase in generous donations from its growing membership, as well as bustling member activity and cultural events, the Mechanics’ plays a leadership role in the cultural landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Institute’s Board seeks a dynamic Executive Director who will strengthen and expand this extraordinary San Francisco treasure as a center for education and cultural engagement.


The Position:

  • Provides leadership and strategic direction to fulfill and enhance the Institute's mission and vision;
  • Shapes strategies and leads efforts to develop diversified foundation, individual, public, and corporate funding sources, including matching a significant grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and leading capital campaigns;
  • Serves as an articulate, passionate, and persuasive spokesperson for the Institute to members, funders, the public, government and private agencies, and the media;
  • Oversees directors of library, chess, accounting, development and membership, events, IT, and operations, with seven direct reports from a total staff of 28;
  • Cultivates and models a positive, effective workplace that emphasizes financial stability, excellence, and staff and board development, and that welcomes ideas and innovation;
  • Creates and monitors the annual capital and operating budgets in consultation with the Board and staff;
  • Works actively with Director of Operations in managing the building's 30,000 sq. ft. of retail and office space;
  • Reports directly to and communicates regularly with the Board of Trustees, which meets six times a year;
  • Presides at biannual members’ meetings and responds to member concerns, questions, and suggestions throughout the year.


The Ideal Candidate:

  • Is an experienced leader who gets along well with other people and is a team player, willing to pitch in at any level;
  • Has a demonstrated passion for cultural/literary institutions;
  • Communicates well and is comfortable speaking in public;
  • Can demonstrate substantial successes in fundraising and garnering corporate and foundation support; is comfortable in soliciting donations from a wide range of funding sources;
  • Demonstrates a strong grasp of leveraging social media and other tools to communicate, manage, and drive membership, engagement, and support;
  • Has substantial nonprofit experience; understands and respects the function of a board of trustees.


Compensation and Benefits:

  • This is an exempt position
  • Salary is commensurate with experience
  • Benefits include generous health-dental-vision insurance, paid vacation, holidays and a 403b pension plan
  • Membership to the Mechanics’ Institute


To Apply:

  • Send cover letter, resume and completed application form to jobs@milibrary.org and include "Executive Director" in the subject line; application form can be found here.
  • Include salary requirement (a range is fine)
  • Position will remain open until filled
  • No phone calls please; all applications, resumes and letters of interest must be submitted electronically