Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) seeks an Executive Director

CUP is Hiring our next Executive Director

The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is looking for our next Executive Director, to guide the organization into a new chapter in its story. This is a rare and exciting opportunity for a leader to work with our highly skilled and committed staff and our deeply engaged board to build on CUP’s legacy of using design to support meaningful, community-led change.

About CUP
The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is a nonprofit organization that uses the power of design and art to increase meaningful civic engagement in partnership with marginalized communities.

CUP’s work addresses the needs of communities organizing for social change around complex public policies and decision-making processes that impact their lives, from affordable housing to labor rights. By collaborating directly with communities to create accessible and visual explanations on issues important to them, CUP provides individuals with the tools to claim their rights, advocate for their needs, and fight for social justice.

In 2021, our work reached over 60,000 people in New York City and beyond. Building on 20 years of deep collaboration with NYC based organizations, our work has expanded to the national scale, as in our collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Center for Court Innovation on graphic novels for child victims and witnesses of crime. We have recently expanded and deepened our training programs on community-engaged design practices with a racial justice and equity lens, focusing on designers with the support of the Ford Foundation, and launching a training academy for local government workers across the country, with support from the Luce Foundation. Our work has been nationally recognized with a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Institutional Achievement and the Curry Stone Design Prize, and has been featured in publications and exhibits around the world, most recently at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver’s exhibit Citizenship: A Practice of Society.

CUP’s programs continue to deepen and expand their impact. We are completing a 5-year strategic plan to guide the organization’s growth and development in a sustainable and equitable way over the next five years. The new Executive Director will play a critical role in implementing that plan and continuing to build the strong foundation for CUP’s future growth.

CUP is also a great place to work and grow! We have an amazing staff and board, made up of fun, creative, and hardworking people committed to racial justice and equity and to the power of design in effecting change. Find out more about our work and our values at:

The Executive Director Role

CUP is seeking a forward-thinking, values-driven Executive Director to lead and manage the organization, shepherd its mission, and provide ongoing vision in line with the organization’s core values.

The Executive Director reports to CUP’s Board of Directors; runs the organization with the support of the leadership team, made up of the Director of Operations & Development and the Director of Programs; and oversees a budget of $1.5M and a team of 12 members. This is a full-time position, located at our office in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

The ideal candidate for this position would be someone with a deep understanding of community-engaged design practices, nonprofit management, and collaborative leadership; a desire to work in a collaborative setting with a broad range of partners; a belief in the power of design to effect change; an ability to articulate CUP’s story and impact verbally and in writing to increase its reach and its financial sustainability; and a demonstrated commitment to racial justice and equity.

This is an exciting moment in CUP’s story. The next leader will build on the past 20 years of impact, and shape how CUP’s work will respond to community needs and priorities in the coming years.


The Executive Director’s responsibilities include:


  • Provide strategic vision for CUP’s work and next phase of impact by drawing on the recently completed strategic plan and translating it into executable goals and ensure that daily decision-making is led by shared strategy and values
  • Periodically develop new, values-aligned strategic plan through collaborative process with staff, board, and other stakeholders
  • Provide support needed for staff to understand and translate strategic vision and priorities into their daily work and successfully execute on the plan
  • Ensure that all programs, projects, and other activities align with CUP’s values and meet the standards of quality our partners expect from us
  • Support the conception, design, execution, and evaluation of new programs, and the revision or sunsetting of programs that no longer meet the organization’s goals
  • Actively engage board in mission and critical decision-making for the organization, drawing on their knowledge and experience strategically as thought partners who actively contribute to CUP’s development


  • Strengthen existing and cultivate new relationships with institutional funders (foundations, government, and corporate) and CUP’s devoted individual donors, in line with our strategic priorities and values
  • Continue to build on CUP’s strategy of diversifying funding sources to ensure organizational stability, including further developing CUP’s growing fee-for-service income stream
  • Provide strategic vision and guidance to development and program staff in fundraising efforts
  • Create and manage the organizational budget in a way that is consistent with organizational values and priorities, and program commitments


  • Steward and expand on CUP’s meaningful relationships and reputation of trust with our key stakeholder communities, including community organizing and advocacy groups, designers and teaching artists, high schools, elected officials, and others
  • Increase awareness of CUP and our partners’ mission, work, and impacts, in order to deepen those impacts and to ensure our services are widely known and our materials are accessed and widely used; Be a visible voice for CUP’s mission and provide space and a model for staff and board members to do the same
  • Identify and pursue strategic opportunities for financially sustainable work that expands and deepens the impact of CUP’s mission
  • Engage and inspire CUP’s staff, board, and devoted network of supporters around our mission to increase the organization’s impact by ensuring it is sustainably resourced and staffed
  • Strategically guide CUP’s branding, messaging, and communications efforts to increase awareness of our work, engage collaborators and project partners, and increase financial support; Ensure that CUP’s communications are consistent with our organizational values;
  • Contribute to thought leadership in the fields CUP participates in, such as community-engaged design, participatory democracy, and civic engagement; share lessons learned from CUP’s work on the ground to support continued advancement and critical dialogue in those fields.


  • Lead our committed team by providing direction and vision, and clearly articulating the relationship between our values and vision and our day-to-day decision-making, and ensuring all staff have clear roles and responsibilities
  • Support continued professional development of all staff individually and the team as a whole; ensure clarity in pathways for staff promotion and leadership development
  • Lead with active communication, collaborative and transparent decision-making, and genuine relationship building
  • Continue to build a team of individuals with relevant skills, training, and lived experience and providing training and support so they can excel in their roles and build a rewarding career at CUP and beyond
  • Provide direct supervision to Director of Programs and Director of Operations & Development
  • Partner with board to recruit and train new members in line with CUP’s values and strategic needs; support board with ongoing development and training in alignment with organizational priorities and values


  • Lead the assessment and development of organizational infrastructure and systems in a way that manages risk, supports the organization’s emerging needs, and plans for its future ones, including technology, physical plant, HR policies, internal controls, financial management, board development, legal compliance, and other areas as needed
  • Ensure that organizational structures, policies, and procedures are consistent with our values and are continually evolving to reflect our commitment to and ever-deepening understanding of racial justice and equity
  • Support program evaluation and continual learning and improvement to ensure that CUP’s programs and processes meet partner needs, continue to evolve, and are aligned with our values

Who should apply?

Requirements for this position are listed below.

We recognize that a successful candidate will meet many of the requirements listed on this job description, but may not meet all of the qualifications. If much of this job description describes you, we encourage you to apply.


Content area expertise

CUP’s work takes place at the intersection of public policy, community organizing, and design. The Executive Director must be able to show proficiency in and build credibility with partners and staff in:

  • Design and visual culture — Demonstrate strong visual literacy and knowledge of the fields of design and/or visual art, whether through formal training and/or work experience in a design or visual arts field
  • Community-engaged design practice — Experience successfully leading community-engaged design, human-centered design, or other participatory design processes from an anti-oppressive perspective and centering directly impacted communities
  • Public policy — Demonstrated understanding of American urban policy and planning issues, through a racial justice lens, and demonstrated ability to read, understand, and interpret public policy
  • Lived experience related to the topics we work on and/or cultural competency to participate in and facilitate conversations on challenging issues related to power, oppression, and racial justice

Alignment with CUP’s values

  • Strong belief in the right of marginalized communities to build power and a political voice, and in the power of design to support community-led change
  • Demonstrated commitment to racial justice and ability to apply an anti-oppressive lens to CUP’s policies, processes, programs, budgets, and communications. The ideal candidate can be reflective in their own growth around racial justice, and is eager to participate in ongoing efforts to create more just and anti-oppressive practices.
  • Ability to be flexible and open to learning and growing as the organization does

Organizational leadership experience

  • A minimum of 7 years of increasingly complex work experience in a relevant field, including leading an organization, department, or other unit of multiple staff members (relevant fields may include public policy, government, communications design, service design, arts/culture/curatorial management, urban planning, as well as others)
  • Demonstrated ability to raise revenue from diverse sources including foundations, government entities, fee-for-service work, and individual donors; Experience successfully creating, raising, and overseeing annual budget of at least $1M
  • Track record with program design, oversight, financial reporting and evaluation with a focus on supporting continual improvement and learning, and overseeing multiple projects simultaneously
  • Previous experience collaboratively developing and executing strategic plans, including engaging board, staff, and external partners around priorities and supporting their implementation

People, culture & collaboration

  • A track record building, training, and empowering strong, highly collaborative teams & culture where vision and values drive decision-making
  • Ability to build transparent and trusting relationships with broad range of stakeholders, including staff, as well as external partners including grassroots community organizations, designers, educational partners, funders, and government entities


  • Ability to craft compelling, clear narratives that engage partners, collaborators, and other stakeholders in the mission and vision
  • Strong communication skills, including the ability write in a clear and accessible way for multiple audiences
  • Track record as a compelling public speaker who is able to engage a wide range of audiences

Culture, Salary & Benefits

CUP is committed to fostering equity and racial justice in the work we produce, the way we produce it, and the way we function as an organization. We seek to be an organization where people with different abilities and from different racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic backgrounds can thrive together, and where our practices create opportunities, not barriers, to achieving greater social justice.

In support of our commitment to achieving these goals, CUP strives to be a healthy, positive, and sustainable place to work. To that end, we provide free health insurance benefits, professional development opportunities, and a reasonable work schedule that allows our staff to have a healthy life both inside and outside of work. We are also committed to working together as a staff to better understand issues of race, equity, and justice and to continue to further our own education on how we engage with and address those issues as individuals and as an organization. We support all staff members in pursuing continuous professional development, and use our annual review process to identify individual goals for each year.

This is a full-time, salaried position. The salary range for the position is $95,000 to $115,000, commensurate with skills and experience. Our benefits program also includes comprehensive, free health insurance; affordable dental coverage; financial security with long term disability insurance; a 401(k) plan to help prepare for retirement; paid personal and sick leave; leadership and managerial coaching support; and a professional development stipend.

CUP is a 12-person organization with an annual budget of $1.5 million, and poised to continue growing. Our office is based in Gowanus, Brooklyn, but we work with community partners all over New York City and travel throughout the five boroughs regularly. This position may also entail occasional travel outside of New York City in the future. Work hours are flexible, but generally around 10 am to 6 pm. Our work requires occasional evening and weekend events, such as launch events, workshops, presentations, and fundraisers. Staff members work in the office a minimum of 3 days per week, with flexible hours, and can work remotely the rest of the time.

All employees who work onsite are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and must provide proof of vaccination before entering the office. “Fully vaccinated” means at least two weeks have passed after receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or a single dose of a one-dose vaccine. Vaccines must be approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. CUP will maintain the confidentiality of information about employee vaccinations. For job applicants, requests for reasonable accommodation may be submitted after receiving a conditional offer of employment, and will be considered on an individualized basis.

Timeline & Selection Process

Applications will be accepted until the Submittable application portal closes at noon Eastern time on Thursday,, June 23rdApplications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so we encourage applicants to submit their materials early.

A hiring committee made up of CUP staff and board members will review all complete applications and schedule interviews in late June/early July.

Finalists may be asked to complete a short assignment, and will be compensated for their time.

Applicants will be notified by August, at the latest, with an expected start date in late August or September.

How To Apply

If you’re interested in the position, you can apply online via Submittable, on this page.

To apply, you will need to create an account on Submittable, fill in your contact information, and upload the following materials:

  • A cover letter, in which you address why you are interested in this position, how your experience qualifies you for it, and why you would like to work at CUP
  • A current resume
  • A short writing sample (3 pages maximum), preferably that demonstrates your ability to write about a topic that is relevant to CUP’s work
  • A list of 3 references, including name, how you know them, and their contact information. (No need to provide letters. We will not contact these references until later stages in the review process and will let you know before we do so.)

Please note that we will NOT review applications that do not provide all requested materials.

No phone calls, please.

CUP is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to fair and inclusive employment practices, and strongly encourage Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color; women; LGBTQ individuals; people with disabilities; people who have experienced incarceration; and others who may contribute to the diversification of ideas to apply.