Executive Director

Only Make Believe

New York, New York

Organization Description

Only Make Believe creates and performs interactive theatre for children in 60 hospitals and care facilities throughout the New York City and Washington, D.C. metro areas.

  • Dedicated to the principle that freeing a child’s imagination is a valuable part of the healing process
  • Bring joy and inspiration to as many chronically ill children as possible
  • Company of 28 actors with a repertoire of 13 original, kid-focused shows, including specially written songs
  • Three OMB actors travel to a site to perform with the children for a six-week series of shows – each child can put on a costume, take on a role, and ultimately become the star of the show!
  • We serve over 5,000 children each year at no cost to the family or facility

Organization:           Only Make Believe (OMB), a 501 c3 not-for-profit organization

Founded:                  1999

Founder:                   Dena Hammerstein

Budget:                      $1.2 Million

Offices:                      121 West 27th Street, Suite 1002, New York, NY  10001

716 Monroe Street, NE, Studio #1, Washington, DC 20017

Website:                    http://www.onlymakebelieve.org

ED Reports to:          Board of Directors

# of Employees:       8 Full-Time Employees (including ED)

28 Actors (Part-time, freelance)

Position:                    Full-Time; Salaried with Benefits


The Executive Director (ED) has overall strategic and operation responsibility for Only Make Believe (OMB) staff, programs, expansion, and implementation of its mission. S/He possesses a deep knowledge of the organization’s core programs, operations, financials, and revenue sources allowing for the execution of responsibilities, with a focus on development and fundraising activities. The ED works closely and collaboratively with the Board of Directors and staff to achieve the development and creative goals of the organization. He or she is approachable and charismatic, with the ability to forge and strengthen relationships. Serving as the public face of OMB, the ED represents the mission and values with passion to the organization’s constituencies including hospital and care facility representatives, press, volunteers, and most importantly, current and prospective donors.


Management and Administrative

  • Oversee all administrative and creative aspects of the organization
  • Provide organizational leadership through a clear vision and strategic direction
  • Deliver consistent, irreproachable financial management, 100% compliance, and accurate reporting
  • Provide leadership and direction to the staff and volunteers
    • Establish/maintain a culture that motivates and inspires
    • Take responsibility for recruitment and retention
    • Promote employee development with a formalized orientation, ongoing training, and yearly performance evaluations
    • Propagate an environment of creativity and joy
  • Communicate effectively and maintain efficient systems
  • Ensure the organization is resourcefully managed to fulfill the unique mission of the organization
  • Provide creative stewardship to ensure ongoing program excellence
  • Serve as liaison and advisor to the board and support its efforts; attend and present at quarterly meetings
  • Catalogue and monitor all official documents and records, ensure compliance with federal, state, and local regulations
  • Propose annual budget and assume accountability for finances, ensuring the organization operates within budget guidelines
  • Build connections with members of the not-for-profit community; stay abreast of the not-for-profit industry to keep OMB at the forefront

Development Responsibilities

  • Develop and execute annual fundraising strategy
  • Build awareness and recognition of OMB through a concerted marketing communications effort
  • Lead the development and maintenance of long-term relationships with donors and prospects
    • Corporate executives/management including conversion of volunteer companies
    • High-net worth individuals
    • Foundation executive management
    • And, the board of directors
  • Spearhead all fundraising activities; meet/exceed fundraising goals
  • Supervise and supplement outreach to small and medium individual donors
  • Maintain detailed contact sheets and progress reports accessible to board member review at his/her request
  • Support board members in their fundraising efforts and ensure appropriate follow up to reinforce donor commitment
  • Source available grants and manage application process
  • Oversee all fundraising events and campaigns



The ED will be thoroughly committed to and passionate about Only Make Believe’s mission. All candidates should have proven experience in cross-functional management, relationship building, and development/fundraising.

Concrete demonstrable experience and qualifications include:

  • Bachelor’s degree, ideally in business management with a focus on not-for-profit (or equivalent practical experience)
  • 5+ years of senior management experience with a track record of effectively leading an organization
  • Excellence in organizational management with the ability to oversee a multifunctional environment, while performing individual duties
  • Ability to develop, lead, and motivate an established multifunctional team
  • Past experience setting and achieving strategic objectives and managing an organization’s finances/budget
  • History working with a board of directors and demonstrated record of cultivating existing board members’ relationships
  • Proven networking and relationship building abilities that have resulted in increased revenue
  • Demonstrated marketing, public relations, and fundraising experience with the ability to embrace and connect with a wide range of stakeholders and cultures
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills; a persuasive and passionate communicator with excellent interpersonal and multidisciplinary project skills
  • Action-oriented transformational leader: entrepreneurial, adaptable, and innovative
  • Ability to work effectively in collaboration with diverse groups of people
  • A demonstrated ability to manage a high degree of consensus building that results in strong decision making
  • Key attributes and traits:
    • Passionate, creative, well-organized, highly intelligent, educated, worldly, humorous, and reflective
    • Authenticity, integrity, kindness, caring, and compassion

Additional desired qualifications include:

  • 10+ years of senior management experience with a track record of effectively leading an organization
  • Advance degree, an MBA or similar, with a focus on not-for-profit or performing arts management
  • Experience in the performing arts or children’s health or education
  • Fluent Spanish

Position requires:

  • Occasional early mornings, late nights, long days and weekends
  • Ability to step into any of the organization’s roles, as needed, to support and ensure the job gets done
  • Minor packing, pulling, and lifting in preparation for shows and events
  • Mostly local travel to performance sites from Manhattan to other boroughs/tri-state area, meetings and event venues, some trips to D.C.
  • Flexibility to respond positively and productively to new and atypical situations, even under pressure, stress, and deadlines
  • How to Apply:

Please email resume and cover letter with salary requirements to:


Only Make Believe (OMB) provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) 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, OMB complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.

OMB expressly prohibits any form of workplace harassment based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, or veteran status. Improper interference with the ability of OMB’s employees to perform their job duties may result in discipline up to and including discharge.

Executive Director Job Description