Position Overview

Sterling Search Inc. has been exclusively retained to recruit for the new Director of Grants & Foundation Relations for American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.). A.C.T. is San Francisco’s Tony Award–winning premiere theater company with an annual operating budget of $20 million and an audience of over 250,000 each year.

“American Conservatory Theater is not just a place where you come to see plays. It’s a place where you come to talk about plays, where you come to meet artists, where you come to learn about the making of art.  It’s a place that opens your heart and your mind, and can actually teach you something about the world.  It’s a place in which you are transformed.”

(Carey Perloff, Artistic Director)

A.C.T. nurtures the art of live theater through dynamic productions, intensive actor training in its Conservatory, and an ongoing engagement with its community. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Carey Perloff and Executive Director Peter Pastreich, A.C.T. embraces its responsibility to conserve, renew, and reinvent the rich theatrical traditions that are our collective legacy, while exploring new artistic forms and new communities. A commitment to the highest standards informs every aspect of A.C.T.’s creative work.

Founded by William Ball, a pioneer of the regional theater movement, A.C.T. opened its first San Francisco season in 1967. We have since performed more than 350 productions to a combined audience of more than seven million people.

A.C.T.’s 50-year-old Conservatory is at the center of our work. Our three-year, fully accredited Master of Fine Arts Program is at the forefront of America’s actor training programs. Meanwhile, our intensive Summer Training Congress attracts students from around the world, and the San Francisco Semester offers a unique study-abroad opportunity for undergraduates. Other programs include the world-famous Young Conservatory for students ages 8 to 19; Studio A.C.T., our expansive course of theater study for adults; and the Professional Development Training Program, which offers actor training for companies seeking to elevate their employees’ business performance skills. Our alumni often grace our mainstage and perform around the Bay Area, as well as onstages and screens across the country. Danny Glover, Annette Bening, Denzel Washington, Benjamin Bratt, Brie Larson, Darren Criss, Nicolas Cage, Winona Ryder, and Anika Noni Rose are among the Conservatory’s distinguished former students.

A.C.T. also brings the benefits of theater-based arts education to more than 17,000 Bay Area students and educators each year. Central to our Education & Community Programs is the longstanding Student Matinee (SMAT) program, which has brought hundreds of thousands of young people to A.C.T. performances since 1968. We also provide touring Will on Wheels Shakespeare productions, teaching artist residencies serving low-income youth, in-school workshops, and study materials to Bay Area schools and community-based organizations.

With our increased presence in the Central Market neighborhood marked by the renovation of The Strand Theater and the opening of The Costume Shop Theater, A.C.T. plays a leadership role in securing the future of theater for San Francisco and the nation.

A.C.T.’s 2017–18 season is filled with big, bold, highly theatrical work that unites modern classics with the most vigorous contemporary artists, beginning with the return of Shakespeare to The Geary with Hamlet and culminating with A Walk on the Moon, a world-premiere musical based on the hit movie.

Position Description

Reporting to the Director of Development, the Director of Grants & Foundation Relations is a key leader within A.C.T.’s Development Department and is responsible for raising funds from foundation and government sources for A.C.T.’s institutional priorities. Working with high-profile volunteers, senior staff, and colleagues across A.C.T., its Conservatory, and the Education & Community Programs, the Director of Grants and Foundation Relations is a frequent collaborator with other A.C.T. departments in his/her main responsibilities for securing and increasing institutional support to meet A.C.T.’s annual fundraising goals. The Director of Grants and Foundation Relations plays a key role in growing A.C.T.’s programmatic and operating support through identifying, establishing, and maintaining strategic foundation and government relationships; maintaining a pipeline of foundation and government portfolio prospects; and managing stewardship reports for grants. The successful candidate is responsible for conducting the full range of activities required to research, prepare, submit, and track grant proposals to foundations and government funders with the objective of achieving and exceeding annual financial goals. Working with the Director of Corporate Partnerships, the Director of Grants and Foundation Relations also assists with securing funding from corporate foundations. Strong grant writing, organizational, multi-tasking, and communication skills are essential.  Experience with the nonprofit arts preferred.


  • Develop and maintain a comprehensive schedule of grant inquiries, proposals, and reports.
  • Prepare all inquiries and grant proposals to foundations and government funders for general operating and program support and engage in pro-active follow-up.
  • Meet all reporting and other grant requirements.
  • Provide thoughtful, consistent, and appropriate stewardship, including impact reports and other measures of accountability.
  • Oversee the work of an outside grant writing vendor.
  • With the assistance of the Manager of Research and Prospect Management, research and identify prospective foundation funders.
  • Build strong relationships with current and potential funders and cultivate relationships with prospects that lead to invitations to apply for funding.
  • Work closely with Director of Corporate Partnerships to coordinate efforts with shared corporate foundation relationships.
  • In coordination with other Development staff, extend invitations to foundation and government representatives to appropriate A.C.T. performances and events.
  • Schedule meetings with foundation officers for A.C.T. leadership and trustees. Prepare staff and trustees for these meetings and participate as appropriate.
  • Arrange for site visits for foundation and government funders and prospects.
  • Guide acknowledgment letter process for grants and ensure delivery of recognition and other benefits to funders as required, paying particular attention to credits in performance programs and other public and event materials.
  • Maintain awareness of foundation and government funding trends, assessment tools, and industry changes and share with colleagues.
  • Maintain an in-depth knowledge of A.C.T.’s priorities and programs and inspire the respect and confidence of the organization’s leadership.
  • Manage Development Assistant in the collection of grant back-up materials and the tracking of all activity and contacts in database in an accurate and timely manner.



  • Bachelor’s degree.
  • Outstanding writing and presentation skills.
  • A strong understanding of institutional fundraising and knowledge of the key regional and government funders.
  • Excellent organizational, time-management, and prioritization skills.
  • Team player who also has the capability to work independently and as a self-starter.
  • Ability to plan and manage strategically yet has sufficient focus on details to assure effective implementation and follow through.
  • Genuine interest in—and knowledge of—the arts and education and an ability to articulate their importance.
  • Experience interfacing with foundation and government staff.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint).
  • Availability and willingness to work occasional evenings and weekends at A.C.T. performances and events.
  • A bachelor’s degree and a minimum of four years’ experience in grant writing, preferably with an arts and/or educational organization.
  • Basic database knowledge; Tessitura, a plus.



  • Passion for A.C.T.’s artistic, training, educational, and community engagement mission.
  • Personable, positive, and diplomatic individual with integrity and a sense of humor, who works effectively with all levels of internal and external constituents.
  • A sense of urgency and a commitment to excellence.
  • A solid team player who also has the ability to work independently when necessary.
  • A strategic thinker with the ability to solve problems creatively.
  • Availability and willingness to work occasional evenings and weekends at A.C.T.   performances and events.

A competitive compensation package will be offered to an outstanding candidate.

American Conservatory Theater is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Any resumes sent or telephone calls made to American Conservatory Theater will be redirected to Sterling Search, Inc.

Nicole Seipel at 310-774-0099 or email us at


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