President & CEO

Original Logo forever balboa park


Balboa Park is the crown jewel of San Diego. A National Historic Landmark since 1977, the park spans 1,200 acres, with more than 60 miles of trails, 20 gardens, and home to 29 major arts and culture organizations. The park also hosts an array of multicultural events throughout the year, attracting more than 4 million visitors annually. In 2021, two prominent Balboa Park nonprofit organizations, Friends of Balboa Park and the Balboa Park Conservancy merged to form Forever Balboa Park. Building on the legacy and foundation of its predecessors, Forever Balboa Park works in partnership with the City of San Diego and other organizations to ensure the sustainability and accessibility of Balboa Park, through fundraising, facilities and infrastructure improvements, a visitor center, volunteer programs and public engagement across the park. Through the collaborative efforts of staff, community partners, and more than 340 volunteers, Forever Balboa Park is making significant progress toward fulfilling its vision of ensuring that Balboa Park is a sustainable, world-class destination, where all who visit are welcomed, inspired, engaged, and enriched. For more information, please visit:


Forever Balboa Park is led by a 23-member Board of Trustees comprised of a diverse array of dedicated community leaders committed to enhancing and stewarding this incredible cultural and environmental asset. The President & CEO will join a team of 38 exceptionally talented staff, 16 full-time and 22 part-time, working collaboratively to achieve organizational success. Forever Balboa Park’s culture is based on a shared commitment to and passion for preserving and enhancing the Park for all generations and the diverse communities of the region. It is important that the next leader embodies the organization’s core values of inclusivity and equity, stewardship, service, sustainability, opportunity, and synergy.


  • Salary – $200,000 – $240,000 DOE
  • Medical, dental, and vision Insurance
  • Long-term disability and life insurance
  • 403(b) retirement plan with a 5% employer match. Eligible after 180 days.
  • 3 hours of paid sick leave shall be accrued per pay period
  • 5 paid holidays
  • 15 vacation days


This is a hybrid role. Forever Balboa Park is based in the House of Hospitality, a historic building within Balboa Park, located at 1549 El Prado, Suite 1, San Diego, CA 92101.


Reporting to the Board of Trustees and supervising the senior leadership team (VP of Facilities & Operations, VP of Finance, VP of Institutional Advancement, and VP of Planning) the President & CEO will be responsible for the organization’s operations, growth, and sustainability. Managing a $7M operating budget, the President & CEO will work collaboratively with the board and staff to set the strategic direction of Forever Balboa Park, aligning its mission and goals with its resources and opportunities. The CEO will serve as an active fundraiser, supporting the diversification of revenue to enhance and sustain the current and future needs of the organization. They will continue to build effective, cross-sector, collaborative partnerships throughout the community, and through these partnerships, become a trusted, and well-respected spokesperson and advocate not only for the organization, but for Balboa Park and its incredible array of arts and culture institutions, community partners, and beneficiaries alike.

Priorities for the first 12 months include:

  • Develop a deep understanding and appreciation for the organization’s history and impact. Take time to meet the team, volunteers, and our civic and community partners.
  • Lead our fundraising efforts to successfully complete the Botanical Building capital campaign.
  • Complete the House of Hospitality and Carousel lease negotiations with the City of San Diego, and all tenant subleases.
  • Continue executing our new 3-year strategic plan.
  • Lead board recruitment and development efforts.


Leadership and Organizational Management

  • Oversee annual planning, budgeting, and review processes that engage bold new ideas.
  • Unify the community around a shared vision for the park through active listening and authentic communication that builds trust, collegiality, and strong working relationships among all stakeholders.
  • Support board recruitment efforts to further diversify the knowledge, skills, and experience of board members, with a focus on philanthropy, parks, public engagement, educational programming, environmental conservation and sustainability, and capital campaign experience.
  • Collaborate with key park partners to identify, prioritize, and deliver high-impact park projects and programs.
  • Develop and achieve goals for conservation and sustainability with the City of San Diego, and in collaboration with county, regional, and state urban park systems.
  • Manage and mentor team members while reinforcing a positive, inclusive, and equitable workplace culture that flourishes with a diversity of voices and experiences.
  • Lead talent management efforts to hire and retain staff, volunteers, and board members, implementing strategies and benchmarks to increase diversity and inclusion.
  • Leverage the talents and services of the Board of Trustees in support of the Forever Balboa Park mission.
  • Establish a successful public-private partnership for land use, facilities, infrastructure, and buildings, including the role that the CEO plays as landlord and operator of a city-owned building (House of (Hospitality) and the owner and operator of the Carousel; both represent earned revenue potential and significant operational and capital improvement expenses.


  • Develop a comprehensive fundraising program for capital projects, operational funds, and an endowment that will strengthen the park financially for the next century.
  • Expand and diversify revenue streams, including capital campaigns, individual giving, corporate giving, grants, government funding, and foundation giving.
  • Successfully complete our current capital campaign and expand funding from individuals, corporations, and foundations to sustain ongoing development efforts.
  • Model innovative fundraising practices that make Forever Balboa Park a national leader in securing funds for public parks.

Community Engagement

  • Advocate for the preservation and improvement of the park and its cultural, historical, and natural resources.
  • Build and enhance long-term relationships with elected officials and public agencies to enhance and support our current and future initiatives.
  • Create a sense of belonging and inclusion within the organization, among park partners, and park constituents that contribute to making the park experience welcoming, accessible, and rewarding for people of all abilities, languages, and cultures.
  • Lead efforts to build public programs and community engagement strategies that support youth development and leadership.
  • Participate in training and applied research with partner organizations to understand and overcome historical, financial, and physical barriers to park access and use.
  • Raise the organization’s profile, both locally and nationally, by attracting new and more diverse park audiences and elevating the visitor experience the Park can deliver.
  • Improve brand awareness by harnessing social media, garnering local and national press coverage, and presenting at conferences symposia, and trainings.
  • Serve as a regional thought leader on conservation, public-private partnerships, and community engagement.


  • Committed to ensuring public spaces are accessible to all communities and brings a strong passion for the value of urban parks, such as Balboa Park.
  • A visionary, strategic, and inspirational leader with the ability to think creatively in developing and articulating a vision for the future of Balboa Park.
  • Demonstrated senior leadership and management experience, including strategy development, board engagement, change management, team collaboration, talent development, and problem-solving.
  • Business acumen – formidable skills in budgeting, reporting, and operations; gives attention to both short-term and long-term objectives.
  • Track record of success in fundraising, stewarding, and diversifying funding sources such as individual giving, corporate and foundation giving, events, grants, contracts, and other partnerships.
  • Political acumen – prior experience leading advocacy work and building partnerships with a wide range of constituents, including elected officials, government, and community leaders.
  • A natural relationship builder with excellent verbal and written communication skills, including strong organizational, detail, and interpersonal skills; ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with the board, employees, volunteers, and the public.
  • An inspirational storyteller with the ability to motivate, mobilize, and inspire.


Sarah Thompson, Senior Director, Blair Search Partners
1855 1st Ave., Suite 300, San Diego, CA 92101