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The Masters School

Director of Advancement

Deerfield Associates Executive Search, Inc. has been retained by The Masters School located in Dobbs Ferry, New York to conduct a national search for a Director of Advancement.

The Masters School

The Masters School provides a challenging academic environment that encourages critical, creative and independent habits of thought and a lifelong passion for learning.  The Masters School promotes and celebrates academic achievement, artistic development, ethical action, athletic endeavor and personal growth.  The school maintains a diverse community that encourages students to participate actively in decisions affecting their lives and to develop an appreciation of their responsibilities to the larger world.

The Masters School ( is a premier coed day and boarding school that engages 5th – 12th grade students with a challenging academic program in a welcoming learning environment. Located on 96 picturesque acres overlooking the Hudson River, The Masters School community takes advantage of both its access to the tri-state area and its proximity to the rich cultural and educational magnet that is New York City. Students benefit from the resources, diversity and activities of Masters 7-day campus and accessible, talented faculty and staff. From our exceptional academics and outstanding visual and performing arts program to our championship athletic teams, the Masters learning experience prepares students for success in college, career and life. The current endowment of the School is $53 Million. The Annual Fund raised $2.3 million in 2018.  There are currently 5,200 solicitable alumni and 567 solicitable families.


The Masters School celebrates active participation, deep understanding, and meaningful connection. A community of diverse individuals, we gather to learn, to strive, to dare, to do – to be a power for good in the world.

Photography for Maters School Viewbook. Fall 07 photography.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Masters School strategic plan calls upon us to embrace deep and transformational learning, support excellence within our faculty, lead in innovative teaching, celebrate our diverse community, and guarantee our School’s financial future. To support the School’s ambitious vision, Masters will enter the beginning stages of a major comprehensive campaign in 2017. The campaign will focus on endowment support for faculty salaries and key programs, improving and re-imagining several buildings, and increased annual giving. We look forward to welcoming a new Director of Advancement as of July 1, 2018, to deliver the annual, capital and endowment resources in support of the strategic plan and mission.

Reporting to the Head of School, the Director of Advancement will be responsible for providing leadership, planning, and execution of The Masters School’s fundraising and engagement programs, and play an important front-line fundraising role. With oversight of the Director of Annual Giving and the Director of Alumnae/i and Parent Engagement, and several support staff, the Director will establish growth-oriented goals and implement strategic plans to ensure the successful achievement of both team-wide and individual goals.

The ideal candidate will be:

  • A strategic partner and trusted advisor to the Head of School, and a valued source of development expertise and perspective to the Board of Trustees;
  • A collaborative and team-oriented leader who is self-motivated, can take charge, build consensus and affect change; must impart credibility, trust, enthusiasm, integrity and ethics;
  • A confident and skilled manager; one who understands the subtleties of motivating and directing a staff with different work styles, and who values and models respect, openness and candor;
  • Decisive, resourceful and responsive, with the organizational sensitivity to gain the support and confidence of all facets of the campus community at all levels;
  • A hard worker with a high energy level; results oriented, adept at planning, prioritizing, organizing and following through; and
  • An individual who has engaged in the planning and execution of a capital campaign, and has demonstrated experience in closing gifts in the seven-figures or more.


Staff Management

  • Oversee the fundraising and engagement programs, managing a team of eight
  • Oversee and manage development communications, relative to this position’s responsibilities
  • Establish specific team and individual revenue goals
  • Formulate a system of metrics and strategy for measuring progress toward goals and evaluating overall performance
  • Coach and mentor colleagues to create effective strategies, achieve team and individual goals, engage alumnae/i and parents as donors and key volunteers, develop best practices, and strengthen the pipeline of future donors and volunteers

Prospect and Portfolio Management

  • Manage a targeted portfolio of prominent leadership & planned giving donors and prospects
  • Identify donor funding opportunities that match Masters’ institutional priorities and formulate tailored strategies to cultivate, solicit and steward donors and prospects
  • Accompany the Head of School and volunteers on donor visits and to alumnae/i and parent events
  • Write proposals for funding, prospect briefings and other key fundraising material
  • Engage, as appropriate, administrative colleagues and faculty to strengthen relationships between donors and the School in an effort to maximize donor potential
  • Prepare the Head of School and volunteers for donor visits
  • Conduct and oversee prospect research and stewardship
  • Prepare and steward foundation grant applications
  • Represent Masters through personal interactions and group functions with alumni, parents and friends of the School while promoting an institutional culture of philanthropy
  • Serve as staff liaison and principal organizer for the Development Committee, Committee on Trustees, and all campaign committees.

Peer Collaboration and Institutional Knowledge

  • Work collaboratively with the Directors of Alumnae/i and Parent Engagement and Director of Strategic Communications on programs and initiatives that enhance the alumnae/i and parent experience
  • Establish effective work relationships with School’s partners including faculty, athletics, college office, communications, admissions and technology
  • Gain knowledge of The Masters School academic and extracurricular programs, students, faculty, administration, volunteer leaders, alumni and other constituents to strengthen the School’s external outreach and activities
  • Serve on the Head of School’s Leadership Team and other committees as assigned.


Successful candidates will possess and demonstrate the following:

  • Minimally 8-10 years of increasingly responsible development experience that includes leadership and program building with alumnae/i and parents, and with proven success in annual and capital, and endowment fundraising
  • Demonstrated management experience and ability to lead staff, establish goals and manage performance
  • Desire to work in a collaborative, team-oriented environment, with a commitment to a healthy life/work balance
  • Experience with a comprehensive advancement program, with the keen understanding and demonstrated experience as a major gifts fundraiser
  • Knowledge of and/or experience with gift planning
  • Strong aptitude for metrics/performance goals and deliverables
  • Excellent writing, communication, persuasion and presentation skills
  • Understanding and appreciation for a seven-day, independent, boarding school culture, as well as for the School’s mission
  • Strong organizational skills and high level of self and team accountability
  • Strong mentorship ability
  • Capacity and willingness to travel globally
  • Skill with Blackbaud products, Microsoft Office and presentation software

Laura Danforth – Head of School

Head of School Laura Danforth believes that every member of the Masters community aims high – not simply in terms of achievement, although that matters greatly, of course. In her own words: “We aim for the limits of our reach, as individuals and as a community.”

In addition to ensuring academic excellence, Danforth strongly believes that fostering a sense of belonging is essential for student growth and development, and describes the job of an educator as “not simply to educate students about the world, but to help them belong to the world.”

Also ingrained in the Masters experience is the concept “do it with thy might,” and as Danforth puts it, every member of the School’s community embraces this challenge by working, learning, playing and collaborating – with their might.

Danforth joined The Masters School in July 2015. Since arriving at Masters, Danforth has made Advancement a top priority. She has led the effort to produce the school’s first campus master plan and launched Masters’ most ambitious capital campaign, which is now in its quiet phase. During this period, Danforth has been instrumental in soliciting and securing a significant portion of lead gifts toward the campaign’s goal. Also in the past three years, participation in and leadership giving to the Annual Fund have grown across constituencies.

Before joining Masters, Danforth served as Principal of the Upper School at Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale, NY. Prior to that position, she served for 10 years as Associate Head of School at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, CT.

Danforth has served in a variety of administrative roles in her 33-year career in independent schools, including as Dean of Faculty at Suffield Academy, Dean of Students at Ethel Walker School, and Director of Counseling at St. Paul’s School.

Maureen Fonseca Center for Athletics and Arts

The new Maureen Fonseca Center for Athletic and Arts (Fonseca Center) is a dynamic addition to The Masters School and plays a vital role in advancing the school’s mission into the 21st century. The Fonseca Center is like no other building on The Masters School campus and helps create a vibrant gathering place for day and boarding students, faculty, staff and families.

The Center is designed to reflect and elevate the school’s Harkness table teaching methodology that encourages diverse opinions and shared experiences. This innovative complex provides new and expanded athletic and arts facilities, a café and other important spaces and services – all designed to develop well-rounded students who have enthusiasm and appreciation for academics, the arts and athletics.

Highlights of the 75,000 square-foot building include: state-of-the-art fencing facility, six-lane competition swimming pool, four squash courts, fitness center, running track and a gymnasium with a regulation basketball court, two practice courts and two volleyball courts. From an arts perspective, the new facility will feature two dance studios, a large art gallery, music rehearsal and performance space, an experimental black box theater and media arts lab as well as a video and photography studio. The Fonseca Center is a “green” building, achieving a Gold LEED certification with rooftop solar panels and an energy efficient heating and cooling system.

Images of The Masters School

The Masters School’s Benefits

The Masters School offers a competitive salary, easy access to New York City by car or train, a collegial work environment, and an extraordinary campus.

This position announcement is intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by employees assigned to this job title and the education and skills required. This is not intended to be a complete list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills that are required or may be required in the future.

The Masters School actively seeks to forward diversity through its students, faculty and programs.

The Masters School is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Contact Information

To explore this superb career opportunity on a highly confidential basis please send a letter of interest and a resume (both as Microsoft Word documents) to:

Doug Cooney, Executive Search Consultant, Deerfield Associates Executive Search, Inc.
572 Washington Street, Suite 15, Wellesley, MA 02482
Telephone: 781.237.2800

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