Executive Director
Kartemquin Films
Job Information:


Kartemquin Films supports independent filmmakers and aspiring change agents in developing documentary content that conveys compelling stories of our shared humanity and advances the communal understandings needed for a more just society.

Founded 55 years ago as a group of working filmmakers concentrated in the Midwest, Kartemquin has evolved amidst a rapidly changing media landscape to provide resources and support to those that have a story to tell. As an organization, we recognize the barriers that exist within and beyond the world of film that have historically limited who is able to tell their story and shape narratives in media—and we are committed to supplying the capital, resources, and networks necessary to shift that paradigm.

 Kartemquin Film’s repertoire includes documentaries that have redefined the social issues they explore, and the medium itself. Acclaimed films have garnered Emmy, Peabody, and Independent Spirit Awards and include Unapologetic, Cooked: Survival by Zip CodeThe InterruptersThe HomestretchFinding Yingying and the Oscar-nominated Hoop DreamsMinding the Gap, Edith and Eddie, and Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. In addition to our feature-length documentary work, Kartemquin has done several documentary series including The New Americans (PBS – Independent Lens), Hard Earned (Al Jazeera) and America to Me (Starz).

We hope to build upon our past successes through elevating a diverse set of voices and continuing to convey stories with unflinching honesty.  A pioneer of the vérité form and longstanding tradition of community-based storytelling, Kartemquin values the crucial role of authentic, truthful, artistic nonfiction film in a healthy democracy.

We are uniquely situated as an organization that offers programs for early-career filmmakers and serves as an active co-producer and distribution strategist of films, as well as an archival custodian of completed works. This dual model provides an opportunity to bridge from program support to tangible opportunities for career and artistic growth and allows us to be a trusted-long term home for filmmakers’ works.

This is a moment of change at Kartemquin. We are grateful for the leadership of Gordon Quinn, our founder, who will be transitioning from his Artistic Director role into a senior advisor role once we have a new Executive Director. As we look forward, we are committed to building a workplace that is agile, inclusive, and poised for success in the ever-changing field of media. Our new leadership model is designed around co-management between the operational and artistic heads of our business and emphasizes collaborative discourse and decision-making.

We are committed to addressing structural barriers, internally and in the field at large, that have limited the feasibility of a career in documentary filmmaking for many. Through a suite of programs that include extensive mentorship, funding, and skill-building opportunities, we hope to help emerging filmmakers and creators who have been traditionally excluded to share their messages, gain visibility and kickstart their futures more widely in film.  Documentary media remains a powerful tool to spark dialogue and people turn to film for education on complex issues.  Kartemquin is committed to empowering the next generation of storytellers with authentic ties to their subjects and communities.


The Executive Director is integral to our newly envisioned shared leadership structure in which Kartemquin will be led by two people, each of whom is highly respected by their field.  She/he/they will run the nonprofit business that includes fundraising, filmmaker development programs, finance, and marketing/communications. The Artistic Director will oversee the Co-productions, including production and post-production departments and the finances as they relate to the film projects. Both the Executive Director and the Artistic Director will report to The Board of Directors.

As an external face of the organization, the Executive Director will develop relationships with funders, donors, the nonprofit community in Chicago and the Midwest, as well as with other partners and friends whose support and guidance help to make Kartemquin special. The Executive Director will oversee nine positions, including four direct reports, and will be responsible for an annual budget of $2.0 million. Additionally, the Executive Director will lead the work that is needed to scale the organization over time to fulfill its mission.

In recent months, Kartemquin has engaged in a significant level of reflection and conversation, resulting in new guiding values. We are poised to welcome a nonprofit professional who will provide the leadership and strategic direction to operationalize these transformative ideas into a multi-year strategic plan and supporting annual plans, and to do so with a spirit of optimism, camaraderie, and inclusiveness, prioritizing people over projects and working with transparency and accountability.


Leadership and Strategy

  • Serve as a spokesperson for and representative of the organization
  • Play a key role in the success of the new co-leadership management structure
  • Participate with the Board in the search for a new Artistic Director
  • Participate in the creation of a new 5-year strategic plan that aligns with our Guiding Values and Vision Statements
  • Facilitate the creation of and empower the team to implement the annual operating plans for the departments of development, filmmaker programs, finance, and marketing/communications
  • Help to determine how the Board of Directors will be engaged and supported moving forward


  • Create an inspiring, inclusive work environment that prioritizes integrity and equity across race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability
  • Help to create working relationships that allow staff, volunteers, and stakeholders of all backgrounds to thrive
  • Be a collaborative leader to the staff and support their career development and growth

Fundraising and Communications

  • Prioritize fundraising and time spent building relationships that generate revenue for the organization
  • Seek and develop opportunities for growth via partnerships, strategic alliances, and initiatives of interest to funders/donors and that are aligned with the strategic plan
  • With others, raise the visibility of Kartemquin in the community

Financial and Operational Oversight

  • Prioritize organizational fiscal accountability and responsibility
  • With the Director of Finance, manage an annual operating budget of $2 million+
  • Develop a plan to scale the organization over time


Our Executive Director will be a proficient nonprofit leader and manager with a minimum of 10 years’ work experience and knowledge of the Chicago philanthropic landscape. Previous experience as an Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director, or Director of Development would be an excellent match depending on the individual. She/he/they will have strengths in the areas of fundraising, finance, and management with sightlines on program and marketing/communications.  A college degree or equivalent experience preferred.

Additional experience, skills and attributes of sought-after candidates include:

  • Ability to bring diverse groups of people together and make space for everyone through active listening
  • Proven ability to raise $1.5 million+ annually from a diverse base of donors and funders for a small organization
  • Actively anti-racist, committed to workplace inclusivity, and a social change advocate
  • Relationships with the arts community in Chicago and nationally
  • Experience working with a Board of Directors
  • Sharp with finances and experience scaling a nonprofit organization
  • Outgoing, collaborative, and relationship builder
  • Organized, action-oriented, and solutions focused
  • Creative and comfortable innovating, and willing to take calculated risks
  • Inner core confidence and strong convictions
  • Outstanding verbal communication, public speaking, and interpersonal skills
  • Positive, hopeful, and determined
  • Passion for the Kartemquin mission

Kartemquin offers a competitive salary (approximately $120,000) and comprehensive benefits package to include medical, dental, and vision, life insurance, and long-term disability insurance.  We also offer professional development opportunities, an employer-matched retirement plan, 10 paid vacation days, 10 paid sick days, 3 paid personal days and 8 paid holidays (additionally, the office is closed from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day).


To participate in our confidential search process, please send your application (to include both a cover letter and resume) directly for consideration to our recruiting partner Margie DeVine at KTQ.DEVINE@gmail.com. Further inquiries or questions?  Call Margie directly.

Kartemquin Educational Films is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We strongly encourage and seek applications from women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, immigrant, bilingual, and bicultural individuals, as well as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Kartemquin does not discriminate based on disability in admission or access to, or employment in, its programs and activities.

The Kartemquin offices are located at 1901 West Wellington, Chicago, IL 60657.   We are working a hybrid schedule, both remote and in office as needed.