For Job Seekers

Kartemquin operates with a core of administrative staff supporting a network of independent filmmakers and program alumni. We're a united community passionate about the way we produce social issue documentaries.

We are happy to meet talented new people who share our vision and can enhance our team. You may also want to learn more about how we work.

If you are an emerging filmmaker, the best way to join the Kartemquin community is through our internship program. If you are a filmmaker of color with more experience, please look at our Diverse Voices in Docs program. Program alumni are usually our first choice as future collaborators and employees.


Executive Director

Job Title: Executive Director
Reports to: Kartemquin Films Board of Directors
Location: Chicago, IL

Kartemquin Films is a collaborative community that empowers documentary makers who create stories that foster a more engaged and just society. With a noted tradition of producing award-winning documentaries, nurturing emerging talent, and acting as a leading voice for independent media, Kartemquin is building on over 50 years of sparking democracy through documentary.

Since 1966, Kartemquin’s films have served to champion voices that often go unheard, to engage citizens, provoke debate, and ignite social change and impact policy. They have received nearly every major critical and journalistic prize, including Emmy® and Peabody Awards, Academy Award® nominations, duPont-Columbia and Robert F. Kennedy journalism awards, Independent Spirit, IDA, PGA, and DGA awards. Kartemquin has produced a cannon of over 65 acclaimed films, including Hoop Dreams, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, All the Queen’s Horses, In the Family, and documentary classics such as 1968’s Inquiring Nuns and 1976’s The Chicago Maternity Center Story that are still relevant and shown in communities today. These films explore some of the most important areas of contemporary society: education, the environment, inequality, race, and gender. In 2018, Kartemquin premiered six new projects, with nearly 900 screenings of its catalog of films in 35 countries.

Kartemquin’s filmmaker development programs serve over 40 filmmakers annually and have mentored over 500 alumni. They include KTQ Labs, a monthly community screening that provides filmmakers constructive feedback on their work-in-progress films; Diverse Voices in Docs, which annually brings together emerging to mid-career filmmakers of color to develop their projects through workshops, one-on-one mentorship, and peer support; KTQ Internship, an acclaimed mentorship program that offers creative and business workshops to the next generation of documentary filmmakers; the Kartemquin Partner Program (KPP), which provides established filmmakers resources and support to further their films; and the newly established KTQ Granting program, which provides funding at critical stages in a film’s production. Collectively, the filmmaker development programs draw on collaborative networks of experienced filmmakers to provide artists with the support they need to tackle the critical challenges facing the documentary field today.

Kartemquin is an international resource and industry leader on issues of fair use, storytelling, and civic discourse, and is renowned for placing an emphasis on high ethical standards throughout its work. The organization is also committed to advocating for filmmaker sustainability and a sustainable ecosystem for the field with a focus on filmmakers and organizations based in the Midwest.

The next Executive Director will join a dynamic organization at a pivotal moment in its venerable history. Kartemquin recently expanded its suite of filmmaker programs, added new grant resources, and initiated a pilot artistic fellowship program. 2018 was a banner year for Kartemquin’s co-productions, with its films and television series receiving numerous awards and critical acclaim: America to Me (Steve James), Minding the Gap (Bing Liu), and ‘63 Boycott (Gordon Quinn) attained industry success, earned top spots on peer publications, and have received and/or are in contention for major awards.

The Executive Director will have the opportunity to leverage the success of its recent films, television series, programs, and historical legacy to set an ambitious strategic direction for the organization, raise its profile nationally, and further position Kartemquin as a nexus for the highest quality social impact filmmaking and advocacy.

The Executive Director will advance and uphold the mission, goals, and values of Kartemquin Films. Building on the strong foundation established by its founders and constituents throughout the last 53 years, the Executive Director will be responsible for oversight of the organization’s day-to-day operations and programming activities, in collaboration with its committed staff, Board, filmmakers, and stakeholders.

As the chief architect in an evolving organization, the Executive Director will lead the development and implementation of strategic plans to ensure Kartemquin’s capacity to thrive in accordance with its mission. One of the key responsibilities will be obtaining and sustaining financial resources for the organization. This individual will further develop and manage best operating policies and practices and will have a personable and inclusive leadership and management style that optimizes the staff and resources through example, delegation, and collaboration.

The Executive Director is part of an executive team that includes the Artistic Director. Together they share responsibility for the programmatic initiatives and collectively provide effective operational and artistic leadership for the organization. The Executive Director and Artistic Director report to the Board of Directors.

* Develop a comprehensive knowledge of Kartemquin’s history, culture, programs, and films and understand how they inform its operational model; preserve and promote the values from the past, while enhancing the culture as the organization moves into the future.

* Provide the strategic and operational leadership to envision Kartemquin’s next chapter, while maintaining its high standards of documentary filmmaking and overall relevance in the field.

* Establish a collaborative working relationship with the Artistic Director and develop a creative legacy and succession plan with a comprehensive process and timeline for implementation.

* Manage and supervise a staff of 14 employees by developing and implementing integrated operational plans and timelines for projects across departments. Foster a culture of collaboration, team building, and consensus, with methods to implement decision-making processes, clear communication channels, and the support of staff development opportunities.

* Work closely with the Board to ensure strategic objectives are in line with its mission; establish and maintain relationships with each Board member to harness their ideas, talents, and resources while continuing to evolve the organization’s governance.

* Create a viable and integrated financial strategy that ensures the organization’s finances are on budget and meeting revenue goals; lead the efforts to expand revenue opportunities and create the infrastructure to support such additional streams of funding; cultivate and steward donor relationships, both individual and organizational.

* Ensure the organization continues to meet its core mission by assessing and strengthening its signature programs; encourage growth of diverse and inclusive programming initiatives and develop useful evaluation methods to help gauge their impact.

* Oversee efforts to maintain productive filmmaker/associate relationships including negotiating co-production contracts if warranted; act in an Executive Producer capacity with co-productions that includes guidance in the creation of a film’s budget, giving feedback on cuts, helping negotiate legal contracts, supporting fundraising efforts, distribution, promotion, and marketing campaigns.

* Seek, engage, and leverage the ideas, talents, and spirit of both the Kartemquin and larger documentary community, both past and present, to support their ongoing involvement in the organization.

* Elevate Kartemquin’s brand and profile across all media platforms, increase its visibility, and raise awareness of its work with cohesive and compelling marketing materials and editorial content.

* Enthusiastically represent the organization while advocating for its work and values.

* Guide the organization to achieve best nonprofit practices of equity and inclusion.

* Senior-level leadership experience at a nonprofit organization with demonstrated success in managing people and finances is required. Experience with media, arts, culture, or social justice organizations is preferred.

* Proven skills in developing and implementing strategies and solutions, with a successful record of executing projects and expected outcomes within budget and time restraints.

* Exceptional ability to manage people, foster collaboration, and build enduring relationships with diverse constituents utilizing strong organizational and time-management skills. Be results-oriented with excellent follow through skills.

* Solid knowledge of, and experience with, foundation, corporate, individual, and sponsorship giving; have a verifiable fundraising record with the ability to cultivate, influence, and steward donor relationships for long-term engagement. Prior experience leading and developing a Board of Directors is preferred.

* Knowledge and understanding of the independent documentary field, including new and emerging technologies, distribution platforms, and trends around engagement and outreach; previous experience in visual storytelling/producing independent film is desirable.

* A dynamic leader with a high commitment to integrity, excellence, accountability, and transparency able to align, engage, and influence diverse constituents in a nuanced and complex environment.

* An inclusive and flexible management style and the ability to adapt when necessary to successfully accomplish strategic goals and initiatives.

* A practitioner of innovative problem-solving who takes the initiative, has the confidence, boldness, and resourcefulness to mitigate and resolve conflict but also demonstrates a capacity to learn and self-evaluate.

* A synthetic and analytical thinker with the breadth of experience and intellect who can make decisions with empathy, respect, and diplomacy, and is willing to work collaboratively in a small office environment.

* Have a passion for the mission, vision, and values of the organization, an appreciation for its programming, and an enthusiasm for Chicago’s vibrant filmmaking community and the vital role of documentary storytelling in a democratic world.

* A persuasive and passionate communicator with excellent interpersonal, written, and oral skills to represent the organization publicly.

A competitive salary and benefits package is offered, commensurate with experience and qualifications.

The deadline to apply is March 1, 2019. Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to The cover letter and resume should contain detailed information about work experience, past successes, leadership experience, and qualifications. Please be prepared to provide contact information for professional references upon request. Phone calls will not be accepted.

Kartemquin Films is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in Chicago, IL and is an equal-opportunity employer. Kartemquin proudly values diversity, equity, and inclusion in our external work and internal practices. The Search Committee seeks to develop a diverse candidate pool and welcomes nominations and applications from all qualified candidates regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, or national origin.

(Download this position description in PDF form)