Coleman Lew Canny Bowen

Chief Advancement Officer

Discovery Place, Inc.

Founded in 1946 and headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Discovery Place, Inc. brings science, nature, and design together to create transformative experiences that enable the community to understand, enjoy, and apply science to their lives. Through a network of four hands-on museums in three cities with international exhibits, multimedia experiences, educational programs, IMAX and Hollywood films, community outreach programs, and a broad diversity of educational experiences for all ages, Discovery Place, Inc. is a leader in STEM education and one of the top science museums in the US.

Discovery Place, Inc. serves over 750,000 people a year, shaping a future where people embrace science to create opportunities, build hope, solve problems, and bring positive change to our world. The near-term future for Discovery Place, Inc. includes major capital projects for new nature and children’s museums, major international exhibitions, and innovative audience experiences exclusively for adults. Significant priorities also include educational initiatives supported by donors that serve at-risk youth, provide extraordinary lab programs, and bring blockbuster exhibitions to Charlotte.

For more information, please visit Discovery Place.

This position will report directly to the President and Chief Executive Officer and join a team of highly talented senior leaders. S/he will lead the 10-person advancement and membership teams and work closely with marketing, events, and educational content partners.

The Chief Advancement Officer (CAO) is responsible for planning and executing financial resource development programs for Discovery Place, Inc. (DPI), which includes the management of the comprehensive development campaign, membership and annual giving programs, donor events, and major/capital gifts and campaigns. The Chief Advancement Officer will be responsible for creating a climate of engagement for Discovery Place, Inc. with its external constituencies that will encourage private philanthropy, corporate partnerships, and government relationships in support of Discovery Place, Inc. and its strategic priorities and operations. This includes the planning, organization, coordination, and implementation of membership, fundraising/sponsorship programs, capital campaigns, government relations, and annual/major/planned giving programs designed to attract support from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government officials/agencies to meet priority needs of Discovery Place, Inc. Annually, Discovery Place raises more than $6 million plus any capital campaign gifts.

The Chief Advancement Officer crafts a vision for and delivers on strategies to raise philanthropic support from major and annual donors and works with the CEO, Board of Trustees, and other volunteers on prospect identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship. This individual works directly with donors and prospective donors, directs the advancement and membership teams, and collaborates with other leaders throughout the organization to secure resources. The CAO also works closely with senior leadership to shape funding and strategic priorities for the organization.

Specific duties will include, but not necessarily be limited to:

  • With the CEO, craft and deliver on fund development plan/strategies for growth of current revenue and support, multi-year commitments, and capital gifts/campaigns; monitor and measure progress and results and initiate appropriate modifications.
  • Collaborate with leadership, including staff, Trustees, and CEO, to advance philanthropy for the organization; partner with division heads to ensure goals and objectives are achieved; work with the finance department to prepare and update annual operating budgets and gift income projections; work with the marketing department to ensure timely and informative communication with donors as well as brand alignment.
  • Lead advancement and membership teams; refine structure and priorities of team, as needed, to advance the mission of DPI; foster an environment for attracting and retaining quality staff.
  • Lead all capital and special campaign activities, serving along with the CEO as a primary liaison with major donors.
  • Reimagine and develop new funding audiences and work in partnership with colleagues throughout the organization to create and enhance strategies to attract new donors to Discovery Place, Inc.
  • Lead the cultivation and stewardship of prospective donors referred by the President and CEO and Board of Trustees, volunteers, and existing donors, as well as leverage their networks; manage an active prospect list of approximately 50 major donors ($25,000+).
  • Ensure effective administration of gifts, communication with donors, and other fund information, and ensure a strong system is in place for maintaining up-to-date and accurate records of contacts with donors and prospects, recognizing donors through new and existing programs.
  • Provide a high level of customer support and represent DPI in matters related to donors and members.
  • Maintain fluency in trends in philanthropy and actively participate in professional fundraising associations and industry; employ appropriate best practices at DPI.


  • Minimum 10 years of experience in development/fundraising with at least five years as senior leader with revenue goals of over $5 million that includes planned giving and alternative means of giving.
  • Balanced experience in the philanthropy areas of individual, foundation, and corporate giving for annual and capital campaigns; knowledge and experience in government relations, planned giving, and membership are preferred.
  • Capital campaign experience essential, preferably with campaigns of over $20 million; major donor cultivation and solicitation experience required.
  • Ability to work cooperatively and confidently with CEO, Board of Trustees, select colleagues, and donors.
  • Proven ability to work as a collaborator with diverse groups of people; excellence in managing and developing teams.
  • Superior communication and written and verbal skills, including public speaking experience; excellent interpersonal and customer service skills.
  • Initiative-taking, action-oriented self-starter with strong organizational skills, especially with planning and coordination; time and task management skills with a proven ability to manage multiple tasks and projects efficiently and effectively in a fast-paced environment; decision-making skills in a changing environment.
  • High level of integrity, professional maturity, sound judgment, and confidentiality.
  • Sense of humor, creativity, and an appreciation of the role of philanthropy in building community.
  • Availability to work outside traditional business hours, to travel locally, and occasionally regionally and nationally.
  • Excellent skills and experience with Salesforce, Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook, working with databases and internet research.
  • Passion for the mission of Discovery Place, Inc.
  • Bachelor’s degree required; master’s degree preferred with evidence of continuing professional development in fund development.

Compensation will be commensurate with experience including a competitive base salary, bonus opportunity, and competitive benefits package.

Jacqueline McKeever, Consultant
[email protected]