In June, the museum welcomed its first ever Chief Advancement Officer—Hathaway Jakobsen. This new position was created to spearhead fundraising, communications, marketing, and all visitor services including the museum’s Robert Allerton Art Library and Shangri La tours.
Hathaway comes to the museum from Los Angeles, where she was the director of individual giving at the Sundance Institute (yes, she knows Bob!). There, she oversaw donor relations for more than 3,000 individuals across the country and around the world while seeing fundraising grow 150 percent—from $1.5 million to $4 million—from 2008 to early 2013, as well as increasing individual funding from 10 percent of the annual operating budget to 26 percent. Before that she was the director of major gifts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where she was responsible for raising $5.6 million annually through major donor programs and individual solicitation. She has also held positions with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
To go with the impressive resume is a joie de vivre and warm demeanor that make her the definition of “people person.” We chatted with her to learn more about what she does and what makes her tick.
What exactly is advancement?
It’s a relatively new concept for fundraising organizations. It started with higher education institutions. A lot of nonprofit arts education groups are adopting the method, which takes all the frontline programs—including fundraising, marketing, communications, volunteer services, visitor services, and membership—and putting them together under one umbrella to move an organization forward collectively—to advance the organization.
What are your priorities at the museum?
I am thrilled to have the unique opportunity to live in Honolulu and work with the leadership of this extraordinary museum to imagine, create and build an entrepreneurial and dynamic fundraising initiative that will integrate branding, marketing, communications, and awareness into all of our development efforts. The public should keep its eye on us, because we’ll continue to bring more exciting programs and events that will connect them to the arts. This is going to be a place to watch.
What brought you to Hawai‘i?
My husband has family here and we’ve been together since college, so I’ve been enjoying family get-togethers on O‘ahu for the last 20 years. Every time I came to Hawai‘i I’ve felt a deeper connection with the community, and it’s been a dream of ours to live here. I saw this opportunity at the Honolulu Museum of Art and went for it. I look forward to learning everything I can about the state of Hawai‘i and exploring the island with my husband and going on lots of hikes and beach days with our dog Levi.
How did you get into this field?
I’ve wanted to be involved in the arts in some way since I was a little kid. I took classes at RISD [Rhode Island School of Design] and focused on ceramics in college and really wanted to be an artist. For me, art has always been a place to go and escape and dream—a place where anything is possible.
My first arts-related position was at SFMoMA, and from there it has been a great journey. In this field, there is a combination of a social element—working with individuals from all around the world—which is important to me, and the artistic and creative spirit that the arts represents in support of something in which I deeply believe. I feel lucky and it’s an honor to work to serve the community in which I live through an organization that is important to that community, making sure the arts are always a part of our daily experience.
What did you think of the collection when you first arrived?
I was really pleased—it’s an excellent encyclopedic collection. I’m really impressed with its depth—from ancient to contemporary art. And there are some really special gems. I have to say my favorite is The Lei Maker by Theodore Wores.
So you have a sentimental streak.
Yeah! I’m a romantic.
What’s been a memorable island experience since you arrived?
Exploring all of the different local cuisines. The farmers markets, the fruits and vegetables—they are so incredible and exciting to my palate. I think that there’s a great food and art and creative culture here and I just want to experience it all. Food, music and art—those are the three most important things to me, outside of my husband and my dog. My Instagram and Twitter handle is @artfoodmusic.
What is a great dish you’ve had lately?
I discovered Palace Saimin. That hot mustard will save your life!