Executive Assistant

Executive Assistant

Reports to: Manager of Strategy and Planning
Department: Administration
Employment Status: Full-time
FLSA Status: Non-exempt

Start date: TBD
Last Updated:  April 30, 2021

Who We Are

Penland School of Craft is an international center for craft education offering residential workshops, residencies, community education programs, and exhibitions. Located on 420 acres in the NC Mountains, Penland has 16 teaching studios and 57 historic and contemporary buildings. We are an equal opportunity employer with a staff of 70. Penland operates with a $44 million endowment and an annual operating budget of $6 million. We are located about an hour northeast of Asheville, NC. Our mission supports individual and artistic growth through creative practice and discovery.

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

We believe that equity, diversity, and inclusion are essential to fulfilling our mission. We want to inspire and nurture the human spirit, and we value the perspectives and contributions of all people. We want the Penland experience to include varied ideas, world views, and personal characteristics. Penland is committed to being a community that welcomes and respects everyone regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, race, religion, philosophical or political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, nationality, geographic origin, and socioeconomic status. We are committed to providing an environment free of discrimination.

Position Summary

The Executive Assistant is an administrative support position working closely with the Penland Executive Director, Director of Operations, and is managed by the Manager of Strategy and Planning. Primary responsibilities include providing clerical duties to the executive director, supporting the board of trustees, and assisting the directors with strategic projects as needed. The position has frequent contact with Penland staff and constituents and needs to be a good communicator and highly organized. This is a full-time, year-round, benefits-eligible, hourly position.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Assists with the executive director’s calls, handling complex messages in person and by phone appropriately, and returns and follow-up on phone calls upon request.
  • Plans logistics, helps schedule and prepare for director meetings, develops materials for meetings and other events as requested, and participates as needed. Produces minutes or meeting notes as requested.
  • Prepares reports, documents, and correspondence. Drafts and proofs correspondence and provides other needed secretarial support.
  • Prepares regular correspondence to instructors from the Executive Director, including welcome and thank you letters.
  • Develops and maintains the director’s files.
  • Acts as a liaison between director and staff, students, and instructors regarding meetings, questions, or concerns.
  • Manages the director’s itinerary, travel and supports her in preparations and needs during this time away from the office.
  • Acts as a “troubleshooter” for the director, working to anticipate needs and solve problems. Stays abreast of special activities that occur and keeps the director informed on these activities.
  • Handles the scheduling of the school’s guest house and Penland’s Master Calendar.
  • Makes travel plans and prepares all internal forms for guests and volunteers (for housing requests, purchase orders, guest meals, etc.).
  • Supports schoolwide tours as needed.
  • Works collaboratively to maintain fact sheets and other handouts about the school. Produces an annual datasheet with information gathered from all appropriate staff, including data collected through the student evaluation process.
  • Gathers information and researches requests, including through the use of Penland registration and Raiser’s Edge databases. Reads and summarizes materials as requested.
  • Maintains contact list for area officials and state and local legislators, and other constituents.

Support for Board of Trustees

  • Supports the logistics for board meetings and individual board committee meetings. Maintains a meeting planning checklist and schedule.
  • Assists with the preparation of meeting materials and agendas and distributes materials in a timely manner.
  • Handles all board travel, housing, and meal information. Makes travel arrangements as necessary. Processes travel reimbursements.
  • Takes board and selected committee notes and produces accurate, timely minutes.
  • Prepares new board member orientation materials. Produces new member biographies and updates annual board lists and other board-related materials.
  • Distributes and collects the annual conflict of interest statements, ethics policy statements, board evaluations, and other materials needed from board members.
  • Maintains all documentation related to the board of trustees, including mail list, files, correspondence, and meeting records.
  • Manages mail lists and contacts with former trustees, including periodic letters and events.
  • Understands other staff members’ responsibilities during board meetings and reminds others of deadlines as they approach to ensure a smooth board meeting.

Special Projects

  • Assists, coordinates, and may lead special projects as assigned by the directors.
  • Supports the students, instructors, staff, trustees, and visitors with general information and questions about the school as needed. Is back-up for the main office managers as available.
  • Assists the accounting office by preparing weekly accounts payable for mailing.
  • Performs additional duties as assigned.


  • A general understanding of the field of craft.
  • At least two years of relevant experience; or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Works in confidence related to all conversations and tasks. Is sensitive to the interrelationship of people and their responsibilities within all areas.
  • Knows or is willing to understand the organizational structure, the school’s mission, goals, policies, procedures, and informal systems of operation and the standards and behavior expected of all staff. Is familiar with the roles and responsibilities of all departments.
  • Demonstrates strong verbal and written skills and shows a high level of interpersonal skills required to handle sensitive and confidential situations.
  • Can clearly communicate and maintain a calm, helpful, and friendly presence in an active, public-facing office environment.
  • Can track and organize information is crucial as this position will manage many different sets of data critical to the organization’s administrative operations.
  • Proven experience in being self-motivated and set priorities, meet deadlines and organize multiple projects at once.
  • Strong knowledge and technical fluency in Microsoft Office Suite, social media platforms, and database management, and especially knowledge and fluency of the G Suite platform preferred.
  • Has prior knowledge of database management and or willingness to be trained on Penland’s registration process and Raisers Edge database.
  • A team player who can work collaboratively and independently as needed.

Physical Demands

The employee is regularly required to work at a computer. They must frequently use their hands to manipulate or touch objects, tools, and controls; they must be able to speak fluently, hear, and see (including close vision). The employee will need to navigate areas of the campus with uneven terrain successfully. The employee must occasionally lift and move objects weighing up to 25 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision.


Compensation discussions are a part of the interviewing process, but the starting wage for this position is $15.00 per hour for 40 hours per week. At 2080 budgeted hours per year, the starting annual salary is $31,200. Employees at Penland enjoy competitive pay, attractive benefits, and a lively, creative work environment.

To Apply

The position will remain open until filled; we hope the individual hired can start as soon as they are able. To apply, send a cover letter, résumé, and contact information for three references, addressing relevant experience and interest in the position to Alyse Ostreicher, Human Resources Manager, employment@penland.org. Please include Executive Assistant as the subject of your email.

We look forward to hearing from you!