James Ryan Jillson

Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Adjunct Lecturer







James Ryan Jillson is an arts manager with a passion for helping cultural institutions take a data-driven approach to developing strategy, navigating change, building audiences and driving revenue. He currently serves as the director of development at the Nasher Sculpture Center, a nonprofit, modern and contemporary art museum in the Dallas Arts District. There, he leads a team in the planning, execution, and evaluation of all of the museum’s varied development activities, including membership and annual giving programs, major gift efforts for exhibitions and special initiatives, and fundraising events. Prior to coming to the Nasher, Jillson worked with more than a half-dozen arts organizations and other nonprofits – including TACA (The Arts Community Alliance), The Meadows Foundation, Undermain Theatre, and others – in various capacities related to fundraising, marketing, planning, research and operations.

Jillson teaches arts management and arts entrepreneurship as an adjunct faculty member, as well as supports alumni engagement initiatives, at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. He has led workshops and presented research on fundraising and marketing in the arts at industry conferences nationally and internationally. Additionally, Jillson regularly serves as a grants panelist for the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture.


M.A./M.B.A., Southern Methodist University
B.A. in Music, Southern Methodist University

Course list

Introduction to Arts Management AMAE 3301
Creative Entrepreneurship and Attracting Capital AMAE 3387
James Ryan Jillson