Position Opening: Executive Director
Since 1999 the Vermont Wilderness School (VWS) has offered nature-based mentoring programs for people of all ages, in southern Vermont and beyond. VWS is dedicated to restoring our relationships with nature, ourselves, and each other. We believe this will only be possible alongside the replacement of systems of colonization, oppression, and extraction, with relational networks of equity, justice, and regeneration.
The VWS board of directors is seeking an energetic, accountable, and collaborative leader to build upon our strong foundation of offering accessible nature connection programs and mentoring training. We welcome applications from dedicated leaders interested in learning, growing, and contributing along with us in this essential, joyful work.
The Executive Director (ED) of the Vermont Wilderness School is responsible for overseeing the administration, programs, finances, fundraising, and strategic direction of the organization. The ED reports to the Board of Directors and works in our Brattleboro, VT office.
As VWS grows into its next chapter, the ED will drive strategic initiatives, including:
- Fundraising: Lead the continuing growth of our individual and foundation fundraising, which comprise 30% of organizational revenue.
- Program Access: Ensure organization is bringing accessible, affordable programming to our entire community.
- Capacity Building: Increase organizational capacity to support continued program growth and expand our ability to attract, develop, and appropriately compensate qualified field staff.
VWS strives to create a culture that is supportive, effective, and life-affirming. Ideal candidates for this role will be energized by a work environment that prioritizes:
- Proactive Leadership
- Resourcefulness & Curiosity
- Service & Relationships
Essential Functions and Responsibilities
- Hold final responsibility for organizational operations and decisions.
- Maintain a strong connection to the mission and essence of VWS through personal practice and an openness to the diversity of nature connection traditions, communities, and practices.
- Lead and manage the core staff team (Business Director, Communications Coordinator, Senior Program Directors) who are responsible for administration of daily organizational affairs.
- Recruit, hire, train, supervise, support, annually review, and, when appropriate, terminate core staff members.
- Facilitate core staff alignment around important decisions.
- Support and model culture emphasizing collaboration, respect, self-care, gratitude, accountability, and fun.
- Support and appreciate field staff (approx 25 part-time Instructors per year). Direct supervision of these Instructors is the responsibility of VWS’s two Senior Program Directors.
- Engage and supervise consultants as needed, including grant writer and organizational development specialists.
- Ensure all programs are in alignment with VWS organizational strategic direction and in compliance with regulatory requirements.
- Collaborate with the two Senior Program Directors to decide what programs VWS will offer. Continually experiment with new programs, and review and enhance existing programs.
- Support and trust the Senior Program Directors to lead their programs, whose experience and longevity with VWS is a major strength of the organization.
- Visit programs regularly
- Appreciate staff regularly
- Serve as lead fundraiser, working with the board and staff to raise 30% of $400k budgeted revenue through:
- Donations ($70 – $100k annually)
- Grants ($25 – $75k annually)
- Build, maintain, and cultivate donor relationships.
- Individual donors via personal outreach, networking, site visits, donor appreciation events, and the development of an alumni network.
- Foundations via working with VWS’s contract grant writer and the Board’s Fundraising Committee to identify prospects and apply for 4-6 grants per year.
- Responsible for the fiscal health of the organization, in collaboration with the Business Director and the Board Treasurer.
- Create annual budget, including gathering staff input and getting board approval.
- Create and monitor individual program and administrative budgets, including:
- Setting pricing of programs
- Setting fundraising goals
- Setting staff compensation and benefits
- Setting reasonable budgets for other expenses, both programmatic and administrative
- Making strategic decisions about the scope and implementation of the Scholarship and Reparations Funds
- Supervise the Business Director and Communications Coordinator to ensure smooth running of VWS’s administrative operations:
- Office, including physical space and systems
- Technology, including online registration systems, data management systems, and other collaborative business software
- Bookkeeping and related financial administration
- Insurance policies
- Human Resources
- Responsible for the content, tone, and style of our mass communications (website, enews, etc.), in collaboration with the Communications Coordinator.
- Pay attention to, protect, and support the positive reputation of VWS.
- Work with the Board of Directors to fulfill the organizational mission.
- Provide financial, programmatic, and operational information to the Board and recommend appropriate action and/or policy.
- Serve as staff liaison to the Board of Directors.
- Attend monthly meetings of the board and of its two committees (Fundraising and Organizational Development) and an annual daylong retreat.
- Develop, revise, and implement, as needed, organizational documents (such as mission, vision, essence, and strategic direction statements), in collaboration with core staff and Board of Directors.
- Ensure organizational compliance with board policies, recommendations, and bylaws.
- Build and maintain strategic relationships and partnerships with other organizations.
- Pay attention to trends, events, and dialogues in the broader community:
- Local (Brattleboro area)
- National (primarily the Nature Connection Network)
- First Nations (Abenaki/Wabanaki, regional and national tribal conversations and movements)
- Passion for the mission and work of Vermont Wilderness School and the ability to hold and co-create big-picture vision while implementing relevant, local programming.
- Consciousness and awareness of the interrelation of nature connection, social justice, and equity.
- Experience leading and managing staff in an objective, inspirational manner; experience hiring, training, and supporting staff with their work and development.
- Experience or proven track record in successful fundraising and donor/grantor cultivation.
- Experience in financial management, including budget development, financial reporting, and oversight.
- Demonstrated experience in executive-level administration, including running non-profit or business operations, using business software, strategic planning, public speaking, facilitating meetings, managing projects, writing reports, and developing policies, and procedures.
- Competency in risk management, crisis response, and conflict resolution.
- Interest or experience creating equitable and inclusive environments that are sensitive to people’s needs, interests, identities, and experiences; commitment to create just policies, systems, and programs.
- Experience building relationships and creating shared purpose among groups with diverse needs and perspectives, including staff, volunteers, partners, families, students, and community members.
- VWS envisions a world where every person and every community is able to cultivate a deep connection with the natural world, and their place within it. We believe this will only be possible alongside the replacement of systems of colonization, oppression, and extraction, with relational networks of equity, justice, and regeneration. We support the return, regeneration, and the revitalization of many ancestral life-ways as a crucial part of this shift. Through offering direct embodied experience in nature, we aspire to support individuals expanding into their full selves, in thriving relationship with our multi-species environment. We see this work as our particular role in this greater movement of change.
- Our vision and values are reflected in our employment-related decisions, including hiring practices. VWS actively seeks to employ a diverse staff. We invite you to bring your own unique perspective, culture, and identities if you join us in this work. We encourage applications from people of color, indigenous people, people who are disabled, veterans, women, and lesbian, gay, pansexual, transgender, and gender non-conforming persons.
- As an EOE/AA employer, VWS will not discriminate in its employment practices due to an applicant’s race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin or ancestry, age, sexual orientation, gender identification, genetic information, veteran or disability status, or any other factor prohibited by law.
This is a salaried employee position for 40 hours per week, year round. A lower number of hours per week may be negotiated for the right candidate.
- Salary: $62k to $72k, based on experience.
- Benefits: Paid time off, $2k stipend for use of personal communications devices and work spaces, discounts on VWS programs for you and immediate family members, and funds for professional development.
VWS is in the fortunate position of having an outgoing Executive Director who is available to stay on until the right candidate is available to start. We are securing funding to support a period of overlap if needed. This overlap would allow the incoming Executive Director to receive orientation, training, support with establishing relationships (with constituents, partners, donors, and foundations), and, if appropriate, mentoring from the outgoing Executive Director. The overlap period could end as late as Dec 31, 2023.
The Board of Directors have built flexibility into the transition timeline so that the position can be accessible to candidates who may need time to depart from their current job and/or relocate to the Brattleboro area. We encourage interested candidates to contact us soon, even if you would not be available to start soon.
Please reply to email@example.com with a resume, two references, and a concise letter describing your experience, qualifications, and reasons for applying for this position.
Questions about the position or hiring process can also be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.