For more than 50 years, Riverkeeper has sought to protect and restore the Hudson River from source to sea and to safeguard drinking water supplies through advocacy rooted in community partnerships, science, and law. Riverkeeper’s goal is to ensure the Hudson River, its tributaries and watershed, and the New York City drinking watershed are: restored to ecological health and balance; free-flowing, resilient, and teeming with life; reliable sources of safe, clean drinking water; recovered from historic and inequitable environmental harms; safe and accessible for swimming, fishing, boating, and other recreational activities; and valued and stewarded by all.
Riverkeeper is governed by a 27-member Board of Directors and has an annual budget of $4.6 million. Riverkeeper volunteer leadership includes: a 25-member Advisory Board and a Leadership Council comprised of key leaders in business, science, law, philanthropy, and the arts who have a passion for Riverkeeper’s mission; a Young Advocates Council that supports Riverkeeper as a network of young professionals raising awareness and providing on-the-ground support and informed advocacy; and Riverkeeper’s Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC) – a group of companies in and around New York that share a common goal of protecting and restoring the Hudson River, safeguarding clean drinking water, and promoting environmental sustainability and responsibility with their employees, clients, and customers.
Riverkeeper is looking for a President to lead a 30-member staff team and implement a recently completed strategic plan to maximize mission impact.
The President should value:
- The fundamental rights of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and all the living things that depend upon them to exist and thrive in healthy, balanced ecosystems;
- Clean water as essential to all living things and access to clean drinking water as a human right;
- A reduction of environmental harms, especially for disproportionately impacted communities and decimated fish and wildlife populations;
- Facts, science, and community voices as the foundation of Riverkeeper’s work;
- Trust, respect, integrity, and justice as the basis for Riverkeeper’s relationships, both within and beyond the organization; and
- Environmental and recreational benefits for all.
Building upon its legacy, strengths, and core strategies of advocacy, science, law, and community partnerships, the President will provide collaborative leadership, vision, and strategic direction for Riverkeeper, its programs, fundraising, enforcement, and community engagement efforts. In partnership with an engaged board, a committed staff, volunteers, advisors, and community partners who share a common vision and purpose, the President will embrace Riverkeeper’s rootedness in the Hudson and leverage and build upon its sphere of influence, core values, and good standing as an intellectually hard hitting, science-based advocate with an ingrained and well-earned reputation for punching above its weight.
The President will ensure that Riverkeeper remains clear and ambitious in its strategic intent, as reflected in the programmatic goals detailed in its recently adopted strategic plan, and maintain the quality and integrity of its programs and key initiatives and their alignment with Riverkeeper’s mission and vision.
It is critically important that the President continue to raise the visibility of Riverkeeper. As an external presence and spokesperson, the President must speak credibly, articulately, and passionately about the impact of climate change and other environmental concerns related to the Hudson and facilitate communications and collaborations with local communities, partner organizations, legislative bodies, and government agencies in support of both ongoing campaigns and new initiatives.
The President will: champion and enhance fundraising strategies and outreach in order to develop a broader base of support for Riverkeeper and its mission; cultivate, solicit, and steward major donors; and develop plans and goals to support annual revenue targets, a new fundraising campaign for the strategic plan, a business partnership program, and fundraising events.
Ever mindful of the organization’s culture and values, the President will serve as a resource to programmatic and organizational leadership internally, fuel innovative thinking, and both acknowledge and nurture the expertise of a knowledgeable and highly dedicated staff, who are the organization’s most critical assets and are indispensable to its ongoing success. In this vein, the President will demonstrate a commitment to internal equity and transparency.
PRIORITIES AND KEY RESPONSIBILITIES
The President will capitalize on Riverkeeper’s legacy and potential and have the following priorities and key responsibilities:
- Quickly acclimate to Riverkeeper; thoroughly understand its history, mission, culture, structure, and the critical importance of its advocacy, track record of success in litigation, and current range of ecological priorities;
- Take ownership of Riverkeeper’s strategic plan; advance institution-wide priorities; attach actionable plans and specific goals or milestones to be achieved in order to show progress and success; within its current framework, seize opportunities to extend Riverkeeper’s leadership and influence in the field;
- Review Riverkeeper’s portfolio of campaigns, cases, and other initiatives; know how its programs are structured and funded and how resources are being prioritized; ensure that the organization is well positioned to identify and implement new programs that address critical needs or key issues; provide input and advice on when to mount legal challenges to proposed actions by public and private entities;
- Quickly establish relationships with Board members and existing key public and private donors in order to facilitate the ongoing flow of support and contributions; identify new sources of funding among individuals and foundations; build upon Riverkeeper’s current endowment;
- Seize opportunities for new partnerships and initiatives and represent Riverkeeper and its work with national and local government, the business community, donors, partner organizations, and the broader community working at the intersection of ecological and social justice;
- Provide cohesive managerial leadership so that Riverkeeper’s day-to-day operations, patrols, and programs are professionally and efficiently administered; understand each staff person’s strengths and contributions and support and promote their work; assess and clarify roles, responsibilities, and scope of authority as necessary to ensure the right structural model and talents are in place to sustain Riverkeeper’s vision and direction; allow staff’s skills and abilities to come forward; nurture and reward talent; sustain open channels of communication at all levels and continue to provide professional development opportunities;
- Quickly establish a presence in Albany, ensuring that Riverkeeper’s concerns continue to be given a voice and are heard at all appropriate levels and venues; lead effective advocacy efforts while ensuring that such efforts support the interests and concerns of Riverkeeper’s agenda and partnerships; build new relationships externally;
- Sustain and enrich Riverkeeper’s current diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice initiatives; work with the staff and Board DEIJ committees and broadly identify Riverkeeper’s existing goals in these areas;
- Ensure that Riverkeeper remains fiscally sound and that financial systems, budgets, and planning strategies accurately reflect the financial realities of the organization; achieve realistic and attainable financial projections and ensure fiscal stability and growth;
- Foster a cohesive and collegial working relationship with the Board, finding ways to use effectively their individual expertise to benefit Riverkeeper; keep the Board engaged; identify and tap into underutilized talents and connections of various Board members as appropriate; be strategic in the recruitment and development of new Board members.
IDEAL EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
The President should have a deep and abiding commitment to and passion for the Hudson River, the core values of Riverkeeper, and how science, law, and community partnerships can be combined and galvanized to create successful advocacy campaigns. The President should also have or be:
- A high degree of experience in advocacy and environmental protection, with a track record of high-quality work around environmental policy issues; experience leading or partnering with other stakeholders and/or other credibility in the sector;
- Comfort overseeing multiple engagement strategies in a highly collaborative environment; committed to grassroots change and influence; leadership ability to accelerate impact and foster big ideas; respectful of the institution’s unique grounding in evidence-based practical strategies, litigation tools, and policy; respected by policymakers and funders, with the ability to work comfortably in Albany, Washington DC, and similar halls of power and influence;
- Proven management, problem-solving, and implementation skills as well as strategic capability, with commensurate fiscal and business acumen as an executive with an environmental or other relevant nonprofit organization or government agency;
- Proven ability to lead a highly dedicated staff to whom much responsibility and appropriate authority are delegated; able to envision and operationalize new initiatives and deeply understand how operational and programmatic decisions are being experienced by staff;
- Intentional about what leadership around diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice looks like; able to build Riverkeeper’s culture of DEIJ through an antiracism lens;
- Proven experience as a dynamic fundraiser with the ability to cultivate and steward major donors and frame the vision and concepts to secure financial support from diverse sources: individual donors; foundations; ecologically minded corporations; and government, particularly in a climate of increasing financial constraints, fewer resources, and increased competition;
- The ability to embrace and engage new audiences and an evolving membership base including tech savvy and passionate millennials and young people in frontline communities who expect new paradigms for addressing environmental justice, climate change, and the intersection of these concerns within social justice movements/platforms;
- Experience working with media, public relations and community outreach; competence in social media marketing and digital platforms and technology.
The President should also be or have:
- A diplomatic executive of the highest integrity who is intellectually nimble, collaborative, and empathetic, with a demonstrated commitment to shared decision making where appropriate; capable of building consensus and maintaining high morale; a person who will recognize and respect a group of deeply committed employees at all levels;
- A proactive, analytical, and creative problem solver and skilled negotiator who can anticipate, initiate, and implement rather than just respond to challenges as they arise; bold and decisive when needed; able to break down silos as necessary and skillfully navigate issues related to hierarchy, communications, and decision making;
- Able to manage multiple priorities ranging from the broad and strategic to the narrow and tactical without loss of focus; able to think strategically and communicate with passion;
- An effective relationship builder, internally and externally; highly visible, approachable, and willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty and/or wet; transparent and respectful of Riverkeeper’s history and traditions;
- A good and active listener; able to balance diverse agendas and points of view and delegate responsibilities as appropriate while maintaining on all fronts a sense of continuity and common purpose; willing to embrace the suggestions and promising ideas of others;
- Emotionally mature, with a good sense of humor and the ability to maintain balance and perspective.
Additional information on Riverkeeper may be found at https://www.riverkeeper.org/.
Riverkeeper is an AA/EEO employer. Riverkeeper is committed to attracting, developing, and retaining exceptional people, and to creating a work environment that is dynamic, rewarding, and enables each of us to realize our potential. Our work environment is safe and open to all employees and partners, respecting the full spectrum of race, color, religious creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, ancestry, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, and all other classifications protected by law.
Please send application – expression of interest letter and CV – or nomination(s) to Angela Henry and Mark Tarnacki at Riverkeeper@PhillipsOppenheim.com.
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