The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is looking for a dynamic, creative Executive Director to lead the organization, beginning in late 2017. This is a signature land conservation leadership opportunity in Northern Virginia. The incumbent Executive Director is retiring this year, and the Board of Directors is working to identify the next leader to ensure a smooth and orderly transition while the incumbent is available to assist with knowledge transfer.
The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT) is a regional land trust conserving open space throughout Northern Virginia, at the doorstep of the nation’s capital.
The mission of the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is best conveyed in its motto: “Saving Nearby Nature.” NVCT conserves land that has natural, historical, and cultural value to our communities. The group is recognized for its leadership in the region as well as for its contributions to the larger Virginia land conservation community.
Since its founding in 1994, NVCT has protected more than 6,500 acres of urban, suburban and rural properties throughout the rapidly growing northern Virginia region, from sites along trails and stream valleys to family farms and historic properties, from small migratory bird sites to critical habitat for rare species along the Potomac River Gorge. Its tools have included fee acquisition, conservation easements, and collaboration with other entities. The organization holds 99 easements and owns 21 parcels of land.
The Trust also offers the public opportunities to enjoy and care for protected places. NVCT engages volunteers in planting native trees and removing invasive species and holds birding and hiking trips to help people better understand and appreciate natural places.
Through most of its history, NVCT has enjoyed special working relationships with local governments. The Trust currently has formal agreements with Fairfax and Arlington Counties and the City of Alexandria to advise and assist in implementing those jurisdictions’ open space plans, and it is currently developing agreements with additional local governments. NVCT increasingly believes that its land conservation role must include not only undertaking skilled land protection transactions but also serving as a trusted advisor to public bodies in matters of land protection and planning.
NVCT is an accredited land trust as of 2008. It is governed by an 18-person Board of Directors with diverse skills and experience. They are united by their passion for protecting open spaces and their loyalty to the work of the organization.
Key Opportunities and Challenges
As with any nonprofit organization, NVCT has unique opportunities and challenges for both the organization and its Executive Director. Key among these are:
- Determining what land conservation means in a densely populated, fast growing region that includes urban, suburban and rural areas and that has a rapidly diversifying population.
- Developing forward looking programs and strategies that can be most successful in this kind of region, including identifying niches that no one else is filling in the region.
- Expanding the “tool box” of land protection strategies, to supplement its current reliance on conservation
- Expanding the visibility of NVCT to a much broader range of constituents.
- Maintaining and expanding working relationships with governmental bodies and ensuring that these relationships advance NVCT’s goals.
- Building relationships with other nonprofit organizations that operate in the region and exploring ways to work more closely together.
- Using the skills and experience that exist on NVCT’s board and staff most effectively and expanding or redeploying those skills where necessary.
- Ensuring that NVCT receives funding from a broad range of sources that is adequate to meet current needs, to provide for growth and opportunities, and to weather unforeseen cutbacks in current revenues, including from agreements with governmental jurisdictions.
The Role of the Executive Director
The Executive Director is responsible to the Board of Directors for strategic and inspirational leadership for NVCT, as well as for managing and administering all of NVCT’s programs and activities. In carrying out these overall responsibilities, the Director will:
- Operate in a collegial, productive partnership with the board and staff
- Ensure strong administrative performance and efficiency through sound operational management.
- Oversee a budget of over $600,000.
- Manage a staff of seven, with expectations of future growth.
- Maintain a culture of inclusion, entrepreneurship, integrity and transparency.
- Serve as the public face of NVCT through public speaking and personal engagement with policy makers and other partners.
- Serve as the primary point of contact for managing agreements and MOUs with government jurisdictions.
- Ensure that NVCT’s capacity is well matched to its program plans and ambitions.
- Lead NVCT’s fundraising as strategist and implementer, in close working partnership with the Board. This may include overseeing a major fundraising campaign.
Qualifications, Experience and Characteristics
NVCT understands that candidates may not possess all the desired qualities and characteristics. However, the following are among the most important assets that NVCT will be looking for in the successful candidate.
- Five to ten years of experience in a nonprofit organization or public sector agency, preferably a land trust, including strategic planning, budgeting, financial management, and staff development and management.
- Successful track record in, and appetite for, raising money from a variety of sources, such as public agencies, major individual donors, foundations, memberships, and fees for service.
- Experience in working with public agencies to advocate sensible land use planning that has a strong open space component.
- Proven ability to work successfully with a broad range of public and private partners, in a variety of political jurisdictions and cultures. Knowledge of and respected experience in Northern Virginia is a strong plus.
- Experience with land conservation transactions, including acquisition of fee title, and acquisition and enforcement of conservation easements.
- Demonstrated ability to work successfully with a board of directors.
- A bachelor’s degree is required. An advanced degree or equivalent experience in natural resources, business, land use, law or other applicable field is highly desirable.
- Strong personal commitment to land conservation and natural resources protection.
- The highest level of personal and professional integrity.
- Persuasive communications skills, including compelling public speaking, clear writing, and engaging inter-personal skills.
- A decisive management style that is goal-oriented but flexible, that respects the capabilities and independence of staff while providing a clear sense of direction.
- Willingness to work hard, including traveling regionally and attending evening and weekend events and meetings.
- An ability to explore new opportunities and initiatives while remaining attentive to day-to-day management needs.
- A sense of humor and considerable energy.
The compensation package is competitive. The final offer may be negotiated and will be based on qualifications and experience.
Applications and Inquiries
Please submit a detailed letter of application and a resume, no later than June 12, to:
Search Committee, Northern Virginia Conservation Trust
Electronic applications only please. References are not requested with initial application.
Questions may be submitted electronically to NVCTsearch@nvct.org. Phone calls are discouraged.
Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages candidates of all backgrounds to apply for this position.