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Executive Director Position Description
The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is looking for a dynamic, creative Executive Director to lead the organization as it embarks on a new phase of growth and development in land conservation, as embodied in its Strategic Plan – Vision 2025.
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.” Today the organization is well-positioned to become the region’s leader in creating “an interconnected tapestry of green spaces” throughout Northern Virginia, with the goal that one day most of the region’s urban and suburban residents will live close to a park, trail, protected stream valley or preserved natural area.
Since its founding in 1994, NVCT has protected over 5,000 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 97 easements and owns 21 parcels of land.
The Trust also offers the public opportunities to enjoy and care for protected places. Through its Explore and Restore Program, NVCT engages volunteers in planting native trees and removing invasive species and holds kayak, 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, which became Virginia’s first accredited land trust in 2008, is governed by a 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.
- Implementing a “Green Infrastructure” vision that results from discussions with the region’s stakeholders.
- 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
As the organization’s chief operating officer, 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 slightly over $600,000.
- Manage a staff of five, 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 of the desired qualities and characteristics. However, the following are among the most important assets that NVCT will be looking for in the successful candidate:
- At least five years of management 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 travelling 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 to:
Nancy S. Hyde, Interim Executive Director
Northern Virginia Conservation Trust
4022-A Hummer Road, Annandale, VA 22003
Electronic applications are encouraged but not required. References are not requested with initial application. Phone calls are discouraged, but questions may be submitted electronically to Nancy S. Hyde at the email address above. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
For additional information about the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, please visit our web site at www.nvct.org.
Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages candidates of all backgrounds to apply for this position.