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Executive Director
Category: Manager

Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute
Fort Davis, TX

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Position Title:           Executive Director

Organization:           Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute

Location:                   Fort Davis, Texas USA

Min. Education:        Master’s Degree

Min. Experience:     5 – 7 years

Starting Salary:       $50-60,000 with benefits, depending on experience


Job Description

The Executive Director is responsible for the overall administration and management of the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute (CDRI) including fundraising, business operations, research activities and education programs. The Executive Director provides overall leadership for strategy, organizational development, implementation and financial oversight.  This full-time position reports directly to the Board through its elected Board President.  Effectiveness as a fundraiser is a necessary skill for the successful performance of this job. 

About the Organization:  CDRI  was founded in 1974 by a group of scientists dedicated to gathering and disseminating information about the Chihuahuan Desert region, the largest desert in North America.  A major goal was achieved when 507 acres near Fort Davis, Texas, were purchased to develop a facility that would support both research and education.  Over the next two decades, a botanical garden, cactus greenhouse, Visitors’ Center, and interpretive exhibits were developed.  The landsite – now known as the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center – is open to the public six days a week.

The Institute is a 501c3 nonprofit organization with six full-time staff, two part-time staff, and over 125 volunteers. Overall governance is provided by a 19-member Board of Directors.  Funding for the Institute’s $375,000 annual budget comes from a variety of sources.  Administrative costs are covered by income from the Institute’s Permanent Endowment and oil and gas royalties, and the Nature Center is funded by special events, admissions, memberships, gift shop sales and grants. 

Mission:The mission of CDRI is to promote public awareness, appreciation and concern for the natural diversity of the Chihuahuan Desert region through research and education.

Location:  CDRI is located in the Davis Mountains of far West Texas.  Fort Davis is approximately 200 miles southeast of El Paso and 100 miles from the Mexican border and Big Bend National Park.  Fort Davis is a tiny community with many nearby attractions:  McDonald Observatory operated by the University of Texas, the old fort which is a National Historic Site, an historic state park, a state university in Alpine, and the Chinati Foundation in Marfa.

Job Requirements

1.      Fundraising and Marketing:

·         Develops and sustains a diverse funding base with an emphasis on corporate and foundation giving, growing the membership base and expanding the individual donor base.

·         Raises the visibility of CDRI through the development and implementation of a sustainable marketing campaign geared to its various stakeholders.

·         Increases and diversifies CDRI’s funding sources to achieve the goals of its Capital Campaign.

·         Serves as the chief spokesperson for the Institute and ensures appropriate representation to its multiple constituencies.


2.      Management and Administration:

·         Oversees all programs, research, projects and the landsite to ensure that objectives are met.

·         Supports an inclusive strategic planning process and ensures planning decisions are used in setting annual program and project goals.  Facilitates an active planning process with the Board and staff.

·         Sets annual goals and objectives and develops projections of needs and funding.

·         Working with the Board of Directors, develops policies, guidelines and priorities to support the effective management of the Institute.


3.      Fiscal Management:

·         Develops, recommends and monitors annual and special projects budgets.

·         Approve expenditures and ensures proper fiscal record keeping and reporting.

·         Submits quarterly financial statements to the Board.

·         Ensures effective audit trails.

·         Ensures compliance with funding sources and regulatory requirements.

·         Engages with the Board Treasurer, Finance Committee and Capital Campaign Committee in financial planning and diversification activities.


4.      Personnel Management:

·         Hires and supervises an effective management team, including use of legal hiring and termination procedures; disciplinary actions; annual performance evaluations and professional development opportunities; contractor management etc.

·         Maintains a climate which attracts, keeps and motivates top quality people, both professional staff and volunteers.

·         Administers Board-approved personnel policies.

·         Promotes an organizational culture that fosters passion for CDRI’s mission, cooperation, open and frequent communication, trust and teamwork.

·         Oversees an appropriate organizational structure and insures that programmatic objectives are supported with adequate facilities and technology.


5.      Board Relations:

·         Promotes Board of Directors’ engagement in critical thinking, strategic planning, resource development and overall organizational wellness.

·         Serves as the primary staff person for the Board of Directors and the Executive, Finance and Governance committees.  Responsible for overseeing the staffing of all other Board committees.

·         With the Board President, develops meeting agendas and materials to ensure the opportunity for the Board to effectively fulfill its governance responsibilities.

·         Keeps the Board and Board President fully informed on the condition of the Institute and all important factors.

·         Facilitates the orientation of new Board members.

Desired Qualifications and Experience

·         Successful fundraising experience, particularly in support of a Capital Campaign.

·         Success in attracting foundation and corporate grants.

·         Proven leadership skills developed through several years in senior management positions.

·         Business experience in managing a complex budget.

·         Understanding of non-profit organizations and experience working with Boards of Directors and volunteers. 

·         Excellent organizational development, interpersonal, marketing, communications, analytical, administration and personnel management skills.

·         Is visionary, trustworthy, diplomatic and innovative with a high energy level.

·         Excellent presentation skills.

·         Demonstrated experience fostering a healthy organizational culture; ability to inspire and motivate; effective at conflict management.

·         Ability to build collaborative ventures with diverse constituents.

·         Ability to speak Spanish is a plus.

How to Apply for this Position

A letter of interest, resume and the names/ contact information of three references may be sent to:

Thomas Bruner, Board President


PO Box 905

Fort Davis, Texas 79734

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