Location: Norfolk, Connecticut
Great Mountain Forest (GMF) encompasses more than 6,000 acres of contiguous forestland in the towns of Norfolk and Canaan, Connecticut. GMF promotes the working forest as a renewable resource, as a habitat for wildlife and as a classroom for training and education. GMF is committed to leaving the forest better than found, passing on all it learns to others, and providing a sanctuary for those who love the woods. GMF’s primary resource is its land, a unique working forest with a history of active management that dates to the early 20th century, and its long-serving and dedicated staff.
Overview of the Organization and Programs
GMF is owned and managed by The Great Mountain Forest Corporation, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 private operating foundation. It was established in 1962 by Edward and Elisabeth Childs to further their mission of promoting sustainable forestry and land management. In 2003, the land was permanently protected under the largest conservation easement in southern New England, when development rights were sold under the Forest Legacy Program of the U.S. Forest Service. GMF’s 6,300 acres are managed with several goals in mind: the production of a wide range of forest products; the conservation and protection of watersheds; creating and maintaining healthy populations of both game and non-game species; scientific research; and education.
GMF’s Board of Trustees recently completed a strategic plan that envisions taking on the challenge of advancing new forest management for southern New England. That vision recognizes the broad range of ecological and economic benefits provided by forests, and the broad diversity of interests of different forest landowners. The long history of silviculture and forestry research at GMF provides a foundation for exploration of a progressive new forestry in the region, with programs that include identifying new markets and sustainable forest products, promoting research and forestry demonstrations, and public outreach and education for both land owners and land managers.
GMF, which employs four full-time staff (including the Executive Director position), is overseen by a Board of Directors, currently comprised of fifteen civic and community leaders. Historically, the organization’s annual operating budget has been approximately $425,000. With the recent sale of more than 277,000 tons of forest offset carbon credits, GMF anticipates its endowment will grow from approximately $3.3 million to $6 million, and, as a result, the organization’s annual budget will likely increase by about 30%, to $550,000.
Strategic Opportunities and Challenges
The Executive Director will have the opportunity to lead this historically significant and prominent nonprofit, which manages one of the larger, private active forests in southern New England. High priorities for the Executive Director include:
While GMF transitioned from private ownership to nonprofit management, it was predominately led by its staff and Board of Trustees. The organization is now well-positioned to hire a full-time Executive Director to steward the organization through its next stage of development.
Desired Credentials and Profile
Skills and Experience
Visionary and Strategic Leader
The Executive Director must be able to engage in “big picture” thinking, ultimately and collaboratively leading GMF’s board and staff to refine and implement a strategic vision for its future. Also, as the agency’s chief administrative officer, the Executive Director will be a collaborative multitasker, able to oversee the organization’s operations, finances, lands and staff, decisively and efficiently aligning and maximizing GMF’s growing resources to achieve its strategic goals, while also serving as the primary liaison to the evolving Board of Trustees to support its effective governance.
Exceptional Communicator, Networker and Marketer
The Executive Director must possess excellent verbal and written communication skills and be eager and able to interact and communicate equally well with staff, board members, academic institutions, public officials, affiliated organizations and the general public, serving as GMF’s primary spokesperson to proactively build and sustain relationships that will benefit GMF. The leader must be a politically savvy networker and astute marketer, able to publicly promote GMF so others become inspired participants willing to support GMF’s mission and vision.
Forestry and Land Management Champion
The Executive Director must be a knowledgeable champion of forestry and land management with some academic or organizational background in those disciplines or the environmental sciences. As a mission-driven nonprofit, the leader must be an inspired promoter of GMF and possess ample expertise to grasp and communicate the intricacies of forestry and land management to staff, academic partners, affiliated businesses, government officials and existing and potential funders.
Experienced and Passionate Fundraiser
The Executive Director will have experience in and a strong desire to engage self and others in private fundraising, with the ability to create a vision and strategy for a fundraising program aligned with GMF’s mission and financial needs. The leader must be eager, poised and proactive in being the primary fundraiser for GMF and be skilled at capitalizing on existing relationships and creating new ones to grow GMF’s fundraising efforts, most particularly its individual giving program and access to private and public grants.
Confident Relational Manager
An experienced manager of people, the Executive Director must inspire, develop and empower GMF’s relatively small, yet long-serving and highly committed staff of professionals. An active listener, the Executive Director must create a collaborative and mutually supportive culture and climate; display high levels of integrity and accountability; and approach the work with a sense of good humor, diplomacy, patience, warmth, resilience, and considerable energy.
This search is being conducted by TSNE MissionWorks with transition consultant John Tarvin. All submissions will be acknowledged and are confidential.
Please include a resume and a cover letter with salary requirements, information regarding how you learned of the position, and a description of how your qualifications and experience match GMF’s needs and mission. All submissions of candidacy will be accepted until the position is filled. Salary is commensurate with experience, within the framework of the organization’s annual operating budget.
GMF strongly desires to attract a broad and diverse pool of candidates to apply.