New Haven Land Trust-New Haven Farms partners with people to care for our urban landscape so all people discover, access, and enjoy the lands and waters that provide food, health, and life.
This newly merged organization unites two nonprofits that have been leaders and innovators of New Haven’s urban environmental movement. The New Haven Land Trust (NHLT), Connecticut’s first urban land trust, has served the community for nearly 40 years by acquiring and stewarding over 80 acres of nature preserves city-wide and by supporting 55 community gardens throughout New Haven’s diverse neighborhoods. NHLT has grown significantly over the last five years to include programs for young environmental entrepreneurs and a marine and coastal exploration summer camp on Long Island Sound. New Haven Farms (NHF) burst onto the scene seven years ago with its innovative Farm-Based Wellness Program that partners with medical centers to engage people with diet-related chronic disease risk factors in planting, growing, and harvesting at their seven farms across New Haven.
Both organizations have a growing commitment to racial equity and community leadership and have taken strides in cultivating community ownership among its stakeholders. A large part of both organizations’ work, especially New Haven Farms, takes place in bi-lingual settings, with Spanish as the predominant language. The merged organization synergizes closely aligned missions, values, programming, and diverse support networks into a powerhouse leader for advancing engagement and stewardship of urban nature as a resource for healthy people and communities.
The board of this newly formed organization now seeks a courageous leader and enthusiastic fundraiser who can assemble the many combined strengths of NHLT-NHF to launch a new phase of development and growth. This is a tremendous opportunity for an innovative nonprofit leader to grow an organization that is working at the intersection of urban agriculture, public health, food access, participatory community development, environmental education and stewardship, and youth development. The successful candidate will be passionate about these expressions of the mission, will be able to guide the organization in implementing practices that ensure racial and economic equity, and will help transition it into an organization that is primarily led by the communities it serves. She/he/they will also have significant experience and success in raising funds from diverse sources and advancing the strategic direction and operations of a not-for-profit organization with multiple, interlocking program areas.
These two organizations have been working closely together over a number of years and co-located their offices in 2018. A merger was discussed for the last several years and the two organizations decided to formally initiate the process with the legal combination scheduled for January 1, 2020. In the midst of this, New Haven Land Trust’s executive director, who had significantly grown the organization over the last six years, announced that he would step down from his post to pursue other interests. The Land Trust’s board engaged an interim executive director to lead the organization until the merger was completed and a new executive hired. The merger process has been smooth and supported by all, including staff and board members, program participants, and community stakeholders.
The new organization offers a platform of innovative programs that coactively impact the interrelated spheres of urban agriculture, public health, participatory community development, youth entrepreneurship, and environmental education and stewardship.
The seven farms and more than fifty community gardens managed by NHLT-NHF have a significant urban agricultural footprint in New Haven. The farms and gardens promote community development and public health, most notably through the innovative Farm-Based Wellness Program, which engages people with diet-related chronic disease risk factors in gardening and learning about nutrition and cooking healthy meals at one of the seven farms. All graduates of this program are invited to grow food in their own garden plots at one of the community gardens as part of the Incubator Garden Program, and exemplary graduates of the program become Community Health Ambassadors in their own communities through training in leadership and behavior change methodologies. Community Garden members are encouraged to serve on the Community Garden Committee, which supports the Garden Manager in stewarding the health of both the gardens and the community of growers.
Equally important is the organization’s focus on accessing the natural environment through education, land conservation and stewardship, recreation, and youth development and entrepreneurship. Its innovative Growing Entrepreneurs Program works with New Haven high school students to develop small-business ventures with a positive impact on the environment and the New Haven community. The organization manages six nature preserves, featuring important natural resources and habitats located throughout New Haven. It holds field trips and guided nature walks in the preserves to connect people to the abundance of nature in the city and reinforce the importance of conservation in urban areas. Schooner is a highly successful summer camp program that brings kids ages six to fourteen to the Connecticut shoreline to learn about the rich coastal habitat of the Long Island Sound through shore exploration and sailing. Fifty percent of all campers utilize a scholarship to attend the camp, and over the past two summers, more than half of the sailing program campers were experiencing sailing for the first time.
Additional Top Priorities for the New Executive
The Executive Director of New Haven Land Trust-New Haven Farms will be able to build on the organization’s many strengths to position it for growth and sustainability, lead it in innovative directions, and transform its culture and practices to be authentically living the values of racial equity and community leadership/ownership. She/he/they will be passionate about the organization’s mission and will deeply understand the dynamic relationships among food, community, agriculture, health, and environmental education and stewardship. This position requires a leader with high emotional intelligence and excellent communication and public speaking skills; a relationship-builder who can genuinely connect with people and is astute at building strategic partnerships; and a person with the awareness, capacity, and humility to cultivate inter-racial and inter-cultural groups and settings.
Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience, as well as at least five years of experience in a leadership role in a similar size organization in a field related to this organization’s mission.
The ideal candidate will have demonstrated passion for urban nature, including urban agriculture, community development, public health, food access, and environmental education and stewardship, and will be able to translate that passion into a persuasive and compelling story. She/he/they will be able to ignite passion in others.
The ideal candidate will have worked and/or lived experience in communities of color and low-income communities. He/she/they will understand the role that systemic racism plays in our country and have the experience and knowledge necessary to transform a white-led organization into doing racial equity work and ensuring that every sphere of the organization reflects this commitment.
As the organization works primarily in multicultural communities, the ideal candidate will either possess lived experience or have the learned knowledge and skills necessary to respectfully and genuinely engage with individuals of all experiences and backgrounds. An individual who is multi-lingual, especially in Spanish, and/or multicultural will be strongly preferred.
The ideal candidate will be open-minded, approachable, and fair, with an intuitive understanding of when to give credit to others while exercising effective leadership.
The ideal candidate will have keen listening skills, empathy, compassion, self-awareness, and a sense of humility. He/she/they will be warm, approachable, genuine, and able to build relationships with people of different races, cultures, styles, and professional levels.
Skills and Experience
The ideal candidate has significant professional experience in supervision and management of staff, in administering a multi-source budget, and in efficiently and strategically aligning and maximizing resources.
The ideal candidate is able to inspire and develop staff and will create a climate of trust, respect and a collaborative team culture that welcomes and values inclusion and diversity. She/he/they will foster leadership among staff and program/community members and create space and pathways for them to step into ever-greater leadership roles.
The ideal candidate is skilled at working collaboratively in setting and communicating strategic direction and can hold a vision while being able to identify and respond sensitively and creatively to growth opportunities and community circumstances. She/he/they leverage opportunities and support for initiatives with an innovative and cooperative approach to solving problems and overcoming challenges.
The ideal candidate will have demonstrated success in fund development and earned income streams/social enterprise and will have the ability to lead the board and staff in executing a comprehensive fundraising plan and strategic revenue model.
The ideal candidate will be able to passionately articulate the organization’s mission and deliver compelling presentations to public, private, and diverse audiences.
The ideal candidate will be skilled in working effectively in partnership with boards of directors to carry out the mission of the organization, set strategic direction, and build a board that reflects the community that the organization works in, as well as an organizational culture of diversity, equity, inclusiveness, and belonging.
Knowledge of and experience in the New Haven Community is preferred; or demonstrated ability to gain understanding and engage local communities in meaningful ways.