The Hitchcock Center for the Environment (Hitchcock Center) is a nationally recognized environmental education center known for its talented educators, progressive leadership, and innovative programming. The Hitchcock Center’s programs have an intentional focus on inclusion and accessibility. Participants are offered scholarships, reduced cost, and free programs, while educators work with school systems from across the region. They have inspired young learners and adults in indoor and outdoor classrooms for almost six decades, and in recent years, the Hitchcock Center has assumed a powerful new role in the face of climate change. At a time when our species faces the biggest environmental challenge we have ever seen, the Hitchcock Center recognizes that “effective learning must be transformative, directly inspiring engagement and action.”
Many of the Hitchcock Center’s highly valued staff members have been employed by the organization for a decade or more. They have devoted their careers to working with a diverse range of learners of all ages. As educators, they have continued to develop their own professional expertise, broadening their capacity to design new curriculum materials and complementary activities.
Through the vitality of its connections with schools, its professional development for educators, and its focus on engaging families throughout the region, the Hitchcock Center has become a respected leader in its field. Since 2017, the average number of program participants has exceeded 10,000 annually, excluding FY2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic impacted program participation. In the years ahead, the Hitchcock Center’s potential for initiating new programs, and making them accessible to a broader regional, statewide, and national population, is exciting to both the board and the staff.
The Hitchcock Center is located in Amherst, a culturally and educationally rich western Massachusetts area, home to the Five Colleges and in close proximity to numerous museums; near music, theater, and dance venues; and near a range of sports, camping, and outdoor recreation sites. The Hitchcock Center employs thirteen staff, in addition to seasonal camp staff, and has an operating budget of $850,000.
Strategically positioned to fulfill its mission “to educate and to inspire action for a healthy planet,” the Hitchcock Center opened the doors to its new home, a 9,000-square foot “living” environmental education center in the Fall of 2016. An award-winning structure, and the 23rd certified Living Building in the world, it was built in response to the Living Building Challenge. Its construction followed a highly successful capital campaign that has raised almost $7 million, and adheres to “holistic standards incorporating the most progressive thinking from architecture, engineering, planning, interiors, landscape design, and policy.”
The Living Building, with its focus on sustainability, responsibly sourced, nontoxic materials, and net-zero energy, is a unique teaching tool that promises to expand the reach of the Hitchcock Center, regionally, nationally, and internationally.
The Hitchcock Center’s programs throughout western Massachusetts and beyond, include:
PreK-12 School Programs
Developing critical thinkers equipped to meet the complex environmental challenges of the 21st Century.
Children, Youth and Family
Supporting children’s intellectual, social, emotional, and physical learning through hands-on science and outdoor education.
Building a base of environmentally curious, intelligent, and engaged individuals working to make our planet a better place to live.
Serving as a premier training site for educators in the best practices of environmental education and teaching excellence.
Since opening their doors to the Living Building, the Hitchcock Center has experienced a 50% increase in the number of participants and visitors to the Center, and in the geographic regions served. Program participants and visitors include those from communities throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as more than 20 states across the nation and 30 countries around the world. The potential for expanded programs and new collaborative partnerships marks a momentous turning point in the organization’s development.
With a healthy and growing endowment and the excitement surrounding its Living Building, the Hitchcock Center presents a new leader with the opportunities to build upon a stellar reputation, to expand its reach, and to incorporate programmatic innovation and growth.
The new executive director will help to educate the next generation of environmental decision makers, and will play a central role in creating a healthier and more sustainable future. Under the guidance of a new executive director, board and staff members anticipate that the Hitchcock Center will embrace the challenges ahead: engaging visitors and participants of all ages from diverse communities near and far, forging new partnerships, and encouraging lifestyles that value sustainability and climate justice. As climate change and climate justice continue to influence program design, the Hitchcock Center’s staffing structure is under review as well.
In the next decade, diversifying the Hitchcock Center’s funding stream will be a strategic focus, as new partnerships and a robust donor base promise continued support and the Hitchcock Center’s entry into fruitful collaborations.
An intensive strategic planning process is underway and will be close to completion by the summer of 2021. There are numerous areas targeted for development, growth, and change. Among the highest priority strategic initiatives are the following:
The Ideal Candidate
The Hitchcock Center seeks someone with demonstrated leadership and nonprofit management skills, with the ability to inspire board members and staff, introduce new funding, cultivate donor relationships, and think strategically. This position requires a skilled communicator with the capacity to develop and articulate a compelling vision, and to embrace the public visibility the position will require.
The successful candidate will be passionate about environmental issues, and bring some measure of sustainability and climate change knowledge to the work at hand. The position will also require financial management skills as well as volunteer and staff management experience. The ideal candidate will have compatible values and will be able to direct the organization’s intention to become a more inclusive and equitable organization: They will bring a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion to the Hitchcock Center board and staff, and an expansion in reach and appeal to its program participants. The competence and confidence required to manage multiple areas of responsibility simultaneously are also sought in the successful candidate.
The organization seeks a leader who is highly skilled at planning, partnership building and multi-faceted fundraising, and who will comfortably serve as the face of the organization to diverse public audiences.
The Hitchcock Center’s ideal candidate will demonstrate these skills and attributes:
Strategic Thinking and Program Oversight
The ideal candidate will be a strategic thinker who brings significant experience in managing programs, budgets and staff.
Excellent Communication Skills
The Hitchcock Center seeks a leader with skills in written and oral communications as well as public presentations, and an individual who is an articulate and thoughtful speaker. The successful candidate will be adept at representing the organization effectively to public audiences, donors, foundations and potential partners.
Fundraising and Revenue Generation
The ideal candidate will be adept at cultivating new donors and retaining established donors, experienced in institutional donor development and grant writing. They will be experienced in identifying and cultivating new partnerships and maintaining positive relationships with partners and funders.
Collaborative and Community Relations Experience
The next executive director will bring significant skills in outreach, community relations and partnership and collaboration development. The ideal candidate will represent the Hitchcock Center’s mission and vision to its constituents.
Resource Management and Administration Experience
The ideal candidate will be comfortable with financial and operational management in a public or nonprofit agency or program, and will possess excellent staff management skills. They will understand workplace compliance and employment laws and possess the ability to ensure adequate control and accounting of all funds, including maintaining sound financial practices.
Facility in Working with a Skilled Staff and Volunteer Population
The next executive director will be adept at motivating and leading a complement of talented staff and a dedicated group of volunteers, valuing their work and respecting their contributions.
The Hitchcock Center seeks a new leader with significant experience working effectively in partnership with a board of directors and its committees to carry out the mission of the organization. The successful candidate will enjoy and be successful at working closely with the Hitchcock Center’s active, engaged board.
Education and Leadership Experience
A Bachelor’s degree is required and a Master’s degree in a related field is preferred. Five or more years of increasing leadership responsibility is preferred.
Submission of Candidacy
Transition Consultant Cathy Cohen with TSNE has been exclusively retained for this search. Online applications are preferred.
Candidates should include a resume and a cover letter that describes how their qualifications and experience match the needs of the Hitchcock Center; how their background and experience illustrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; along with salary requirements, how they learned of the position and any other relevant information (such as published articles). All applications will be acknowledged. Applications will be accepted until the position has been filled, with priority given to those received by June 1, 2021.
This is a full-time position. The salary range for this position is $85,000 to $100,000, and the total compensation package includes health insurance and generous paid time off benefits.
The Hitchcock Center is an equal-opportunity employer and actively seeks a diverse pool of candidates. People of color, women, transgender, and non-binary people are encouraged to apply.