Ripley seeks an Executive Director to build on the Conservancy’s 20+ year history and expand its contributions to conservation and education, leading the organization to its next level of programmatic and financial success. This is a pivotal opportunity for a dynamic professional to be an environmental leader and entrepreneur while representing a national resource at a critical stage of its growth.
About the Organization Ripley (or the Conservancy) is recognized as one of the nation’s pre-eminent facilities dedicated to environmental education, research and conservation, utilizing one of the largest collections in the U.S. of rare and endangered waterfowl. At a time when the average American child spends only 5 minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play and urban life dominates the economy, the Conservancy serves a growing need for raising awareness, knowledge and passion for biodiversity and environmental health. Working with teachers, students, zoos and conservationists, the conservancy fills an important role in Connecticut and across the United States for its work with rare and endangered birds.
Founded by one of the twentieth century’s outstanding figures in ornithology and conservation, S. Dillon Ripley, an internationally recognized collection of waterfowl was developed in Litchfield, Connecticut from the 1940s-1980’s. Dr. Ripley and his wife, Mary Livingston Ripley, recognized the potential for their waterfowl collection to become a valuable conservation resource. In 1985, Dillon and Mary created a non-profit foundation, today known as the Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy, dedicated to captive waterfowl conservation, research and environmental education. In the ensuing years, the Conservancy has been managed and grown by its highly capable board and staff. Today, the site consists of 16 fenced acres of ponds and aviaries in the middle of a 150 acre preserve in Litchfield, Connecticut. The collection consists of over 70 species of birds and approximately 400 individuals. The team has developed educational programs from grades 1-12, in keeping with the scientific criteria of the state of Connecticut as well as programs for the general public. The Conservancy shares these programs with thousands of people every year, at its facilities in Litchfield, offsite in schools, nursing homes and other venues in the tri-state area and nationally and internationally on- line. Other partners include US Fish & Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Society, Audubon, Yale University, and Alaska Sea Life Center.
With an annual budget of roughly $900,000, a sizable endowment, a full-time staff of six and a network of interns and volunteers, the Conservancy uses its resources to further the cause of environmental education and the preservation of rare and endangered waterfowl. The successful candidate will have the leadership and communication skills necessary to articulate, develop, present, and implement the Conservancy's conservation goals, strategies and programs, while working closely with the Board and staff.
Primary Duties and Responsibilities The Executive Director is the most senior officer of our organization and is responsible for leading operations, fund raising, strategic planning and staff development.
This individual will be responsible for growing the endowment and other revenues by spearheading fundraising, major gifts and grants and through creating new initiatives and ideas to cultivate additional revenue sources.
The Board is commencing a campaign to build an Education Center, and the new Director will be responsible for leading this effort as well as launching a capital campaign in the next couple of years.
He/she will have a team of 6 full-time people responsible for the major departments (Aviculture, Education, Operations, HR & Finance, Property Management) and a network of interns and volunteers and is responsible for all activities related to their growth, mentoring and development.
Annually our Executive Director develops and presides over a budget and review of strategy and is responsible for managing revenues and expenses, accordingly.
The Executive Director reports to the Board, managing the Board agenda and executes initiatives, including working closely with the board committees.
The ED will represent and raise the profile and visibility of Ripley externally to all stakeholders, including funders, educators, policymakers, media, and the local, regional, national and even international community.
The ED will oversee operations, including setting financial and programmatic goals, analyzing results, and taking corrective actions, in close collaboration with staff as well as fostering a healthy, happy and collaborative work environment.
Qualifications and Experience An ideal candidate will have the following qualifications:
Strong leadership and communication skills, including an engaging and energetic demeanor and the ability to inspire and motivate donors, staff, volunteers and partners
A leadership style that is entrepreneurial and creative and a solution-focused spirit when addressing challenges. Experience managing institutional growth and change is highly desirable, as well as the ability to bring new and creative solutions to challenges
Outstanding interpersonal skills, judgment, and a demonstrated ability to collaborate and build coalitions with a wide range of individuals and organizations at the local, regional and national levels
Passion for the environment and biodiversity and a deep concern for preserving and protecting our natural resources—interest in/passion for birds and birding are a plus
Willingness and ability to travel as required
Minimum of 15 years relevant experience in multiple organizational roles. These should include strategy development and mission fulfillment, fund raising, and overall fiscal stewardship with experience cultivating major gifts and leading capital campaigns, and comparable staff and budget responsibilities.
Bachelor’s degree required from a nationally recognized university or college and Master’s degree in a relevant field preferred
Compensation and Location Ripley offers a competitive salary, commensurate with experience and an attractive benefits package. This position will be located in Litchfield, Connecticut, and the Executive Director would live within easy reach of the Conservancy.
To Apply Nominations and Applications, including-as individual attachments-cover letter and resume, should be submitted to Cynthia Greenleaf at firstname.lastname@example.org.