Executive Director


Compensation: $90,000 – $115,000 DOE/neg.
Location: Oceanside, CA (partial remote work optional)
Reports to: Board of Directors
Direct Reports: 8 Volunteer Trainers (jointly with Director of Training), 3 volunteer consultants (accountant, administrative assistant, and grant writer)



Our mission is to expedite recovery and enhance the lives of wounded military heroes, through highly trained service dogs. Founded in 2006, Freedom Dogs (a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization), uplifts and empowers military personnel who are facing severe challenges through customized services and one-on one care. Our specialty service dogs and our trainers provide this vital support during what may be a challenging transition back to civilian life – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Working closely with the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Battalion – West at Camp Pendleton, our organization provides custom-trained dogs through two free programs. Our Partner Program pairs a dog and trainer team with a wounded Marine to complement rehabilitation and assist in the recovery process. If the Marine is facing even greater challenges, they may join our Partner for Life Program, which matches them with a service dog for life.

Freedom Dogs is a completely volunteer-run organization – the new Executive Director role will be our first full-time paid staff position. We have a 9-person Board of Directors, 8 highly dedicated trainers, and a number of other committee and event volunteers. This summer, Freedom Dogs will embark on an exciting new endeavor, opening our first independent, fully-functioning training center adjacent to Camp Pendleton. To learn more about the organization, please visit: http://www.freedomdogs.org/


The Executive Director will join the organization at a pivotal time in our history. This position requires a hands-on professional who shares the passion for our mission and is eager to be involved in all aspects of the organization. Partnering with the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will oversee all aspects of the organization, including strategic planning, outreach, daily operations, budgeting, administration, and logistics. He/she will manage all fundraising efforts to ensure we reach our 2019 goal of $250,000, while developing and maintaining a team of critical volunteers. He/she will also be responsible for the successful launch of Freedom Dogs’ new Oceanside facility, which will house the Executive Director’s office.

Strategic priorities for the new Executive Director include:

  1. Build strong relationships with Freedom Dogs’ current team of volunteer trainers and implement strategies for recruiting and retaining additional trainers.
  2. Evaluate and implement organizational changes to drive operational efficiency.
  3. Develop Freedom Dogs’ fundraising capabilities, including the addition of an endowment.
  4. Expand programs to serve other geographic areas, branches of the military, and veterans.
  5. Identify an accountant.

Duties & Responsibilities Board Relations & Strategic Planning:

  • Work closely with the Board of Directors in all areas, including reporting, advising and board member recruitment.
  • Engage the Board to fully leverage each member’s strengths and connections.
  • Partner with the Board in the strategic planning process and work closely with the board to ensure goals and milestones are met or exceeded.

Program Operations:

  • Manage day-to-day operations and logistics; this position requires a willingness to “roll up your sleeves” and do whatever is needed to get the job done.
  • Continue growing and scaling the organization in a fiscally responsible manner.
  • In conjunction with an accountant, oversee all fiscal operations of Freedom Dogs, including budgeting, accounting, auditing, contract management, and compliance.
  • Manage a wide variety of daily program administration details, including facilities, website, IT and creative media.

Fundraising & Events:

  • Assume responsibility for all development strategy and operations in conjunction with the Board.
  • Create and implement innovative strategies for securing new and untapped resources, including individual and major gifts, grants, special events, and an endowment.
  • Use charisma and enthusiasm to recruit supporters, volunteers and funders.
  • Hire a contract grant writer, and ensure all necessary reports and deliverables are produced.
  • Plan and execute special events to build awareness and public support for Freedom Dogs.

Marketing & Communications:

  • Serve as the primary spokesperson for Freedom Dogs, frequently attending events and speaking in public.
  • Maintain relationships with various organizations, including Camp Pendleton, Veterans Affairs (VA), Assistance Dogs International (ADI), and utilize these relations to strategically support Freedom Dogs’ mission.
  • Form strong relationships with our current volunteer trainers and attract new volunteers/supporters of Freedom Dogs.
  • Oversee the organization’s traditional and social media strategies.

Leadership Attributes & Work Style:

  • Passionate: driven by Freedom Dogs’ commitment to improving the lives of our wounded military heroes.
  • Servant-Leader: leads with humility, empathy, and awareness.
  • Team Player: fosters a respectful, transparent, and collaborative work environment.
  • Community-minded: skilled at connecting with individuals across all socio-economic, ethnic, cultural, and professional backgrounds in the community, including peers, administrators, Camp Pendleton staff and vendors.
  • Entrepreneurial: an innovative problem solver with a proven track record of launching new ventures and/or major initiatives.
  • Organized: adept at managing complex projects and adhering to deadlines.
  • Analytical: ability to carefully study issues, identify trends and formulate new ideas.
  • Growth Mindset: constantly seeks new opportunities and ideas for Freedom Dogs.
  • Perseverant: sees things through to completion, especially in the face of resistance or setbacks.
  • Reflective: skilled at receiving and giving feedback and performance critiques.
  • Tact & Diplomacy: patient, willing and able to have the difficult conversations as required.
  • Communicative: impressive written and oral communication skills. An effective public speaker and representative of the organization.
  • Flexible: ability to work evenings and weekends as required for occasional special events.

 Education & Experience:

  • 5+ years of professional experience in nonprofit leadership and management.
  • Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s preferred.
  • An expert storyteller who can authentically yet succinctly convey Freedom Dog’s mission.
  • Experienced in constructing, articulating and implementing a strategic plan.
  • Financial and operational management experience working in a nonprofit and/or government setting.
  • Strong leadership skills to mentor and motivate volunteers.
  • A history of developing and working directly with board members.
  • Complete end-to-end understanding of fundraising strategies, systems, and processes.
  • Demonstrated success in building relationships for philanthropic purposes.
  • Experience working in San Diego, Orange, Imperial or Riverside Counties preferred.


Sarah Thompson, Director
Blair Search Partners