Executive Director


Compensation: $85,000 – $100,000 DOE/neg.
Location: San Diego, CA
Reports to: Board of Directors (10 members)
Direct Reports: Staff of 16 listed below (5 direct reports, and 11 indirect reports)


Our Story:

San Diego Audubon Society (SDAS) is a leading regional wildlife conservation nonprofit on the front lines of habitat restoration and protection, grassroots advocacy, and outdoor environmental education. San Diego County is considered a biodiversity hotspot and has more animals and plants on the endangered species list than any other county in the U.S. SDAS plays a significant and growing role in protecting many of the county’s open spaces and preserving the region’s unique biodiversity. SDAS owns and fully manages two reserves; Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary and Anstine-Audubon Nature Preserve.

SDAS was founded over 70 years ago as a chapter of the National Audubon Society. We are conservationists, hikers, birders, and educators, and we share our experiences and values with others through a variety of nature-oriented programs. We serve a diverse population, with community-based habitat restoration projects, environmental education programs, and recreational offerings in North County, Metro, East County, and South Bay communities. To learn more, please visit: sandiegoaudubon.org.


After experiencing a strong growth curve over the past 14 years with our previous Executive Director, the San Diego Audubon Society is excited to welcome its future leader to the organization. The new Executive Director will oversee a budget approaching $1 million and all areas of the organization, including staff and board development, fundraising, program management, outreach and advocacy, and nonprofit business operations. They will become a part of a supportive and dedicated community comprised of a ten-person board of directors, 16 staff members (8 FTE, 8 PT), 1,000+ volunteers, and numerous other SDAS supporters spanning various professional fields and backgrounds.

Primary responsibilities and focus allocation for this position is:

  • Lead Ambassador and Chief Fundraiser – 60%
  • Staff and Volunteer Leader and Manager – 25%
  • Program Planning and Leadership – 15%

Duties & Responsibilities:

Lead Ambassador and Chief Fundraiser:

  • Represent SDAS throughout the region, raising the profile and visibility to funders, partners, policymakers, and the public.
  • Speak with conviction and a clear understanding of local and global environmental issues.
  • Work effectively with elected officials and government agencies.
  • Maintain and build on the existing network of communications with other Audubon chapters and like-minded organizations, including California Audubon and National Audubon.
  • Lead and directly manage all fundraising activities in collaboration with staff and volunteers.
  • Cultivate and solicit individual donors, foundations, corporations and government agencies to maintain current funders and develop new prospects.
  • Steward and expand the membership base.

Lead and Manage Staff and Volunteers:

  • Provide inspirational leadership to staff and volunteers to achieve and sustain excellence, and maintain a healthy balance in the staff/volunteer interdependence.
  • Recruit, hire, train, supervise, develop, and evaluate annually all paid staff.
  • Partner closely with the board of directors and committee chairpersons, providing support and guidance where appropriate.
  • Set and manage financial and program goals and actuals.
  • Ensure operating policies, programmatic commitments, financial standards, and legal requirements are met.
  • Create and collaborate with the board, program directors, and other staff to develop annual operating budget and track performances to the budget, which includes providing quarterly reporting to the board.
  • In collaboration with board members and staff, develop strategies for addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion across the organization internally and externally.

Program Planning and Leadership:

  • Supervise and direct programs, including environmental education, conservation activities, ReWild, Bird Festival, and others.
  • Oversee SDAS’s management of the Silverwood and Anstine-Audubon sanctuaries.
  • Coordinate closely with staff and volunteer leadership and provide counsel and support for all programmatic, marketing, and communications activities.
  • Lead the strategic planning process, developing and incorporating new ideas, programs, and exploring ways to meet or exceed goals.

Outcomes & Priorities:

The top outcomes and priorities for the Executive Director within the first year:

  • Lead the board and the staff in fulfilling our mission, which is to foster the protection and appreciation of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats, through education and study, and advocate for a cleaner, healthier environment.
  • Increase our access to conservation, legal, planning, political, scientific, and education expertise through individuals, other organizations, and institutions.
  • Develop a deep understanding of programs, budget, scope of responsibilities, culture, mission, vision, volunteer and donor base, opportunities, challenges and history of SDAS.
  • Become familiar with local communities and ecosystems and the local impacts of climate change on wildlife, habitats, and people.
  • Establish positive, constructive working relationships with staff and the board of Directors, as well as volunteers, donors, and community partners.
  • Begin laying the groundwork for SDAS’s next strategic plan.
  • Maintain momentum on current fundraising activities, including individual, foundation, corporate, and government funders.
  • Focus on member retention and stewardship.
  • Work closely with the staff to develop a vision for each program that includes short-term and long-term goals and funding streams to sustain programmatic activity.
  • Maintain dialogue with board and staff about organizational branding and our public persona, and lay groundwork for a Communications Master Plan.
  • Collaborate with SDAS’s Conservation Director to lead SDAS’s ReWild project.
  • Work with the board of directors to identify and cultivate new board members.

The top outcomes and priorities for the Executive Director within 1-5 years:

  • Provide leadership in developing and implementing the next strategic plan. Priorities may include, but are not limited to:
  • Address climate change and other environmental concerns through programmatic, advocacy, and communication activities.
  • Protect and rehabilitate more migratory bird flyway habitat.
  • Increase environmental programs (conservation and education) throughout our region.
  • Continue to expand SDAS’s role and effective impact in environmental education and conservation organizations in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
  • Maintain and build on synergistic relationships with other organizations and institutions to address both general and specific conservation and environmental issues.
  • Cultivate new funding sources for long-term organizational sustainability and new initiatives.
  • Build a more diverse community of members, volunteers, and supporters for SDAS, and develop strategies to address equity, diversity, and inclusion within our organization.
  • Evaluate jobs currently performed by volunteers and explore opportunities to either outsource and/or integrate into new staff positions.
  • Develop a staffing and implementation plan for technology and data systems to improve functionality and security.

Required Experience, Skills & Abilities

  • Bachelor’s degree required; master’s degree preferred.
  • 7+ years’ experience as a leader, manager or key team member of a small-to-medium-sized nonprofit organization.
  • Experience working with a board of community leaders, including reporting, advising, board member recruitment, strategic planning, and meeting/exceeding goals and milestones.
  • A track record of success with growing existing funding sources and adding new revenue sources, such as individual giving, events, grants, contracts, and other partnerships.
  • Solid business acumen including budgeting, reporting, operations, and marketing.
  • Impressive communication skills (written and oral), plus strong listening skills and the ability to connect with and inspire a wide range of partners and stakeholders.
  • Successful experience with environmental and coalition building.
  • Knowledge of legal practices, including CEQA, zoning regulations, and the City of San Diego master plan preferred.
  • Must understand local and state government systems and policies to determine short and long term strategies.
  • Excellent public speaking skills.
  • Familiarity with using donor and volunteer management databases such as eTapestry, Volgistics, etc.

Leadership Attributes:

  • Acts with humility, self-awareness, and unyielding ethical standards.
  • A servant-leader who truly cares for the well-being of each team member and takes an active role in their development.
  • Engages with a staff spanning multiple locations, and promotes a workplace culture of accountability, inclusiveness, and collaboration.
  • Unabashed optimist who can see through or around obstacles.
  • Possesses a growth mindset, constantly seeking ways to improve and innovate.
  • A natural connector who can bring the right people and resources together to effect change.
  • Exhibits a high level of emotional intelligence; practices discretion and behaves with integrity.
  • Confidence and comfort with taking and managing strategic risks.


Liliane Lendvai, Director
Blair Search Partners
550 West B Street, 4th Floor
San Diego, CA 92101

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