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27 Jun 2019

Full-Time Executive Director

Fairmount Park Conservancy – Posted by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Fairmount Park Conservancy logo

Job Description

About Fairmount Park Conservancy

Fairmount Park Conservancy (the Conservancy) is an independent 501(c)(3) organization that champions Philadelphia parks. The Conservancy powers investment and innovative programming to activate, restore, and maintain 10,200 acres of Philadelphia parks, including more than 200 neighborhood parks around the city, as well as historic buildings, monuments, and public art throughout the region. It is the only park conservancy in the country focused on a city-wide park system. The Conservancy seeks a dynamic person to serve as its next Executive Director who can leverage the expertise and energy of its staff and Board of Directors to lead the organization through its next phase of growth.

The Conservancy brings parks to life through:

  • Capital projects. Working closely with community partners, the Conservancy spearheads transformative capital projects that revitalize the city’s parks to support community health, safety, and recreation. Recent signature projects include a master planning process for FDR Park in South Philadelphia, a new play and recreation space in West Fairmount Park and streetscape enhancements along Parkside Avenue, and a partnership with the Strawberry Mansion CDC, Studio Zewde, DIGSAU, Amber Art & Design, and Strawberry Mansion residents to create a vision and plan for the future Mander Playground in East Fairmount Park.
  • Programs. Conservancy programming connects people and parks to encourage stewardship, conservation, civic dialogue, fun, and wellness. Programs include Neighborhood Park Stewardship to support physical improvement to neighborhood parks by committed volunteers; TreePhilly, a tree-planting and educational initiative that gives away more than 4,000 trees every year; the FarmPhilly community garden and urban agriculture program; and Parks on Tap, a traveling community beer garden that spotlights the diversity of Philly’s parks and generates revenue to support programs and capital improvements.
  • Architectural conservation services. Fairmount Park Conservancy offers a full complement of building restoration and preservation maintenance services throughout the Philadelphia metro region, including masonry conservation, historic structure preservation, historic interior restoration, public art conservation, and project management. The Conservancy’s architectural and conservation staff have years of experience preserving historic structures ranging from National Historic Landmarks to vernacular barns.

This is a brief overview of the Conservancy’s approach. For more information, see

Fairmount Park Conservancy was initially established by the Fairmount Park Commission to supplement its ability to organize people and resources to benefit the entire park system. In 2015, the Conservancy merged with Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust, expanding its purview to include the historic structures in the park. Today, the Conservancy partners closely with the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation (PPR) to champion the natural and physical assets of the city’s park system. For more information on the Conservancy’s history, merger, and relationship with the City, see

Overview of the Position

The next Executive Director will join the Conservancy at an inflection point for the organization, when the value of parks to civic life is widely recognized, and the Conservancy is viewed as central to the advancement of parks across the city. In the last decade, the Conservancy has emerged as the go-to organization for city government, major foundations, and community groups for support, activation, and engagement around Philadelphia’s parks. What began as a fundraising vehicle in support of city government is now a lead player in urban revitalization, sustainability, and civic engagement that inspires people to think about parks and open space in new ways.

The next Executive Director will work closely with the Board and staff to determine: what “growth” means moving forward; the programmatic initiatives on which to focus resources; how to strengthen organizational infrastructure and capacity; how to continue to engage and maximize the Board’s role; and how to raise funds in a continually evolving environment. They will have a sophisticated, nuanced ability to balance between being the executive of an independent nonprofit corporation, and working closely and responsively with the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, elected officials, local parks advocacy organizations, community groups, and people who are passionate about the city’s parks.

They will have the following priorities in their first year:

  • Reintroduce the Conservancy under new leadership to Philadelphia communities, funders, government, and other stakeholders.
  • Confirm and then operationalize the Conservancy’s strategic plan, identifying those priorities that will have the greatest impact on advancing the mission.
  •  Assure the Conservancy has the optimal organizational and staffing structure to (a) advance its mission and strategic goals and (b) empower staff to lead.
  • Confirm the revenue plan and continue fundraising for major capital projects and core operations.
  • Develop an actionable plan for diversity, equity, and inclusion that assures the Conservancy’s philosophy and approach regarding equity in Philadelphia’s parks is reflected in the organization’s policies and practices for recruitment, hiring, and retention.
  • Forge meaningful, effective relationship with the Board. Confirm and execute a plan for Board development.

Professional Characteristics

  1. At least 10 years’ successful tenure in a leadership role.
  2. Demonstrated experience in operational, fundraising and external relations functions.
  3. Direct experience in parks not required but commitment to understanding and, then, embracing the mission a must.
  4. Direct experience within the Philadelphia nonprofit, public, and philanthropic sectors is a plus, though not required.
  5. Demonstrable ability in fund development, to include fundraising strategy, being the face of an organization, and soliciting financial support.
  6. High-energy, compelling person with vision and skills to mobilize others towards a common goal.
  7. Politically savvy.
  8. Ability to navigate complex relationships and lead negotiations. Must understand the unique interests and motivations of multiple stakeholders (e.g., the organization, community constituents, funders, public sector decisionmakers).
  9. High emotional intelligence and excellent listening skills. Ability to synthesize perspectives of diverse stakeholder groups to build consensus and, then, act.
  10. Entrepreneurial person capable of assessing, and comfortable with, risk.
  11. Ability to operationalize strategy and ideas is a must.
  12. Recognizes the expertise of staff and brings out the best in them to advance the organization’s goals while also advancing staff leadership.
  13. Understanding of the arc of complex community-based capital projects preferred. Direct experience in oversight of capital projects a plus.
  14. Must possess understanding and philosophy of approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion, both in leading/managing an organization and in collaborating with communities.
  15. Managerial expertise including budget management and working directly with a volunteer governing board.
  16. Effective communicator with proven experience working with diverse populations, including experience in building bridges to develop relationships, trust and credibility.

Key Responsibilities

  1. Strategic Leadership
    1. Confirm the strategic vision for the organization, rally support, then drive it forward.
    2. Implement the new strategic plan for the Conservancy, providing leadership to staff and Board regarding vision and priorities for advancing mission and goals.
    3. With support of senior team, identify and assess future opportunities, risk, ROM, ROI.
  2. Organizational Management
    1. Review operations against stated goals and implement changes as needed.
    2. Periodically review and continuously support others to execute their respective roles and responsibilities.
    3. Nurture a culture of equity, excellence, and team that attracts, motivates, and retains staff.
  3. Resource Development
    1. Working with the Sr. Dir. of Development, design fundraising plan to support annual operations and capital projects.
    2. Supported by development staff, solicit support from and steward relationships with corporate, foundation, and individual donors.
    3. Motivate and support efforts of volunteer fundraisers within the Board and City’s civic leadership.
    4. Working with PPR, identify and implement entrepreneurial ventures to increase revenue.
  4. External Relations
    1. Serve as chief spokesperson and public face of the organization to assure the Conservancy’s visibility.
    2. Develop alliances with public, private, and community partners.
    3. Develop and maintain collaborative relationship with PPR, City Council, the corporate community, and partner organizations.
  5. Financial Management
    1. Work with the CFO to develop and adhere to the annual budget.
    2. Regularly inform the Board of the organization’s financial status.
  6. Board Relations and Development
    1. Nurture a positive, open and collaborative relationship with the Board and its committees.
    2. Arrange opportunities for board education and engagement.


$155,000-$170,000, with benefits aligned with nonprofit industry standards.


Fairmount Park Conservancy has a budget of approximately $9M from contributions/grants (77%), program revenue (21%), and other sources (2%).


Reports to the Board of Directors through the Board President.


Direct Reports: CFO, Director of Capital Projects, and Senior Directors of Development, Strategy and Planning, Civic Initiatives, and Preservation & Property Management


Fairmount Park Conservancy is an equal opportunity employer and prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion. Fairmount Park Conservancy does not discriminate based on ethnicity, race, gender or sexual orientation and encourages all qualified individuals to apply. This profile is intended to indicate the general nature and level of work performed by the Executive Director. It is not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities and qualifications required of the Executive Director.


How to Apply

Résumé and a one-page cover letter that conveys why you are well suited for this position and how it fits into your career should be emailed as soon as possible to: Address cover letters to the Members of the Search Committee. No paper copies, please. Applications accepted through July 26, 2019. Phone screens of top applicants will begin immediately. Interviews of preferred candidates will be arranged for the weeks of August 5 and 19Notify the Search Committee in your application transmittal if you have unavoidable conflicts. Confirmation of receipt of the application will be sent by return email. No phone calls, please.

Job Categories: Environmental. Job Types: Full-Time. Salaries: 100,000 and above.

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