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7 Dec 2021

Full-Time Executive Director

Center for Ecoliteracy – Posted by - Berkeley, California, United States

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Job Description

Executive Director, Center for Ecoliteracy
San Francisco Bay Area

About the Center for Ecoliteracy

The Center for Ecoliteracy (“the Center”) is dedicated to cultivating education for sustainable living.

It recognizes that students need to experience and understand how nature sustains life and how to live accordingly. The organization encourages schools to teach and model sustainable practices. The Center leads systems change initiatives, publishes original books and resources, facilitates conferences and professional development, and provides strategic consulting. It works at multiple levels of scale, with local, regional, state, and national programs.

One initiative, California Food for California Kids® supports systems change by improving children’s health, education, and the state’s economy while teaching students where food comes from and how it reaches the table. California Food for California Kids is a network of approximately 100 California school districts.

The Center was founded in 1995 as a nonprofit dedicated to education for sustainable living by Fritjof Capra, author and systems thinker; Peter Buckley, business leader, farmer, and conservationist; and founding executive director Zenobia Barlow, a pioneer in creating models of schooling for sustainability. It is located in the LEED Platinum rated David Brower Center in Berkeley, California.

The Center supports leaders in cultivating conditions for social impact and sustainable systemic change. Major projects include California Thursdays®, its implementation strategy for healthy, freshly prepared school meals from California-grown food, advanced through the organization’s statewide network of school districts serving more than 334 million meals a year. The Center’s Education for Sustainable Living seminars have attracted participants from five continents and 40 states.

The Center for Ecoliteracy has an annual budget of $1.8 million, ten talented staff, and a dedicated Board of Directors. The vision of the organization is a world where all students experience and understand how nature sustains life and are inspired to live in ways that benefit people and the environment. In addition, the Center aims for all schools to be committed to cultivating ecological literacy through transformational experiences in the cafeteria, classroom, and garden and educating students about the food system and its connection to the environment.

The Center for Ecoliteracy’s Commitment to Equity and Racial Justice

We pursue change in K-12 education and school food systems to provide a more just, sustainable, and equitable experience for our children and the people who nourish them. We recognize the harm that systemic racism, gender bias, and structural inequalities create in our public education, food, and labor systems, and strive to mitigate the health and educational inequities affecting low-income households and children of color. We amplify the voices of people that have been historically marginalized, and shape our work according to their messages. By listening and taking action to identify and include missing voices, we seek to shift power in both policy and decision-making. We are privileged to learn from our partners and will continue to grow and evolve our work to embody this commitment.

For more information on the Center for Ecoliteracy, please visit the website.

The Opportunity

  • The Center for Ecoliteracy seeks a mission-focused, collaborative, and innovative Executive Director to build upon a reputation of excellence in education for sustainable living in K-12 schooling, and expand the Center’s contributions, leading it to the next level of financial, programmatic, and organizational success. This is a high-profile opportunity for a dynamic professional. The successful candidate will provide outstanding organizational leadership with an entrepreneurial spirit and will passionately communicate the mission and achievements of the Center to internal and external stakeholders.
  • The Executive Director will be a collaborative leader, an excellent manager, and an accomplished fundraiser. The ideal candidate will have a deep familiarity with K-12 education and will have foundational ecological knowledge with the capacity to provide tangible benefits. The Executive Director provides progressive leadership and management to a staff of ten professionals to direct work which will further develop and expand the organization’s impact and funding base.
  • The Executive Director will be responsible for:

Leadership and Management

  • Guide the Center in achieving its mission, ensuring its programs build on accomplishments to date and further strengthen the quality, relevance, and profile of the organization.
  • Motivate and inspire staff to achieve the Center’s maximum potential by promoting an organizational culture and structure that fosters communication, collaboration, teamwork, and trust.
  • Provide leadership, direction, and support for all staff, and directly supervise senior staff.
  • Ensure ongoing programmatic excellence, integrity and transparency through productive partnerships and rigorous program administration, management, and evaluation.
  • Recommend to, and assist the Board in, developing overall objectives, strategies, and programs to achieve the organizational goals of the Center, and oversee the implementation of all adopted policies, programs, procedures, and plans.
  • Actively participate in recruiting and developing new Board members.
  • Ensure the preparation of annual financial plans and budgets for review and adoption by the Board of Directors, be responsible for overseeing staff, and ensure that the approved work program is carried out pursuant to the adopted budget.
  • Ensure that the Center’s bookkeeping, records, and files are maintained in good order, and that financial records are at all times in compliance with nonprofit reporting and other legal requirements.

Partnerships and Communications

  • Maintain and deepen existing partnerships while cultivating new partnerships with stakeholders, community leaders, industry, government decision-makers, and NGOs.
  • Maintain and build a client base among state agencies and identify funding pathways to support emerging programmatic goals.
  • Represent the organization externally, making public presentations as appropriate and engaging in and overseeing communications with stakeholders, the general public, media, governmental agencies, elected and appointed officials, and representatives of groups interested in K-12 education for sustainability issues.
  • Raise the Center’s profile within the broader K-12 education for sustainability community, garnering recognition for its valuable and unique assets and programs.

Fundraising and Development

  • Lead the staff and work with the Board of Directors to strengthen and expand the Center’s existing funding partnerships with state and federal agencies, private foundations, and other organizations and partners as appropriate.
  • Develop new funding partnerships, particularly with new state agencies and institutional funders to ensure the growth and long-term financial health and impact of the organization.
  • Represent and promote the Center externally to new and existing funders, partners, and the public: Raise the Center’s profile and visibility and build creative and enduring alliances by expanding awareness of its achievements, building on the organization’s reputation as a credible and accessible resource.

Field Advice and Leadership

  • Advise external agencies as appropriate opportunities arise. This includes both the Center’s leadership to perform these duties as an organization through products and convenings, and delivery of formal updates.
  • Identify new opportunities to leverage and enhance the Center’s unique value to state and non-governmental agencies to advance a constructive role for K-12 education for sustainability in decision-making.

Candidate Profile

While no candidate will bring all of the following skills, experiences, and characteristics, ideal candidates will bring most.

A Visionary and Strategic Leader

  • Demonstrated success in building and working constructively with a Board of Directors.
  • Team-building skills and a collaborative leadership style with the ability to empower staff, as well as the capacity and ability to enforce accountability and to position teams for success.
  • Strong leadership skills, including an engaging and energetic demeanor and the ability to inspire and motivate staff, donors, and partners.

An Authentic Ambassador and Relationship Builder

  • A high level of diplomacy and pragmatism and the ability to collaborate with a wide range of individuals, organizations, and agencies.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills, a persuasive and passionate communication style, and experience with social media tools.
  • Excellent interpersonal and relationship management skills and a track record of building and maintaining strong organizational partnerships.

A Fundraiser

  • Demonstrated success in institutional and individual fundraising, working with diverse funding partners, and communicating a compelling and inspired sense of purpose.
  • Temperament and interpersonal skills necessary to successfully build funder relationships.
  • Excellent communication skills, including the ability to deliver effective presentations that connect with a variety of audiences and inspire support and action.

A Passion for the Mission

  • Commitment to and passion for the Center for Ecoliteracy’s mission, vision, and values; unwavering commitment to quality programs and data-driven evaluation and solutions.
  • Awareness and foundational knowledge of environmental education and sustainability.
  • Results-oriented mindset and a strong personal commitment to developing and deepening the Center’s mission and goals.
  • Expertise and knowledge of California environmental, education, and ecoliteracy organizations, including a network of relevant relationships and connections, would be considered a plus.

Compensation & Benefits

The annual base salary for this role will start at $185,000, commensurate with qualifications and experience.  The Center for Ecoliteracy also offers a generous and comprehensive benefits package including 100% coverage of employee’s healthcare, plus premium vision and dental insurance, and chiropractic and acupuncture coverage.  Additionally, the Center contributes 10% of an employee’s salary into a 403(b) retirement program. Other perks include office closure between Christmas and the New Year, commuter benefit, and other pre-tax benefits. The Center’s investment in staff through the benefits program averages an investment of 35% of an employee’s annual salary.


Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Kara Teising and Libby Cornelssen are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express interest in the role please visit this link. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

At Koya, we don’t just accept difference—we celebrate it, support it, and thrive on it for the benefit of our team, our clients, and the communities we serve.

Koya is an equal opportunity employer fully committed to creating an environment and team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, styles, and experiences. We encourage all to apply because we believe a diversity of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone. Koya does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, military status, veteran status, genetic information, gender identity, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit

How to Apply

Koya Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Kara Teising and Libby Cornelssen are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express interest in the role please visit this link. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

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

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