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26 Oct 2020

Full-Time President & CEO

American Rivers – Posted by - Anywhere

American Rivers logo

Job Description




This is a remarkable opportunity for an outstanding leader with passion and experience in the field of environment and conservation to direct the nation’s foremost river conservation organization.

The President and CEO will combine visionary leadership and great communications skills with pragmatic, balanced implementation to achieve concrete results. American Rivers is looking for a forward-thinking and innovative leader to find creative solutions to problems, with a focus on the most effective way to get things done.

American Rivers is the nation’s leading voice for rivers and believes a future of clean water and healthy rivers everywhere, for everyone, is essential. For nearly half a century, American Rivers has been fighting for clean water, thriving communities and healthy ecosystems. Key efforts include partnering with frontline communities seeking to revolutionize how their cities use water; removing dams to restore river habitats; protecting wild, free-flowing rivers; and helping communities build resilience in the face of floods, drought and other climate impacts.

Applying an equity lens internally and externally, the new President and CEO will lead the organization in implementing this mission through a combination of legislative action, specific river basin projects, litigation where necessary, and

by forging new partnerships and raising the awareness and importance of water issues nationally.


Since 1973, American Rivers has been the voice and guardian of the nearly three million miles of rivers across our nation and is the most trusted and influential river conservation organization in the United States. It is supported by 355,000 supporters, members and volunteers, and has an annual budget of $22 million.

The mission of American Rivers is to protect wild rivers, restore damaged river ecosystems, and conserve clean water for people and nature. With positions informed by science, the organization combines national advocacy with field work in key river basins to deliver the greatest impact. American Rivers works closely with business and agriculture interests, recreation groups and government agencies, as well as people historically excluded from decision-making processes including Black, Latino and Indigenous communities, to forge durable, lasting solutions. American Rivers has a long track record building consensus around a vision and serving as a catalyst for substantive change. It is committed to advancing this work through a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

For additional information, please visit


This is a remarkable opportunity for an outstanding leader to join the nation’s leading river conservation organization and to transform the future of clean water and healthy rivers for all.

The President and CEO will be responsible for carrying out American Rivers’ consistent achievement of its strategic plan. This leader will bring true visionary leadership to the operations, staff, Board, funders, partners and constituents of American Rivers and will be a forward- thinking and innovative leader who is committed to the core values and mission of the organization.

Inspired by a deep passion for environmental conservation through an equity lens, the CEO will report to and work closely with the Board of Directors to drive forward the vision of American Rivers staff and supporters.


The most competitive candidates for this position will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills and characteristics:

Visionary and Strategic Leadership

The President and CEO will be both visionary and a pragmatic results- oriented leader, who has experience envisioning and articulating an achievable and measurable path forward for both staff and Board members. They must have experience in amplifying, developing and scaling an organization’s reputation and reach. As such, they should be innovative, experimental, open-minded and should bring a real passion for collaborating cross-functionally with staff at all levels of the organization. Committed to stewarding an organization responsibly and inclusively, the President and CEO should bring the skills to achieve American Rivers’ strategic goals and to communicate with and inspire bipartisan collaboration amongst other national conservation groups. This leader should be a big-picture thinker who can anticipate and envision what the future of the organization, both

internally and externally, might look like and what is needed to achieve long-term goals. The leader must also develop concrete plans and be accountable to achieving milestones and timelines.

Fundraising Expertise

The President and CEO will be a charismatic leader who engenders trust from funders and individual donors and will bring fundraising expertise, particularly in strategizing around unrestricted funding and major gifts. They should bring demonstrated experience in building relationships with donors and Board members, making large asks with a diversity of stakeholders, and supporting development and programming teams as they utilize and monitor funding over time.

This leader should bring a creative ability to mobilize Boards of Directors to engage in fundraising by meeting them where they are in terms of their capacity to give and their values. Ideally, they should bring a love for and understanding of rivers in order to convey the importance of the organization’s work to existing and potential new funding sources across a diversity of sectors.

Staff leadership and a commitment to hiring and retaining exceptional staff

The leader of American Rivers should bring an ability to plan and implement strategy, inspire and espouse trust, leading with transparency, mobilizing staff to be engaged and integral members of the organization, minimizing organizational hierarchies where needed to assure effective coordination and communication between staff, and building cohesion and teamwork across a geographically dispersed organization. They should bring a commitment to listening to and learning from staff, deepening a shared organizational culture, supporting the growth and development of a highly effective staff leadership team and motivating staff to envision themselves as leaders. Committed to and bringing expertise in equity and inclusivity, the President and CEO will ensure an internal ethos of hiring a diverse staff across all levels of the organization through measurable organizational policies and practices.

Influential Spokesperson and Relationship Builder

The ideal candidate will be an energetic, inspirational leader who will serve as an ‘ambassador’ for American Rivers – telling the story of the organization in an engaging way to a variety of stakeholders. This leader’s mission-driven presence will be key to effectively conveying American Rivers’ mission and priorities and to galvanizing diverse partners and constituents.

Their collaborative and approachable presence will inspire new avenues of giving and support for the organization. This leader will be a credible and compelling spokesperson for river conservation across a wide range of stakeholders including federal and state policymakers. As the external voice of the organization, the President and CEO should possess excellent oral and written communication skills and be a confident public speaker.

Operational Excellence and Financial Management

The President and CEO will be a seasoned leader with a track record of success in managing complex, distributed organizations. They will bring an understanding of best practices in nonprofit management and planning and will ensure that overall day-to-day operations are aligned with strategic goals. The ideal candidate will help ensure the Board of Directors remains mission-focused and support them in their governance roles of compliance, risk assessment, fiduciary oversight and succession planning. By bringing issues of significance to the Board, the successful President and CEO will collaborate and partner with the Board in developing far-sighted vision for American Rivers, a plan for growing and deepening impact, and assessing organizational performance and impact. Given that American Rivers is a national organization with regional offices and staff, the President and CEO should bring experience in managing and leading remotely and preventing organizational silos.

A Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The ideal candidate will bring a demonstrated record in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, including race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and ability. They should bring a strong commitment to values of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice acknowledging systemic environmental injustice and dedication to addressing these inequities. They will have experience integrating DEI throughout organizational policies and practices and leading a cultural transformation grounded in these values.

Further, they should have the self-awareness and desire to improve in their growth areas and implicit biases. They will be able to coach others on inclusive leadership. This leader will be a key point person for staff to engage with and partner with as the leadership team continues to build an inclusive and equitable culture for American Rivers.

A Commitment to and Passion for Conservation

To lead American Rivers’ staff and inspire funders, the President and CEO will have a demonstrable passion for conservation, climate resilience and environmental justice. With a commitment to the conservation sector, the President and CEO will continue to integrate an equity lens into the work of American Rivers. They should bring a national perspective to this work and an understanding of the diverse perspectives of river recreators, frontline and Indigenous communities, anglers, volunteers, agriculturalists, and all those who rely on and care for river ecosystems.


The annual salary for this role will start at $275,000, commensurate with qualifications and experience. American Rivers also offers a comprehensive benefits package.

How to Apply

  • CONTACT: Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively engaged by American Rivers for this engagement. Kara Teising and Libby Cornelssen are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role please use this link. For general inquiries, please email All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.
  • American Rivers embraces and celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion in all that we do. Rivers Connect Us is more than just our tagline. The beauty of rivers is that they connect all people and communities, and we seek to build and embody this diversity in our organization and throughout the conservation field. The life experiences, knowledge, innovation, and talent that each individual brings to our work provides perspectives, experiences, and competencies which are critical to our effectiveness in protecting wild rivers, restoring damaged rivers, and conserving clean water for people and nature. 
  • ABOUT KOYA LEADERSHIP PARTNERS: Koya Leadership Partners, a member of the 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.
  • 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.
  • For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit

Job Categories: Water. Job Types: Full-Time.

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