POSITION TITLE: Executive Director
REPORTS TO: Board of Directors
RESPONSIBLE FOR: 2 Employees plus 20-30 volunteers
OPERATING BUDGET: $350K – $400K
ORGANIZATION HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan (the “Council”) is a non-partisan organization committed to
bringing information, programs, events and speakers on matters of foreign policy and international interest to the
people of West Michigan. We are committed to presenting these issues in an environment of civility and
reasoned discourse. We are also affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America, a national umbrella
organization based in Washington DC dedicated to educating and engaging Americans on global issues with
nearly 100 councils across 40 states reaching more than half a million people a year.
Our mission is to provide a forum to discuss issues of national and international importance and how they impact
our West Michigan community. Information about our programming (which occurs from September through May)
can be found at our website, www.worldmichigan.org. Of particular note are our:
• Great Decisions Lecture Series, conducted weekly throughout March and April of each year. Topics and
a resource book come from the Foreign Policy Association based in New York City. These lectures
feature in person speakers of note, often from think tanks or universities from around the country. The
lectures are also “livestreamed” to certain of our educational partners and are available on our website
after the events. Every lecture has significant time for questions and answers, which we think is critical to
a full exploration of the issues being discussed.
• Our Annual Event luncheon or dinner where we have particularly distinguished speakers present to
audiences of around 500 people, again with a question and answer period to follow. Our last five annual
speakers have been David MacNaughton, the new Canadian Ambassador to the US, former US
Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, former US Secretary of Defense William Cohen, General David
Petraeus and former President of Mexico Vincente Fox.
• We are also alert to opportunities to host other particularly distinguished guests from time to time. Just
after 9/11, we hosted Ehud Barak, the former Prime Minister of Israel. We have also hosted Archbishop
Desmond Tutu of South Africa, former President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan (for his first US speaking
appearance after leaving office in 2008), and, in 2007, we were honored to host the sitting President of
the United States, George W. Bush, for a significant foreign policy speech on Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Council staff finds most of our speakers. In addition, programming opportunities can come through referrals
from other World Affairs Councils throughout the country and from the national office of the World Affairs Councils
of America. A number of ancillary programming (webinars or call-in conference calls) can come directly from
these other World Affairs Council resources.
We have three key target audiences – the general public, students and faculty at colleges and universities in the
region and our corporate members. Our general programming is open to anyone, with price points established
to make it easily accessible to the public at large. We also have a corporate programming track for member
companies. Certain of the programming is also provided (in addition to the general public) to our educational
partners for use as a part of their programming and, in particular with our Great Decisions Lecture Series, for
credit at colleges in and around West Michigan. We believe that this mix of audiences builds a unique network of
citizens, businesses, civic groups, students and government leaders and significantly enhances the international
cultural and informational resources of the region.
Financially, we are a membership-based organization, relying for financial support principally on our 50 corporate
members and 11 educational partners (colleges, universities and library systems). We also have over 3000
individual members (again, in general priced at easily accessible price points). We also receive sponsorship
support and grants for various programming.
The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan is a Michigan non-profit corporation and is exempt from US
federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Council is governed by a board of
Directors of up to 25 members, generally from the business community. There is also an Educational Partners
Council with representatives of each of the educational partner members. The Council has three full time staff
members – the Executive Director, a Director of Programming and Events and a new Office/Events Coordinator.
The Council was formed in 1949. We believe that the Council is well positioned in terms of brand recognition and
financial and human resources for growth by expanding its geographic, demographic and digital footprint in the
region. This will take a leader thoroughly committed to this growth and able to motivate staff, board, Council
supporters and other members of the western Michigan community to achieve it.
Reporting directly to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director is responsible for leadership of the Council and
its finances, staff, programs, development, and planning. Key duties include raising funds through various
memberships and sponsorships, community outreach, marketing and media relations, strategic planning, financial
management and Board relations.
Leadership and Strategy
• Ensure that the organization has a long-range strategy which achieves its mission, and toward which it
makes consistent and timely progress. Work with the Board to define, develop and implement strategic
plans as adopted by the Board.
• Lead the Council to engage members, volunteers, directors, committees, educational partners,
collaborating groups and supporters.
• Create and promote a positive, multicultural work environment that supports consistency throughout the
organization’s strategy and operational methods.
• Clearly understands the non-partisan and non-advocacy nature of the Council and advocates our
philosophy of civil discourse, conducted always in a respectful manner to all parties.
• Continue to build the Council’s reputation for excellence in programming and educational outreach by
delivering quality programs reflecting timely topics and informed speakers, including consideration of new
formats while evaluating and improving existing formats.
• Develop realistic, ambitious fundraising plans.
• Consistently meet or exceed established revenue targets.
• Lead the development and execution of all membership and sponsorship initiatives (i.e., Annual Event,
Corporate Giving, etc.).
• Develop a stewardship plan for all levels of the organization. Establish positive relationships with all
funders and donors.
• Develop corporate and educational partner prospect solicitation strategies and proposals. Partner with the
Board for this support from corporations, educational partners, foundations, individuals and other sources.
• Provide leadership and professional staff support for member-centered and special events fundraising
Management and Operations
• Maintain the fiscal integrity of the Council through rigorous controls, thorough reports, and constant
• Develop and submit to the Board a proposed annual budget and periodic financial statements that reflect
the financial condition with clarity and sophistication.
• Manage Council finances to operate within the Board-approved budget, while maintaining the integrity of
• Attract the resources to support the Council through fund raising, membership retention and growth, and
• Determine hiring needs of the organization and ensure the team is comprised of qualified and competent
• Drive employee and volunteer engagement, retention and development.
Marketing and Community Outreach
• Increase the Council’s presence in the community by strengthening existing collaborations and building
new ones among other professional, civic, academic, business, educational and governmental groups.
• Develop and execute a media strategy for the Council and its programs, and serve as the voice to the
• Promote the work of the Council throughout the region and nationally.
• Develop and maintain working connection to other Councils around the country.
Board of Directors
• In leading the Council, adhere to the policies adopted by the Board directly and through the executive
• Cultivate a strong and transparent working relationship with the Board and its Committees.
• Keep the board fully informed with prompt, precise information – financial, operational, and contextual –
so that the Board may meet its responsibilities.
• Help maintain and support an inclusive Board, representative of the community, that is engaged and
willing to leverage and secure resources.
• Forward thinking with strong overall leadership abilities. Strong executive presence to represent the
Council professionally and as a leader in the community at large. Ability to select, motivate, develop and
retain a high performing team.
• Relentless commitment to and focus on the Council’s mission, with demonstrated passion, integrity and
positive/enthusiastic approach. Must have the ability to remain non-partisan, with a sensitivity to issues of
global and cultural diversity and a general understanding of global and community affairs.
• Demonstrated success in membership/sales development, and fundraising in today’s digital environment.
Successful grant writing abilities helpful.
• Excellent written and verbal communication skills, presentation skills and public speaking abilities. S/he
should be effective at clearly articulating the Council’s message and earning the respect of his/her
• Ability to establish and maintain highly effective, collaborative working relationships with all stakeholders.
• Ability to influence effectively; political and community savvy. Sound judgment and decision making
abilities. High integrity and ethical behavior.
• Ability to lead and operate at both the strategic and tactical levels. Ability to formulate, execute and
evaluate short and long term strategic plans. Strong marketing abilities. Previous strategic planning and
marketing experience is highly desirable.
• Financial acumen; experience in budget development, preparation and financial reporting, as well as the
ability to manage a budget effectively.
• Non-profit experience and successful grant writing abilities helpful.
• Knowledge of the West Michigan community is desirable.
• Bachelor’s degree is required, along with minimum 10 years working experience, with at least 3 years in a
HOW TO APPLY
Resumes can be sent to:
World Affairs Council of West Michigan
Attn: Gail Hammontree