Parks California seeks a founding President and CEO to build a powerful new statewide philanthropic partnership organization in support of one of the largest and most diverse networks of parks in the world.

The President and CEO will manage an annual operating budget (not including direct project costs) of approximately $2 million with variability based on priorities, development, and programming. Revenue and responsibilities are expected to grow significantly in coming years.

The President and CEO will be located in northern California with significant time spent in Sacramento.


Key duties

  • Lead the start-up phase of Parks California
  • Develop and deliver projects and initiatives that benefit California’s parks, with an initial focus on identifying and executing high priority state parks projects under its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department
  • Develop and manage strategic cross-sector partnerships and alliances
  • Attract and retain high caliber staff in step with the organization’s growth, project port-folio, and fundraising needs
  • Secure public funding for projects and private funding from high net worth individuals, corporations, and foundations
  • Raise the visibility of California’s parks and existing partners
  • Coordinate a strategic development plan and create an annual planning process


Organizational Leadership, Strategy, and Management

  • Articulate and implement a vision for Parks California that is based on the mission and values of the board, the Department, the Parks Forward Commission, and key stakeholders
  • Attract additional, high caliber board members with relevant expertise and state and/ or national influence that reflect California’s demographic and geographic diversity
  • Oversee the creation and implementation of the organization’s priorities and initiatives, and recommend timelines and resources needed to achieve the strategic goals
  • Oversee all operations and start-up activities, including facilities, staffing, human resources management, technical and pro­fessional support, legal, accounting, financial planning, technology, communications, and public affairs
  • Ensure Parks California is financially healthy and builds significant financial reserves
  • Build, lead, coach, develop, and retain a talented staff with a focus on building the organization’s capacity for skilled leadership, complex project and program implementation, partnership building, and fundraising
  • Actively represent Parks California with volunteers, board members, committees, partner organizations, and funders
  • Develop and maintain strong relationships with government, nonprofit, and corporate entities

Project Implementation

  • Work in close collaboration with the Department to sustain a strong partnership and execute the responsibilities of Parks California under its MOU with the Department to expeditiously complete priority projects
  • Collaborate with government, business, and nonprofit partners to identify, advance, man­age, and deliver high quality projects and initiatives throughout California; projects include, but are not limited to, accommodations development, facilities rehabilitation and management, park access and transportation, and community engagement
  • Work closely and effectively with the network of existing park support organizations to complete important projects and raise the visibility of existing partners 

Fundraising, Communications, and Outreach

  • Oversee the development of a diverse funding base and sustainable outreach programs and strategies, including earned revenue, public funds, foundation grants, and corporate support. Identifying resource requirements, researching funding sources, establishing strategies to secure large gifts, submitting proposals, and managing fundraising records and documentation will be essential
  • Build and maintain effective working relationships with park constituencies, funders, important local partners, government agencies, and stakeholders
  • Oversee all public and media relations and act as the primary spokesperson for Parks California
  • Participate and present at conferences, symposia, and trainings



The ideal candidate may come from a variety of career pathways. Critical to success will be a passion for and experience with public-private partnerships and complex partnership development. An entrepreneurial approach and executive leadership skills are essential. Experience with start-up organizations, and corporate, philanthropic, and/or nonprofit lead-ership experience is important. The President and CEO must display strong partnership and collaboration skills with a demonstrated ability to place the importance of shared work over ego and the immediate needs of one’s own organization. The leader of Parks California will have an unparalleled opportunity to create a transformative organization that improves the lives of generations of Californians.

The following are recommended qualities:

  • Extensive management experience in positions of increasing responsibility and authority
  • Experience managing large, complex projects or initiatives with multiple stakeholders
  • Demonstrated fundraising experience and success, including private philanthropy, corporate donations, and government grants
  • Experience in grantmaking and grant management
  • Experience managing a complex budget with multiple funding sources
  • Demonstrated staff leadership and development experience
  • Experience with state and federal government agencies, contracting, and task agreements
  • Adaptability and flexibility in the face of changing conditions; tolerance for adversity and uncertainty
  • Experience advancing projects working collaboratively with a large group of influential board members and stakeholders
  • Proven leadership skills and the ability to inspire and motivate others
  • Excellent organizational development, marketing, communication, administrative, and personnel management skills
  • Strong project management skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to resolve conflicts and find common ground
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and comfort with public speaking
  • Diplomatic approach and the ability to be sensitive to and inclusive of various perspectives
  • Comfort making decisions among diverse individuals and organizations
  • Flexibility, sense of humor, humility, and confidence

A competitive compensation package, including a comprehensive benefits package, will be offered based on experience. Relocation assistance will be offered if necessary.

Share this job listingShare on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someonePrint this page