Executive Director Position Description

FLSA status: Exempt
Reports to Board of Directors
Open February 11, 2015 until filled

San Francisco Baykeeper is seeking a visionary and effective leader to serve as Executive Director and Baykeeper for this high-impact, standard-setting organization dedicated to protecting San Francisco Bay and its tributaries. The Bay-Delta ecosystem is the largest and most productive estuary on the West Coast of the Americas, providing essential habitat for salmon runs and sturgeon populations, seven species of shark, millions of migrating shorebirds, and pods of harbor porpoises that recently reclaimed the Bay as their own after a 50-year absence.

For the past 25 years, San Francisco Baykeeper has been a leading advocate for reversing many of the greatest threats to the health of the San Francisco Bay and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. Baykeeper uses advocacy, science, and legal action to rein in Bay pollution from the surrounding urban and industrial landscapes. We also engage a diverse community of stakeholders, including recreationists, residents, planners, and scientists, in protecting the Bay’s water quality, climate resilience, and habitat health. And as a founder of Waterkeeper Alliance, an international network of 200 community-based organizations, we also play an active leadership role, working with Robert Kennedy, Jr, in protecting waterways worldwide.

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director holds overall strategic and operational responsibility for Baykeeper’s personnel, programs, and performance of its mission to protect San Francisco Bay. She/he will have the knowledge and experience needed to nurture our culture of shared responsibility and to continue our momentum in leveraging the law and clean water policy to achieve major environmental victories with record-setting efficiency.

The Executive Director will be responsible for the following core duties:

  • Maintain a cohesive vision for the Bay’s continued recovery and for Baykeeper’s institutional sustainability, identifying the most effective means of achieving our mission and dedicating resources accordingly.
  • Serve as the Baykeeper, a responsibility that reflects being the Bay’s lead advocate and strategist, maintaining an intimate knowledge of the Bay and the threats to its health, as well as ensuring the maintenance of all Waterkeeper Alliance quality standards.
  • Provide strategic leadership for all areas of the organization and collaborate with its Board of Directors to assess progress toward mission and priorities.
  • Ensure programmatic excellence, rigorous program evaluation, and high quality of finance and administration, fundraising, communications, and systems.
  • Develop and oversee new initiatives to expand Baykeeper’s visibility, programmatic impact, and financial support.
  • Develop, maintain, and support a strong Board of Directors and facilitate Board governance, oversight, and fundraising efforts.

Fundraising and Visibility

  • Lead the organization’s fundraising efforts to secure Baykeeper’s long-term sustainability.
  • Collaborate with senior staff to develop and implement a successful strategy to expand the base of support to new individuals, foundations, corporations, and law firms.
  • Personally cultivate and maintain strategic relationships with high-level donors and prospects.
  • Represent the organization to funders, the media, and the general public.


  • Cultivate strategic relationships with regional NGO and government entities working on Bay issues and develop credibility and visibility among stakeholder communities, media representatives, and general public.
  • Ensure successful strategies to reduce pollution and protect and restore Bay habitats through monitoring and investigation of pollution sources, environmental enforcement litigation, and policy advocacy.


  • Ensure the appropriate and effective use of Baykeeper’s financial resources.
  • Guide development of annual budget and manage organizational resources to meet budget targets.
  • Collaborate with senior staff to review and evaluate financial performance and to provide accurate and timely financial reports to the Board of Directors.
  • Ensure compliance with laws, regulations, and best practices for annual filings, financial accounts, internal controls, and organizational insurance.

Human Resources, Organizational Development, and Culture

  • Lead, coach, develop, and retain Baykeeper’s talented senior management team, and ensure all staff receive the same engagement.
  • Model and uphold a positive, engaged, and sustainable work style, and an ethical, respectful, and employee-friendly organizational culture.
  • Hold ultimate responsibility for overseeing implementation of Baykeeper’s personnel policies, in compliance with employment laws and regulations, including hiring, staff structure, compensation, benefits, and terminations.

Additional Duties

  • Other duties as needed or required by Governance Policies and Board direction.


Essential Qualifications

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. Concrete demonstrable experience and other qualifications include:

  • At least 5 years of senior management experience, preferably in the non-profit sector.
  • Advanced degree in a relevant field or combination of experience and training resulting in equivalent knowledge and skills.
  • A personal and professional commitment to environmental stewardship and passion for applying that commitment to the mission and values of Baykeeper. 
  • Track record of effectively leading a performance- and outcomes-based organization and staff.
  • Experience in successful stewardship of high-level relationships such as with donors, volunteers, government agency staff, legislators, NGO partner organizations, and media editors and reporters.
  • Demonstrated fundraising success and knowledge of best practices in development.
  • Experience as an organizational spokesperson and in external communication across a range of media.
  • Operational knowledge of nonprofit finance, employment, and governance principles and practices.
  • Experience with environmental and policy advocacy and/or litigation.
  • Excellence in organizational management with the ability to coach members of the staff and Board of Directors; experience managing and developing high-performance teams, and setting and achieving strategic objectives.
  • Ability to work under pressure and under legislative, media, litigation, or other external deadlines.
  • Comfort with and enthusiasm for being on the water and participating in field-work, including in inclement weather and/or outside of normal business hours.
  • Culturally sensitive and able to work with people from various backgrounds.
  • Proven ability to exercise sound judgment and reflect organizational values, even in stressful situations; to respond effectively to sensitive inquiries or complaints; and to maintain confidentiality suitable to situation.
  • Proven ability to develop, lead, and implement projects in a timely and effective manner.
  • Strong organizational, research, and analytical skills required to recommend and implement programs with supporting data and reasoning.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Proficiency in using Microsoft Office, especially Excel and Word.

Strongly Desired Qualifications

  • Knowledge of state and federal laws, regulations, and policies that affect the water quality and habitat of San Francisco Bay and its tributaries.
  • Knowledge of water quality and ecosystem threats and restoration goals related to aquatic ecosystems.
  • Existing relationships with funders, NGOs, regulators, local officials, and California policy makers.
  • A sense of humor and grace under pressure.

Supervisory Responsibilities

This position will supervise other employees or volunteers.

Physical Demands

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Duties involve utilizing computer equipment; participating in public meetings and hearings; communicating with individuals, small and large groups, and the media both in person and by telephone; occasional travel by vehicle and small boat; visual and sensory inspections on and around the Bay; and occasional manual collection of field samples. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Baykeeper provides equal employment and advancement opportunities to everyone. Employment decisions are based on merit, qualifications, and abilities. Baykeeper does not discriminate in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, size, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status, veteran status, disability, AIDS/HIV status, medical condition, or any other characteristic protected by law.

To apply

If you are interested in and qualified for this position, please send your résumé and a cover letter to northbayhr@gmail.com. If your materials indicate a potential match to our requirements, we will contact you. Please, no phone calls or emails to the office regarding this opening.

Position open until filled.

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