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CEO, President, and Executive Director, Environment and Conservation, Nonprofit and Social Impact, Social Justice and Advocacy

Chief Executive Officer

  • Grist
  • Flexible Location, USA
About Grist

Grist is a nonprofit, independent media organization dedicated to telling stories about climate change, environmental justice, and solutions. At Grist, we combine the power of journalism, network building, and talent development to shift culture and advance equitable solutions to the climate crisis. Our strategic focus has evolved from sounding the alarm bells of climate change — people understand the climate is changing! — to telling the story of a better future that works for everyone and elevating the leaders and ideas that will make this future a reality.

We accomplish this mission through three main programs: (1) through our Editorial program, we use the power of journalism to engage the public and combat the doom and gloom narrative by telling the story of solutions and justice; (2) through our solutions lab Fix, we amplify bold, equitable ideas for our climate future, and the people working toward them via storytelling, network-building, and events; and (3) through our Representation and Talent program, we support young and emerging journalists and environmental journalists of color to address racial representation and racial justice in environmental media.

To learn more about Grist, go to http://www.grist.org.

The Opportunity

We are seeking a strategic and innovative leader with proven experience in organizational leadership, growth, and development. The CEO will have a passionate belief that solving the climate crisis is the guiding issue of our time. S/he/they will have a demonstrated track record of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice – and the roles they play in stewarding successful organizations, as well as in addressing climate change. The ideal CEO will bring experience in the fields of non-profit and/or for-profit media, environment and climate, or related experiences in non-profit executive leadership, advocacy, or policy.

The CEO will lead the nation’s most influential environmental media source, working closely with the Board and our extraordinary team to build Grist’s influence, impact, innovation, and long-term sustainability. We are passionate about our work and vision for a more just, sustainable future.

The CEO will take over an organization on an exciting trajectory. Grist’s editorial program found recent success in the 2021 Online Journalism Awards – where we won for General Excellence, Best Topical Reporting on Climate Change, and Best Investigative Data Journalism – and the National Magazine Awards, where we garnered our first nomination ever for General Excellence. Our Fix program disrupted the climate fiction genre by launching its first-ever climate fiction contest, Imagine 2200, which received over 1,100 submissions from 85 countries and took mainstage at New York Climate Week. And the Uproot Project, a network of environmental journalists of color that Grist incubated and fiscally sponsors, grew to an impressive 200 members as of early 2022.

The CEO will inherit a strategic framework – with strong buy-in from the Board and staff – that is centered on climate, justice, and solutions. Over the past five years, Grist has attracted stellar talent, growing from a primarily Seattle-based team of roughly 25 to a nationally-distributed organization of about 60 in 18 states. Grist’s revenue base similarly grew from about $3 million to close to $9 million over five years, establishing a strong, diversified business model in our field of non-profit media. In addition, the organization has begun a journey rooted in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice that has led to a rise in salaries across departments to be more competitive in the marketplace, better healthcare coverage (including Grist covering 100% of employee healthcare premiums), a more generous paid-time-off policy, and a very strong company culture.

The CEO will directly oversee a dynamic leadership team, with direct reports currently including Grist’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) and its program leaders. (Grist’s COO currently oversees the organization’s revenue, innovation and growth, and administrative functions.) Fundraising is a primary responsibility of the CEO role; and the candidate will work closely with our development team to maintain and grow Grist’s revenue and continue to diversify our funding sources to ensure financial sustainability for the organization. In addition, the CEO will be tasked with stewarding Grist’s culture, which has been collectively evolving to one unified in our shared commitment to excellence, innovation, transparency, and social responsibility, all anchored in principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.

The CEO will lead and execute plans on-the-ground while keeping the horizon in view, working with the Board, organizational leadership, and staff to execute the strategic framework and take Grist to the next level of impact.

Currently, our main geographic footprints for our funding and program staff are in Seattle, NYC, Bay Area, and to a lesser extent Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. We are flexible on geographic location, however, proximity or presence in these markets is desirable. With staff and funders spread throughout the country, the position is a national role, so comfort with frequent travel is a must.

Principle Priorities

Leadership and Strategy Execution

  • Refine, communicate, and execute our board-approved strategic vision.
  • Develop, maintain, and support a strong, diverse board of directors; build board involvement with strategic direction.
  • Serve as lead for Grist’s fundraising operations, expanding, and diversifying Grist’s funder base through networking, relationships, and convening.
  • Build on Grist’s commitment to gender and racial equity in everything from its internal operations to who is featured in its storytelling to its evaluations of external partners.
  • Maintain ultimate responsibility for the organization’s commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, including co-signing and co-authoring Grist’s annual DEIJ report in partnership with the organization’s DEIJ committee.
  • Foster a culture of creativity, experimentation, equity and inclusivity, trust, and excellence; build a team that responds swiftly to changing technologies and takes advantage of emerging digital trends.
  • Recruit and retain stellar talent at all levels of the organization; partner with program leaders on hiring to help find extraordinary talent from new pipelines.
  • Keep Grist at the leading edge of environmental media and climate solutions as both spaces grow more competitive.
  • Lead the organization through substantive changes including the management of strategic planning, communications (internal and external), and implementation of new initiatives.
  • Develop and maintain a clear framework for reporting and assessing impact based on the strategy; mainstream this framework throughout the organization.
  • Partner with program leaders for Editorial, Fix, and Representation & Talent, to ensure the success and impact of each program strategy.

Growth and Sustainability

  • Maintain ultimate responsibility for expanding and diversifying revenue streams, both contributed and earned; e.g., play a key role in fundraising efforts, including identifying and meeting with major-donor and foundation prospects, and drive efforts to increase sponsorship dollars.
  • Lead and develop major external partnerships that will help position Grist for the future, from our relationship to major media outlets to environmental orgs to philanthropies.
  • Tirelessly evangelize the organization and our mission in public fora that are relevant to our work and mission.
  • Bring vision, energy, and partnership to Grist’s Development team to ensure the Grist business model is diversifying, growing, and innovating.
  • Oversee organizational-level brand and marketing functions to build Grist’s national visibility.
  • Partner with program leaders to expand funding in highly promising areas of work such as our enterprise data journalism, world-class fellowship program, and innovative storytelling and network building program, Fix.
  • Bring strong financial acumen, including developing long- and short-range financial plans, and ensuring sound financial controls.
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will bring a demonstrated track record of executive leadership and building cultures of inclusivity, equity, and trust. We will consider candidates from many domains, including nonprofit and/or for-profit media, environmental and climate leadership, and other related areas of executive nonprofit leadership. The ideal candidate will bring a depth of experience and a successful track record in fundraising and overall ownership of business planning and management.

  • Experience in leading a mission-based organization and delivering on programmatic goals in support of the organization’s mission.
  • Successful track record of raising money and expanding funding opportunities.
  • History of building strong, transparent work cultures that engender high morale and promote retention.
  • Demonstrated experience and commitment to advancing equity across all levels of the organization and an understanding of how decision-making impacts equity across the organization.
  • Strong ability to lead an organization through phases of sustainable change and transformation.
  • Demonstrated success in building and leading diverse senior teams.
  • History of identifying strategic opportunities and delivering on initiatives, projects, and products.
  • Experience overseeing a P&L for a high-growth business and leading the development and management of an organizational or business-unit budget.
  • Highly developed critical thinking, problem-solving, and priority-setting skills.
  • Experience in both established and entrepreneurial/start-up environments.
Compensation & Benefits

This is a full-time position. Grist offers a comprehensive benefits program to their valued employees. The anticipated salary is around $300,000.

Contact

Liz Lombard and Angie Sessoms of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express interest in this role please submit your materials here, or email Angie directly at asessoms@koyapartners.com. All 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.

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 www.koyapartners.com.