CEO/President/Executive Director/Head of School, Nonprofit and Social Impact, Social Justice and Advocacy

Executive Director

  • Safe Passage Project
  • New York, NY

This position has been filled.

About Safe Passage Project

Safe Passage Project (SPP) is a highly-focused nonprofit immigration legal services organization which provides free lawyers to immigrant children facing deportation. Founded in 2013, SPP has grown to include 45 employees, two offices, and an annual budget of over $5 million. It manages over 1,200 open cases a year.

To date, SPP has supported more than 3,000 young people in NYC and Long Island. The New York Immigration Courts, some of the busiest immigration courts in the US, have more than 15,000 juveniles on their dockets, many of whom are fleeing trauma in their countries of origin such as gang violence and recruitment, abuse, and sexual assault. Immigrant children are not afforded free legal representation by the government, regardless of their age. As a result, more than half of immigrant children in immigration proceedings must go to court without the aid of a lawyer. Among unaccompanied children with legal representation, immigration court data shows that 73% are allowed to remain in the United States, whereas only 15% of unrepresented children are allowed to stay. This is where Safe Passage Project steps in, both through providing immigrant youth with direct representation by staff attorneys and through a robust network of pro bono attorneys who SPP attorneys train, mentor, and supervise.

For more information on Safe Passage Project, please visit

The Opportunity

Safe Passage Project seeks an Executive Director (ED) to lead the organization and have overall strategic and operational responsibility for staff, programs, growth, and sustainability. The ED will bring transparency and collaborative leadership to all areas of the organization, and provide oversight of the organization’s operations, programs, culture, and financial performance.

This is an outstanding opportunity for a leader with lived experience and/or professional experience in immigration law or immigration advocacy, strong organizational skills, and a proven track record of creative problem-solving, to join in and lead a high-impact, mission-driven organization.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Collaborate with staff and Board to conceptualize, develop, and implement shared long-term strategic priorities; lead the SPP Team with care and trust to achieve the organization’s collective vision;
  • Work with the SPP Team to ensure that day-to-day operations are professionally administered to maximize organizational efficiency and effectiveness;
  • Lead by example and champion equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB) with staff and Board to ensure that all levels of the organization work to deepen and strengthen a culture of inclusivity and equity; regularly assess how SPP is incorporating EDIB principles and best practices internally and externally;
  • Ensure the organization’s financial viability to sustain its mission and achieve its vision, and ensure that SPP meets the highest standards in stewarding its financial and other resources;
  • Anticipate funding needs and engage staff and/or Board members as needed to ensure that staff have the resourcesthey need to be successful and to support the continuity of important initiatives;
  • Actively and directly engage in fundraising by making major financial solicitations, and cultivating relationships with individual donors, foundations, and other potential fiscal partners; initiate funding opportunities that ensure multiple streams of financial support that build long-term stability;
  • Support the organization in attracting, recruiting, developing, and retaining a diverse staff; support an inclusive culture that invites conversation, active listening, and action, including with and between unionized and non-unionized staff; invest in staff’s ongoing professional development;
  • Inspire, motivate, and build rapport to cultivate a cohesive staff, ensuring that there is strong communication, participation, coordination, and accountability across departments;
  • Communicate with a broad array of stakeholders with empathy, sensitivity, and respect, and demonstrate the ability to work cross-culturally;
  • Serve as a compelling and engaging speaker and writer; leverage the Executive Director role to build SPP’s brand and serve as a leading representative of SPP’s mission in public setting of all sizes with donors, partner organizations, political leaders, press, and other external entities;
  • Manage the balance of external responsibilities alongside internal leadership through high levels of communication and collaboration.
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will be a highly strategic and skilled organizational manager and fundraiser, and a team-oriented leader with a deep commitment to Safe Passage Project’s vision. A proactive and transparent communicator, the Executive Director will be skilled at building effective, trusting relationships with staff, and will be committed to fostering collaboration with all staff, including working closely with union representatives.

Experience working in a legal, policy, or advocacy organization with a focus on immigrants’ rights and a holistic, client-based approach to the work is strongly preferred.

Ideal candidates will have most, if not all, of the following qualifications and characteristics:

  • Ten or more years of senior leadership experience encompassing experience in strategic planning, fund development (including planned giving and/or endowments), budgeting and finances (of a size comparable to SPP’s budget), and the ability to balance big-picture, longer-term strategy with urgent needs;
  • Track record of motivating and inspiring others to achieve impact through creativity and teamwork, and by leveraging individual strengths to meet organizational goals;
  • Exhibit courage and clarity when addressing controversial and complex issues and lead the Board and staff through thoughtful consideration of options for SPP’s work and strategy;
  • Empathetic and compassionate leadership style with a genuine openness to constructive input from Board members, staff, clients, donors, and other partners, and an understanding of the challenges of SPP’s work and how those challenges impact on those involved in SPP’s work;
  • Successful track record of raising money from a variety of sources, including major donors and foundations, and ability to connect SPP to resources and opportunities outside the organization;
  • Demonstrated ability to think strategically, creatively problem-solve, learn from mistakes, and exercise sound judgment; ability to gather input from a variety of sources, act decisively, communicate decisions transparently, and delegate to and work cooperatively with management-level staff;
  • Robust intersectional understanding of and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging principles; experience successfully leading and integrating this knowledge into organizational policies, practices, management, and culture.

SPP encourages applications from individuals with a personal immigrant story or history, who are members of an underrepresented community, and/or are fluent in Spanish.

Compensation & Benefits

Safe Passage Project offers a competitive salary in the range of $150,000 – $175,000. In addition, SPP offers a flexible work environment, including flexible hours, generous PTO, and 12 weeks paid family leave.


Trisha Sutrisno and Amber Gomes of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here or email and directly. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential. If you require reasonable accommodation during your application process, please let the team at Koya know.


Safe Passage Project is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+ applicants. Safe Passage Project is proud to have a top-down, bottom-up commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part 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.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit



Scroll to top