Executive Director

Website Sonoma Resource Conservation District

Employer: Sonoma Resource Conservation District

Work Location: Main office in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California, with option for partial remote work; field work throughout Sonoma County.

Status: Exempt/1.0 FTE

Starting Compensation: $125,000 to $135,000/year commensurate with experience.

Posting Date: October 12, 2023

Estimated Start: January 2024

Organizational Background

The Sonoma RCD (RCD) is a non-regulatory, local government entity empowered to manage soil, water, fish, and wildlife resources for conservation. In existence since the 1940s, RCDs are local grassroots conservation delivery systems that identify local conservation problems and guide solutions on a voluntary basis. The RCD covers 85% of Sonoma County, and includes portions of the Russian River, Petaluma River, Sonoma Creek, Stemple Creek, and Gualala River Watersheds. The RCD has an annual budget of $4.4MM and is almost exclusively grant and contract funded. The RCD has a team of seventeen, with expertise in a wide variety of natural resource and agricultural disciplines, education and outreach, policy, fundraising, and administration, and is governed by a board of seven directors. Our mission is carried out through four programs: LandSmart® Planning, LandSmart On-the-Ground, LandSmart Water Resources, and LandSmart Education. For more information visit our website at sonomarcd.org.

Position Summary

The Executive Director position offers an exciting opportunity to apply technical, administrative, policy, and collaboration skills to meaningful and impactful conservation work in some of California’s most beautiful landscapes. The Executive Director is the chief administrative officer responsible for managing and directing the operations and programs of the RCD consistent with the mission, strategic direction, and policies and procedures established by the Board of Directors. The Executive Director reports directly to the Board and serves as the primary liaison between the District and agricultural, environmental, and regulatory stakeholders and the public at large.

Essential Functions

Organizational & Program Development

  •  Maintain thorough knowledge of current and newly emerging issues, laws, and policies affecting natural resources and agriculture in the RCD.
  • In coordination with the Board and staff, develop and implement a strategic plan/direction. Facilitate regular check-ins on strategic progress and updates to plan as needed.
  • Lead programmatic development and expansion to support the RCD’s strategic direction and serve the needs of the community.
  • Lead the staff in an annual work plan process and conduct regular check-ins on progress toward annual goals and updates needed.
  • Actively participate in key projects and programs, particularly those with an RCD-wide or regional focus, and those involving prominent issues or partnerships.
  • Identify obstacles and barriers to conservation programs and projects and work with staff, Board, and partners to find solutions.

Community Relations & Partnerships

  • Maintain, enhance, and foster strong working relationships with natural resource and agriculture agencies and organizations, regional and statewide associations, funders, businesses, financial institutions, and landowners.
  • Serve as the primary spokesperson for the RCD, effectively representing the RCD’s programs and points of view to the public. Enhance the RCD’s mission and increase the overall visibility of the RCD through strategic interaction with the community and partners. Oversee and participate in community outreach and promotion for RCD programs and projects.

Board Relations

  • Oversee and attend all Board meetings, including meeting agenda and materials preparation.
  • Report regularly to the Board regarding achievement of District objectives and goals. Support Board committee chairs by assisting with meeting coordination and committee activities.
  • Facilitate opportunities for Directors to engage with the RCD’s work.

Financial & Administrative Management

  • Work with staff and the Board to prepare an annual budget and develop resources sufficient to ensure the long-term financial health of the RCD.
  • Ensure sound financial management. Coordinate with the Director of Finance on timely submission of financial reports to the Board, monitoring of cash flow, and overall budget performance.
  • Ensure ongoing compliance with applicable laws and regulations in collaboration with legal counsel, the Director of Finance, and independent auditor.
  • Responsible for the effective administration of operations.
  • Establish and maintain personnel and administrative policies and procedures.
  • Act as the RCD’s primary designated agent for executing contracts, agreements, and financial transactions.

Human Resources Management

  • Oversee the recruitment and retention of competent, qualified staff.
  • Maintain positive working relationships with all staff and promote a culture of teamwork, inclusion, and dedication to the RCD’s mission.
  • Lead staff development and manage the performance of technical and management-level staff.
  • Responsible for ensuring that personnel policies are regularly reviewed and implemented.

Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties, or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time with or without notice.

Applicant Qualifications

Required Qualifications

  • A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in environmental planning, natural resource management, business or public administration, or a related field.
  • A minimum of seven years of experience operating and/or leading natural resource programs or initiatives on behalf of a non-profit organization or public agency, with experience in fundraising, grants management, people management, financial and administrative management.
  • Comfort and willingness to work with diverse opinions and perspectives in a collaborative, team-oriented work environment.
  • Ability to communicate effectively in English, both verbally and in written form, sufficient to convey information and instructions to the public, colleagues, and Board members.
  • Proficient in current computer technologies, including Microsoft 365 and Zoom.
  • Flexible hours required, including some weekday nights and weekends, to attend community events, meetings, and conferences.
  • A valid driver’s license, vehicle, and proof of auto insurance is required at the time of hire.

Required Competencies

  • Transparent and high-integrity leadership to inspire and pursue a shared vision for the RCD.
  • Effective management to recruit, develop and retain staff, build strong working relationships, and motivate excellent performance.
  • Successful oversight of programs to strategize, develop, and deliver high-quality services to the community and funders, consistent with mission and strategic plan.
  • Strong administrative abilities to effectively oversee the organization’s finances and operations.
  • Creative problem-solving and negotiation skills to navigate the complexities of the RCD’s work and relationships.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to foster constructive discourse and meaningful collaboration with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Strong public speaking ability and excellent written and verbal communication skills to represent the RCD compellingly and professionally.
  • Dedication to and knowledge of natural resource conservation.

Work Environment

Work is primarily performed in an indoor setting with occasional field visits. The indoor and outdoor settings include:

  • A professional office environment that includes operation of standard office equipment such as computers, phones, copiers, calculators, and filing cabinets. Moderate noise levels.
  • Field settings that include various terrains, dense vegetation (with possible exposure to poison oak, ticks, and mosquitos), and hot, cold, and wet conditions.

Physical Requirements

Work in the office requires frequently remaining in a stationary position, operating a computer and other standard office equipment, conversing by telephone and in person. Work in the field and in the office requires near and far visual acuity for expansive reading, computer operation, editing of documents, map interpretation, and data collection. Driving required for local travel.

Work in the field requires prolonged standing, walking across rugged or uneven terrain in all weather conditions. Changes in lighting such as alternating bright sunlight and dark shade are encountered. Noise levels constantly vary.

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The Sonoma Resource Conservation District is committed to incorporating justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion to evaluate, enhance, and expand our programming, deepen our connections with community partners, and strive to better serve our entire District. We recognize the importance of working to build and sustain an inclusive and equitable culture within our organization to effectively serve our District, improve access to economic opportunity, and create landscape-scale resilience for our current and future generations. We strive to ensure that water, soil, working lands, and wildlife habitats are conserved for all as we promote collaboration, employ innovative solutions based on science, respect our diverse communities and their connections to land, and empower members of our community to be active stewards of our natural and cultural resources.


Starting compensation for this position is $125,000 to $135,000/year commensurate with experience. Benefits for this position include 100% employee medical coverage; dental and vision insurance with minimal employee contributions; employer-paid life insurance; a SIMPLE IRA retirement plan with 3% employer match; paid time off and holiday leave; and an employee assistance program. No relocation assistance will be provided.

Additional Information

A background investigation is required prior to employment for applicants who receive a conditional offer of employment. Applicants given a conditional offer of employment will be required to sign authorization and release forms enabling such an investigation. Failure to sign prescribed forms will result in the candidate not being considered further.

How to Apply

Please submit a complete application package to kjohnson@sonomarcd.org with the title “Executive Director” in the subject line. Applications must be received no later than 5:00PM Pacific Standard Time on November 24, 2023. No phone calls please.

Application package requirements:

1. Cover letter

2. Resume

3. Three professional references

4. Statement of qualifications (SOQ): applicants must respond in writing to the “Required Competencies” section, listed above, describing their knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors as they relate to each competency listed. The SOQ should be no more than 4 pages in length, single-spaced, using a Times New Roman font no smaller than 12-point.

Sonoma Resource Conservation District is an equal opportunity employer. Employment is based on qualifications and competency. We prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, religious creed (including religious dress and grooming practices), national origin, ancestry, citizenship, physical or mental disability, medical condition (including cancer and genetic characteristics), genetic information, marital status, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, veteran and/or military status, and any other status protected by state or federal law.

To apply for this job email your details to kjohnson@sonomarcd.org