Executive Director - LightHawk

LightHawk Executive Director Job Description


LightHawk is seeking an energetic, goal-oriented Executive Director to lead all aspects of the organization.

LightHawk is a non-profit organization that mobilizes the aircraft and services of approximately 230 volunteer pilots to help protect wildlands, wildlife, fresh water and ocean habitats throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Central America. See www.LightHawk.org.

The Executive Director (ED) has both the authority and the responsibility to oversee the fundraising, administrative, operational, fiscal, and risk management functions of LightHawk. The ED will lead a staff of 12 employees based out of their home offices and located throughout the U.S. The ED represents the public face of LightHawk to our volunteer pilots, our donors, and the environmental organizations we serve, as well as to diverse government entities.

This full-time position with benefits is home-office based. Location is flexible.


The duties of the Executive Director include:

  1. Carry out the specific objectives determined by LightHawk’s Board of Directors.
  2. Work effectively with and present a professional image to multiple constituencies (board, staff, volunteer pilots, donors, community, businesses, government and regulatory agencies).
  3. Raise capital and operational funds from a variety of sources including individuals, foundations, corporate sponsorships, and partner organizations. Effectively lead and engage both the LightHawk board and development and communications staff in fundraising efforts.
  4. Lead and develop a team of staff members that includes conservation scientists, development officers, communications, marketing and financial professionals. Create a harmonious and energized working atmosphere that fosters excellence throughout the organization.
  5. Lead the ongoing strategic process of ensuring that LightHawk is achieving high quality conservation outcomes and making the most efficient and effective use of LH resources. This includes the use of current flight programming as well as exploring the feasibility of emerging technologies that further LightHawk’s mission of environmental protection through the aerial perspective.
  6. Oversee the implementation, review and development of LightHawk’s flight operations and safety policies. Oversee internal administrative systems.
  7. Oversee all LightHawk assets and ensure that there are adequate policies, procedures and protections in place. This includes insurance, fiscal policies, and legal compliance.
  8. Lead organizational response to crisis events, such as aircraft accidents.


  • Minimum of a B.A./B.S. degree.
  • Demonstrated leadership success building effective, high-performance teams, including the ability to motivate people to help them reach their full potential, and the ability to inspire tenacious focus on achieving results.
  • Demonstrated track record raising funds from individuals, foundations, and corporate sponsors.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently from a home-based office environment, set priorities, and meet deadlines.
  • Demonstrated excellence in all aspects of communication – written, verbal, listening, public speaking, and presentations.
  • Willingness to travel and travel flexibility. Approximately 12 week-long trips per year.
  • Ability to work effectively with and present a professional image to multiple constituencies (board, staff, volunteers, community, businesses, donors, government and regulatory agencies).
  • Passionate about using aviation as a conservation tool, and the ability to develop and communicate an innovative vision for scaling up LightHawk’s conservation impact.
  • A strong interest in LightHawk’s mission and methods, and a demonstrated passion for both environmental conservation and aviation.
  • Ability to lead a strategic planning process and provide a vision for LightHawk’s future.
  • Experience serving on or working with a non-profit board of directors.
  • Entrepreneurial approach to problem solving and a strong internal drive to create successful conservation outcomes “through the unique perspective of flight.”
  • Computer competency, including use of word processing, email, spreadsheets and databases.
  • Holding a pilot’s license (active or inactive) with at least 500 PIC hours will be a definite advantage as the ED must be comfortable relating to pilots as peers. Familiarity with relevant FAA regulations will also be a plus. While not required, conversational Spanish-speaking ability would be a plus.

Personal Qualities

  • Unquestionable ethical values.
  • Demonstrated sound judgment and ability to learn from mistakes.
  • Leads by example, empathy and enthusiasm, centered on principles.
  • Maintains optimism in the face of adversity.
  • Ability to anticipate and deal with issues and opportunities proactively at the earliest stages long before they become major risks or obstacles.
  • Goal-oriented thinker who is able to set strategic goals, and translate those goals into executable plans with meaningful metrics.
  • Comfortable with change and committed to innovation.
  • Committed to continuous improvement.
  • Engaging public speaking and listening skills.


This is a full-time salaried position. Compensation will be commensurate with experience and non-profit industry norms. Benefits currently include medical, dental, vision, life insurance and long-term disability coverage, annual vacation and sick leave, 401K plan, and reasonable scheduling flexibility. Various home office expenses are reimbursed, and LightHawk provides an annual computer stipend to cover some technology costs.

About LightHawk

LightHawk is a nonprofit environmental aviation organization. As such, we are an unusual hybrid: our mission is environmental but our specialty is using aviation to catalyze positive change. Founded in 1979, we are the largest and oldest volunteer-based environmental aviation organization in North America. We have completed thousands of flight missions involving donated flights for approximately 200-300 Conservation Partner organizations annually.

LightHawk is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of Colorado. Although our logistical headquarters is in Lander, Wyoming, we are a virtual organization and employ field staff throughout our areas of operation.

LightHawk is an equal opportunity employer. For more information, including a downloadable copy of the annual report, as well as board and staff bios, visit www.lighthawk.org.

How to apply

How to Apply

We expect to fill this position as soon as we find a suitable candidate. We will conduct one or more initial interviews for qualified candidates by phone, and will invite finalists to in-person interviews. LightHawk reserves the right to invite further submissions at any time, even after the initial submission deadline.

Qualified applicants should email a single PDF document containing a cover letter, resume, and contact information for at least 3 references to EDsearch@lighthawk.org The email subject line should say: Executive Director — plus your last name. In your submission email, please let us know specifically where you heard about our job opportunity (e.g., LightHawk email, personal referral, a specific job website name, etc.). Due to the volume of interested applicants, we ask that you not telephone our offices about the position unless specifically invited to do so.

Applications will be accepted through Monday, January 6, 2014.

n/a, Colorado