Organization: Delta Institute

Location: Chicago, IL

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About Delta Institute:

Delta Institute (“Delta”) is a nonprofit that works to build both a resilient environment and economy through sustainable solutions. Delta takes a holistic approach to sustainability, finding opportunities to link improvement in environmental quality to economic development. Since its founding in 1998, Delta has become a highly respected organization known as an effective facilitator and convener around issues of energy, brownfields, community revitalization, waste and ecosystems in the Great Lakes region.

At the core of Delta’s work are strong relationships and partnerships with local businesses, governments and communities. Together, with partners, Delta has created and implemented innovative, market-driven solutions to build environmental resilience, economic vitality and healthy communities.

Delta’s Nitrogen Credit Program is “a model for a new kind of nutrient management program throughout the Corn Belt—one that brings farmers, research institutions, non-profits, government and business together to make climate solutions work.”

– USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2015

Current and recent initiatives include:

  • Delta Nitrogen Credit Program. Launched in 2014 in partnership with The Climate Trust, the program uses nitrogen credit transactions to reduce agricultural nitrous oxide emissions. The program was recognized with a 2014 Innovation Award from the American Carbon Registry.
  • Rebuilding Exchange (RX). The RX is a non-profit social enterprise that sells reclaimed building materials and custom furniture made from reclaimed materials. Since being founded in 2009 by Delta Institute, the RX has diverted more than9445 tons of building materials from the landfill and simultaneously created over $2 million worth of quality reuse materials available to the public, all while providing education and job training to people with barriers to employment. The venture successfully spun off as an independent enterprise in 2015 and continues to grow its impact in the region.
  • Brownfield Redevelopment. In the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, Delta partnered with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization to engage the local community in identifying and prioritizing vacant or under-utilized sites for redevelopment. This redevelopment will pave the way for new economic development in a historic industrial corridor that has suffered from industrial disinvestment.
  • Chicagoland Waste Benchmarking. In this project funded by Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Delta conducted a regional study on waste management practices and to identify opportunities and strategies for maximizing environmental and economic benefit to the region through better practices.
  • DeltaLumin. Through innovative research and program design, Delta is working with world-renowned design firm IDEO and community-based nonprofit Faith in Place to create tools and strategies that help low-income consumers reduce energy use with smart meter data.

For more information on Delta Institute, please visit

The Opportunity:

The Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) will lead the next chapter of Delta. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO will work in partnership with the Board to develop a strategic approach to achieving the Institute’s goals of growing program impact and scaling the organization from its current $3.6 million budget over the next five years while advancing its mission. A key aspect of this role will be guiding a vision-setting process and then executing on specific strategies for achieving that vision.

The CEO oversees the entire organization, including strategy, fundraising, external relations, staff and administrative activities.

In partnership with the senior team and the Board, the CEO will lead the strategic planning process in 2016 and play a key role in shaping the vision for Delta’s next chapter. The CEO will be responsible for developing strategies, goals, and objectives to advance Delta’s work, scaling of organization and positive impact on the region’s environment and economy.

The CEO will drive Delta’s fundraising efforts and represent Delta in environmental and economic development arenas. Identifying, establishing and cultivating long-term partnerships to fund and operationalize Delta’s strategies will be a priority for the CEO. Additionally, s/he will be responsible for mentoring senior team members around fundraising strategy.

The CEO will be regarded as a convener, trusted advisor, and thought leader amongst his/her peers, and will already be recognized as a key content area representative in environmental sustainability and/or economic development both regionally and potentially nationally. Additionally, s/he will be responsible for cultivating partnerships with governmental entities, businesses and communities to help shape the environmental landscape.

Lastly, the CEO will provide strategic leadership and mentoring to all professional staff and programs. S/he will be the leading voice of Delta and continue to fully engage and leverage the strong management and technical staff, with an emphasis on professional development. Additionally, s/he will oversee the day-to-day administrative management of Delta and ensure responsible financial oversight.

Candidate Profile:

The ideal candidate will have the following qualities and characteristics:

An Ambassador for Delta Institute

As the “Ambassador” of Delta, the CEO will represent Delta to a range of external stakeholders in the environmental arena. S/he person will be an articulate, dynamic, diplomatic and effective communicator and be respected among industry peers. S/he must command respect in the environmental and/or economic development community and have the gravitas to work within the diverse spectrum of funders and partners. S/he will have a proven background in building assets coupled with a deep understanding that fundraising and development of long-term partnerships are fundamental to the organization’s success. S/he will have a strong professional network to further the mission of the Delta and convene support from funders and partners to maximize the impact and visibility of Delta’s work in the region and beyond.

Content Area Expertise & Passion for the Mission

The CEO will be recognized as a leader both internally and externally and have a deep understanding of sustainable development and market transformation strategies. S/he must be able to engage competently around the full range of Delta’s programmatic areas to its external audience. By understanding the environmental landscape, the CEO will be able to position Delta for success, prioritize partnerships and projects for long-term impact and mentor staff to ensure the successful completion of projects. The CEO must exude a sense of intellectual curiosity and a willingness and eagerness to share his or her knowledge and understanding with Delta’s diverse stakeholders.

A Strategic & Inclusive Leader

The CEO will be an innovative and enthusiastic self-starter who can think strategically about Delta’s future. S/he will draw on the expertise of Board and strong staff to set the vision and develop a strategic plan for Delta and work closely with them to ensure the plan’s successful implementation and evaluation efforts. The CEO will seek out partnership and collaboration opportunities with governmental entities, businesses and communities to help advance Delta’s mission and strategic priorities. S/he will actively engage with the Board, collaborating and leveraging their skills and talents to further the mission of Delta. Additionally, the CEO will be an inclusive leader who embodies and stays true to the values of Delta’s entrepreneurial culture and be committed to a congenial and collaborative environment. The CEO will be a leader who embodies humility and agility, and will be able to work with the team to navigate Delta’s multiple priorities and projects, knowing when to change direction and focus.

Business Acumen and Management

The CEO will be results-oriented and be able to translate Delta’s over-arching goals into clear objectives for the Board and staff. S/he will leverage the Board’s strengths to further the mission of Delta and actively engage Board members in its work. The CEO will have a track record of successful Board development and management. S/he will approach the financial oversight of Delta with an even-handed and reasoned approach to budgetary decision-making based on a clear understanding of the strategic objectives of the organization.

Delta is a regional organization with two offices. The ideal candidate will have experience working with a multi-office, multi-state organization.

A focus on the Midwest and the Great Lakes region would be desirable, but is not required.

A Bachelor’s degree is required. An advanced degree would be desirable.


Alison P. Ranney, Anne B. McCarthy and Anny K. Chou of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here or email Alison, Anne and Anny directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit