Organization: Charles River Conservancy

Location: Cambridge, MA

Express Interest

About the Charles River Conservancy:

The Charles River Conservancy (the Conservancy) is dedicated to the stewardship, renewal, and enhancement of the urban parklands along the Charles River, for the enjoyment of all. The Conservancy promotes the active use and vitality of the parklands, increases recreational and cultural opportunities, and works to ensure the beauty and integrity of this extraordinary public resource.

Established in 2000, the Charles River Conservancy works in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) as well as other state and local agencies on the renewal and active use of the Charles River parklands from Boston Harbor to the Watertown Dam. The Conservancy also works to provide increased connectivity to the River and its parklands to all of the communities within the Boston / Cambridge metro area.

Each year, approximately 2,000 volunteers work with the Conservancy to renew and maintain the Charles River parklands. The Conservancy also collaborates with other organizations and coalitions to advocate for increased state funding to enhance the landscape, structures, pathways, and amenities of the Charles River Basin.

A leader in forming public-private partnerships, the Conservancy has successfully leveraged funds for many projects that make the parklands more active, attractive, and accessible for all.

The Conservancy’s work includes:

Programs and Projects

Conservancy Volunteers Volunteers are engaged year-round, participating in activities including planting daffodil bulbs, painting park benches, removing invasive species, trimming brush, and trash cleanup. Since 2002, more than 28,000 Conservancy Volunteers have contributed over $1.9M of donated labor to improve the health, safety, and beauty of the Charles River parklands.

Lynch Family Skatepark A major capital project more than a decade in the making, the design of this 40,000-square foot Skatepark was aided by the input of over 400 skaters. This Conservancy project also received the help of VansÒ, renowned local sculptor Nancy Schon of Make Way for Ducklings fame, foundations, and private and public funds.  Designed to accommodate skateboarders, BMX riders, and inline skaters, the skatepark opened in Nov 2015 and is now managed and owned by the DCR. It has the capacity to support community clinics and events, as well as world-class competitions.

Swim Park Project In an effort to reclaim urban swimming and bring a unique recreational opportunity to the Greater Boston community, the Conservancy is working to build a safe, fun, and accessible permanent swimming facility in the Charles River to be enjoyed by everyone. Accomplishments to date include five consecutive years of City Splash events, a feasibility study of the proposed location and a bathrymetric survey of the Charles River bottom. The Conservancy has also secured funding for water quality testing and continues to raise awareness and support for the project.

Bridge Lighting Since 2004, the Conservancy has worked to install permanent lighting on four of the Charles River bridges: Weeks Footbridge, Anderson Bridge, Western Avenue Bridge, and River Street Bridge. These bridge illuminations both beautify and draw attention to the architectural treasures that connect Boston and Cambridge.

Pathway Restoration The Conservancy helped drive a fundraising campaign to repave especially hazardous pathways along the south shore at the Brighton-Newton border which has significantly improved access, eased congestion, and ensures the safety and maintenance of the parklands for cyclists and pedestrians.

RiverSing In 2004, the Conservancy partnered with Revels to organize the first RiverSing, a celebration of the autumnal Equinox which has become an annual tradition at the Weeks bridge, bringing thousands to the parklands.

Advocacy – One of the main goals of the Charles River Conservancy is to serve as an advocate for the parklands. This includes educating appointed and elected officials about best-practice planning, identified problems and needs, and the importance of adequate public funds, both for capital projects and routine maintenance. Often in coalition with public and private partners, the Conservancy participates in the state’s budgeting process, the crafting of park related legislation, and the monitoring of state park planning and parklands maintenance.

Two of the main advocacy programs include:

Pathway Connectivity – Installation of pedestrian/bicycle underpasses in various locations which will provide a continuous, safe, multi-modal greenway corridor between Watertown and downtown Boston for residents, visitors, commuters, and families.

Protection and Expansion of Parkland Space –The Conservancy works in collaboration with other organizations and advocacy groups to ensure that planning and development efforts along the river protect and improve public access and enjoyment of the parklands along the river.

For more information, please visit

The Opportunity:

This is a unique opportunity for the next Executive Director of the Charles River Conservancy to provide strategic and innovative leadership to grow and guide the organization’s impact and reach. In partnership with the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will develop and execute a forward-looking vision and strategic plan for the Conservancy’s next chapter.

A collaborative and charismatic individual, the Executive Director will establish, cultivate, and maintain strong working partnerships with a diverse set of stakeholders, including the DCR, Board, funders, and other partners about the Conservancy’s mission.  The Executive Director will be a compelling spokesperson and ambassador for the Conservancy’s work and programs.

An experienced and effective organizational leader, the Executive Director will bring strong operational, financial, and management experience to ensure that the Conservancy remains productive and efficient.  S/he will have a successful track record in staff management, development and Board relations. This is an opportunity for a tenacious and optimistic individual to work with an equally committed and resourceful Board and staff. The Executive Director will take pride in leading a growing staff and will be committed to mentoring and developing the staff. The new Executive Director will follow Renata von Tscharner, the founder of the Conservancy, and will be the second Executive Director in the organization’s 17-year history.

This is a full-time position located in Cambridge, MA.

The Executive Director’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

Strategic Leadership and Vision Setting

  • Provide leadership and direction for the success of the Conservancy by establishing, maintaining, and evaluating long-range objectives and strategies for accomplishing those objectives
  • Work collaboratively with the Board of Directors to develop and implement strategic priorities that further the Conservancy’s vision, mission, and goals
  • Provide direction to the Board and staff to enhance both human and financial resources and ensure continued growth and success

Organizational and People Management

  • Assume overall fiscal and operational management and accountability for the organization
  • Serve as a strong, hands-on operational leader, ensuring that day-to-day operations and programs are effectively administered and evaluating the financial impact of ongoing programs and new initiatives
  • Supervise and maintain effective and trusting relationships with the Conservancy staff, encouraging and empowering them to maximize productivity, ensure professional excellence, and promote teamwork
  • Integrate the strategic plan, annual operating plan, and annual operating budget to successfully achieve the priorities set by the Board and the ED

External Relations and Partnerships

  • Serve as the Conservancy’s primary liaison and spokesperson to the public, Board, and both current and prospective supporters and partners
  • Identify, build, and nurture collaborative partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders including the DCR and other city- and state-agencies, universities, and other nonprofit organizations
  • Advance the CRC’s public profile by developing new and innovative approaches to increase community awareness of its services and programs


  • Cultivate and solicit key individuals and institutions; oversee the design and implementation of fundraising strategies to maintain and grow revenue
  • Develop and strengthen partnerships with key stakeholders and constituencies, including funding organizations, individual donors, and other nonprofit organizations

Board Relations

  • Partner closely with the Board of Directors to drive strategic vision, leverage its experience and expertise, and thoughtfully develop the Board as the organization moves forward
  • Help develop, maintain, and support a strong Board of Directors, actively engaging and energizing the Board of Directors so it can fulfill its oversight, fundraising, and external relations responsibilities

Candidate Profile:

The ideal candidate will bring the following skills, experiences, and characteristics:

  • 5+ years of senior leadership experience in a nonprofit or business environment with the ability to develop and execute plans for growth and reach those goals
  • Strategic mindset, with the ability to translate vision into action through strategic planning and execution
  • Demonstrated management acumen with the ability to set priorities decisively, delegate responsibilities, assure accountability, and allocate resources to ensure results
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills and the ability to serve as a compelling and credible spokesperson for the Conservancy; experience elevating the profile and visibility of an organization
  • Highly developed relationship-building skills and an ability to establish positive relationships with a diverse set of stakeholders; experience working in partnership with a government agency strongly preferred
  • Track record of effective fundraising and external relations, with success cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding donors and an ability to build relationships and secure new sources of funding
  • Experience working with a Board of Directors and knowledge of Board governance
  • Collaborative, positive leadership style with willingness to take initiative, roll up one’s sleeves, and manage multiple projects through to completion
  • Passion for and commitment to the mission of the Conservancy; background in urban parks, recreation, environment, advocacy and/or landscape architecture preferred


Alena Guerra of Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role, please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

The Charles River Conservancy is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by law.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations, institutions of higher education 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