Organization: The Esplanade Association

Location: Boston, MA

Express Interest

About the Esplanade Association:

The Esplanade Association is the only independent nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing and enhancing the Charles River Esplanade, one of Boston’s most beautiful and iconic public parks. The Esplanade Association works to maintain, improve, and preserve the park and engage the community by providing educational, cultural and recreational programs for the millions of visitors each year who come to enjoy the riverside green space.

Formed in 2001 as a friends group to help restore and enhance the Esplanade, the Esplanade Association has been the catalyst for over $28 million in park improvements. Notable accomplishments include the restoration of the Hatch Shell Oval and the Lotta Fountain, the rebuilding of the community boating docks, and the renovation of youth sports fields. This work has been accomplished in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which stewards one of the largest state parks systems in the country and works to protect, promote and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural and recreational resources.

The Esplanade Association hosts a series of events throughout the year to celebrate the Esplanade and invite visitors to enjoy the space, including the Esplanade Sunset 5k Run, the Summer Dock Party, and the Moondance Gala. The Esplanade is also the location for the popular July 4th Boston Pops Concert and Fireworks Spectacular, which is sponsored by the DCR. Through a variety of free and inclusive programming, events, and volunteer opportunities the Esplanade Association brings thousands of children, students, and families to the Park for free exercise classes, day camps, and educational events.  The Esplanade Association also works to establish new and innovative practices to preserve the Park for future generations, engaging and educating the community on sustainable practices and environmental topics

The Esplanade Association’s work includes:

Projects to significantly improve the use, aesthetics, and safety of the park. Through capital projects and campaigns, the Esplanade Association restores and revitalizes structures and landscapes, reactivating underutilized and fragile parts of the Park.

Park Care to restore and enhance the park’s landscape — making it greener, healthier, and more beautiful. The Esplanade Association’s horticulture and stewardship staff utilize the best management practices in land care to improve soil health, manage invasive plants, expand native plantings, and care for our urban tree canopy. In 2015, the Esplanade became a certified wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. In addition, the esplanade Association hosts over 3,000 volunteers each year to help with park maintenance.

Programs that enrich the enjoyment and health of visitors to the park, connect people from diverse backgrounds and communities, and promote park stewardship. Signature programs include:

Healthy Fit and Fun – The Esplanade Association partners with organizations around Boston to offer a diverse array of professionally-led outdoor fitness classes to people of all ages and abilities, including Zumba, Yoga, and Bootcamp. All classes are free and open to the public.

CHiP – Children in the Park (ChiP) is a program designed to increase access to recreational activities on the Esplanade for Boston-area youth living in neighborhoods with limited access to green space. The Esplanade Association partners with Associated Grant Makers’ Summer Fund to serve children ages 5 to 17 years who attend one of a network of about 70 day camps that provide a safe place for recreation, academic enrichment and promote cross-cultural understanding.

Family Adventures – A new community program that takes place on the Charles River Esplanade over the course of four weekends during the summer. Family Adventures, which is free to all participants, is designed to introduce families to the Esplanade, and educate them on local ecosystems and environmental concerns during a guided two-mile walk along the banks of the Charles.

Advocacy for public policies and resource allocation that help protect and improve the park for the benefit of its diverse users. By partnering and working with donors, legislators, and other organizations, the Esplanade Association advocates on behalf of the Park to ensure that the land and natural environment is protected for generations to come. 

The Esplanade Association’s Core Values:

WELCOME – We welcome all to enjoy the Park freely.

STEWARD – We steward the Park by working with the community to establish new and innovative practices and skillsets to preserve the Park for future generations.

ADVOCATE – We advocate for public policy and resource allocations to protect and support the Park.

EDUCATE & ENGAGE – We strive to educate and engage visitors through free educational and recreational programs that further visitors’ environmental, health, and community knowledge.

REVITALIZE – We revitalize the Park’s natural environment and historic character by reactivating areas of the Park that have fallen into disrepair.

INVEST – We invest our time, effort, and resources to improving the accessibility and overall user experience.

For more information, please visit

The Opportunity:

The Esplanade Association seeks an experienced and charismatic Executive Director to lead the organization and build upon its track record of revitalizing and enhancing the Esplanade and building support for this unique public space. Working with an engaged Board and committed team, the Executive Director will establish a clear strategic direction for deepening the organization’s impact and reach. A natural relationship builder, the Executive Director will establish, cultivate, and maintain strong working partnerships with staff, key stakeholders, funders, and the DCR.

The Executive Director will be instrumental in ensuring organization’s continued success by developing a strategy to increase the organization’s fundraising potential and activities. S/he will strengthen and extend existing fundraising strategies while also creating new and innovative approaches to elevate the organization’s visibility and financial resources. The Executive Director will be a compelling and articulate spokesperson for the Esplanade Association, motivating and inspiring others to support its mission and programs.

The Executive Director will be committed to supporting existing core programs and maintaining a cohesive, positive organizational culture within the Esplanade Association that emphasizes collaboration and accountability while supporting an open climate that attracts, retains, and motivates a diverse staff of top quality people.

Ideal candidates will bring experience leading a growing organization or program, exceptional relationship building and communications skills, and the ability to develop and implement an effective strategic vision.

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

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

Strategic Leadership and Governance

  • Work collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish and implement strategic priorities that further the Esplanade’s Association vision, mission and goals/objectives
  • Provide direction to the Board and staff to enhance both human and financial resources and ensure continued growth and success
  • 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
  • Provide the Board of Directors with timely, accessible and meaningful information about the Esplanade Association, its programs, its fundraising and its internal operations that allows them to focus on strategic and long-term issues

Fundraising and External Relations

  • Serve as an articulate, persuasive, and effective spokesperson for the Esplanade Association by effectively representing its mission, goals, and services to the Board, staff, and both current and prospective supporters and partners
  • Work with the Board of Directors to design and implement fundraising strategies, including cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of key individuals, foundations, and corporate donors
  • Maintain a strong relationship with the DCR and position the Esplanade Association to optimize its partnership and program opportunities with this group
  • Advance the Esplanade Association’s public profile by developing new and innovative approaches to increase community awareness of its services and programs
  • Oversee the planning and implementation of major fundraising events (e.g. Moondance Gala, Summer Dock Party, etc.) and ensure that development goals are met or exceeded


  • Oversee the planning, implementation and evaluation of the Esplanade Association’s programs and services, set ambitious and achievable goals, and ensure that programs and services contribute to the organization’s mission and reflect Board/organizational priorities.
  • Serve as primary liaison to the DCR on planning and activity coordination

Operational and People Management

  • Effectively manage the Esplanade Association’s annual budget and monthly cash flow, provide the Board with comprehensive, regular reports on revenues and expenditures, update Board on all significant financial developments, and work with the Board and senior staff to ensure that business practices and plans meet all financial goals
  • Ensure that day-to-day operations and programs are effectively administered and evaluate the financial impact of ongoing programs and new initiatives
  • Determine staffing requirements for organizational management and program delivery, and oversee an effective staff recruitment process
  • Supervise and maintain effective and trusting relationships with the Esplanade Association’s staff, encouraging and empowering them to maximize productivity, ensure professional excellence, and promote teamwork

Candidate Profile:

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

  • Strategic organizational leader with at least 5 years of senior-level management experience, including prior success in managing a team, program, or initiative through growth
  • Demonstrated track record of effective fundraising and external relations, with success cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major gifts and an ability and enthusiasm to build relationships and secure new sources of funding
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills and the ability to serve as a compelling and credible spokesperson for the Esplanade Association with experience elevating the profile and visibility of an organization
  • Ability to interact effectively with diverse stakeholders, including the Board of Directors, DCR personnel, donors, park patrons, vendors/contractors, staff, and volunteers; experience working in partnership with a government agency a plus
  • Strong track record of financial and operational management experience, with the ability to lead and motivate teams
  • Strong program planning, goal-setting, and evaluation skills
  • Experience working with public park or horticulture-related organization a plus
  • Flexibility to work evenings and weekends for events as needed


Molly Brennan and Alena Guerra of Koya Leadership Partners have 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 Esplanade Association 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, educational institutions 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, visit