Organization: Essex County Greenbelt Association

Location: Essex, MA

Express Interest

Essex County Greenbelt Association (“Greenbelt”), a private nonprofit land trust and nationally recognized champion of innovative local land conservation, seeks a passionate, results-oriented President to lead the organization as it engages in conservation opportunities that are important to the diverse communities and constituencies it serves, and that contribute to the region’s extraordinary quality of life.

Essex County stretches from the rocky coast of Cape Ann and stunning Great Marsh ecosystem, through the small towns and agricultural landscapes that bore witness to some of New England’s first settlements. Including the currently resurgent and diverse mill cities of the Merrimack Valley, the fishing port of Gloucester, and the historic city of Salem, the County is a place where the span of American history is evident daily.

Covering 500 square miles north of Boston to the New Hampshire border, Essex County is home to 738,000 residents. Renowned as a National Heritage Area and natural resource wonderland, the County welcomes three million visitors annually. This beautiful mosaic of 34 cities and towns lies within easy reach of Boston, the Atlantic Ocean, and the mountains of northern New England.

Coastal marshes, important watersheds and wetlands, forested uplands, and historic and working farmlands sustain unique communities and characterize the geography Greenbelt works hard to protect. These surroundings offer residents and visitors extraordinary opportunities for recreation and experiencing the restorative power of nature.

Greenbelt has a proven record of accomplishment, permanently conserving 17,500 acres since its founding in 1961. The organization enjoys strong donor support, proven by its substantial financial footing and the success of its recent $12.5 million capital campaign to fuel further expansion of conservation in new communities. The Board of Directors seeks an experienced, dynamic, and strategic leader to guide its next chapter of success in land conservation, stewardship, and community engagement. This is a rare opportunity to join and lead a highly effective and vibrant organization; to work with an expert staff; and to increase the pace of conservation for public benefit.

We invite you to consider becoming an essential part of the Greenbelt community.

History and Mission:

Greenbelt traces its origins to the grass-roots efforts of three men who came together to preserve an iconic farm on Bald Hill in Boxford, MA. Over time, the all-volunteer organization developed relationships with local landowners based on trust and a shared conservation vision. Today, operating with a $1.6 million annual budget supplemented by funds raised for specific land projects and supported by a $12.8 million endowment, Greenbelt’s highly skilled professional staff of 13 proudly retains this approachable ethic and culture. As Greenbelt’s impact has increased, its mission and values have remained steadfast.

Greenbelt works with landowners, communities, and its partners to permanently conserve open space, farmland, wildlife habitat, and scenic landscapes. This work helps protect native plants, animals, and natural corridors, build resiliency in response to climate change, ensure a healthy food supply, maintain clean water, and create free and accessible places for outdoor recreation and the enjoyment of nature.

A primary focus of Greenbelt’s work is the creation of a network of natural corridors and visually intact landscapes or “greenbelts”, many of which are accessible to the public and managed for outdoor recreation. Greenbelt conserves land by acquiring land, which it then manages in public trust; by holding conservation restrictions on land owned by individuals and families, municipalities, and other conservation organizations; and by assisting its many collaborative partners in land conservation projects, through sharing Greenbelt’s experience, technical expertise, and financial assistance.

Greenbelt’s path breaking success stems from its ability to stay focused on its core land conservation mission. The organization is creative and innovative in structuring land protection projects; resourceful in attracting additional dollars to leverage conservation investments; proficient in working collaboratively with many partners throughout the region; and committed to a grassroots approach.

A wide variety of opportunities for personal and community engagement allow Greenbelt to connect people to the natural world, and to volunteer in conservation work. Free, guided weekday and weekend outdoor activities, along with educational programming for people of all ages and interests, help build this community and encourage a conservation ethic in current and future generations. A newly designed, interactive website, along with vibrant print and electronic communications, reinforce understanding of the valuable benefits conservation can contribute to the place we call home.

Greenbelt operates with a volunteer Board of Directors, a staff of 13 employees, and approximately 300 volunteers. More than 4,000 people support Greenbelt’s work through membership, donations, and activities.

Opportunities and Challenges Facing the President:

Greenbelt is at a historic juncture as it approaches its first leadership transition in 30 years. Since 1987, the organization has grown and flourished under the exceptional leadership of its President, Edward O. Becker. Greenbelt’s Board and staff have been preparing the organization for Edward’s planned retirement by the end of 2018, and recently completed a three-year strategic plan to guide this executive transition.

As Greenbelt looks towards its next chapter of leadership, it seeks a President who will embrace the organization’s history while strategically and thoughtfully charting a course forward. Greenbelt is ready and eager to embrace its next long-term executive leader.

Priorities for the incoming President will include:

Strategic and Visionary Leadership

The incoming President will skillfully articulate Greenbelt’s vision for conservation in Essex County, developing and strengthening support for its mission – conservation of wetlands and forested uplands, farmland, wildlife habitat, and scenic landscapes across Essex County. Building upon Greenbelt’s strengths and unique niche as the leader of land conservation in the County and guided by a recently approved three-year strategic plan, s/he will inspire the Board and staff to translate this strategic vision into focused programs and priorities, which are tied to defined outcomes and financial goals.

Two notable areas of focus include Greenbelt’s groundbreaking Campaign for 10,000 Acres, to conserve 10,000 acres in Essex County over the next 10 years; and spearheading the plan for Greenbelt to become more visible, collaborative, and productive in communities that are less familiar with the organization, such as those that are more densely developed and those north of the Merrimack River.

Moreover, to ensure a smooth leadership transition, the incoming President will immerse her/himself in the Greenbelt community, actively and thoughtfully engaging with staff, partners, volunteers, and donors in order to develop a deep sense of its unique culture and history. Greenbelt is proud of its grassroots, accessible, service-orientated approach and will look to the incoming President to embrace, maintain, and enhance these core values.

Land Conservation Leadership

The incoming President will guide Greenbelt’s efforts to pursue and develop innovative and proactive approaches to support local land conservation efforts. Working with local, regional, state, and national partners, s/he will pursue resources, policies, and programs to protect the region’s natural resources and cherished landscapes.

The incoming President will develop cutting edge practices in the areas of land conservation and land stewardship. S/he will effectively advocate for conservation and its essential relevance for families and communities throughout the County, now and in the future. As the world of conservation evolves, the incoming President will foster innovation and creativity in conservation and stewardship efforts across operations and programs.

Program Leadership and Geographic Expansion

The incoming President will provide inspiration and oversight for Greenbelt’s annual operations and programs, empowering and supporting a team of highly skilled and dedicated professionals, ensuring progress toward ambitious goals for land conservation, stewardship, public engagement, development, and financial management.

Continuing Greenbelt’s conservation and programming efforts across communities with preexisting relationships while strategically and thoughtfully expanding into new communities, mainly north of the Merrimack River, will be a strategic priority for the incoming President. These northern communities have significant lands with high natural resource value but with little conservation protection to date. The incoming President will, along with conservation staff, develop relevant strategies to achieve Greenbelt’s aim to expand the number of Essex County communities that derive public benefit from nearby conserved lands.

Board Governance, Staff Leadership, and Organizational Management

The incoming President will develop a close, trusted relationship with the Board of Directors, fostering connections that are inclusive and supportive. With the Board, s/he will ensure strong organizational governance and capacity. S/he will be expected to cultivate and nurture relationships with individuals who could be valuable future Board members to ensure a breadth of leadership across all levels of the organization.

Internally, s/he will build and nurture a strong team by participating in the recruitment, hiring, and mentoring of the staff. S/he will preserve and strengthen Greenbelt’s culture of collaboration, open communication, and resourcefulness, thereby ensuring a climate that attracts, keeps, and motivates high performing staff members.

The incoming President will be expected to improve Greenbelt’s strong financial and operational capabilities by collaborating with the staff and the Board in preparing the annual budget and ensuring that Greenbelt operates within budget guidelines.

Public Recognition and Visibility

The incoming President will continue to raise the profile of Greenbelt among diverse audiences, both on a regional and national level, with the goal of increasing awareness and expanding publicity while also serving as an advocate and thought leader on conservation and land trust topics. Specifically, s/he will strengthen the organization’s non-partisan role in effectively advocating for relevant federal, state, and local public policies.

Community Engagement, Stewardship and Partnership

Community engagement and stewardship are core values that the incoming President will nurture and cultivate with care and flexibility, understanding and serving the diverse needs of Greenbelt’s numerous constituents. S/he will spearhead fundraising through strategic development and intensive personal cultivation and engagement, particularly with major individual donors and prospects and our engaged group of volunteers.

The incoming President will also deepen collaborations with community, public and private partners, and stakeholders while strategically pursuing additional relationships, partnerships, and alliances.

Desired Candidate Attributes and Experiences:

The incoming President will apply their experience as an inspiring leader, manager, and communicator to be an authentic advocate for Greenbelt, its mission, and its future. S/he will need to clearly demonstrate a deep passion and interest in conservation issues and challenges. Experience in land conservation would be preferred but is not required. A candidate with little conservation experience will need to demonstrate the ability to become fluent with conservation issues quickly, in order to be a credible representative of Greenbelt.

Specifically, s/he should possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:

  • A confident, energetic and optimistic commitment to the mission of the Essex County Greenbelt Association.
  • Solid knowledge of land trust and conservation issues, policies, and practices.
  • 8+ years in management positions, with demonstrated accomplishments, including the ability to expand an organization in scope, impact, and visibility.
  • Successful experience in aligning strategic plans with organizational capacity and financial resources; business acumen with the ability to successfully oversee the budget and operations of a nonprofit institution.
  • Strong external relations skills with experience identifying potential partnerships and revenue-generating opportunities.
  • A track record of fundraising, especially through private donor relationships.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills and the ability to serve as a compelling spokesperson who can articulate Greenbelt’s mission and work to a variety of stakeholders.
  • Inspirational, collaborative, and goal-oriented management style, along with a patient, unifying voice to mobilize, lead, facilitate, and inspire trust amongst staff, Board, and other constituents.
  • A willingness to travel across the state and be present across Essex County, paired with the sensitivity to work effectively within a wide variety of geographic, political, and cultural settings.
  • A healthy sense of humor and an appreciation for the flexibility, creativity, and twists and turns that are often part of an entrepreneurial environment.
  • A minimum of a bachelor’s degree and experience commensurate with the needs of the role.


Essex County Greenbelt Association has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. This search process is being led by Molly Brennan, Liz Lombard, and Turner Delano. Please submit a resume and personalized one to three-page cover letter here.

Essex County Greenbelt Association does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnic or national origin, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or other characteristic covered by law with regard to employment opportunities.

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



Essex County’s special quality of life is based on a healthy respect for the land, its productivity, and the benefits it offers to each generation.

Land protection doesn’t “just happen” –
it takes sustained, purposeful, and focused commitment.


As Essex County’s Land Trust, Greenbelt works with landowners and the thirty-four cities and towns of Essex County to conserve open space, farmland, wildlife habitat, and scenic landscapes. Our work helps protect native plants, animals, and natural corridors, ensure a healthy food supply, maintain clean water, and create free and accessible places for outdoor recreation and the enjoyment of nature.


An Essex County where individuals, families, and communities, now and in the future, benefit from local conserved lands – which provide for healthy food production, clean water, diverse natural habitats, outdoor recreation, and the wellbeing and inspiration derived from nearness to nature.

Greenbelt Values

  • Conservation, in perpetuity, of the distinctive landscapes and the varied natural resources of Essex County.
  • Transformative effect of access to nature for the health and wellbeing of future generations.
  • Effective conservation leadership through partnership and innovation, dedicated to sharing our knowledge and experience.
  • Integrity and excellence, deserving of public trust, expressed in our commitment to the highest standards of honesty, transparency, and professionalism.
  • Local engagement that is responsive, that honors the diverse character of Essex County and respects the conservation vision of the individuals, families, communities, municipalities, and partners with whom we work.
  • A culture of optimism and creativity that is confident and resourceful.

“We can never have enough of nature.”   Henry David Thoreau