Executive Director

Executive Director

Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy

Litchfield, CT   |   March 10, 2020

About Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy

“If you take care of birds, you take care of most ​of the environmental problems in the world.”
​-Thomas Lovejoy
Biologist, Conservationist, and Ripley Board President

The Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy has been known for 20 years as an international nonprofit organization that conserves rare and endangered waterfowl from around the world. With one of the largest collections in the US, the Conservancy is recognized as one of the nation’s preeminent facilities dedicated to environmental education, research, and conservation.

At a time when the average American child spends only five minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play and urban life dominates the economy, the Conservancy serves a growing need for raising awareness, knowledge, and passion for biodiversity and environmental health by working with teachers, students, zoos, and conservationists.

Founded by one of the twentieth century’s outstanding figures in ornithology and conservation, S. Dillon Ripley, an internationally recognized collection of waterfowl was developed in Litchfield, Connecticut from the 1940s-1980s. Dr. Ripley and his wife, Mary Livingston Ripley, recognized the potential for their waterfowl collection to become a valuable conservation resource. In 1985, Dillon and Mary created a nonprofit foundation, today known as the Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy.

In the ensuing years, the Conservancy has been managed and grown by its highly capable Board and staff. Today, the site consists of 16 fenced acres of ponds and aviaries in the middle of a 150 acre preserve in Litchfield. The collection consists of over 70 species of birds and approximately 400 individuals. The team has developed educational programs from grades 1-12, in keeping with the scientific criteria of the state of Connecticut as well as programs for the general public. The Conservancy shares these programs with thousands of people every year, at its facilities in Litchfield, offsite in schools, nursing homes, and other venues in the tri-state area, and nationally and internationally online.

With an annual budget of roughly $900K, a sizeable endowment, a full-time staff of six, and a network of interns and volunteers, the Conservancy uses its resources to further the cause of environmental education and the preservation of rare and endangered waterfowl.

For more information on the Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy, please visit www.ripleyconservancy.org.

The Opportunity

The Conservancy seeks a compelling spokesperson and demonstrated leader to serve as the organization’s Executive Director. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the successful candidate will have the skills necessary to articulate, develop, present, and implement the Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy’s goals, strategies, and programs, driving fundraising efforts and partnering closely with the many stakeholders invested in the Conservancy’s work.

The Executive Director will be responsible for the following:

Commitment to the Mission and Values Alignment

  • Fostering a shared commitment to the Conservancy’s mission amongst staff, Board, and external stakeholders
  • Inspiring the Conservancy’s visitors to value and protect our planet and the biodiversity that lives here, because the future of human health and well-being depends on it

Strategic Vision and Organizational Leadership

  • Leading a full-time team of six people, as well as overseeing and supporting a network of interns and volunteers
  • Fostering a healthy, happy, and collaborative work environment
  • Overseeing financial and operational management, including presiding over the annual development of the budget and review of organizational strategy

Chief Fundraiser and Spokesperson

  • Growing the endowment and other revenues by spearheading fundraising of major gifts and grants and by creating new initiatives and ideas to cultivate additional revenue sources
  • Leading the campaign to build an Education Center for the Conservancy, as well as preparing for a capital campaign
  • Raising the profile and visibility of the Conservancy externally by maintaining and strengthening relationships with stakeholders, including funders, educators, policymakers, media, and the local, regional, national, and international communities impacted by the Conservancy’s work

Board Partnership and Communication

  • Partnering closely with the Board, ensuring that there is alignment on goals and organizational strategy
  • Spearheading the development of a pipeline of new potential directors
  • Managing the Board agenda, helping to facilitate initiatives and productive Board committees
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

  • Minimum of 15 years experience in relevant roles, with a focus on strategy development, management, and overall operations oversight and fiscal stewardship
  • Experience cultivating major gifts and leading capital campaigns
  • Strong leadership and communication skills, with the ability to inspire and motivate donors, staff, volunteers, and partners
  • A leadership style that is entrepreneurial, creative, and solutions-oriented; experience managing institutional growth and change is highly desirable
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills, judgment, and a demonstrated ability to collaborate and build coalitions with a wide range of individuals and organizations at the local, regional, and national levels
  • Passion for the environment and biodiversity, and a deep concern for preserving and protecting our natural resources – interest in/passion for birds and birding a plus
  • Willingness and ability to travel as needed to represent the organization
  • Bachelor’s degree required; Master’s degree in a relevant field preferred

Compensation & Location

Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy offers a competitive salary, commensurate with experience, and an attractive benefits package. This position will be located in Litchfield, Connecticut, and the Executive Director should live within easy reach of the Conservancy.


Koya Leadership Partners, the executive search firm that specializes in mission-driven search, has been exclusively retained for this engagement. Molly Brennan and Meghan Franklin are leading this search. To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role, please visit this link here. All nominations, inquiries, and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQ+, and other underrepresented applicants.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners, a member of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.