Executive Director

Executive Director

The Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics, and Native Americans in Science

Santa Cruz, CA   |   April 1, 2020

The Opportunity

The Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics, and Native Americans in Science (“SACNAS”), is seeking a collaborative and inspirational Executive Director (“ED”), to lead the organization through its next stage of growth. SACNAS is the largest network of diverse students and professionals in STEM; its next leader will have ambitious and bold ideas for scaling the organization so that it continues to proactively meet the needs of emerging leaders in the field.

This leader will be committed to achieving True Diversity, where all STEM fields, including positions of leadership, accurately and proportionately reflect the demographics of the population. The ED will be a true collaborator, and will bring strategic thinking, along with the leadership and management capabilities to operationalize the organizational vision into action within a nonprofit setting. The ED will manage and support a diverse and passionate staff and will partner closely with a Board that represents a vast array of scientific, academic, and research backgrounds to advance the mission and support the growing membership of SACNAS.

Over the course of its 47-year history, SACNAS has changed lives. The organization serves as a model for inclusion that centers populations that have been historically excluded in STEM. Now it is time for the next Executive Director to turn this individual impact into large-scale impact, by not only creating a critical mass of STEM leaders from underrepresented communities nation-wide, but also helping institutions create inclusive environments that will recruit and retain talent.


For the last 47 years, SACNAS has been working to make sure that those most underrepresented in STEM have the support they need to be successful in their fields. SACNAS is an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM. SACNAS is the largest multicultural and multidisciplinary scientific society in the country, with the largest diversity in STEM conference, the largest multicultural and multidisciplinary national student chapter network, and the largest cohort of diverse emerging STEM leaders.

America’s population demographics are changing. It is projected that by 2060, Hispanics and Native Americans will comprise 29% of the U.S. population.

The STEM workforce is not keeping pace with these demographic shifts; without a concerted effort to diversify the number of students earning and using their degrees in the US, America’s competitive edge – and a huge amount of potential – in the STEM fields will be lost. Data shows that diverse voices bring creative solutions to the world’s most pressing scientific problems. SACNAS is building a national network that is innovative and inclusive. While the organization was founded to serve the fastest growing and most underserved demographic, it is an inclusive Society that is open to all who can benefit from its resources and services.

The National Diversity in STEM Conference

SACNAS annually hosts the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the country. This three-day conference serves to equip, empower, and energize participants for their academic and professional paths in STEM. Over the course of the three days, college-level through professional attendees are immersed in cutting-edge scientific research and professional development sessions, one-to-one mentoring, motivational keynote speakers, a Graduate School and Career Expo Hall, multicultural celebrations, and an inclusive and welcoming community of peers, mentors, and role models. The conference also provides students with the opportunity to share their research findings and develop their science communication skills by presenting their science to a general scientific audience, obtain feedback from assigned mentor judges, and obtain career advice. Hosting this conference is a key priority for the organization, connecting the staff and Board to its broader community and mission throughout a deeply moving and inspirational week.

In October 2019, SACNAS hosted its annual National Diversity in STEM Conference at the Hawaii Convention Center and achieved a record-breaking year with over 5,000 attendees from across the country. Most importantly, the conference fulfilled its goal of being a broadly inclusive space with a welcoming community of peers, mentors, and role models. For more information about the annual conference, please click here to read the 2019 Conference Success Report and Highlights.

Leadership Institutes

SACNAS has trained over 300 STEM leaders from academia, industry, government and nonprofits through their Leadership Institutes. The goal of the institutes being to cultivate leaders prepared to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM. Launched in 2009 in partnership with the AAAS, the Linton-Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute (LPSLI), has developed postdocs, early career, and mid-career professionals over a five-day leadership training program. Since 2014, the Advanced Leadership Institute (ALI), a three day leadership training program done in partnership with HHMI, has developed mid- and advanced-career professionals.

In 2019, SACNAS launched the Postdoc Leadership Institute (PLI) centering the needs and experiences of postdoctoral-level scientists and in 2021 SACNAS will launch the Executive Leadership Institute, a next-level institute to develop leaders into diversity and inclusion champions.

National Chapters and Local SACNAS Networks

SACNAS has over 115 student chapters representing students from across 34 states. Student chapter members are emerging self-identified leaders that elect their own leadership, plan their own activities, and meet with other chapters at the annual SACNAS conference and at the Chapter Leadership Institute. Student chapters are an opportunity to provide year-round local support for students and develop student leadership skills.

Science Policy and Advocacy

SACNAS is committed to leveraging the knowledge we have cultivated through over 40 years of direct service to inform and influence public policies and funding that will support the communities we serve. Our leaders are a respected source of expertise and information on how to encourage, recruit, and retain Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in STEM fields and serves as a model for inclusion by modeling how science, culture, and community intersect.

SACNAS is proud to stand up for science through partnerships with March for Science and Science Rising, ensuring that STEM diversity and inclusion and evidence-based policy decisions remain a critical piece of STEM advocacy and the national conversation on science.

For more information specific to the Conference, visit www.2019sacnas.org. For more information on the organization as a whole, visit www.sacnas.org.

Core Competencies

The Executive Director will be a collaborative, inspiring, visionary, and engaged leader with a genuine passion for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM. The ED will be invested in building relationships with staff, the Board, partners, funders, and SACNAS’ vast and accomplished membership base. The ideal candidate will have significant experience leading with a lens toward diversity, equity, and inclusion, with a strong change management track record, and a history of developing and leading high performing teams. The ED will have a visionary growth mindset and will have ideas about scaling the organization and its impact nationally.

Additionally, the successful candidate will have the following professional competencies and personal characteristics: a deep knowledge of nonprofit organizations, fundraising and development, effective organizational and operational practices, staff management and leadership expertise, effective written and oral communication skill sets, and a knowledge of federal funding grant opportunities. The competitive applicant would have a collaborative approach, ability to partner with a diverse group of individuals and organizations, and capacity to develop strategic financial approaches to maximize resources.

Alignment with Mission and Values: The Executive Director will embrace and have a passion for SACNAS’ mission and a deep commitment to the success of the organization’s work and impact. This individual will bring humility and cultural competency to the organization’s leadership, ensuring alignment with SACNAS’ core values, and also bring proven experience working with or serving indigenous and/or Latinx communities. The organization serves scientists from many different cultural backgrounds and the ED will have the grace, flexibility and experience to navigate and respect all members and attract new people to the organization. This person will have an authentic commitment and proven leadership experience in advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, and will be comfortable imagining new ways for SACNAS to remain a leader at the forefront of DEI issues in STEM fields. They will have a deep understanding and earnest appreciation for the experience of Indigenous, Chicano, and Hispanic people and their context of operating in this country given structural and historical racism and inequities.

Collaborative and Visionary Leadership: The Executive Director will be a driven and collaborative leader with the ability to see and communicate a vision for SACNAS’ ongoing growth. As a natural consensus-builder, the ED will create a culture where staff and Board are invested in a cohesive vision and can communicate that vision effectively to the organization’s membership and various stakeholders.

The ED will partner closely with the Board to establish this vision and direction for SACNAS, with careful attention to SACNAS’ team-based culture.

Change Management: With a proven track record as an effective change agent, this individual will demonstrate the ongoing ability to diagnose critical areas for attention, and implement clear, innovative growth and organizational strategies and policies that will amplify the impact of SACNAS, increase and diversify various fundraising opportunities, improve the organization’s overall operational functions, and move the organization forward. A motivated and results-oriented leader, they will be focused on the outcome of a given strategy, able to adjust expectations, processes, and approach if necessary. The Executive Director will be able to set priorities, make decisions, and assess risks in a timely manner while keeping the best interests of the organization in mind. This leader will foster teamwork and work cooperatively and effectively with others to set goals, find solutions, and make decisions that enhance organizational effectiveness.

Fundraising Expertise: The Executive Director will be an experienced fundraising leader with a measurable track record of success in advancement and development. This person will have the expertise and credibility to build strong relationships with current and potential donors, institutions and foundations, government agencies, community leaders, constituents, and other supporters. This leader will have the clear, demonstrated expertise required to expand SACNAS’ various fundraising and communications channels, offering insight as appropriate to the Board of Directors to collaborate in identifying and devising development strategies for the organization.

Board Relations: The SACNAS Board of Directors comprises high-profile leaders of color in various STEM fields nationally. The ED will serve at the direction of the Board of Directors to refine and achieve SACNAS’s visionary goals while expanding the membership, establishing external partnerships, and raising the profile of SACNAS in the national STEM community. The ED will use exceptional nonprofit management skills to capitalize on the subject-matter expertise from board members for the benefit of SACNAS as an organization. This leader does not need to be a scientist but should have credibility and management experience that will resonate with the SACNAS Board. This person will partner with board members to define SACNAS’ vision and direction and impact in the future.

Communications and Relationship Building: The ED will be an outward-facing voice of SACNAS, helping to authentically communicate SACNAS’ message to all stakeholders and build the organization’s profile in the broader STEM community. This ED will be able to speak fluidly and extensively about SACNAS’ history, impact, and future direction and will seek out opportunities to highlight SACNAS’ dynamic and accomplished membership. This inspirational leader will have an exceptional ability to communicate their vision for the organization, to help connect and inspire all of SACNAS’ key stakeholders and partnerships.

The Executive Director will be highly skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships, across a wide group of internal and external constituents. They will be a natural collaborator with an ability to work in partnership with a diverse team of leadership, staff members, donors, partners, and members.

Business Acumen: The Executive Director will have a thorough understanding of best-in-class nonprofit management practices and will excel at building the infrastructure required to help SACNAS prepare for the future, including drafting SACNAS policies. This individual will be experienced with financial and budget management. The ED will assess and clarify staff roles and responsibilities, with a particular focus on ideas that improve retention and satisfaction. This leader will have a track record of growth and scaling nonprofit operations and will implement systems and practices that prepare SACNAS for expanding its membership and impact.


SACNAS has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. This search is being led by Michelle Bonoan and Miecha Forbes. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume here, or email Michelle and Miecha directly.

SACNAS is committed to providing equal opportunities in all employment-related activities including, but not limited to recruiting, hiring, advancement, compensation, training, benefits, transfers, and terms of employment. SACNAS promotes equal opportunities for all employees and applicants for employment. Further, SACNAS will fully comply with all applicable equal employment federal, state and local laws and regulations. It is the policy of SACNAS not to discriminate against any individual employee, group of employees or prospective employee for reasons of race, color, religion, creed, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, sex, pregnancy or related medical conditions, age, marital status, ancestry, sexual orientation, physical or mental or sensory disability, genetic information, military status or any other consideration protected by applicable federal, state or local laws.

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 www.koyapartners.com.