TITLE: Executive Director

STATUS:  Full-time, exempt


The Board of Directors of the Dunes Center seeks a passionate, collaborative and visionary executive leader to build upon years of successful efforts. In partnership with the board and staff, the successful candidate will build partnerships, secure funding, advocate for innovative approaches to sustain community programming, and coordinate project development. The executive director manages staff in the ongoing creation and delivery of programs, maintains the relevancy of museum exhibits, training, and technical assistance. The candidate will promote the value of the Dunes Center’s programming to funders, educators, administrators, government leaders, and the general public.



The Dunes Center is a museum that interprets one of the largest coastal sand dune complexes in North America with a mission to promote conservation through education, research, and the support of cooperative stewardship. The Nature Conservancy operated the museum from 1996 until 1999, after which it became an independent nonprofit. The Dunes Center’s museum engages 18,000 visitors from around the world every year. However, the organization’s primary focus is nature education for children on California’s Central Coast between Lompoc and San Luis Obispo.



  • Ensures ongoing programmatic excellence and consistent quality of finance and administration, fundraising, communications, and systems; recommends timelines and resources needed to achieve the strategic goals.
  • Ensures effective systems to track scaling progress and regularly evaluates program components so that they can be effectively communicated to the board, funders, and other constituents
  • Supports and works to develop a strong Board of Directors
  • Works with the Board of Directors in carrying out policies, reviews those policies, and makes recommendations for changes; attends meetings, ensures preparation of reports, records maintains and communicates about any emerging and pertinent internal and external issues that affect the organization
  • Works with the board to develop a strategic plan and implement the plan with the support of the staff and board
  • Creates and recommends for adoption by the board the organization’s budget to ensure financial stability and growth of the organization, and develops staff capacity to assist in building and managing program budgets
  • With initial direction from the Executive and Finance Committees, prepare an annual operating budget and present to finance and/or Executive Committee for approval for final presentation to the Board of Directors
  • Authorize operating expenditures and administer the approved budget with direction from the Board of Directors
  • Oversee the preparation of the financial reports for the Treasurer and present those to the Board of Directors
  • Conveys financial information and concepts to the board and staff



  • Provides staff supervision, mentoring, and oversight
  • Monitors and addresses all matters of organizational climate and culture
  • Fosters a collaborative, mission-driven environment that engages, challenges, and supports team members in meeting organization and personal goals
  • Approves matters regarding employment, retention, and dismissal of personnel
  • Hires high-quality staff to effectively fulfill the mission of the organization
  • Leads and facilitates professional development, coaching, and support staff
  • Ensures that the Dunes Center is in compliance with laws and regulations
  • Thinks proactively about human resources, including succession planning



  • Support development of annual fundraising activities; implement special fundraising campaigns under the direction of the board, and make proposals to the board for increasing revenue and identify and cultivate donors and increase current members
  • Research, write and administer grant applications from public and private entities
  • Plan, implement and report to the Board on Planned Giving and Capital Campaign efforts



  • Represents the organization to all of its constituents
  • Represents the organization in its relations with business, state, and federal agencies and with local, state, regional, and national organizations
  • Uses external presence and relationships to garner new opportunities for the Dunes Center
  • Promote the Museum, Board, staff, and volunteers in a positive manner at all times to maintain goodwill and encourage continued community participation in all museum-sponsored activities
  • Deepens and refines all aspects of communications - from web presence to external relations with the goal of creating a stronger brand



The Executive Director should demonstrate experience and skills in balancing the four primary work duty areas and should meet or exceed the following criteria:

  • Bachelor’s degree or five years equivalent experience
  • Minimum of 3 years of progressive leadership experience with manager and/or director level experience, ideally working with and serving communities with the mission and goals of the Dunes Center
  • Experience and demonstrated track record of success with fundraising and grant development
  • Experience with developing and managing budgets
  • Excellent verbal, written, and digital communication skills; ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of audiences
  • Comfortable with community outreach with an intent to engage in the broader community as the face and ambassador of the organization
  • Commitment to interact effectively with people from different cultures and experiences; ability to lead and work with cross-cultural environments and occasionally regionally diverse environments
  • Ability to learn and build on varying cultural and community norms of diverse communities
  • Strong management skills, including managing a team environment and willingness, if necessary, to make difficult disciplinary and personnel decisions
  • Ability to communicate effectively with different constituents
  • Clarity of values that are critical to organizational culture, along with the ability to communicate those values to the organizational community
  • Willingness to work a flexible schedule to meet the needs of the organization, including evenings and weekends



Starting salary is $58,240 – $65,000, commensurate upon experience. Benefits include vacation pay, sick leave, dental insurance, and subsidized health insurance. Paid time off is based on tenure with the organization.



Please send a cover letter and resume via email to [email protected]. The job listing will remain to be open until May 13, 2022. We anticipate starting the first round of interviews during the third week of May. All applicants will be notified once a hiring decision has been made.







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