Organizational Profile

SYRCL was founded on the premise that “people can save a river.”

Today, SYRCL works on behalf of the Yuba River watershed on a range of issues related to ecosystem health and the watershed as a whole. However, the scope of our work is not unequivocally defined by the watershed’s physical boundaries but rather is determined by the potential impacts and threats to the watershed. SYRCL’s diverse programs and work therefore mirror the interconnected nature of water and ecosystems, both natural and human made. Together, we are extending our powerful coalition from the Sierra to the sea.

SYRCL is the central hub of community activism to protect, restore, and celebrate the Yuba River watershed. With almost 40 years of achievements, 3,500 members and 1,300 active volunteers, SYRCL is doing great things for the Yuba watershed. We advocate for free-flowing rivers and oppose unnecessary new dams. We work to save wild salmon and healthy ecosystems by restoring mountain meadows and salmon habitat in the lower Yuba River. We inspire activism across the globe with our environmental film festival. We house the Yuba River Waterkeeper program, connected to the national Waterkeeper movement. Additionally, SYRCL founded and continues to operate and grow the nationally recognized Wild & Scenic Film Festival and On Tour program.

SYRCL is a financially sustainable non-profit organization with a year-round staff of 25. The organization is based in Nevada City, California, a charming foothill town on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, with an impassioned sense of community. Guided by our mission to “unite the community to protect and restore the Yuba River watershed,” our organizational vision and values direct our work. More information at www.yubariver.org.

Position Description

The Executive Director is responsible to the Board of Directors for management of the entire non-profit organization including fundraising/development, human resources, strategic planning, program delivery, finance, communications, and community engagement.

The Executive Director cultivates SYRCL’s mission and vision through personal leadership and advances the mission through outstanding programmatic and advocacy efforts at the watershed, state, and sometimes national level. The Executive Director publicly represents the organization to government agencies, partners, community, and the media.

As a leader, the Executive Director strives for transparency and consensus in decision-making, and is committed to an organizational culture of inclusion, openness, and personal initiative. Staff are expected to operate with the highest degree of integrity, responsibility, creativity, and professionalism; the Executive Director is responsible for both fostering and embodying these values to ensure the health and effective performance of the organization.

SYRCL’s mission is to “unite the community;” thus, the Executive Director plays a key role in engaging and empowering community members, volunteers, partners, agency staff and elected officials to work together to protect the watershed.


The Executive Director will be expected to:

Leadership & Vision

  • Seek new opportunities for SYRCL’s visibility through developing partnerships and participating in coalition-led efforts.
  • Serve as an effective and visible spokesperson for SYRCL, effectively articulating the mission, vision, and values as well as all SYRCL is accomplishing, maintaining consistent and compelling messaging to internal and external stakeholders, partners, the media, and the public.
  • Lead and manage SYRCL staff in implementing the Strategic Action Plan. Note that the current 5- year plan expires at the end of 2023.
  • Establish, foster, and maintain excellent relationships with local government and community partners.
  • Continue SYRCL’s commitment to ensuring the organization is approaching its work through a lens of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI).

Board Relations

  • Support the Board of Directors and Board Committees ensuring that the Board has all necessary information and resources to conduct its business. Work with the Board President to coordinate Board meetings, prepare agendas for the meetings, and develop staff reports and other supplemental documents. Participate in the Board, Community Advisory Board and Executive Committee meetings.
  • Collaborate with the Board to refine and update SYRCL’s multi-year Strategic Plan. Note that the current 5-year plan expires at the end of 2023.
  • Provide regular reports to the Board on SYRCL’s financial standing, fundraising activities, and progress towards meeting programmatic strategic objectives.

Revenue Generation & Fundraising

  • Foster a healthy culture of philanthropy where Board members, staff, volunteers, and donors understand and embrace the role charitable giving has in ensuring resources to fulfill the mission.
  • Create opportunities for Board and staff to meaningfully participate in the fundraising process.
  • Lead fundraising efforts to achieve annual goals set in the budget; work closely with Development Director to develop and implement a fundraising plan. Take personal responsibility for recruiting and stewarding major donors, grantors, and members. Play an active, leading role as a primary solicitor of funding from institutional and individual donors.

Finance & General Operations

  • Ensure SYRCL’s financial health through continuous oversight and guidance; oversee preparation of the annual budget and financial reporting to the Board of Directors; ensure that no undue financial risks are taken; have decision-making authority in financial matters; work with the Treasurer, Finance Director, and Development Director to run monthly Finance and Fundraising Committee meetings.
  • Ensure policies and procedures are updated as needed and in compliance with all regulatory requirements.

Personnel Management

  • Manage and develop the Leadership Team overseeing SYRCL’s various programs including Watershed Science, Community Engagement, Communications, Education, Policy, Development, Finance/Operations, and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival to maximize interdepartmental coordination and collaboration.
  • Manage and empower SYRCL’s staff by supporting an organizational culture that attracts, sustains, supports, develops, and motivates highly committed and talented staff. Develop and update appropriate personnel policies and procedures for staffing, compensation, and annual performance reviews. Approve the hiring, and termination of all personnel as needed.

Candidate Profile

Passion for SYRCL’s Mission
The Executive Director will have a passion for SYRCL’s mission and embrace our history and grassroots while continuing to move us forward to achieve maximum positive impact for our watershed in the face of climate change and other challenges. The ideal candidate will be an innovative thinker who can inspire a range of audiences while boldly and strategically identifying opportunities for expansion and refinement with our mission at the core.

Strategic and Visionary Leadership
The Executive Director will be a strategic and results-oriented leader who will embrace and expand our strategic goals, set priorities, delegate responsibilities, demonstrate accountability, and allocate resources to produce results and reflect organizational values. An engaged leader with a strong ability to inspire, the Executive Director will have experience leading through periods of growth and transition and demonstrate the ability to “think big” while ensuring organizational stability and operational excellence.

Ambassador and Fundraiser
The Executive Director will be a compelling communicator who will serve as an ambassador for SYRCL. This leader will be able to effectively articulate and convey SYRCL’s mission and priorities to a range of constituents including donors, funders, partner organizations, Board members, staff, and volunteers. The Executive Director will bring familiarity with a wide range of fundraising channels and strategies to broaden external engagement with SYRCL. With an inspirational approach to leadership, the Executive Director will develop partnerships, gain buy-in, and generate support for the organization. The Executive Director will bring a creative and entrepreneurial approach to engaging others in the organization’s work, thus enabling SYRCL to maintain its enthusiastic donor base and access previously untapped support via a range of channels and audiences.

Board Development and Relations 
The Executive Director will serve as a close partner with SYRCL’s Board of Directors. Through proactive outreach and intentional Board development in collaboration with the Board’s Executive Committee, this leader will use their network and relationship building skills to identify potential Board members to strengthen the collective skills, expertise, and reach of the Board of Directors as fellow ambassadors and fundraisers for the organization. Drawing upon previous experience with Boards of Directors, the Executive Director will quickly build rapport and working relationships with Board members and partner closely to broaden the organization’s support toward sustaining SYRCL’s growth for the future.

Nonprofit Management Expertise and Financial Acumen
The Executive Director will possess the key knowledge and skills needed to ensure SYRCL’s continued financial health and long-term sustainability. The Executive Director will be able to successfully employ a broad range of financial tools and models to continue SYRCL’s success and remain an elastic organization able to effectively address watershed needs and funding availability. The Executive Director will bring a demonstrated record of sound financial planning, management experience, oversight, and accountability. This leader will successfully set operational priorities and empower an exceptional staff to work together in maximizing SYRCL’s impact. The Executive Director will encourage collaboration across functional areas and help all staff to understand their role in achieving the organization’s strategic and financial goals. The Executive Director will have the ability to attract, develop, manage, and empower staff to improve their skills and create an environment where everyone can do their best work.

Communication, Collaboration, & Building Relationships
The Executive Director must possess dynamic and effective interpersonal and communication skills to inspire trust and confidence and grow and sustain excellent relationships with a range of diverse internal and external audiences. Able to deftly navigate the nuances of interacting with various constituents, this leader will possess the listening, verbal, and writing skills to engage with staff, partners, funders, and others clearly and effectively, and cultivate a culture of transparency and teamwork across the organization. Demonstrated experience working in a rural community context is a plus.

Additional Requirements

  • Minimum of seven years of executive leadership experience with a track record of achievements; preferably with significant program operations in the environmental field.
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university; advanced degree preferred in environmental policy, law, natural resource management, river ecology or related field. Demonstrated understanding of California water policy, water law, and river ecology.
  • Demonstrated success in managing multiple departments and annual organizational budgets greater than $5million.
  • Demonstrated ability to perform efficiently under specified timeframes and with the highest possible standards for quality work, including managing and prioritizing a diverse array of projects and tasks simultaneously.
  • This position requires frequent computer use, extended periods of time sitting at a desk, and occasional lifting of up to 20 pounds. Additionally, the ability to speak clearly and be understood by others is required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Terms of Employment

  • This position is a full-time, exempt position.
  • The location for this position is Nevada City, CA
  • The compensation package includes an annual salary of $105,000-$135,000 depending on experience, starting paid vacation of 14 days per year on an accrual basis, 10 paid holidays, 3 sick days, 100% employer paid health insurance, a 2% 401(k) retirement match (fully vested after 3 years).

Additional Information & To Apply

At SYRCL we value diversity — in backgrounds and in experience, and we need people from all backgrounds to achieve our mission of uniting the community to protect and restore the Yuba River so people and nature can thrive. SYRCL’s team is empathetic, caring, and supportive. We are intentional about the team and culture that we are building, seeking team members who are not only strong in their own aptitudes but care deeply about supporting each other’s well-being and growth.

SYRCL is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race (including traits historically associated with race, such as, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles like braids, locks, and twists), color, religious creed, gender, genetic information, genetic characteristics, gender identity, gender expression, transgender status, religion, marital status, military status, age, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, sexual orientation, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state or local laws. Women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ people, and members of other historically disenfranchised populations are strongly encouraged to apply. All of our employees’ points of view are key to our success, and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility.

This position will be open until filled. The first contact will be a phone screen interview; next round will be a video call panel interview; final candidates will be invited for an in-person interview. If you anticipate needing accommodation for any part of the application or interview process please contact Julie Pokrandt, Development Director at julie@yubariver.org.

To explore this opportunity further, please submit your cover letter and resume online via our Bamboo HR portal.