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Executive Director

Hiring Organization:
Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center

Date Posted:

Position Description:

Located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) near the Tayna Nature Reserve, GRACE is the world-s only sanctuary for rescued Grauer-s gorillas, a Critically Endangered subspecies found in war-torn Eastern DRC. Grauer's gorillas have suffered a catastrophic population decline of nearly 80% in the past 20 years, largely due to poaching exacerbated by insecurity and humanitarian crises in the region.

GRACE provides rehabilitative care for gorillas orphaned by poaching, nursing orphans back to health and giving them the chance to be with other gorillas again. The 14 gorillas at GRACE-all orphans-form a tight-knit surrogate family. The ultimate goal is to reintroduce rescued Grauer-s gorillas back into the wild, and GRACE is breaking new ground by planning the first reintroduction for this subspecies. In 2019, GRACE will also be the first sanctuary to lead a census of wild gorillas.

GRACE has a major conservation education and behavior change focus as well and partners with local communities to implement conservation actions to protect wild gorilla habitat. GRACE works with Congolese communities on conservation education, forest protection, and sustainable livelihoods to help secure a future for orphaned gorillas and their wild counterparts and to foster a peaceful coexistence between humans and gorillas.


Reporting to the board chair, the Executive Director (ED) will be located in North America while leading a deeply committed, all-Congolese team in the DRC, led by the GRACE DRC Director, and collaborating with government and mission-centered partners to carry out the goals of the organization.

The successful candidate will be an inspiring, culturally sensitive, strategic leader capable of leading and managing in complex global environments. S/he will have an understanding of the conservation sector and nuances involved in working in international, politically variable contexts, keeping the long view in mind as s/he balances exigent human, financial, and technical resources required to continue GRACE-s growth into a sustainable conservation organization in the years ahead.


GRACE requires a hands-on approach as it continues its transition from a start-up environment to a more structured organization. The ED will be a key architect in the organization-s development while handling day-to-day operations and growing the organization-s base of support. Priorities include the following:

Provide strategic leadership & direction: Communicate a compelling and inspired vision and core purpose, effectively managing a remote team in the DRC in partnership with the GRACE DRC Director. Provide operational guidance, support and oversight, create mileposts and symbols to rally support in a lean U.S. organizational structure; make the vision sharable by the board, community, partners, and stakeholders. Manage direct reports, consultants, and advisors including education, programs, community, sanctuary, and zoological specialists. Develop annual work plans in collaboration with advisors; accountable for resulting work.

Fundraise & provide sound financial management: Effectively partner with the board and donors to develop a successful approach that will enable GRACE to meet long-term sustainability goals. Cultivate prospective donors while ensuring that activities are managed in a cost-effective manner, deploying resources wisely. Oversee budget development and day-to-day management. Responsible for raising up to $1M per year.

Lead with global acuity: Lead and participate within groups in a way that promotes high levels of teamwork where needed, cooperation, spirit, and synergy, managing remotely and in culturally rich settings. Help others appreciate how the organization fits within a larger web of relationships that makes up the economic, political, and natural environment. Responsible for working with the DRC Director and expert advisors on community engagement strategies and program execution.

Anticipate potential needs and model composure; crisis management: Ability, in the midst of conflict and high-tension situations, to remain composed and centered, and to maintain a calm, focused perspective. Stay steady under pressure; help others stay calm in the storm. Ability to pivot, as needed, to manage in crisis situations. Responsible for overseeing the development of safety protocols and response plans. The DRC location requires a vigilant approach and the ED is in regular communication with the DRC team, frequently handling emergency situations.

Partners and relationship management: Effectively engage and collaborate with a diverse constituency including staff, community, influencers, board, donors, general public, and other stakeholders. Responsible for nurturing and growing organizational partnerships; developing MOUs and contracts, tracking results. Serve as key liaison with advisory members and groups, providing oversight of activities to ensure that work is in keeping with plans and overarching strategy.

Communications and brand management: Serve as primary ambassador for GRACE representing the organization before the media, stakeholders, and other public venues. Responsible for developing and executing the communication strategy; primary negotiator for film crews and others seeking to engage with GRACE; draft blogs, press releases, and other communications to deliver information on behalf of the organization.

Partner with the board: Partner with the Board of Directors to set the strategic direction and identify opportunities to create and advance the organization-s activities and relationships. Meet regularly with the board chair and committees, as required.


The ED reports to the board chair and will manage a team of approximately 35 of which 94% are in the DRC. Direct reports include the GRACE DRC Director, located in the DRC, and U.S. Assistant in Maine, U.S.A. Other key relationships include: Board of Directors; expert technical advisors and consultants; Congolese governmental, conservation and community leaders; zoological and animal welfare communities; program partners (current and future); current and potential donors and stakeholders.


The location for this position is flexible but the ED must reside within North America given the current board and donor composition and travel needs. This position is not based in Africa. The ED will be home-based and manage remotely.

The ideal candidate possesses the following attributes, qualifications and experience:


Mission match - The ideal candidate has a true passion for conservation and is invigorated by the work of the organization, serving as an effective champion for the mission.

Global understanding - The candidate must be culturally and politically astute and have a grasp of the global landscape and the importance of local communities in achieving organizational outcomes.

Effective fundraiser - S/he possesses an understanding of the variety of fundraising strategies and methods used to support the mission of a growing non-profit organization, including major and planned gifts, grants, in-kind support, annual funds, and the like. Has a clear record of results and demonstrated experience and acumen in cultivating high-net-worth individuals to secure support for the organization.

Coalition builder - The ideal candidate is a dynamic and forward-thinking individual who has shown success in building widespread support for an organization through collaborative efforts with internal and external stakeholders.

Strategic thinker with ability to execute - S/he has the ability to conceptualize, plan, prioritize, implement, communicate and effectively manage across an organization. Can articulate the pathway forward, anticipating possible future consequences and trends while working with others to create strategies and work plans.

Inspiring and ethical leader - S/he has the ability to inspire the confidence and respect of the staff, board, and donors by his/her actions and leadership. His/her integrity, honesty and ethical standards must be beyond reproach and s/he demonstrates a sense of purpose and is trusted to -walk the talk.- Can work across educational and social strata; works well with front-line staff as well as highly educated and credentialed colleagues.

Compelling communicator - S/he is a compelling communicator who persuasively shares internal and external messages. S/he is personable, humble, approachable, and comfortable with partners, donors, government leaders, and media. Possesses strong written and verbal communication skills, including proven excellence in public speaking. Possesses ability to synthesize various sources of information in order to provide timely communications.

Presence and composure - S/he must exude a sense of composure and stature in the midst of conflict and high-tension situations, staying steady under pressure while maintaining perspective.

Fiscal acumen - S/he must be adept in forecasting, cash flow, budget management, reporting; can work in a lean structure as s/he builds the organization. Track record of developing and managing the growth of a nonprofit organization is beneficial.


- Master-s degree in area of expertise is beneficial (e.g., MBA, nonprofit management, sciences, etc.). A science degree is not required for the ED role.
- Five to 10 years- experience leading within a conservation organization or global non-profit.
- Experience working with government leaders and understanding of global political dynamics; experience in Africa is highly desired.
- Proven experience or aptitude for growing and building organizations; major gift experience required.
- Experience managing animals in zoological or sanctuary setting is beneficial.
- Proficiency in French is highly desired.
- Entrepreneurial sensibilities are helpful to help facilitate organizational development initiatives.
- Ability to travel within the U.S. for major gift/partnership cultivation and speaking engagements; including one trip to GRACE annually when appropriate. Occasional international travel may be required.

Competitive salary and benefits package negotiable.

Application Deadline:
August 26, 2019

View the complete job description and learn how to apply here:

Contact Information:
Laura Maloney


E-mail Address:

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