Executive Director

LightHawk is seeking an Executive Director with a passion for conservation and flight to lead the organization.

LightHawk is a 501(c)3 that engages the services and aircraft of approximately 230 volunteer pilots partnering with conservation organizations to help preserve wildlands, wildlife, fresh-water and ocean habitats throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Central America.

The Executive Director (ED) has both the authority and the responsibility to lead the fundraising, administrative, communication, operational, fiscal, risk management and strategic development functions of LightHawk. The ED will lead a staff (currently 12 employees) based in the Fort Collins, Colorado office or working from their home offices. The ED represents the public face of LightHawk to our volunteer pilots, our donors, the foundations and environmental organizations we serve, as well as to diverse government entities.

This is a full-time position with benefits, ideally based out of our Fort Collins office, reporting to the Board of Directors.


The duties of the Executive Director include:

  • Guide the development efforts including individuals, foundations, corporate sponsorships, and partner organizations. Effectively lead and engage both the LightHawk board as well as the development and communications staff in fundraising efforts.  Act as the primary steward for LightHawk’s major donors.
  • Serve as the primary liaison with LightHawk’s Board of Directors, helping to evolve strategy, leverage board members potential contributions and keeping the board abreast of the organization’s needs, accomplishments and culture.
  • Actively engage and energize multiple constituencies - board, staff, volunteer pilots, donors, community and regulatory agencies.
  • Lead, coach and develop a high-performance team including program managers, development officers, marketing/communications, and financial professionals. Create a harmonious and energized working atmosphere that fosters excellence throughout the organization.
  • Ensure that LightHawk is achieving high quality conservation outcomes and making the most efficient and effective use of LightHawk resources.
  • Oversee the implementation, review and development of LightHawk’s flight operations and safety policies.
  • Ensure that there are proper policies, procedures and protections for LightHawk to continue as a well-managed operation. This includes risk management, fiscal policies, and legal compliance.
  • Lead organizational response to crisis events, such as aircraft accidents.


  • A passion for conservation and aviation.
  • Demonstrated leadership success building effective, high-performance teams, including the ability to motivate people to help them reach their full potential, and the ability to inspire a tenacious focus on achieving results.
  • A strong track record of raising funds from individuals, foundations, and corporate sponsors.
  • Willingness to travel and travel flexibility, at least 25% of the time.
  • A strong vision about leveraging aviation as a conservation tool, and the ability to develop and communicate an innovative vision for growing LightHawk’s conservation impact.
  • Experience serving on or working with a non-profit board of directors.
  • The ability to establish metrics for the organization’s success and quarterly objectives for staff members.
  • Entrepreneurial approach to problem solving and a strong internal drive to create successful conservation outcomes “through the unique perspective of flight.”
  • Holding a pilot’s license (active or inactive) with at least 500 PIC hours will be a definite advantage as the ED must be comfortable relating to pilots as peers. Familiarity with relevant FAA regulations will also be a plus.
  • While not required, conversational Spanish-speaking ability would be a plus.


  • Unquestionable ethical values.
  • Demonstrated sound judgment and ability to learn from mistakes.
  • Leads by example, empathy and enthusiasm, centered on principles.
  • Optimistic outlook.
  • Maintain positive attitude in tense situations.
  • Ability to anticipate and deal with issues and opportunities proactively.
  • Comfortable with change and committed to innovation and continuous improvement.
  • Excellent communication skills – written, verbal, public speaking and individual interactions with donors.


This is a full-time salaried position. Compensation will be commensurate with experience and industry norms. Benefits currently include medical, dental, vision, life insurance and long-term disability coverage, annual vacation and sick leave, a 401K plan and reasonable scheduling flexibility.


We expect to fill this position as soon as we find a suitable candidate. We will conduct one or more initial interviews for qualified candidates by phone, and will invite finalists to in-person interviews. LightHawk reserves the right to invite further submissions at any time, even after the initial submission deadline.

Qualified applicants should email a cover letter, a resume, and contact information for at least three references to . The document names as well as the email subject line should include: Executive Director -- your last name.

In your submission email, please let us know specifically where you heard about our job opportunity (e.g., LightHawk email, personal referral, a specific job website name, etc.). Due to the volume of interested applicants, we ask that you not telephone our offices about the position unless specifically invited to do so.

Submission deadline – Tuesday, July 7, 2015.