Executive Director Position Description

The Opportunity

Freshwater Society is a 50-year old organization on a mission to inspire and empower others to value and preserve our freshwater resources. We work for clean and reliable water in Minnesota through citizen engagement, applied research, and public policy efforts. The Board is seeking a mission-focused, seasoned executive to lead our dynamic organization. The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors and leads the entire organization of 10-12 employees.

The Organization

Since 1968 – two years before the first Earth Day – Freshwater has been a leading nonprofit organization using science to understand and propel actions that protect water resources.

We are a well-respected and trusted organization with proven abilities to convene people and influence both behaviors and policy. We are working hard to address the challenges needing attention today like aquifer depletion, water pollution, and damaging increases in stream flows.

Freshwater has an annual operating budget of approximately $1.3M, and a diverse revenue stream consisting of individual and corporate contributions, government grants, service contracts, conference and symposium revenue, program service fees, investment income, and Weatherguide Calendar sales.

Key Responsibilities

Leadership and Management
The Executive Director will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for Freshwater’s staff and programs. The Executive Director will execute an annual work plan that aligns with the strategic plan and goals established by the Board of Directors, and will be an inspirational leader that will ensure financial stability, manage staff, and align priorities with the core mission and values of the organization. The Executive Director will foster a workplace culture that will attract and retain high quality and dedicated staff, and will foster relationships with policy makers, donors, supporters, media, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other partners. The Executive Director will also help develop, maintain, and support a strong Board of Directors while serving as an ex officio member of the Board and each of its committees.

Policy & Research
Policy direction is a key component of this position. Together with the Research and Policy Director, the Executive Director will be responsible for developing the Freshwater policy agenda. The ideal candidate will possess experience and/or knowledge related to policy, planning, and governance of water resources in Minnesota. Existing relationships with Minnesota legislators, water resource agencies, NGOs, and key stakeholders is desirable, as well as knowledge of emerging local, state, and federal water resources policy issues and budget processes.

Resource Development
Freshwater is a 501(c)(3) public charity with a diverse revenue stream. The Executive Director will be responsible for ensuring sufficient funding is achieved to reach Freshwater’s revenue goals. Together with the Development Officer, the Executive Director will formulate and execute comprehensive development strategies that will enhance revenue from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies.

Fiscal Operations
The Executive Director, in coordination with the Director of Administration and Finance, will oversee the financial status of the organization including developing long- and short-range financial plans, monitoring the budget, ensuring sound financial controls are in place, and setting financial priorities that support the needs of the programs and staff.

The Executive Director, with the Director of Programs, will ensure the development, ongoing programmatic excellence, efficient operation, and quality delivery of citizen engagement and education programs. This includes ongoing evaluation for effectiveness and alignment with Freshwater’s mission and strategic goals, and instituting systems to measure outcomes that can be effectively communicated to the Board, funders, and other constituents.

Public Relations and Communication
The Executive Director will be the primary spokesperson for Freshwater as we build on and expand our credibility and reputation. The Executive Director will seek opportunities to increase the organization’s branding and promote its positions, programs, and activities.

Experience and Critical Attributes

  • Bachelor’s degree required. Degree in water resources or other environmental science strongly preferred.  Master’s degree preferred.
  • 10+ years of management experience with a water management, advocacy, governmental, policy, or nonprofit organization preferred.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of Minnesota water resources issues and policies required, with an extensive network in the field of water preferred.
  • Knowledge of legislative policy processes, and relationships with key legislative, governmental, and nonprofit organizations preferred.
  • Familiarity and knowledge of nonprofit organizations, and ability to work with a Board of Directors and cultivate new Board members in identified areas of expertise required.
  • Willingness to cultivate and solicit individual and corporate donors required, with demonstrated fundraising and development experience preferred.
  • Ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders required, with demonstrated marketing and public relations experience preferred.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills; a persuasive and passionate communicator with excellent interpersonal skills required.
  • Action-oriented, entrepreneurial, adaptive, and visionary approach to organizational management preferred.


Recognizing the importance of the position to the organization, Freshwater will offer a competitive salary and benefits package.

TO APPLY: Send cover letter and resume to Julie Fliflet-HR at jfliflet@freshwater.org.

Freshwater Society offices are located at 2424 Territorial Rd in St. Paul (near the intersection of University Ave and Hwy 280).