Executive Director: Riverbend Environmental Education Center

Riverbend Environmental Education Center (Riverbend) is an independent nonprofit organization focused on teaching children in the Philadelphia region to be responsible and caring stewards of the natural environment by offering an array of experiential education programs in a natural setting. Riverbend is a platform for scientific discovery that leverages children’s inherent curiosity in the natural world and longing for authentic experiences. Riverbend provides the time and space for students to develop comfort in nature and then introduces the science inquiry process.

While the organization began and continues to serve children in nearby geographic communities, a top priority is reaching children in urban communities throughout the region that lack ready access to the natural environment. Its 30-acre open space preserve is located just minutes from the Conshohocken exit of the Schuylkill expressway, making it accessible to communities and schools throughout much of the Philadelphia region.

Nearing its 50th anniversary, Riverbend is at a moment of opportunity and ambitious growth. Programmatically, Riverbend aspires to be a regional leader in environmental education for children that is recognized for the: quality of its programs; scale of the number of children participating in programs; and impact of its teacher professional development program. Financially, the organization is eager to expand and deepen its earned and contributed revenue to assure that its revenue stays abreast with its programmatic goals.

Core programs:

  • School Programs (Access Programs). Riverbend provides high-quality nature-based STEM customized school programs (pre-K through middle school) in partnership with schools across the region that take place during the school day or after school. Currently, Riverbend is working with schools in Philadelphia, Norristown, Upper Darby, and Upper Merion, and seeks to expand its reach.
  • Teacher Professional Development. Riverbend experts work with elementary and middle school teachers in delivering nature-based STEM programs (aligned with school curriculum goals and Pennsylvania academic standards) designed to excite students and improve academic outcomes. Riverbend hosts professional development sessions virtually and on-site at the Spring Mill preserve or other natural settings. Professional development programs are designed to be cross curricular. Major concepts include life science, environment and ecology and inquiry and design, depending on school subjects.
  • Spring Mill Road Preserve. The 30 acre preserve serves as an outdoor classroom for experiential learning for school-based groups and summer programming. It is open to the public year-round and encompasses the Snider Barn, an aquaponics greenhouse, numerous hiking trails, outdoor learning classrooms, a bird observation area, and acres of open space.
  • Camps. A long-term component of Riverbend’s offerings is a year-round and summer session camps which offer children ages 4-11 the opportunity to experience, interact with, and explore nature, animals, habitats, science, and the outdoors. Grounded in nature-based STEM education, Riverbend educators encourage children to practice 21st century skills like resiliency, self-reflection, and grit. The earned income from camps forms a significant portion of the organization’s sustainable revenue.

For more information, see here.

Overview of the Position

The Executive Director is the chief executive officer, responsible for overall leadership, strategic direction and management. In consultation with the Board of Directors, the Executive Director has broad authority to lead and manage operations in order to advance the mission and to achieve its strategic goals. The Executive Director is Riverbend’s principal advocate to external constituencies. The next Executive Director will be poised to take Riverbend to the next level by (1) scaling programs to reach new audiences, (2) assuring that it has sufficient revenue to match and sustain its programmatic aspirations, and (3) increasing its organizational visibility and forming new partnerships.

In the first year, the next Executive Director will focus on the following:

  1. Develop a plan to expand the reach of educational programs to new audiences, with a particular focus on communities where children typically lack access to open green space and high-quality environmental and STEM education.
  2. Develop, operationalize, and implement a plan for securing additional contributed and earned revenue from both current and new sources.
  3. Expand Riverbend’s visibility and broaden awareness of its programs and role in the region among educators, philanthropic people and institutions, public decision-makers, and potential partner organizations.
  4. Lead the next strategic planning process in partnership with the board and staff. Then, formalize and operationalize the strategic plan, identifying those priorities that will have the greatest impact on advancing the mission.
  5. Leverage the talents and interests of staff, the board and volunteers.

Compensation Competitive salary, with benefits aligned with nonprofit industry standards.

Professional Characteristics

  1. 12-15 years of nonprofit or equivalent experience, with a minimum of 5 years in leadership and management roles incorporating operational, financial, programmatic, and board and external relations functions.
  2. Demonstrable ability in fund development, to include fundraising strategy, being the face of an organization, and soliciting financial support from individuals, foundations, corporations, and government.
  3. Direct experience in environmental education not required but commitment to understanding and, then, embracing the mission a must.
  4. Entrepreneurial person with proven experience in expanding programs and the revenue needed to support them.
  5. Effective communicator with proven experience working with diverse populations, including experience in building bridges to develop relationships, trust and credibility.
  6. Direct experience within the Philadelphia-region nonprofit or public sectors are a plus, though not required.
  7. Recognizes the expertise of staff and brings out the best in them to advance the organization’s goals while also advancing staff leadership.
  8. Managerial expertise including budget management and working directly with a volunteer governing board.

Key Responsibilities

  • Strategic Leadership
    • In collaboration with the Board of Directors and key stakeholders,
      develop, articulate, and implement the shared vision that guides the
    • Develop and strengthen relationships with key stakeholders, partners and
      constituencies, including program participants, schools and teachers,
      corporate and business partners, non-profit organizations, community
      organizations, foundations, individual donors and government agencies.
  • Resource Development
    • Plan for future revenue needs to sustain programs and operations.
    • Work with development staff and Board of Directors to design and conduct ongoing fundraising and development activities, including cultivating major donors and organizational partners.
    • Establish and maintain a local and regional profile of Riverbend through public, professional and personal contacts.
  • Organizational Management
    • Lead by exemplifying the mission, vision, goals, and values. Establish and maintain clear patterns of authority, responsibility, supervision and communication.
    • Create a work environment that brings out the best in employees, where people with options choose to work and stay.
  • Fiscal Management
    • Ensure that Riverbend operates in compliance with laws, regulations and best-practices.
    • Develop an annual budget and operating plan and takes responsibility for meeting the commitments of the plan and budget.
  • Programs and Facilities Management
    • Collaborate and support education team to design, implement and assess educational programs.
    • Maintain a strong understanding of current and upcoming trends and ensure that the education programs are of high quality.
    • Provide leadership in achieving and implementation of Riverbend’s
  • Master Site Plan.
    • Collaborate closely with staff on all issues related to ongoing maintenance and safety of the property and facilities.
    • Provide leadership in identifying IT issues and in making IT decisions.
  • Board Relations and Development
    • Collaborate with the Board of Directors to oversee strategic and fiscal activities.


The annual budget in 2021 is approximately $750,000, marginally reduced from previous years due to the pandemic. Historically, revenue has derived from programs (55%), contributed revenue (43%), and other sources (2%).


Reports to the Board of Directors.


There are currently four direct reports: Director of Education & Strategic Initiatives, Communications & Marketing Manager, Habitat & Volunteer Manager, and Riverbend’s Office Administrator. The position also includes oversight of seasonal summer staff.

Notes Riverbend is an equal opportunity employer that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion. Riverbend does not discriminate based on ethnicity, race, gender or
sexual orientation, and encourages all qualified individuals to apply.

This profile is intended to indicate the general nature and level of work performed by the Executive Director. It is not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities and qualifications.

Application process

Résumé and a one-page cover letter that conveys why you are well suited for this position and how it fits into your career should be emailed as soon as possible to: kenille@diverseforce.com. Address cover letters to the Members of the Search Committee. No paper copies, please.

Applications accepted through April 9, 2021. Phone screens of top applicants will begin immediately. Interviews of preferred candidates will be arranged for the weeks of May 3 and May 10. Please indicate in your transmittal letter if both of these dates have unavoidable conflicts for you. Confirmation of receipt of the application will be sent by return email. No phone
calls, please.