Great Mountain Forest

Executive Director, Norfolk, CT


To be a leader in forest stewardship, increasing resilience to climate change, fostering biodiversity, and supporting research and education while providing a sanctuary for those who love the woods.

Great Mountain Forest (GMF) is one of the nation's oldest conservation legacy organizations and one of the largest active private forests in southern New England. Located in Connecticut's Northern Litchfield County, GMF's 6,300 acres of contiguous forest and woodland habitats straddle the towns of Falls Village, Canaan, and Norfolk. GMF's primary resource is its land – a unique forest with a history of active management that dates back to the early 20th century.

GMF is owned and managed by The Great Mountain Forest Corporation, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 private operating foundation. GMF's 6,300 acres are managed with several goals in mind: the production of a wide range of sustainably managed forest products; the conservation and protection of watersheds; the creation and maintenance of healthy populations of wildlife; the hosting of scientific research projects; and the sponsoring of education programs.

GMF is host to several educational programs, including its summer forestry internship for college students, first established in 1948. Over the decades, the GMF summer internship program has provided forestry-focused college students with a valuable hands-on learning experience, working with GMF's forestry crew, that focuses on sustainable forest management. Over the years, GMF's graduating interns have gone on in their careers to manage forests and wildlife preserves, fight forest fires, teach forestry, consult, and perform scientific research throughout the U.S.

GMF is governed by a 12-member Board of Trustees. The organization currently has four staff members and an annual operating budget of approximately $700,000, funded through a combination of institutional grants, local donations, and capital reserves.


Reporting to the Board of Trustees, the Executive Director will provide strategic direction, management, and thought leadership for Great Mountain Forest and pursue a compelling and impactful vision for the organization going forward. The Executive Director will lead this historically significant and prominent nonprofit to the future and steward GMF through its next stage of growth and development as an organization. The Executive Director will build consensus around key goals and, in partnership with GMF's Board and staff, move those priorities into actionable plans and growth strategies.

With a critical eye towards GMF's core programs and focus areas, the Executive Director will identify and set priority to key strengths within its current programs, partnerships, and initiatives. This person will identify and develop a distinct narrative and well-defined niche for GMF in the larger context of regional forest management, climate change, and educational and recreational resource conversations developing new programs and, as appropriate, ending outdated and/or ineffectual programs that no longer align with the vision of GMF going forward.

The Executive Director will play a proactive and visible role in fundraising while serving as the principal ambassador for GMF's increased visibility. The Executive Director will enhance GMF's presence and relevance locally and regionally and in so doing will position the organization as a critical partner, resource, and recreational asset for the surrounding communities and region.


The Executive Director will quickly understand and embrace GMF's core focus areas – Sustainable Forest Management, Climate Change, and Community Engagement – and have the following priorities.

  • Chart the course for GMF's future by taking a principal role in further developing, refining and implementing the organization's strategic plan, ensuring that the plan's structure, goals, and timeline are congruent with GMF's mission; lead and support the development of new initiatives; assess GMF's current impact and resonance in the surrounding communities and region and respond accordingly.
  • Strengthen the GMF brand, raising awareness of the organization and its programs through external relations, publications, and local and regional press and social media while reinforcing GMF's reputation as a relevant leader in sustainable forestry and a trusted partner to other like-minded organizations.
  • Serve as the primary liaison to the Board of Trustees, engage and gain their support; develop and manage both organization-level and project-level budgets while also keeping Board members well informed and updated on GMF's institutional and fiscal standing throughout the year.
  • As principal fundraiser, identify and cultivate new donors and tap into the passions and interests of long-time GMF stakeholders and new individual and institutional donors alike.
  • Begin to formulate and reinforce relationships with current and potential new organization academic and institutional partners and collaborators.
  • Create and nurture an aspirational culture that brings out the best in each person; listen to staff and harness their energy and ideas; establish clear roles and lines of responsibility; foster a culture of creativity, transparency, collaboration, and accountability.


  • Oversee GMF's operations, programs, finances, lands, and staff in addition to efficiently aligning and maximizing GMF's growing resources to achieve its strategic goals.
  • Develop priorities, secure funding, and implement a set of programs designed to advance sustainable forest management practices for southern New England while ensuring that GMF's staffing and resources are well aligned with the strategic vision.
  • Expand GMF's visibility and recognition as a resource for understanding and promoting progressive and sustainable forest management both regionally and nationally. In doing so, it is expected that the Executive Director will be proficient in utilizing a combination of traditional media channels and various digital platforms.
  • Create deep, mutually respectful connections with residents in the area, regional and local community leaders, academics, and the general public, fostering a culture of openness, accessibility, inclusivity, and teamwork.
  • Work with staff to develop engaging and appealing educational and recreational opportunities for all who might visit GMF.


The Executive Director will be a steward of responsible growth who strongly believes in the mission of GMF. Additionally, he, she, or they will be or have:

  • A professional demeanor with an engaging personality; the ability to be decisive, make tough decisions, and bring clarity to GMF's plans and initiatives; a person who can effect change and manage multiple priorities and engagement strategies in a competitive landscape.
  • Proven managerial, problem-solving, and strategic-planning capabilities; nonprofit management background, with demonstrated interest in the environment, forestry, and issues concerning climate change.
  • Strong interpersonal skills: able to inspire, develop, and empower GMF's committed staff of professionals and unite others; someone who can bring clarity to GMF's plans and functions, motivate others in a similar vein, and manage effectively in all directions.
  • Experience, skill, and desire to serve as both an internal manager of operations and an external voice and leader for GMF, with the ability to engage communities and partners, provide stewardship, raise awareness, and grow a mission-driven organization in size, impact, and visibility.
  • A persuasive fundraiser with the ability to connect with untapped philanthropic resources and identify potential partnerships and other revenue-generating opportunities.
  • The ability to serve as the public face of the organization; media savvy, with a marketing orientation; experience communicating clearly and concisely, both in writing and verbally, along with the ability and comfort in navigating emerging digital and Internet opportunities and enhancing GMF's social media presence.
  • A resourceful person with integrity and a strong work ethic; willingness to work with and through a small yet dedicated team of employees.

Compensation range: $130,000 to $150,000.

Please send applications including cover letters and resumes or nominations to Mark Tarnacki at GMF@PhillipsOppenheim.com.