Founded in 1967 as a community environmental organization, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Inc. (BNRC) continues to strengthen grassroots land conservation fifty years later. BNRC stands alone as the only conservation organization committed exclusively, completely, and perpetually to the Berkshires.
Boasting Massachusetts’ highest mountains, picturesque hill farms, and marble valleys that host a remarkable diversity of life, the Berkshires are one of New England’s most appealing and well-conserved regions. World-famous cultural institutions such as Tanglewood and MASS MoCA speak to the region’s longstanding appeal to artists, writers and musicians. Abundant outdoor recreation and a thriving food culture pair with museums, historical sites and performance spaces to draw visitors, transplants and retirees from all over the world, and particularly from Boston and New York, both of which are an easy 2.5-hour drive away.
Together with supporters, BNRC protects over 21,000 acres of land across the county and maintains over 50 miles of trails. Through land conservation, stewardship and outdoor recreation, BNRC connects humans with nature to help build a deep and strong commitment to community engagement. The organization aims to pursue conservation work that has relevance and contributes positively to the social, cultural, and economic lives of Berkshire County.
Overview of the Organization and Programs
BNRC’s mission is to protect and preserve the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Berkshires for public benefit and enjoyment. BNRC’s strategic decisions are driven by the goal of creating affirmative public benefit through conservation, as opposed to blocking development. BNRC accomplishes its mission through the following activities:
- Land Conservation – BNRC acquires land by gift or purchase of interests in real estate. Highest priorities are given to those tracts that combine multiple public benefits: wildlife, scenery, public health, and recreation potential.
- Stewardship – As a primary fiduciary responsibility, BNRC monitors conservation restrictions and maintains trails throughout Berkshire County so attractive, safe, and well-maintained properties inspire confidence and encourage repeated use of BNRC lands, as well as affection and respect for BNRC’s mission.
- High Road – The High Road is an innovative vision for a world-class interconnected and uninterrupted network of walking trails on permanently conserved land, as a countywide partnership uniting community and conservation. BNRC recently completed a successful campaign, raising $5 million for the High Road project, with the launch date of the first trail loop to coincide with BNRC’s 50th anniversary in 2017.
Currently, BNRC’s operating budget is approximately $1 million, and the organization employs eight staff members at its Pittsfield, MA headquarters. The President reports to a volunteer board of directors currently comprised of 21 members who are community and business leaders from Berkshire County.
For the last 16 years, BNRC has been very well-led by Tad Ames, its President, who joined BNRC in 1990 and was mentored by and succeeded the previous President, George Wislocki, who led BNRC for 34 years. Tad recently announced his decision to leave BNRC to pursue other opportunities, effective December 31, 2017.
Strategic Opportunities and Challenges
BNRC is at a pivotal historical juncture as it approaches its first leadership transition in 16 years and only its second in more than 50 years. High priorities for the new President include:
- Managing effectively and efficiently the daily operations of a mission-driven, $1 million nonprofit, and empowering a team of dedicated professionals committed to land conservation and preservation.
- Navigating BNRC’s first major leadership transition since 2002, ensuring that existing external relationships are transitioned to the new President so the new leader is well-positioned to negotiate future land deals and raise the funds required for those deals to come to fruition.
- Articulating clearly and persuasively the vision for the High Road to inspire sustained public participation and support, while creating a specific project plan with realistic timeframes and projected growth in institutional capacity to transition the High Road from vision to reality.
- Increasing public awareness of BNRC beyond its core supporters, most particularly to a younger and more diverse audience to grow active participation and financial support.
- Determining how to track access to and usage of BNRC properties and trails to quantify and promote BNRC’s impact on Berkshire County and its residents.
- Expanding the level of engagement of the board of directors to access their expertise and connections and solidify their commitment to BNRC, all while expanding the demographic diversity of the board.
- Continuing to professionalize BNRC’s internal operations by creating specific administrative and human resource policies and communication protocols.
Desired Credentials/Profile of the Ideal Candidate
- A minimum of five years of senior leadership, or equivalent experience
- Bachelor’s degree required
- Interest in and knowledge of conservation highly preferred
- Interest in and knowledge of the Berkshires, or similar communities, also preferred
Skills and Experience
Savvy Communicator, Networker and Collaborator
The next leader must be a consummate communicator and savvy networker on behalf of BNRC, able to network and communicate equally well with public officials, community leaders, land owners, business leaders, supporters and Berkshire County’s diverse residents. The new leader also must possess exceptionally strong interpersonal skills to form and sustain mutually supportive and beneficial relationships. In addition, the new leader must be a compelling spokesperson, able to promote BNRC and its work, to grow interest in partnering with BNRC and to celebrate its success.
Strategic Planner and Implementer
The next President must be committed to BNRC’s strategic vision for the High Road, and working collaboratively with the board and staff, chart a strategic implementation to move the High Road from concept to reality. The next leader must also develop organization-wide and project-based plans, budgets and staffing patterns in support of BNRC’s strategy, holding all accountable for achieving agreed upon goals.
Effective Fundraiser and Deal Maker
The new President must execute a broad-based fundraising program across a range of funders, including individuals, land owners, foundations and government agencies. The new leader must be eager, poised and proactive in enhancing and solidifying the President’s role in fundraising and utilizing available relationships, including board members, to achieve significant financial results. Finally, the new President must be able to understand and negotiate complex land deals, while raising the funds to close those deals.
As the agency’s chief executive and administrative officer, the new leader will be responsible for overseeing the organization’s operations, finances, facilities and staff, efficiently aligning and maximizing resources to achieve BNRC’s strategic goals and empowering, coaching and supporting a strong and committed staff. The new leader will also serve as the primary liaison to the board of directors to engage all members in effective governance and fundraising.
Although the next President does not need to be a conservation professional or be from the Berkshires, since BNRC is a mission-driven nonprofit committed to protecting and preserving the rural, natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Berkshires, the next leader must be inspired by nature, the Berkshires and conservation of land for public benefit and enjoyment. The next President must be committed to promoting diverse access to and use of the lands owned and stewarded by BNRC.
Accessible Person of Integrity
The next President must be an honest, straightforward, and responsive partner to the multitude of individuals and organizations BNRC collaborates with to realize its mission. Being accessible to and adept at communicating with the diverse residents of Berkshire County so all feel heard and respected will be a highly valued skill set.
This search is being conducted by TSNE MissionWorks with transition consultants John Tarvin and Jodi Dowling. All submissions will be acknowledged and are confidential. Interested candidates should submit materials to:
Please include a resume and a cover letter with salary requirements, information regarding how you learned of the position, and a description of how your qualifications and experience match BNRC’s needs and mission. All submissions of candidacy will be accepted until the position is filled. Salary is commensurate with experience, within the framework of the organization’s annual operating budget.