Operation Gratitude,

President and Executive Director

9 days ago
Employment type
Los Angeles
Closing date

About this organization

Our mission is to say Thank You to our Military and First Responder communities, and to honor their service by creating opportunities for all Americans to express gratitude.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of Operation Gratitude.

Operation Gratitude volunteers annually assemble 200,000+ customized care packages filled with an assortment of goods, including snacks, entertainment, hygiene, and handmade items, plus personal letters of appreciation. These packages are sent to active U.S. Service Members and First Responders and their families, and to Military Recruit Graduates, Veterans, Wounded Heroes and their Caregivers.

Each package contains donated product valued from $45-100 and costs the organization $25 to assemble and ship. For details about specific care package and volunteer programs, please visit www.operationgratitude.com.

Following the tragic events of 9/11, Founder Carolyn Blashek felt a strong desire to thank deployed service members. She started putting together care packages for men and women serving overseas and quickly expanded the operation to welcome supporters nationwide and expand distribution to First Responders. Since the organization’s founding in 2003, countless Operation Gratitude’s volunteers and donors have shipped more than 3.8 Million Care Packages.

With these volunteer and care package achievements, plus its 4-star reputation and healthy balance sheet, Operation Gratitude has become the leading volunteer-focused, Military and First Responder support institution in the nation.

About this job

Engage your people and management skills to lead the foremost national non-profit organization in the realms of Volunteerism and Military-First Responder Support. We are looking for a charismatic leader, who will inspire millions of Americans to express their patriotic gratitude in a hands-on way, and lead a national movement to serve those who serve.

Roles & responsibilities

This is a unique career opportunity for a strategic, forward-thinking, action- and people-oriented executive to lead Operation Gratitude in this top-tier status and expand the organization’s reach to more and more Americans every year.

Reporting to the Board of Directors and with the support of the Founder, the Executive Director (“ED”) will be responsible for leading and advancing the organization’s vision, strategic initiatives and priorities. The ED will initially oversee a staff of 34 and an annual budget of $6+ million cash and approximately $15+ million of in-kind gifts and services.

Specific responsibilities will include but are not limited to:

• Leadership – In partnership with the Board, articulate and communicate the vision and strategic direction that will position and maintain Operation Gratitude as the premiere, volunteer-driven, nationally recognized Military and First Responder non-profit. Manage staff and other stakeholders to build upon the current infrastructure to execute on that vision. Strategically determine how Operation Gratitude can have greater impact to advance volunteerism and the cause of Military-First Responder Support on a national level.

• Fundraising – Take a leadership role in expanding Operation Gratitude’s fundraising capacity. This includes engaging new and current donors, reengaging previous donors, developing new national funding sources and opportunities, and creating partnerships with prospective donors to increase resources and the donor pool.

• Financial Management – Oversee the development of budgets for submission to the Board; ensure the Board is regularly informed on the financial status of Operation Gratitude through proper and timely financial reporting; and ensure that there are ongoing adequate and appropriate accounting and financial controls in place.

• Volunteer Engagement – Provide inspiration to the countless national supporters. Recognize, energize and re-engage the volunteers who enable Operation Gratitude to fulfill its mission. Promote volunteerism with the public in order to grow the volunteer base and create new channels of volunteerism for individuals, groups and corporate partners.

• Staff and Administrative Management – Lead staff members to achieve the goals of Operation Gratitude by inspiring them through personal dedication to the mission. Create a work environment that attracts and retains top talent; develop staff through the mutual creation of personal and group goals; identify training needs and ensure professional growth. Create a service-oriented culture rooted in a strong work ethic, accountability and respect for volunteers. Ensure compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements.

• Community Outreach – Establish relationships nationally to position Operation Gratitude as a forceful and trusted leader within the Military and First Responder communities. As the primary spokesperson for Operation Gratitude, actively seek out and embrace opportunities to clearly articulate its mission, vision, programs, and impact at speaking engagements and other events nation-wide.

• Operations – Oversee the ground operations to ensure that: All production goals are met on a timely basis; inventory is properly stored and accounted for; all safety and regulatory requirements are met or exceeded; the facility and equipment are properly maintained; and that all volunteers feel welcome, and are fully and properly engaged on premises and at off-site events.

• Board Administration and Support – Work to advance Board capacity and effective decision making by promoting proactive Board development, education and communication.


The successful candidate will passionately embrace the mission and values of Operation Gratitude and convey sincere compassion for Military and First Responder families. The ED will exude a spirit of volunteerism, and understand, appreciate and promote the critical role that volunteers play in the organization. He/She will have unquestioned integrity and the ability to provide inspirational leadership in a mission driven environment.

The ED will be a leader with an ability to think strategically and creatively about achieving Operation Gratitude’s organizational priority of expanding its national footprint while maintaining a grass-roots demeanor. The ideal candidate will be dedicated to, and energized by, growing the organization to its fullest potential.

The ED will be a compelling, credible leader who can move an organization forward by motivating people, while being an active and intuitive listener who builds genuine relationships with care package recipients, staff, the Board, volunteers, donors, and community partners. In addition, the ED will be a hands-on leader willing to do the essential tasks required to develop the organization and meet its goals. A willingness and desire to stand side-by-side with staff and volunteers during Assembly Days and at other events is a must. Travel for outreach and publicity will be expected.

The successful candidate will have a deep appreciation for all who serve and will possess strong business acumen, both of which will enable him/her to make effective decisions regarding the future growth of Operation Gratitude. The ideal candidate will have a meaningful connection to the “service” community, a compelling personal narrative and be knowledgeable about, or have a willingness to learn about, the Military and First Responder communities.

The ED must have excellent public speaking and written communication skills and be an articulate and persuasive leader with the ability to serve as a national spokesperson and representative of Operation Gratitude to its various constituencies. A demonstrated ability to reach out, form effective relationships and work collaboratively in a diverse community is important, as is the ability to facilitate group discussion, group decision-making and group action.

Candidates should have proven success developing and running a national fundraising operation, and building a highly qualified and effective staff. The ED must possess a strong belief in, and respect for, the power of volunteers to build the capacity of non-profit organizations. An appreciation for the immense diversity of the volunteers and an ability to relate to and communicate with all of them is essential. Candidates should have the knowledge and experience both to motivate, coach and develop staff, and also to meet objectives, including anticipating challenges, identifying issues and developing solutions. The ED must be an energetic, authentic, trustworthy, and transparent leader who values consensus building and collaboration.

Candidates should have management, development and non-profit experience with increasing levels of responsibility, and a demonstrated capacity for public speaking and engagement in institution building while providing strategic, visionary and compelling leadership. Candidates should also have experience directly overseeing a broad range of operational matters, including financial affairs and planning for organizational stability and growth. Ideally candidates will have had at least ten years of experience in a leadership position, including at least five in a non-profit organization with volunteer personnel at multiple operational locations. Candidates will ideally also have experience working with multiple non-profit organizations, including organizations that accept in-kind contributions.

A Bachelor’s degree is required; Bachelor’s degrees and advanced degrees/certifications in related fields such as non-profit management, business management, finance, marketing and communications are preferred.

To apply

Please direct inquiries, nominations, and applications, including resume and a letter of interest in confidence to: Cassie Crockett, Search Committee Chair: ccrockett@operationgratitude.com.

Operation Gratitude is an equal-opportunity employer. For more information about Operation Gratitude, please visit www.operationgratitude.com.