The Board seeks a politically astute, visionary executive to build consensus among diverse constituencies in order to support and promote new projects designed to transform all 51 miles of the Los Angeles River into the cultural, recreational and environmental heart of the communities it touches.
Every great city deserves great open spaces, parks and, often, a great river. With unprecedented support from the City, County, and State, we have a unique moment to reimagine and create all of these things in the channel and adjacent lands of the historic Los Angeles River.
River LA’s mission is to integrate people, water and nature around all 51 miles of the Los Angeles River. We seek to accomplish that in ways that improve the quality of life in Los Angeles County, while still preserving this highly engineered river’s public safety and flood control purpose. The organization works to secure public support and financing at the city, county, state and federal level, combined with private donations, for enhancing the river corridor in equitable ways that include environmental conservation, urban planning and community development perspectives. With the pending approval of the recently released County Master Plan, the Los Angeles River is ready to move forward to the next stage.
The CEO will report to the Board of Directors and is accountable for managing:
- Operations, staff, community outreach, education and advocacy
- Budgets, financial controls and the administrative infrastructure
- Shape, interpret, enhance and operationalize the strategic initiatives adopted by the Board, consistent with the organization’s mission and vision
- Continue to develop the River LA brand
- Achieve fiscal stability and growth for the organization, through gifts, grants, and earned revenues
- Seek public and private financing for improvements to the Los Angeles River and for the people who live in adjacent communities
- Continue to nurture and cultivate key partnerships
- The CEO is expected to work closely with the existing Executive Director, Ed Reyes, to cultivate political support, to build the organization’s reputation as a voice for positive change for the Los Angeles River, and be a strong advocate for bringing together diverse and sometimes divergent interests in Los Angeles County in order to redevelop the river.
The CEO will have three overarching priorities in the first 12 months:
- Appropriately engage all hands (staff and board) in executing a fund development strategy and appropriate fundraising activities
- Identify new opportunities and strategies for growth and impact
- Work with the staff, board and volunteers to continue the advocacy, support and cohesion among its key partners
The organization was founded in 2009 with the support of the City of Los Angeles to coordinate river policy as part of the City’s Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan. In 2014, River LA recruited architect Frank Gehry and his firm to develop ideas for revitalizing the river and its adjacent communities. Their initial work, the River Index, resulted in a comprehensive, publicly released study that analyzed multiple public benefits in great detail. More recently, Gehry Partners, Geosyntec and Olin Partners are working on specific design projects for the River, including a new cultural center in south east Los Angeles.
In 2018, River LA was chosen by the County of Los Angeles as a key contractor to create a new master plan for the river, which was released in 2021. The organization is leading the public engagement parts of the Plan.
Since its inception, River LA has itself evolved from being focused on small, privately-financed, opportunistic projects in the portion of the river in the City of Los Angeles, to being a force to promote equitable social, economic, cultural and environmental stewardship of the river through a myriad of large scale public/private infrastructure projects along the entire 51 miles of the river, financed primarily at the county, state and federal level. It is an extremely complicated undertaking.
With a 2021 operating budget of about $1.4m, River LA consists of a small staff of four, three contractors and occasional interns.
THE CEO’S ONGOING RESPONSIBILITIES
Other specific responsibilities of the CEO include:
- LEADERSHIP & GENERAL MANAGEMENT
- Manage the day-to-day business affairs of the River LA with the intent of achieving greater financial independence and sustainability, while advancing on the goal of developing public support and financing for improvements to the Los Angeles River.
- With the Board, and Executive Director, continue to refine and interpret the mission and strategic initiatives, and further articulate its place among like organizations in the region, California and nationally.
- Hire, supervise, motivate, develop and evaluate staff, ensuring that staffing is appropriate and fairly compensated to meet the organization’s goals.
REVENUE DEVELOPMENT, MARKETING, COMMUNICATIONS AND ADVOCACY
- Serve as the chief fundraiser for River LA; set high expectations for increased financial support from foundations, corporations, individuals (major donors), government and other philanthropic sources for River LA’s overhead, programs and capital projects; work closely with the staff, the board, volunteers and advisors to expand and diversify revenue streams.
- Serve as an articulate and persuasive spokesperson for River LA; represent River LA in partnership with the Executive Director to all constituencies and partners; cultivate strong and supportive relationships with other partners in the region and in the community; identify and help recruit new supporters and partners whose talents, interests and commitment will help to further River LA’s mission.
- With the Board and under the direction of the Board’s President, develop and implement River LA’s strategic initiatives; implement Board policies, goals, priorities and objectives; keep the Board informed of all relevant issues; attend all Board meetings and committee meetings as required.
- Help recruit new Board members whose talents, interests and commitment can further River LA’s mission, advocacy and programs, and help to expand funding.
- Cultivate a mutually supportive relationship with stakeholders and other groups that are important to the future of the institution.
IDEAL EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
- The CEO will be an entrepreneurial leader, roll-up-your-sleeves manager, and a politically astute big-picture thinker whose work ideally includes the following experience and qualifications:
- Senior-level managerial, with experience in political or community organizing, and movement building
- Proven ability to attract financial support from diverse sources (foundations, corporations, individuals and government) or, if coming out of the commercial sector, success in obtaining private and government funding for projects
- Experience in environmental and social justice organizing
- A connection to and knowledge of Los Angeles County and California officials will be a distinct advantage; experience with networked organizations in Los Angeles and Sacramento is desirable
- Proven commitment to working with underserved and racially diverse communities
- Familiarity with different tools for movement building, including use of data, web sites, mobile apps, and the services/interactions that can be built with them
- Advocacy and persuasion experience to build strategically meaningful partnerships and sell ideas to officials, journalists, community and public interest organizations, businesses, other advocates, the public, etc.
- Experience as a problem-solver, facilitator, catalyst for new ideas and leader/influencer
- Outstanding oral and written communication skills, excellent public speaking skills
- Experience with effectively managing similarly sized budgets and staff, with strong skills in management and leadership who understands the subtleties of recruiting, motivating, directing and retaining a diverse group of personalities with different backgrounds, ages and work styles