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Western States Center is seeking a dynamic, values-driven leader to serve as its new executive director to lead strategies for building progressive power and advancing racial, economic, and gender justice in Western States. 

Download a PDF copy of the job announcement here.

Online applications only. Access the application form here.


Western States Center Job Announcement

Executive Director

Posted: Thursday, April 27, 2017

Western States Center is seeking a dynamic, values-driven leader to serve as its new executive director to lead strategies for building progressive power and advancing racial, economic, and gender justice in Western States.

A successful candidate brings significant nonprofit management experience with increasing responsibilities, a track record in community organizing and coalition-building, and demonstrated skill in fundraising and resource development. They bring a creative, innovative approach to developing programs and forming strategies, and they can communicate the Center’s vision in compelling and galvanizing ways. Balancing the visionary and the pragmatic, they believe deeply in collaborative leadership and operate from a centered and reflective stance, grounded in honesty, integrity, transparency, and clear, open communication.

This is a full-time exempt position that will remain open until filled, with initial interviews starting in June. For full consideration, applications should be submitted by June 5. The executive director reports to the Western States Center board of directors and manages a leadership team of four directors and a full staff of six (not including priority hires in 2018).

Organizational Background:

Western States Center is a dynamic training and organizing institute based in Portland, Oregon and works across the western region as well as with national partnerships. We envision our movements achieving a just society where we all flourish in sustainable, caring and connected communities. Our mission is to connect and build the power of community organizations to challenge and transform individuals, organizations and systems to achieve racial, gender and economic justice. We work with hundreds of activists, community organizations, constituency groups and progressive elected officials, particularly those who identify as people of color, immigrants and refugees, LGBTQ people, low-income, and rural communities. We help build powerful social justice organizers, organizations, and movements by addressing the wedge issues that divide us and create shared values and vision for action.

Core programs include:

  • We are BRAVE (Building Reproductive Autonomy and Voices for Equity) collaborates with organizations of color to prevent weakening of family security and self-determination while being proactive in achieving reproductive justice through policy and culture change
  • Activists Mobilizing for Power (AMP) brings 500 activists from across the West together for three days of skill building and strategizing to build connections and innovation across states, issues, and constituencies working for justice in the region
  • Western Institute of Leadership Development (WILD) builds the skills, political analysis, and peer connections among emerging leaders from around the region in social change organizations through a year-long training program
  • Racial Justice Program anchors the analysis and action for all the Center’s programs and creates new curricula, tools, and analysis to advance racial justice at the individual, institutional, cultural, and systemic levels
  • Tribal Two-Spirit Justice Program works with tribes and tribally-missioned organizations to identify policy and culture change needed within those organizations to assure LGBTQ equality


Organization Development:

Build and strengthen the Center’s organizational infrastructure, culture, practices, programs, and staffing.

  • Organizational Culture: Cultivate a professional, values-driven environment where all feel proud to participate by developing and maintaining practices, systems, and facilities.
  • Planning: Facilitate organizational planning in conjunction with board and staff. Set concrete goals and objectives along with the annual implementation plan. Support staff with creative, collaborative approaches to program development and strategy implementation.
  • Budgeting: Create and implement budget with support of Director of Finance & Operations.
  • Equity:  Ensure that equity is a key criterion for evaluating activities.
  • Staff: Select, manage, train, evaluate, and provide professional development opportunities for Program Directors.
  • Systems: Proactively develop and maintain sustainable and accountable operations by ensuring that WSC invests in itself to uphold its fiduciary and organizational responsibilities.
  • Board:  Provide staff support to the board and Executive Committee. Facilitate communications to ensure effective working relationships, and assist in policy that promotes effective discussion and decision making.

Fundraising and resource development

Ensure sustainability and growth by leading robust fundraising strategies and financial management, in collaboration with staff and Board

  • Lead Western States Center’s fundraising from individual donors, grants, events, and corporate sponsorships.
  • Lead the generation of new donors and renewal of current donors.
  • Lead in the identification of grant funding opportunities and coordinate preparation of applications.
  • Ensure that all staff and Board are involved in fundraising activities for the organization.
  • Ensure that grant applications align with the Center’s mission and plans, are submitted on time, are of high quality, and are followed up.
  • Lead the planning and management of all the Center’s fundraising events.
  • Lead the development of sponsorship arrangements and relationships with businesses and organizations interested in supporting the Center.    

Strategic leadership

Collaboratively lead the formation of strategies and cultivation of relationships that advance the Center’s mission

  • Lead the formation and implementation of strategies for building progressive power and advancing racial, economic, and gender justice in Western states.
  • Steward organizational mission and strategic plan, guided by organizational values.
  • Cultivate relationships with movement partners, funders, community members, donors, and elected officials.
  • Serve as organizational spokesperson. 


Skills, knowledge, and general qualities

A strong applicant has the following experience, qualifications, and skills:

  • Executive non-profit management experience, including supervising a team and cultivating a strong organizational culture
  • Demonstrated skill in fundraising strategies and donor relations
  • Well-versed in systems for organizational planning, strategy development, and project management
  • Experience initiating, running and evaluating programs
  • Demonstrated skills at planning and managing to outcomes
  • Proven budget management and analysis skills
  • Track record in community organizing, including building values-aligned campaigns and coalitions
  • Familiarity with social justice landscape in Western states
  • Board and volunteer management
  • Strong written and oral communication skills, including public speaking
  • Innovative thinking and creative problem solving
  • Understanding of and commitment to racial, economic, and gender justice frameworks, practices, and values
  • Ability to work effectively in collaboration with diverse groups of people

Qualities and approaches we seek include: Honesty, integrity & transparency; Collaborative leadership with centered and reflective stance; Clear, open communication; Creativity and innovation; Balance of visionary and pragmatic

Preferred qualifications include:

  • Local and regional political knowledge and experience
  • Track record of working for social change through community organizing with the Center’s core constituencies
  • Knowledge about software such as Salesforce, Vertical Response, and web development

Salary & Benefits:  

This is a full time exempt position based in Portland, OR. Excellent benefits including health and dental insurance, retirement benefits, paid sick leave, vacation, and sabbatical. Starting annual salary range is $72,000-$78,000, depending on experience.

Only complete applications submitted through our online system will be considered. For quick questions regarding the position, please email us at

Complete applications include:

  • Completion of our online application (all questions must be answered):
  • Cover letter clearly outlining the specific skills and knowledge you bring to the job and how they are a good fit with the responsibilities of this position
  • A resume detailing relevant experience, work history, education, and accomplishments
  • Three references who can speak to the candidate’s experience and fit for this position


The questions and application may be submitted via our secure webform here:

The position will be open until filled.

Western States Center is an EEO employer and encourages applications from people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, women, and people who live at the intersections of these identities and experiences.

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