Executive Director, Orion

December 17, 2020
Northampton, MA


Orion was founded in 1982 as Orion Nature Quarterly, one of very few media platforms at the time to convene an inclusive, multi-disciplinary conversation about nature, culture, and justice. Nearly four decades later, Orion remains committed to the mission for which it was founded: to invite readers into a community of caring for the planet, and, through writing and art that explore the connection between nature and culture, to inspire new thinking about how humanity might live on Earth justly, sustainably, and joyously.

Orion has twice won the Utne Independent Press Award and its stories have been finalists for the National Magazine Awards and anthologized widely. In addition to publishing a quarterly magazine, Orion hosts writers’ workshops and publishes books. Orion is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, employs around a dozen staff members, and has an annual operating budget of $1.2 million. Orion is classified as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

Role of the Executive Director

With the departure of an Executive Director of fifteen years, Orion has entered a new phase and seeks a brave, visionary partner to help steward our evolution. The Executive Director (ED) will work with staff and board to create a strategic plan to guide the organization as it redefines, reorients, and renews itself. Ultimate accountability over all aspects of the administration, strategic business operations, products, and programs of the organization rests with the ED.

Key Responsibilities

Publishing and business strategy

  • Lead the development and implementation of short- and long-term strategies toward financial and operational sustainability in partnership with fundraising and operations staff and the Board Finance Committee.
  • Lead an inclusive and collaborative process to develop a business model that encompasses circulation, marketing, branding, fund development, and merchandising.
  • Oversee and collaborate with the finance team to set budgets and pursue opportunities to improve revenue generation and reduce costs.
  • Oversee and collaborate with the Editor in Chief on direction of magazine content.

Vision and leadership

  • Champion Orion’s unique mission.
  • Provide leadership on diversity, racial, and gender equity and inclusion, and our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization.
  • Promote a culture of collaboration for all Orion staff by modeling good communication and distributive leadership, identifying professional development opportunities, leading staff meetings, and fostering an environment of reflection and learning.
  • Maintain an effective team by providing guidance, coaching, and accountability.
  • Foster a workplace dedicated to excellence, human agency, creativity, and professional and personal regard.

Fund development and donor relations

  • Lead Orion’s fundraising efforts, which provide 70% of the budget.
  • Personally cultivate, solicit, and steward a portfolio of major and mid-level donors. 
  • Work closely with fundraising and editorial teams to ensure that current donors are regularly informed about the work they’re supporting.
  • Lead staff and the board of directors in seeking to extend our strong base of philanthropic support in an authentic, measurable, sustainable, and collaborative manner.
  • Conceive and organize events that publicize the magazine, drive fundraising, and support Orion’s strategic goals.

Brand management

  • Ensure that all organizational communications adhere to high standards and grow Orion’s
  • Represent Orion at local and national conferences and serve as a thought leader in the publishing and environmental communities.
  • Cultivate impactful working relationships and collaborations with community groups, funders, and other organizations.

Board relationships

  • Actively engage Orion’s board of directors in supporting the organization and mission.
  • Facilitate staff/board connections to ensure that the board is regularly informed of updates regarding content and programming, donor and community relations, finances, operations, personnel, and other matters.
  • Assist in identifying and recruiting board members to serve specific needs of the organization, with an eye toward racial and gender diversity.


  • Understands and can integrate the organizational vision and publishing strategy into concrete implementation plans. Supports the staff and board’s understanding of the vision and strategy. Distills complexity into thoughtful action.
  • Leads and contributes to the building of consensus within the organization in the service of Orion’s mission
  • Understands the whole organizational picture; sees culture, patterns, changes, and the inter-relatedness of content, programs, staff, readers, writers, donors, system, and mission. Identifies stakeholders and sets milestones. Identifies causes for bottlenecks and redundancies and comes up with solutions.
  • Communicates with sensitivity vertically and horizontally, creating space for others and amplifying voices of those with less power in the system. Demonstrates knowledge of multiple approaches to manage and resolve concerns and disagreements. Manages the time, workflow and resources to ensure that work is completed efficiently. Develops ways to optimize individual performance within the organization.
  • Devises, launches, and sustains fundraising campaigns in support of organizational development strategy.
  • Applies critical financial practices to establish and maintain realistic budgets. Brings passion to the prospect of financial growth.
  • Exhibits fluency as a reader, writer, listener, and speaker, and awareness of nonverbal strategies to facilitate respectful interactions with staff, board, readers, writers, donors, workshop students, and all other stakeholders.
  • Demonstrates a drive to increase diversity in the workplace and sensitivity to the gaps that exist between employee identities. Enacts antiracist policies that inform our business practices, communications, and editorial initiatives.


  • Proven experience managing the full range of business functions and systems, including finance, operations, information systems, human resources, and marketing.
  • Ten years’ experience leading a non-profit and/or publishing company is preferred.
  • Experience developing and implementing strategic business plans and models.
  • Exceptional capacity for leading people; a team builder with the ability to connect to internal and external stakeholders both on an individual level and in large groups.
  • Ability to successfully develop and implement fund development strategies.
  • Thought leadership in the environmental and/or publishing sectors.
  • Proficient financial management skills including budget preparation and oversight.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills, including public speaking.
  • Demonstrated understanding of cultural competency, the value of diversity in the workplace, and the ability to work in a fast-paced, diverse and multigendered environment. Commitment to the work of building a culture of equity and inclusion. Ability to champion a vision of “creating a community of caring for the planet.”

This search is being conducted by Orion in partnership with TSNE. Interested candidates should submit a resume and thoughtful letter of interest to: https://orionmagazine.recruitee.com/o/executive-director

Electronic submissions sent through this link are preferred. All submissions are confidential.

Please include a resume and a cover letter with salary range expectations, information regarding how you learned of the position, and a description of how your qualifications and experience meet Orion’s needs and mission. All submissions of candidacy will be accepted until the position is filled. Priority will be given to applications received by December 31, 2020. The approximate salary range for this position is $100,000 and is commensurate with experience, within the framework of the organization’s annual operating budget.

Orion actively seeks a diverse pool of candidates and welcomes people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, abilities, gender identities, religions, ages, and sexual orientations to apply.

As an EOE/AA employer, Orion will not discriminate in its employment practices due to an applicant’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin or ancestry, age, sexual orientation, gender identification, genetic information, veteran or disability status or any other factor prohibited by law.