CEO / Executive Director

Organic Trade Association Published: October 29, 2021
Washington, DC
Skill Level
Senior Level
Job Type
CEO/ Senior Mgmt/ Exec Director / Farm / Organics

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The Organic Trade Association (OTA) exists to sustain and promote the organic trade through advocacy, market analysis, international trade, and networking and educational programming. Bringing together organic innovators and pioneers, OTA aims to create a singular voice for its more than 9,500 members across all 50 states. With a commitment to the growth of its members and the organic sector as a whole, OTA aims to achieve excellence in agriculture and commerce, protect the environment, and enhance community well-being.

OTA members represent the entire supply chain and the huge diversity of today’s organic sector—small and large organic farmers of all types, local and national organic processors, regional and country-wide organic distributors, mom-and-pop organic stores, and organic retail chains. Organic products represented by OTA’s members include organic foods, raw commodities, ingredients, and beverages as well as organic fibers, personal care products, pet foods, nutritional supplements, household cleaners, and flowers.

OTA is the only trade association working on behalf of the organic sector. As such, it serves as the unifying voice of the U.S. organic trade on Capitol Hill, advancing OTA’s mission to promote and protect organic agriculture and trade through legislative and regulatory advocacy. OTA represents its members to government on sector needs, market development and promotion, and strong organic standards and regulations. Members also benefit from the latest information and quick answers on organic regulations and standards in the U.S. and around the world. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members and is comprised of 17 executives representing the breadth and scale of the organic sector. 

The Role & Responsibilities

In alignment with the Organic Trade Association’s foundational values and core beliefs, the CEO/Executive Director will work collaboratively with its Board, staff, stakeholders, government bodies, and with the wider organic community. The aim is to both preserve the history and to promote and advance the mission to ensure continued growth and greater impact within the organic sector. There is a critical continued need for focus on innovation, scaling strategy, new revenue opportunities, and strengthening and expanding the existing and new member engagement. 

The CEO/ED leads the Association to carry out its mission, vision, and strategy in a passionate and committed way. Together with the Board, the CEO/ED provides overall leadership, direction, coordination, and oversight of the organization and serves as the face of OTA. This executive will be responsible for defining the association’s mission and establishing shared objectives for OTA’s member companies.

The CEO/ED must lead in a visionary and inclusive style with the Board, staff, and members and must be skilled in relationship management across a range of stakeholders and professional constituents. The ideal candidate—who will lead as proficiently from a strategic standpoint as they do from an administrative and community standpoint— will harness consumer insights while maintaining strong governmental relationships. The leader must have a keen awareness of the organic landscape from a shifting trends perspective.

This leader will be looked to fully optimize Board member engagement and utilization in order to provide proactive vision and direction to ensure organizational and financial strength, operating efficiency, proper reporting procedures and people systems, all while preserving and facilitating OTA’s legacy.

The CEO/ED has overall responsibility for the implementation of all activities and operations of the organization including staffing, financial solvency, government affairs, marketing, communications, public relations, education, data initiatives, the Annual Fund, and Board of Directors meetings. The CEO/ED is also responsible for fostering positive relationships with external organizations—such as the Organic Political Action Committee (PAC) and The Organic Center—and for assisting in the execution of annual events such as OTA's signature Policy Conference, Awards Gala, and its exhibits at domestic and international trade shows. 

In addition to consistent achievement of its mission and financial objectives, the CEO/ED provides for the growth of OTA while maintaining and expanding its image as the acknowledged leader of the organic community. The CEO/ED represents both the Association and the organic trade in an official capacity when interfacing with members of Congress, USDA, FDA, other trade associations, media, stakeholders, and strategic allies. Functioning as a creative leader of OTA’s team, the CEO/ED communicates information effectively to assist others in doing OTA’s work, while building strong relationships with OTA staff, Board members, and allied organizations.

Executive Leadership & Board Relations

OTA seeks a deeply passionate and progressive executive leader who can guide the Association at this critical inflection point employing strategy and innovation while acknowledging and incorporating the foundational values of the organic community. With a deep respect for the legacy of the organic trade, the CEO/ED will have a keen awareness of emerging organic trends and new opportunities for the ultimate benefit of the Association and the wider organic community. They will lead by example, leveraging their people and relationship management skills and experiences in meaningful and impactful ways. 

The CEO/ED will maintain a productive relationship with the Board and work with the Board members to set strategic direction enabling the Association to adapt to a constantly changing external environment. Professional qualifications to accomplish these tasks include the following:

Member Relationship Management:

  • Act as the organization’s brand ambassador with all stakeholders—effectively communicating the benefits and obligations of membership.
  • Foster a spirit of collaboration among all member companies.
  • Maintain a working knowledge of significant developments and trends in the field.
  • Maximize financial support for OTA while maintaining awareness of the overall funding needs and strategies of the organization.
  • Plan and carry out several member and member-prospect visits annually to drive membership satisfaction and growth.
  • Hold a permanent standing seat on The Organic Center Board of Trustees.
  • Support member relations as appropriate.

Board Management:

  • Provide direction and leadership in developing programming, organizational and financial plans with the Board of Directors and staff and carry out plans and policies authorized by the Board.
  • Listen to the Board’s thoughts regarding the condition of the organization and all-important factors influencing it.
  • Brief the Board of Directors and the membership on key initiatives and issues to maintain full visibility on Association activity. 

Operations and Financial Management:

  • Assure that the organization makes consistent and timely progress on its long-range strategy to achieve its mission, vision, and goals.
  • Oversee fundraising planning and implementation, including identifying resource requirements, researching funding sources, establishing strategies to approach funders, submitting proposals, and administering fundraising records and documentation.
  • Partner with the EVP and COO for annual planning and budget cycle.
  • Work with the staff, finance personnel, and the Board to prepare a budget and ultimately ensure the organization operates within budget guidelines.
  • Maintain responsibility for OTA umbrella organization, The Organic Center, including responsibility for staff administration, guidance and assistance with fundraising, The Organic Center's Annual fundraising dinner, and for support of The Organic Center Board of Trustees and their initiatives.
  • Provide oversight for OTA’s international activities including market promotion, trade barrier reduction, and market intelligence.

External Relations and Advocacy:

  • Provide oversight for OTA’s government relations activities including- legislative, regulatory (National Organic Program and National Organic Standards Board), and member task forces.
  • Lobby on behalf of OTA, its members, and partner organizations; and testify at Congressional and regulatory hearings as needed.
  • Lend strategic support to OTA member companies and sectors by representing their point of view/position on issues to the public.
  • Along with key staff, serve as an external face of OTA at sector events, conferences, government meetings, and with allied organizations.
  • Assure that the organization and its mission, programs, products, and services are consistently presented in a strong, positive image to relevant stakeholders.
  • Participate as a speaker at key organic trade functions and events and serve as the media spokesperson on organic sector and community issues.
  • Oversee the Organic PAC, including the planning of fundraising events and disbursement of funds. 

Talent Management:

  • Review team resources and workstreams to ensure proper allocation of personnel.
  • Encourage staff development and education and assess and align staff competences to optimize organizational effectiveness and retention.
  • Assist program staff with their specialized work to best serve OTA’s membership and propel the mission of the organization.
  • Manage the recruitment, employment, and development of all personnel.
  • Ensure an effective management team is in place with appropriate provision for succession.

Qualifications & Characteristics

  • A minimum of 10 years’ leadership experience with demonstrated management and solid business sense.
  • Extensive understanding and experience in organic food, agriculture, manufacturing, and retailing and trade association management.
  • A comprehensive knowledge of the organic sector and a demonstrated familiarity with the regulatory and compliance elements governing the sector.
  • Ability to establish and communicate a clear vision that is compelling, accessible, and achievable.
  • An established background in policy analysis and advocacy.
  • Demonstrated strategic mindset with a results and solutions-oriented ethos.
  • Experience in strategic planning and budget management.
  • A track record of promoting a culture of integrity, high performance, collaboration, and professional development.
  • Ability to identify connections and leverage opportunities across an organization.
  • Grounding in project and program management, grants management, planning, and performance evaluation.
  • Experience in international trade.
  • Demonstrated ability to engage and inspire through public speaking and strategic communications.
  • Cultivated media savvy.
  • Staff management: goal setting, work plan development, performance review and program delivery experience.
  • A reputation of excellence in working with an active Board and membership.


  • Bachelor’s Degree required, preferably within a related field such as agriculture, nutrition, or business.


  • A competitive compensation package will be offered to the finalist candidate.

To Apply

Interested and qualified candidates are welcome to submit a resume and cover letter. Please click "Apply" below.

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