Executive Director

Balsam Mountain Trust Published: June 9, 2022
Sylva, NC
Skill Level
Senior Level
Job Type
CEO/ Senior Mgmt/ Exec Director

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The Balsam Mountain Trust inspires people to be responsible stewards of the natural and cultural resources of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains through education and conservation leadership.

Introduction and Background

The Balsam Mountain Trust (www.bmtrust.org) was formed as a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization in 2000. The formation of the Trust was created by the original developer of Balsam Mountain Preserve (Chaffin/Light, Associates, LLC) with the thought of having an active onproperty conservation component to the planned community. Espousing a “community within a park, not park within a community” ethos for owners of property and homes on the Preserve, the Trust was created for two purposes: to develop a sense of place with the natural world, and as a resource for owners to readily access information about the natural and cultural resources found on the Preserve and in the surrounding region.

The Trust has evolved beyond serving owners and now serves a critical role in educating the public. The Trust is an AmeriCorps-certified host site, and partners with local businesses to fund environmental education in the Title 1 Schools in Jackson and Haywood counties, and at local libraries. The Trust maintains the Nature Center that offers educational exhibits, a small animal collection (including several birds of prey), and a small and talented staff of paid positions and volunteers.

The Balsam Mountain Trust & Nature Center are located within the development known as Balsam Mountain Preserve (hereafter referred to as BMP) in Sylva, NC. (www.balsammountainpreserve.com)

Several organizations on the mountain work together in the development and operation of the Community. These include the Developer, the BMO Community Association, Boarding House partners, conservation easement owners, and the Trust. The Trust has been the one resource on property to help craft stewardship plans for the natural and cultural resources on the Preserve. The Trust works with the North American Land Trust (NALT) to steward these resources. Of the 4,400 acres of the Preserve, approximately 3,500 acres are in permanently-protected conservation easements and also used as outdoor classrooms and field research sites.

Position Overview

The next Executive Director will have the opportunity to lead an organization that has cultivated a stellar reputation since 2000, both on the Preserve among owners and in the region with governmental agencies, other NGOs and the public. With full support of our Board of Trustees, dedicated staff and volunteers, this person will have the unique ability to “write the next chapter” in the success of this highly-regarded nonprofit conservation organization in western North Carolina.

The successful candidate will embody the Trust’s mission as they lead and promote growth of the organization by:

  • Fostering ‘a sense of place’ feeling among BMP owners.
  • Enlisting others to value the proper stewardship of the available natural and cultural resources. If you are passionate about conservation and related issues, stewardship of natural and cultural resources, scientific research, and environmental education, and possess a combination of academic and practical professional experience, we want to hear from you.


Leadership and Management Requirements

  • Work effectively with the Board of Trustees (Board) to further the Trust mission, including strategic plan development and Board meeting participation.
  • Work with Board to develop and manage plans and activities for the cultivation and solicitation of annual donors, grants, capital campaigns and special events.
  • Operate the organization within Board-approved budgets.
  • Manage and lead employees and volunteers by providing an inclusive work environment which encourages, nurtures and empowers teamwork and creativity, personal development and risktaking, communication and fun.
  • Efficiently manage the Nature Center facility and exhibits. o Oversee the maintenance, care, health and disposition of the Trust’s living collection of animals for programmatic applications.
    • Maintain compliance with appropriate governmental licensing, permits, rules and regulations.
  • Manage, direct and participate in the development of creative, innovative and exciting programming for owners and the public; review measures for program effectiveness.
  • Manage, direct and create engaging and effective written publications, and timely website updates and social media postings.

Land and Resource Stewardship

  • Facilitate, advise, promote, and apply best management practices for the stewardship of the natural and cultural resources within BMP.
  • Consult with experts and other stakeholders who might assist with natural and cultural resource management strategies.

Natural History Education & Research

  • Broaden appreciation and knowledge of natural and cultural history resources of BMP among owners and the general public, including the discovery of such by owners and external scholars.
  • Support natural and cultural resource education in regional public learning organizations.
  • Encourage publication of natural and cultural history discoveries in relevant professional and public media.

Support BMP Owners

  • Engage owners and prospects through Trust programs, social activities and other forums.
  • Provide on-call support of emergency owner issues involving wildlife.

Partnerships with BMP Organizations

  • Serve as collaborative partner with the Community Association, Club, Developer and Boarding House partners.
  • Advise the Developer in sustainable development practices within the scope of the project at BMP.
  • Build/maintain positive relationships with conservation easement owners to enable Trust events, field research and stewardship activities in these areas.

Partnerships with External Organizations

  • Maintain positive relationships with North American Land Trust (NALT), and holders of the conservation easements on the Preserve.
  • Maintain cooperative and collaborative relationships with regional environmental groups and individuals on issues of regional concern, and develop new ones as needed.
  • Foster relationships with entities to further field research opportunities, including academia, governmental agencies and NGOs.

Professional Experience/Qualifications

  • Minimum of 5 years demonstrated experience leading and/or as part of an executive team or as a department head of a nonprofit conservation organization, nature center, zoo, aquarium, natural history museum, etc.

Other skills needed:

  • Donor management and fundraising experience;
  • Talent attraction, hiring, retention and development;
  • Experience with handling animals, including birds of prey, reptiles, etc.;
  • Understanding the complexities and relationships within organizations of similar size;
  • Influence and organizational relationship management;
  • Strategic thinking and ability to create short- and long-term strategic plans;
  • Demonstrated applied interpersonal and public speaking skills and ability to connect with members of the public, BMP community members, academia, etc.
  • The successful candidate must be in excellent physical condition and able to take program participants and other visitors on a variety of outdoor experiences, e.g., hiking, backpacking, whitewater rafting, fishing, etc. This is by no means a comprehensive list of activities which may be requested of Trust staff.
  • Certification as a Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness First Aid is highly desirable (or willingness to obtain same). 


  • Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a field directly related to the successful operation of a conservation nonprofit, e.g., any discipline of the biological/physical sciences, nonprofit business administration, education, etc.
  • Advanced degree preferred.
  • Note: Exceptional professional experience may be considered in lieu of academic background.


  • Compensation package will be competitive with similar-sized organizations and commensurate with experience to attract an outstanding candidate. Range is $65K - $75K
  • Relocation assistance to be determined.

Working Conditions

  • Job is on site, indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather.
  • Frequent nights and weekends, especially during high season (April to October).
  • Ability to respond to emergency needs of owners and at the Nature Center; must live within 1 hour driving time.

Note: The Trust may perform background checks on the selected candidate related to driving records, criminal background (CORI and SORI), academic credentials, other as appropriate and deemed relevant to this position. Drug testing will be performed at random intervals and may be required as a condition of employment prior to start date.

The Balsam Mountain Trust does not discriminate on the basis of age under the Age Discrimination Act of 1975; on the basis of handicap under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; on the basis of gender under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; or on the basis of race, color or national origin under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. No person shall on the grounds of gender (including, in the case of a woman, on the grounds that the woman is pregnant) or on the grounds of religion, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination, to include sexual harassment, under any program or activity which may be supported by state and/or federal funds. The Trust will also not refuse, withhold from or deny to any person the benefit of services, facilities, goods, privileges, advantages, or benefits of public accommodation on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

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