Common Ground

Executive Director

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Posted On: Thursday, 27th December 2018
Category: Administrative
Location: New Haven, Connecititcut
358 Springside Ave, New Haven, Connecititcut 06515
Job Type:
Full Time

Job Description:

About Common Ground:

From humble beginnings 20 years ago, Common Ground has grown into a nationally recognized center for environmental learning and leadership in New Haven, Connecticut, dedicated to growing a more just and sustainable community and world. Common Ground is uniquely positioned to do this work. Rooted in the City of New Haven, our 20-acre site includes an urban farm and abuts the 1,500- acre West Rock State Park, sharing hiking trails, wildlife, and diverse natural habitats with the surrounding forests.Common Ground weaves together three core programs to achieve its mission:

1. Common Ground’s Public Charter High School is the nation's longest-running environmental charter high school, growing a new, inclusive generation of active learners and powerful leaders.

2. The Environmental Education Center receives more than 12,000 community members each year who participate in festivals, field trips, after-school programs, and other educational opportunities on site. It runs a Schoolyards Program, helping New Haven public schools develop and maintain gardens and bird habitats as educational laboratories.

3. Our Urban Farm is a key resource for the high school and community programs, as well as for the New Haven community. It includes production and education gardens, honeybees, and livestock. The food we grow is served in our school cafeteria, sold at our farmstand and through a mobile market serving low income community members, distributed through a CSA for our high school students, and used in our programs for children and families.

Common Ground has a budget of approximately $5.5 million and employs approximately 50 full-time and 20 part-time staff. Common Ground has a commitment to examining the intersection of social, environmental, and food justice issues; how systems of oppression, including white privilege, impact the organization’s work;how resistance to those systems can position students to lead the change towards a more equitable and sustainable society. For more information on Common Ground, see


Position Summary:

The Executive Director (ED) is the Chief Executive Officer of the New Haven Ecology Project, Inc., the parent agency to all Common Ground programs and activities. The ED reports to the Board ofDirectors and is responsible for the organization’sconsistent achievement of its mission, strategic priorities, and financial objectives. The ED of Common Ground directly supervises 6 Program Directors as well as the Site Manager.


Position Responsibilities:

 Vision and Strategic Leadership

  • Ensure the mission and vision are articulated and shared by a wide range of stakeholders
  • Maintain and deepen Common Ground’s strong organizationalculture and values
  • Collaborate closely with the Board and staff to continually hone and execute a vision and plan of action for increased impact, long-term growth, and sustainability
  • Ensure the development, funding, and execution of the Strategic Plan

Organizational and Financial Management

  • Manage and lead Common Ground as an effective and efficient organization
  • Inspire and motivate a highly skilled, diverse, and committed group of staff and students
  • Ensure inclusive, transparent, and regular communication both internally and externally
  • Manage the annual, quarterly, and monthly institutional budgeting processes
  • Monitor financial reporting including, but not limited to cash flow, depreciation schedules and budget forecasting
  • Maintain official records and documents and ensure compliance with federal, state, and local regulations
  • Assess and manage, in collaboration with the Site Manager, the needs of the campus infrastructure, buildings and grounds

Fundraising and External Communication

  • Cultivate and steward individual and institutional donors
  • Drive, in collaboration with the Development Team, the overall fundraising plan, developing and executing strategies that ensure a sustainable and diverse funding stream
  • Deepen and widen existing community partnerships and cultivate new relationships to enhance the organization’s community profile
  • Advocate at the local and state level for legislation, policies, and other government actions that support the work of Common Ground

Culture and Staff Relations

  • Inspire, lead, and promote a culture and climate that attracts, retains, and motivates a diverse staff of passionate, highly qualified people
  • Directly supervise, mentor, and coach senior staff
  • Promote staff diversity, inclusion, and equity by strengthening hiring and training processes
  • Collaborate with Program Directors as a knowledgeable part of a problem-solving team to identify and address human resource needs
  • Encourage staff development and education and assist program staff in relating their specialized work to the whole organization

Collaboration with the Board of Directors

  • Partner with the Board leadership to continually strengthen governance practices and build a diverse Board
  • Develop and present recommendations for annual business plans and budgets
  • Provide regular updates on operations and financial status
  • Work closely with the Board to ensure compliance with bylaws, policies, and directives, as well as pertinent local,
  • state, and federal laws


Position Qualifications:

  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Masters in Business Administration preferred
  • Demonstrated commitment to environmental justice, anti-racism, and the dismantling of systems of oppression
  • Confidence navigating relationships within and between diverse communities
  • Demonstrated ongoing commitment to personal and professional learning and development
  • Knowledge of laws and legislation that are pertinent to the operation of Common Ground, including non-profit organizations, charter schools, and human resource management
  • Significant experience managing an organization with a budget over $2M
  • Knowledge and/or experience in environmental education, public education and/or agriculture is a plus
  • Exceptional written and oral communication skills


Compensation and Benefits: 

This is a full time position that reports to the Board of Directors. Competitive salary and benefits package including vacation, sick, and holiday time, medical, dental, and life insurance, and retirement plan. Homemade lunch from the farm is provided free to all employees!


To Apply:

Essential pre-application inquired may be directed to No phone calls please

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to In your cover letter, please describe why you are passionate about joining Common Ground community and how your qualifications and experience fit with the goal and responsibilities of this position 


Common Ground is committed to the recruitment and retention of staff that is reflective of the communities we work with. We strongly encourage applicants from people of color, immigrants, women, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and other underrepresented and historically marginalized groups.

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