Executive Director (HEFN)

Executive Summary

The Health & Environmental Funders Network (HEFN) is seeking nominations and applications for its Executive Director position.  HEFN is a national membership network of over 60 foundations, donors, and philanthropic advisers interested in improving health, environmental, and equity outcomes.  Its mission is to mobilize philanthropy around solutions for environmental health and justice issues.  HEFN’s close-knit community invests over $200 million a year to build the power of the environmental health and justice movement, prioritizing support for impacted communities and diverse organizations, at the grassroots, across the United States, and globally.

HEFN supports funder learning, networking, and collaboration, enabling its members to make better-informed investments and finds partners for collective impact on problems affecting health, environmental, and equity outcomes.  HEFN is valued by its members for being nimble and responsive to emerging issues; for its caring and supportive environment; and for its focus on equity and embrace of diversity.

Reporting to a national Steering Committee, the Executive Director leads the network’s staff and activities, nurturing the intersectional and collaborative interests of its membership.  The Executive Director expands HEFN’s footprint in the philanthropic sector, serving as a visible leader advocating for its priorities in and beyond philanthropy. 

Organizational Overview

Founded in 1999, HEFN is a membership network actively working towards ambitious goals in its 2016-2026 strategic plan.  These priorities include: embedding environmental health in key decisions; ensuring those impacted have a meaningful voice in decision making; and improving environmental health outcomes, especially for the most vulnerable.

The strategies to achieve these priorities are equally ambitious.  The organization, through member engagement, and Steering Committee and staff leadership aims to:

  • Advance solutions by helping funders understand major environmental health and justice problems.
  • Build leadership by focusing members and the philanthropic community to build a more powerful leadership base for environmental health and justice, including increasing grantmaking to diverse grassroots efforts.
  • Expand investment by doubling philanthropic commitments, leveraging equivalent investments from outside philanthropy and attracting new allies and resources.

HEFN membership and supporters gather annually to learn and connect.  Together with the Executive Director, active committees plan the annual meeting, review HEFN governance and fiscal policies and address opportunities around equity and environmental justice issues with the membership and larger field of philanthropy.  

HEFN is a nonprofit project that operates through a Joint Plan of Work with Virginia Organizing, a 501 c (3) organization that accepts and manages funds on HEFN’s behalf.  Its work is guided by a national Steering Committee, currently nine leaders from HEFN’s membership.  The staff of 4.5 FTEs is comprised of three staffers in different locations (in Maryland and Washington State).  Much of HEFN’s work is conducted virtually by video-conference, phone, email, and shared online documents.

Opportunities and Challenges for the Future Executive Director

The Executive Director ensures HEFN’s success in its mission and strategic priorities, providing leadership for staff and membership across all the network’s operations.  The Executive Director will: 

Provide organizational leadership, drawing on an extensive understanding of both the environmental health and justice fields and of the philanthropic sector.  The new Executive Director will work with the Steering Committee and staff to develop, implement and track a yearly workplan and budget to guide progress towards strategic goals and help HEFN adapt to emerging challenges and opportunities.

Raise and manage necessary funds and help grow the organization. The Executive Director will effectively engage staff and HEFN leaders in fundraising and financial stewardship, raising and managing an annual budget of approximately $1.3-1.6 million.  The Executive Director will report on HEFN’s finances, in conjunction with Virginia Organizing, which handles back office services, accounting and audits.

Nurture and expand relationships with HEFN’s members, philanthropic partners and field partners.  The Executive Director will build strong relationships with other philanthropy-serving organizations, as well as with environmental justice, social justice and community-based organizations, facilitating interactions and new partnerships between funders and these organizations.  The Executive Director will represent HEFN, including in the National Environmental Health Partnership Council.

Build and retain a diverse staff team with the skill sets needed for HEFN’s success.  The Executive Director will manage the staff, encouraging them to deliver high-quality programs and services that align with HEFN’s strategic plan and priorities, and will supporting them in their professional development.  The Executive Director will ensure that HEFN’s administration and operations are solid and conform to Virginia Organizing’s personnel policies. 

Contribute to programming, and strategy development.  The Executive Director will manage and take part in a broad portfolio of work, without significant personal administrative support.  The Executive Director will contribute to high-quality learning programs for funders and will manage projects (currently including a Grants Tracking Partnership with the Environmental Grantmakers Association and a climate, health, and equity impact project), including fundraising, hiring and management of consultants and contracts, and guidance of project activities.

Provide the Steering Committee with satisfactory financial, staff and programmatic information to support their leadership of HEFN.  The Executive Director will support the Steering Committee’s work, which includes quarterly teleconferences, two in-person meetings annually, and subcommittees.  The Executive Director will support member engagement and leadership development.

Qualifications of the Successful Candidate

A successful candidate will possess the professional and personal abilities, experiences and attributes listed below:

  • Knowledge of environmental health and justice issues and a passion for developing programs that reflect members’ priorities and societal needs, such as health, equity, and environmental stakes in climate change and energy, toxics, and drinking water.
  • Proven ability to manage effectively and nurture teams within a small staff environment.
  • Experience working with virtual teams preferred.
  • First-hand knowledge working in or with philanthropic organizations.
  • Demonstrated skills in developing and maintaining collaborative relationships with nonprofit and philanthropy organizations.
  • Track record of successful fundraising and project management to support organizational growth.
  • Ability to develop and implement a coherent work plan for HEFN’s issue-based groups to help strengthen the infrastructure and increase the impact of their work.
  • Competency in evaluation, developing metrics to measure progress on the workplan.
  • Commitment to racial and gender equity, diversity and inclusion. Ability to envision creative new paths to achieve the goals of HEFN and its members.
  • Outstanding oral and written communication skills.
  • Experience working with networks or coalitions.
  • Familiarity with Microsoft products and common virtual technology platforms

The Search Committee would prioritize a candidate who has experience with working remotely with others.


Full-time employees receive generous benefits, including pension contributions; full health, dental, vision, and childcare benefits; as well as paid vacation, sick, parental, family, and sabbatical leave.

To Apply

The goal of the Search Committee is to hire the new Executive Director by the third quarter of 2019.  The location is flexible.  Applications close on May 20, 2019.

Send a cover letter, resume and unedited writing sample to [email protected] with “[Your Name] HEFN Executive Director” in the subject line.

HEFN seeks to hire a staff that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve, in keeping with the policies and practices of Virginia Organizing.  Virginia Organizing, in all phases of employment, is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender orientation, disability or marital status.  Virginia Organizing is committed to the active recruitment, hiring and advancement of people of color and women.



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