Job Title


Reports to

Supervisory Role

Executive Director

Full Time, Salaried (exempt)

Board President, Zoo Society Board of Directors

Supervises Senior Development Director, Fundraising Event Coordinator, Executive Assistant and contract staff

Job Summary

The Executive Director manages all Zoo Society programs and activities to provide philanthropic support for the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium (PDZA) and improve awareness, understanding and support of PDZA within the community. The Executive Director supports the Zoo Society Board to implement effective fundraising strategies, provide responsible stewardship of our resources and donors, and inspire passion for the conservation mission of PDZA.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Executive Leadership

  • Lead, supervise and motivate a results-driven team to meet personal and organizational goals through effective performance management.
  • Represent the Zoo Society and seek opportunities for speaking engagements and participation in community activities and service organizations that will provide maximum visibility for the mission of the Society and will foster long-term donor relationships.
  • Actively uphold and build excellent working relationships with PDZA and Metro Parks.
  • Oversee development and administration of annual budget and work plan, including management of finance staff and/or consultants to reach budget.

Fundraising Leadership

  • Manage staff to cultivate, retain, manage and grow a portfolio of individual and corporate donors and estate plan gifts; ensure accurate and accessible donor information.
  • Develop realistic and ambitious fundraising plans to meet and exceed organization’s revenue goals and grow programming opportunities.
  • Manage and grow a personal portfolio of major donors for engaging in regular communication and developing customized gift opportunities.
  • Manage staff to develop and execute quality fundraising and stewardship events that provide high ROI as a fundraiser and/or support donor cultivation and retention goals.
  • Capitalize on grant opportunities that match PDZA priorities.
  • Direct and lead Board-authorized Capital Campaigns, including development of case studies, donor cultivation/solicitation plans, and strategic communication.

Board Leadership

  • Provide leadership to the full Board resulting in board members who are engaged throughout their terms and are effective ambassadors and fundraisers for the Society and advocates for PDZA programs.
  • Develop effective Board meetings and engagement. Support and coach the Board to recruit, retain and motivate board members representing the diversity of Tacoma/Pierce County.
  • Collaborate with Board in developing long-range Strategic Plan, then lead that plan to successful implementation.

Key Skills and Competencies

Donor Development – Understands and employs current development principles and practices, including moves management, gift tracking/processing, technology-based fundraising strategies, direct mail programs, donor relations and data management.

Ethics and Integrity – Earns the trust, respect and confidence of coworkers, collaborators, donors and community members through consistent honesty, forthrightness and professionalism in all interactions.

Relationship-Building – Builds constructive working relationships characterized by a high level of acceptance, cooperation and mutual regard; astute in cultivating and managing relationships toward a common goal; values the power of networks; strongly motivated by the chance to work with others, actively seeking out opportunities for teamwork and networking; politically and socially astute.

Effective Communication – Communicates with a wide vocabulary in a variety of settings to convey clear, persuasive messages that are effective in influencing the thoughts and actions of others; able to effectively present information and respond to questions both privately and to groups.

Performance Leadership – Creates and nurtures a performance-based culture that develops and supports strategies to accomplish the organizational mission and fundraising goals; well-organized and focused; disciplined and intentional. Includes identifying traditional and non-traditional funding sources that can provide greatest impact to PDZA programs.

Positively-Focused – Maintains a positive attitude; inspires optimism; enthusiastic, yet not afraid to express doubt on occasion.

Adaptability to Changing Needs/Flexibility – Embraces changing business needs and adapts methods to achieve success in a dynamic and uncertain environment; comfortable in transitions.

Accountability – Achieves excellent results with little need for oversight; holds self and others accountable for high standards of quality and performance; effective without direct management, yet welcomes some structure and supervision as needed from the board.

Numerical Skill – Comfortable communicating complex data to others; capable of understanding financial data and arriving at accurate conclusions.

Work Pace – Responds well to time constraints and generally works at a brisk pace.

Decisiveness – Balances timeliness and deliberation but is comfortable making quick decisions when necessary.

Key Skills and Competencies

  • A bachelor’s degree in related field or equivalent experience is preferred. An advanced degree or CFRE Certification is desired.
  • A minimum of seven years of progressively more leadership success at a management level is required.
  • Five to ten years demonstrated success in leading major fundraising initiatives or comparable activities is required.
  • Use of technology and social media tools in fundraising is required.
  • Desired experience includes:
  • Successful management of a significant fund development function, including use of all strategies and tactics in successful fundraising and donor development; experience with capital campaigns, public levy and/or bond issue campaigns is desired;
  • Leading/supporting a non-profit board in fundraising development and engagement;
  • Financial management; development and management of comparable operating budgets; familiarity with the audit process;
  • Managing a small organization; building, growth and/or transition of an organization and its programs to the next level;
  • Development and implementation of strategic plans and initiatives;
  • Work in Zoos aquariums, museums, parks or other similar facilities/organizations.

Physical Factors/Working Conditions

  • Indoor office environment
  • Occasional use of personal vehicle
  • Light lifting of supplies (25-50 lbs.)
  • Frequently involves non-regular hours and weekend work

Salary Range

  • $95,000 - $125,00 commensurate with experience
  • Generous benefits package that includes medical and dental benefits, life insurance and retirement benefits.

To Apply

Please send resume and cover letter to:

Human Resources
Point Defiance Zoological Society
5400 N Pearl St.
Tacoma, WA 98407

Or email to

Position closes on July 31, 2018