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Chief Executive Officer

Audubon Institute
New Orleans, Louisiana, US
Closing date
Jun 11, 2024

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Aquarium / Zoo / Botanical garden
Conservation science
Salary Type
Employment Type
Full time
Job DescriptionJob Description
Chief Executive Officer

To be considered, candidates must submit a cover letter, comprehensive resume, and five professional references to Ideally, the Chief Executive Officer will join the Audubon Nature Institute in the fourth quarter of 2024 or sooner.

The Opportunity

The Board of the Audubon Nature Institute is seeking a highly qualified, inspirational, and dynamic Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to succeed their long-tenured CEO who is retiring after 52 years of service.

Over the past 140 years what is now known as Audubon Nature Institute has grown from a single enclosure of birds to a 501(c)3 non-profit, world class family of facilities, events, experiences, sustainability initiatives, and conservation programs united by the purpose to celebrate, protect, and connect guests to the wonders of nature. This includes Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo (ranked in the top seven zoos in the country), Audubon Aquarium (ranked in the top five aquariums in the country), Audubon Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Audubon Wilderness Park, Audubon Aquarium Rescue, Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries, and the Riverfront for All project which begins construction in late summer 2024 and will expand public-accessible greenspace from Spanish Plaza two more miles to Crescent Park, creating one of the largest series of contiguous riverfront parks in the country.

New Orleans: The City that Embraces Your Soul

New Orleans, a vibrant gem nestled along the mighty Mississippi River, beckons with its rich cultural tapestry, tantalizing cuisine, and unique blend of old-world charm and modern flair. Steeped in history, this enchanting city boasts a dynamic atmosphere that ignites creativity and fosters innovation - a perfect setting for a top executive seeking inspiration and opportunity. From the spirited rhythms of jazz echoing through the French Quarter to the colorful festivals that celebrate its diverse heritage, New Orleans captivates the senses and offers an unparalleled quality of life.

Offering a host of family-friendly neighborhoods, with city events, services, and amenities that help families to prosper- such as robust youth sports and arts programming and a city-wide charter school system featuring several letter grade A schools - New Orleans is invested in its future citizens. Indeed, New Orleans is a true "brain center", comprising seven universities, three HBCUs, two medical schools, two law schools, a dental school, a public health school, and four community and technical colleges, including the largest in the state.

New Orleans boasts dozens of music venues, theaters, and nationally renowned museums, including the National World War II Museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Louisiana Children's Museum, and the Contemporary Arts Center. Locals are equally die-hard fans of the Super Bowl-winning Saints NFL football and the Pelicans NBA basketball teams. The Jesters (National Premier Soccer League), Tulane Green Wave, and the LSU Tigers are all nearby too.

In addition to its cultural allure, New Orleans presents an enticing business landscape ripe with potential. As a major port city and economic hub of the Gulf Coast, it offers strategic advantages for companies looking to expand or establish a presence in the region. With a burgeoning technology sector, robust healthcare industry, and a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, the city provides ample opportunities for growth and collaboration. Moreover, its affordable cost of living and favorable tax incentives makes it an attractive destination for both businesses and individuals alike.

Beyond its professional appeal, New Orleans boasts a lifestyle that seamlessly blends work and play. From strolling along the historic streets adorned with elegant architecture to indulging in world-class dining experiences featuring Creole and Cajun delicacies, the city offers a myriad of leisure pursuits to enrich the lives of its residents. With its warm climate, abundant green spaces, and proximity to scenic bayous and coastal beaches, New Orleans provides an idyllic backdrop for relaxation and rejuvenation. In New Orleans, success isn't just measured by career accomplishments - it's defined by the richness of experiences and the joy of living in a city that embraces the soul.

The Position

The CEO is responsible for a highly capable staff of approximately 525 employees with a 2024 Operating Budget of approximately $48,000,000 and a 2024-2028 Capital Budget of $84,000,000.

While it is important for the CEO to oversee the operations and management of the key assets, drive the long-term vision of the organization, raise funds, and build and sustain a thriving high-performance culture, this position requires a uniquely qualified leader. The winning candidate must be able to operate in a complex political environment at the local, state, and federal levels and serve as a thought leader interacting with national experts in diverse fields including conservation, coastal resilience and sustainability, community redevelopment, and educational programming. These relationships and interactions are essential to assisting Audubon Nature Institute to continue to grow its status as a national leader, creating and operating some of the nation's pre-eminent attractions.

The leader of Audubon is also a civic and business leader in our community. For Audubon to maintain its place among the most revered institutions in our community, the new CEO will need to be capable of being recognized as a key business leader not just for Audubon, but also in the hospitality and tourism sector impacting the business climate and economic development in our city, our region, and our state.

Finally, the new CEO must exhibit a passion for and love all things New Orleans.

The Audubon Nature Institute Board of Commissioners

The Audubon Commission is, in effect, a board of trustees. Appointed to a six-year term by the Mayor with the consent of the City Council, the Commission is composed of 24 registered voters of the City of New Orleans. It retains all authority granted to it by Louisiana State Act No.191 of 1914. It has specific authority to approve and control design and development of its projects. All monies from bond or tax revenues, approved by the voters of New Orleans for the Audubon Commission, are administered by the Commission. Title to all improvements, furnishings, and equipment at the facilities remains in the name of the City of New Orleans via the Audubon Commission.

About Audubon Nature Institute

PURPOSE: Celebrating the Wonders of Nature

VISION: Creating a family of museums and parks dedicated to nature

MISSION: Eight objectives support our mission

Provide a guest experience of outstanding quality

Exhibit the diversity of wildlife

Preserve native Louisiana habitats

Educate our diverse audience about the natural world

Enhance the care and survival of wildlife through research and conservation

Provide opportunities for recreation in natural settings

Operate a financially self-sufficient collection of museums and parks

Weave quality entertainment through the guest experience

The Audubon Nature Institute Board oversees the Audubon Nature Institute, the 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation currently managing day-to-day operations for all the Commission's facilities through a management contract between the Board and the Audubon Commission. All employees work for the Audubon Nature Institute, Inc. Elected by the 30,000 membership households of Audubon Nature Institute, at least 75% of the Institute's 32 Board members live in Orleans Parish and at least 25% of them are minorities. Members are elected for no more than two consecutive four-year terms. Funds generated by the Institute's operations and fundraising efforts are administered by the Institute. Certified audited statements of the Audubon Nature Institute are provided to the Audubon Commission on an annual basis.

The CEO supervises the administration and operation of all facilities controlled and operated by Audubon Nature Institute, is employed by, and reports directly to the Board of Directors, and is an ex officio member of the Board of Directors and all committees of the Board of Directors, without the power to vote.

CEO Competencies and Capabilities

A strategic thought leader with proven strategic planning capability to map out a long-term vision and leverage competitive advantages to bring the vision to life.

Track record for being politically aware and astute yet remain apolitical. Ability to sell a point of view in a non-polarizing manner, gaining consensus.

Demonstrated executive leadership skill and documented capacity to operate in a complex political environment, engaging regularly with the Mayor, City Council, and other local, state, and federal government officials.

Recognized as a key business leader in the hospitality, cultural attractions, and tourism sector.

Record of success and skill at fundraising and cultivating donors in both one-on-one and group settings.

Ability to build coalitions and blend interests to advance the mission and purpose of Audubon Nature Institute. Ability to energize, engage, inspire, and elicit "buy-in" from individuals at all levels including community leaders, donors, and board directors.

Experienced leading senior level managers. A skilled delegator who empowers, not a micro-manager. An excellent facilitator with the interpersonal skills to affect, lead, and manage change and growth. Proven ability to initiate, nurture, and develop ongoing productive relationships with staff. Energy, adaptability, exceptional facilitating skills. Optimistic leader who communicates clearly and consistently with all levels of the organization.

Marketing-oriented leadership. Skilled at use of media outlets to develop interest in Audubon Nature Institute. Ensure consistent positive press and public relations to increase market share within the local and regional community, and throughout the national and international marketplace.

Ability to develop business plans and pro formas. Possess the acuity to assess operations, financials, and personnel. Track record of successfully keeping all key stakeholders apprised of financial and operational status - including donors, board of directors, government entities, and the community at large - to ensure financial transparency.

Ability to develop diverse revenue streams and experiences that are consistent with mission and purpose.

The Ideal Candidate

Building upon the competencies and capabilities outlined above, the ideal candidate should exemplify the following personal characteristics.

Leadership stature to assume a central strategic role to strengthen and advance the mission and purpose of Audubon Nature Institute. Bring a "big picture" vision of Audubon Nature Institute's operations.

A persona of leadership presence, with a charismatic, optimistic, and engaging personality. Strong core values, with record of uncompromising integrity, personal credibility, and open accountability.

Pragmatic and practical, with enjoyment in identifying opportunities, using creativity to map and bring about innovative solutions to advance the organization to the next level.

Strong verbal and written communication and presentation skills. Ability to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences. Conducts self with discernment and adroitness.

Demonstrated ability to lead and influence policy efforts surrounding conservation, coastal science, sustainability, and resilience.

Expertise and knowledge of the economic, environment, and regulatory issues that impact zoo/aquarium operations preferred. A record of enhancing and expanding research programs for a major zoological or aquatic facility a plus.

Experienced in leading and fostering a diverse workforce.

The Qualifications

Experience: Ten years of progressively responsible leadership experience, including five years in a senior executive management capacity, preferably including experience leading a complex organization, business enterprise experience, or any combination of education and experience that provides equivalent knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Education: A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university required, advanced degree preferred, animal management expertise a plus.

Compensation and Benefits

The Audubon Nature Institute Board is offering a competitive salary commensurate with experience. The CEO will also receive an excellent benefits package including the opportunity to participate in the Audubon Nature Institute's retirement plan.

How to Apply

To Be Considered

This position is open until filled and may close at any time. Candidates are encouraged to apply early in the process for optimal consideration. Resumes will be reviewed and evaluated throughout the recruitment process.

To be considered, candidates must submit a cover letter, comprehensive resume, and five professional

references to Ideally, the Chief Executive Officer will join the Audubon Nature Institute in the fourth quarter of 2024 or sooner. Should you have any questions regarding this position or the recruitment process, please call Camille Frugé, SSA Consultants at 225.769.2676 or email her directly at Confidential inquiries are welcomed.

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