Carlsbad, California

Executive Director of Development, Pacific Ridge School

The Organization

Since Pacific Ridge School opened its doors in 2007, the school has quickly become recognized as a leader in independent school education in San Diego and beyond. Its Harkness-based instruction model, global travel program for the entire student-body, and deeply embedded service learning has distinguished it from other schools in the area.

A coeducational institution, Pacific Ridge has 626 students in grades seven through twelve from Carlsbad, CA, and neighboring communities in North County San Diego. In 2022, Pacific Ridge will open its doors to an inaugural sixth grade class.

For a position to begin in the late summer of 2021, Pacific Ridge seeks an outgoing, strategically minded, and inspiring professional to serve as its Executive Director of Development. This is an extraordinary opportunity for an experienced and entrepreneurial fundraising professional to build upon the School’s growing culture of philanthropy.

Application Deadline: July 2, 2021



Pacific Ridge’s mission is to foster academic excellence, ethical responsibility, and global engagement, and prepare students for college and a purposeful life. Its aims – preparation for college and a purposeful life – are realized by students who come to understand that learning is a joyful, life-long pursuit, and that the world contains many kinds of classrooms.

Diversity Statement

Pacific Ridge values the unique perspectives and experiences within our community and believe that each elevates the learning experience for all. Over a third of Pacific Ridge students identify as people of color as defined by the National Association of Independent schools, and diversity is represented on our campus in many other ways. Pacific Ridge provides a supportive environment in which students can explore their own understanding of gender, ability, race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation, as well as notions of equity and justice.

Accreditation, Memberships, and Affiliations

  • National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
  • California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS)

Enrollment and Financial Aid

Pacific Ridge’s 626 students hail from 25 communities across northern San Diego County. Tuition for the 2020-2021 school year is $35,100, and nearly a third of students receive financial aid. Pacific Ridge recently developed the Opportunity Grant program, extending the School’s commitment to varied perspectives by providing significant tuition assistance to families in the lowest of income ranges. The Opportunity Grant program targets first generation, college-bound students with high financial need, and covers nearly all tuition and incidental costs.

Faculty and Staff

Pacific Ridge’s low student-teacher ratio (7:1) enables the formation of the close ties between students and teachers that many alumni name as a highlight of the experience at the school. Seventy percent of Pacific Ridge’s 92 faculty members hold advanced degrees, and there are ample professional development funds available for continuing education. The faculty have a wide range of backgrounds, united beyond their credentials by their broad worldview and dedication to the growth and well-being of the students.


Academic Excellence

Pacific Ridge incorporates real-world challenges, innovative approaches, and a growth mindset in every aspect of the School so that students’ accomplishments extend well beyond what`s expected or required. The students of Pacific Ridge have access to the talented faculty, advanced coursework, and state-of-the-art facilities needed to achieve whatever academic goals they set for themselves. Behind it all, Pacific Ridge strives to impart a genuine love of learning to its students, propelling them further than they imagined.

Ethnic Responsibility

With awareness must come action. Pacific Ridge endeavors to help students understand the complex challenges facing our society, the systems that create them, and the imperative to participate in solutions. Pacific Ridge teaches ethical principles to guide students in how they impact their communities and the world. Through a service-learning program that is embedded into each student’s weekly schedule, students learn to serve communities near and far. Pacific Ridge instills in its students a responsibility to act, a desire to do good, and the belief that they can make a difference.

Global Engagement

Pacific Ridge students engage in a robust, globally focused curriculum and a program of yearly travel to help students think outside of themselves, develop empathy, and prepare to contribute to the world around them. Nearly 90% of Pacific Ridge students participate in the Global Travel program each year, immersing themselves in communities and cultures, whether near or far. Through this approach, students grow together in the context of a larger community and create awareness of perspectives, experiences, and ways of life beyond their own.

Harkness Learning

At Pacific Ridge, it all starts in the classroom with small groups and lively discussions around the Harkness table. The School’s approach to education involves empowering students with the confidence to engage with challenging material and appreciate diverse perspectives. Each student is seen, heard, and actively included, which helps them to develop the critical thinking and open-mindedness to undertake anything that comes their way.

Growth through Experience

Pacific Ridge believes that strength that comes out of challenge and personal development is a result of getting uncomfortable, taking risks, and getting outside of what we know. Pacific Ridge creates opportunities for students to face the unknown through unfamiliar experiences, shared vulnerability, and exposure to the world beyond them.



Pacific Ridge School opened its doors in 2007 with the intention of enriching the educational opportunities in North County San Diego, offering the community an educational mission that focused on mind and heart, combined academic excellence with ethics, and linked civic responsibility to global awareness. In the fall of 2002, after years of talking and listening to others lament the limited options for excellent college preparatory secondary education in Coastal North County San Diego, two pioneering families, the Bechtler-Levins and the Merrifields, began thinking seriously about the prospect for an exemplary middle and high school in the area. Shortly thereafter, they were joined by other families, and formally established the founding Board of Trustees for the Pacific Ridge School. In the summer of 2005, Dr. Eileen Mullady, assumed the position of inaugural head of school. Dr. Mullady hired a core staff and partnered with veteran teachers from across the country to design a curriculum that brought to life the ideals of the mission and vision of the Board of Trustees. In the spring of 2011, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a co-head leadership model, promoting Dr. Bob Ogle to Co-Head of School, alongside Dr. Mullady. When Dr. Mullady retired in 2013, Dr. Ogle was appointed Head of School.

The commitment of the founding families and early board members was instrumental to the immediate and enduring success of Pacific Ridge School.


Pacific Ridge’s 14.5 hillside acre campus is located in the North County community of Carlsbad, California. The spacious surrounding open space contributes to the school’s warm and nurturing environment. The campus is comprised of 78,307 square feet of classrooms, science laboratories, arts studios, administrative and gathering spaces. In February 2021, Pacific Ridge opened an Innovation Center and Library: a flexible space for students to come together, collaborate, experiment, and explore interests amidst maker spacers, a library and research center, technology labs, creative studios, and more.

The Academic Program

At Pacific Ridge, each student is exposed to experiences that inspire their curiosity to keep learning and the determination to achieve the extraordinary.

Through a combination of interactive coursework, educational travel, service projects, and student-led activities, students are empowered to experiment with new ideas and interests, pursue their passions, and develop their voice. An encouraging community behind them connects support with motivation, giving students the opportunity to test and refine their skills through collaboration and dialogue. Whether it’s navigating the bustling streets of an international city or developing a service project for their home community, Pacific Ridge students are able to lead their path to learning, confident in the resources and inspiration they are offered along the way.

Pacific Ridge currently offers a range of Advanced Placement courses, including Biology, Calculus AB/BC, Chemistry, English Language and Composition, Environmental Science, Music Theory, Photography, Physics, Psychology, and US History.


Creativity can be found everywhere at Pacific Ridge. Students immerse themselves in the arts and benefit from the expertise of a talented and dedicated faculty. Beautiful, state-of-the-art facilities house artistic endeavors of all kinds and offer a hub for creativity and innovation on campus.

All seventh and eighth graders participate in a year-long Middle School Arts Program, gaining exposure to disciplines they may not have experienced before. Art forms explored include dance, graphic design and photography, theater, studio art, and music. Student performances are an important part of the middle school arts curriculum and take place throughout the year.

Upper School students have the option of taking year-long classes in the arts. More than 30 classes and multiple levels of instruction are offered, allowing students to explore disciplines in depth and achieve high levels of mastery.


The success of Pacific Ridges athletic program is grounded in the core values of commitment, community, integrity, respect, accountability, and passion. Centered around a belief that interscholastic athletic competition provides educational value and prepares students for a successful and purposeful life, the athletics program’s mission is to assist student- athletes in developing important physical, mental and emotional skills.

The Upper School fields teams in Baseball, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Club Ice Hockey (boys), Coed Cross Country, Coed Golf, Coed Surf Club, Coed Track & Field, Coed Water Polo, Lacrosse, Tennis, Soccer, Volleyball. The Middle School fields teams in Coed Cross Country, Flag Football, Basketball, Soccer, Lacrosse, Coed Tennis and Volleyball.

Pacific Ridge School’s 35,265 square foot, state-of-the art athletic facility is one of the largest high school athletic centers in San Diego.  The modern, mixed-use building accommodates not only athletic contests and sports training, but also school assemblies and informal meetings. Pacific Ridge is also home to a regulation-size artificial turf soccer and lacrosse field for hosting both interscholastic competitions and physical education classes. The field is flanked on one side by a 150 foot, 3-lane sprint practice track and elevated spectator seating.


Pacific Ridge offers students access to some 47 clubs and student organizations. From robotics to yoga, students have a chance to form bonds with peers and adults who share their areas of interest and take on leadership roles in an appropriate setting. Those especially eager to play an active role in the life of the school can run for positions in Student Council.


The new Executive Director of Development will be joining a relatively young school that has been remarkably successful in fundraising- raising more than $100M in its first 14 years. As recently as February 2021, the school successfully completed an $18 million comprehensive campaign that added a new Innovation Center & Library, established the schools nascent endowment, paid down nearly $2M in debt, and most importantly, broadened the donor base of leadership support of the School.

The Executive Director of Development reports to the Head of School and is charged with championing Pacific Ridge School’s mission by designing and implementing programs and strategies that foster productive and positive relationships between Pacific Ridge constituencies and the School. The Executive Director oversees all development and constituent relations activities and collaborates with the Head of School, senior leadership teams, and the Board of Trustees to create and successfully execute strategies consistent with the School’s mission and culture.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Lead the School in its efforts to develop and execute a sustainable, long-term fundraising program that will serve the school in 2022, 2032, and beyond.
  • Oversee all development and constituent relations at Pacific Ridge, including creating strategies and programs to expand and strengthen the School’s current base of financial support. Such strategies would include increasing Annual Fund dollars and participation, building the endowment, developing sustainable funding for scholarships, introducing planned giving, and preparing for future campaigns.
  • Serve as a strategic partner with the Head of School in identifying and cultivating relationships with high-capacity potential donors and growing the School’s culture of philanthropy by supporting the Head of School, trustees and volunteers in their targeted fundraising efforts.
  • Work closely with the Board of Trustees on matters relating to strategic planning, donor relations, trustee development, and fundraising campaigns. Collaborate with and keep the Head of School, Board Chair, and the Development Strategy Chair apprised of all fundraising activities.
  • Participate in the management and strategic vision of Pacific Ridge School as a member of the senior leadership team. Serve as a “thought partner” and sounding board to the Head of School.
  • Support and advocate for the School and its mission and be a visible presence in the community.
  • Promote the role of the Development Office within the School both by educating community members about how philanthropy is imbedded in the identity of independent schools and by maintaining a high level of involvement in the daily life of the School.
  • Integrate fundraising activities at the School into a coordinated platform, including those conducted by parents’ organizations, clubs or student groups.
  • Work collaboratively across the institution with admissions, communications, academics, athletics, and the business office.
  • Manage and motivate professional and volunteer staff to accomplish fundraising goals.
  • Monitor staffing structure and responsibilities, recruit new members as needed, ensure roles and responsibilities are aligned with individuals’ strengths and skillsets, supervise work and evaluate performance
  • Introduce new technology and systems where needed to creatively and effectively improve areas of work, including but not limited to constituent engagement and solicitation, database management, stewardship, and prospect research.
  • Prepare and oversee the department budget.


Pacific Ridge seeks an Executive Director of Development who is skilled, motivated, and eager to build a high-functioning Development Office. The successful candidate will be a natural leader and superior communicator who is well-versed in all aspects of fundraising in an educational setting.

The ideal candidate will offer the following qualifications:

  • Substantial experience in all key areas of fundraising, including annual and capital giving as well as constituent relations and donor cultivation.
  • Track record of creating and implementing strategies that enhance and strengthen an existing fundraising effort.
  • Strong familiarity with fundraising technology and database management.
  • Demonstrated ability to raise major gifts, coupled with an understanding of donor cultivation and gift solicitation.
  • Strong leadership, organizational and interpersonal skills, combined with an ability to set priorities and implement decisions in a timely fashion.
  • Proven track-record of successfully managing a staff.
  • Able to develop purposeful relationships with people from varying backgrounds within a variety of social settings.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to build a case for philanthropy with a wide range of constituents.
  • Bachelor’s degree required; CFRE or other certification and experience with an independent school a plus.

How To Apply


Application Deadline                          July 2, 2021

Semifinalist Interviews                       July 12-13, 2021

Finalist Visits                                       July | August 2021

Appointment                                        August 2021

Starting Date                                        August 2021


Wickenden, an affiliate of DRG Talent Advisory Group, is conducting this search on behalf of Pacific Ridge School. To discuss this opportunity in more detail, potential candidates may contact either of the lead consultants:

Jim Wickenden

DRG Principal & Wickenden Associates Founder

609.683.1355 (o)

Tani Weissman

Search Consultant

646.237.5955 (o)

Sarah Jones


646.237.5960 (o)

Candidates should submit as soon as possible and no later than Friday, July 2, 2021, an application package including the following:

  • A cover letter indicating why they are particularly interested in and qualified for the position.
  • A current résumé.
  • The names, email addresses, and telephone numbers of three references. (References should be submitted as a separate document, not as part of the résumé or cover letter. We will obtain permission from candidates before contacting references.)
  • Optional: Supporting material (e.g. articles, speeches, or other writing samples) that would be useful to the Search Committee.

Application materials should be uploaded directly on this page, by clicking the ‘Apply’ button.

After an initial review of applicants in early July, select candidates will be invited to interview with the search committee on July 12 and 13. Finalist candidates will be invited to Pacific Ridge shortly thereafter for a more comprehensive series of interviews with representatives of the school’s constituencies. A late summer announcement is anticipated. Wickenden/DRG will keep all applicants informed of their status throughout the process.

This position description is based upon material provided by Pacific Ridge School, an equal opportunity employer.

View printable opportunity statement here

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