Old Lyme, Connecticut

Chief Development Officer, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.

The Organization

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc. (High Hopes) is one of the oldest and largest therapeutic riding centers in the United States and has premier accreditation status from the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International (PATH, Intl). Founded in 1974, High Hopes has grown into a 120-acre facility with a herd of 20 therapy horses, 18 staff members, and more than 400 volunteers. The center operates year-round, six days per week with both indoor and outdoor riding facilities and an extensive sensory trail.

High Hopes’ mission is to foster a vibrant community where horse and human interactions improve lives. The challenges participants face include muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, visual and hearing impairments, emotional and social behavior disorders, and traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. High Hopes participants’ ages range from 3 to 77 years and come from 65 towns throughout Connecticut.

All High Hopes programs have individualized, targeted, and attainable goals, and range from therapeutic riding to carriage driving to horse care and management to a range of specialty programs including summer camps and veteran’s programs, depending on participants needs, interests, and disabilities. Participation benefits include improved balance, mobility, coordination, and physical strength and, just as importantly, the fostering of appropriate behavior, confidence, and self-esteem. High Hopes emphasizes educational and outreach programs and collaborative partnerships to enable wide-spread participation.

Recent High Hopes accomplishments include:

  • In Fiscal Year 2020, High Hopes served 1,365 individuals with more than 7,000 horsemanship lessons and program hours. The center’s 441 volunteers provided more than 13,056 service hours.
  • High Hopes’ Veterans Program is a peer-to-peer initiative that serves veterans wherever they are on their journey from deployment and/or combat back to life at home, and assists them in that transition. In 2017, High Hopes also initiated VetKids for children of veterans and active-duty service members. The Veterans Program has served over 150 veterans and their family members.
  • The Connecticut Department of Agriculture recognizes High Hopes as a Farm of Environmental Distinction.

Position Overview

Reporting to the Executive Director, the Chief Development Officer (CDO) is responsible for the design, structure, and implementation of a comprehensive, strategic fundraising program in support of High Hopes’ mission and vision for the future, inclusive of the following areas: annual appeal, individual and institutional major gifts, corporate sponsorship, planned gifts, special events, donor discovery, stewardship, and development operations. The CDO will collaborate with the Executive Director and Board leaders, among others, to build a sustainable culture of philanthropy throughout the organization. The CDO will leverage tremendous local and regional support for High Hopes, historically manifesting via lower-level/annual gifts and special events, to drive the continued evolution of a sophisticated, strategic major gifts program and more balanced, diversified overall development program. Other key areas of opportunity include the following: in partnership with the Executive Director, support the Board of Trustees in augmenting its governance role by driving High Hopes’ philanthropic culture, including future Board development; examine and, as appropriate, pursue individual and institutional funding on a national scale, capitalizing on High Hopes’ positioning as one of the preeminent therapeutic riding organizations in the country to broaden the donor base. The CDO oversees two staff, the Events Manager and Development Coordinator, and works closely with High Hopes external marketing and communications consultants.

While High Hopes will consider a broad range of backgrounds, the ideal candidate will have the following qualifications/experience:

  • Commitment to High Hopes’ mission and the ability to authentically engage and inspire others as a senior representative of the organization.
  • Eight or more years of progressively responsible experience in nonprofit development, with an emphasis on major gifts fundraising. Experience across the broader areas of individual and institutional giving, inclusive of annual fund, grants, corporate sponsorship, planned giving, events, stewardship, development operations, and leadership in a major fundraising campaign.
  • Two or more years of experience managing a development team. The ability to lead, recruit, evaluate, and develop a team of professionals and contribute to the ongoing fostering of a high-functioning, results-oriented workforce. Demonstrated success in change management and in setting and exceeding philanthropic goals.
  • Knowledge of and fundamental adherence to the principles, ethics, and best practices of modern fundraising, including the integration of various giving programs to diversify the funding base and cultivate greater donor commitments.
  • Demonstrated success in developing a strong and winning case for support and in making strategic, innovative fundraising plans, and executing those plans to grow fundraising and exceed goals. Demonstrated experience cultivating, training, building relationships with, and working in collaboration with senior administrators, staff, and volunteer leaders on development-related activities, providing them with quality support and intelligence and increasing their comfort with and success in fundraising.
  • Successful track record of personally identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major gifts from individual and institutional donors at the level of five to six-figures and greater.
  • A forward thinker with a track record of utilizing new methods of constituent engagement and connectivity, who will be driven by innovation in developing advancement best practices in the current and post-COVID-19 world.
  • The ability to extract and analyze data to make effective, efficient decisions about donor strategy and process. Working knowledge of modern data management practices and innovations that can streamline development processes and contribute to the integration of related functions.

High Hopes is firmly committed to equal employment and advancement opportunities for all present employees as well as for applicants in all phases of the employment process. Employees are hired based solely on High Hopes’ personnel requirements and the qualifications of each individual candidate. High Hopes requires individual employment decisions be based on that individual’s performance, qualifications, and abilities. High Hopes does not permit and will not tolerate discrimination in employment opportunities or practices on the basis of age, ancestry, color, genetic information, learning disability, marital status, mental disorder, intellectual disability, national origin, physical disability, race, religious creed, sex (including pregnancy and sexual harassment), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other protected classification specified by applicable law. All employees will be afforded equal employment opportunities in all employment practices, including hiring, promotion, demotion, transfer, recruitment and assignment, conditions of employment, layoff, discipline, termination, compensation, benefits and training.

Therefore, except in cases of bona fide occupational qualification or need, High Hopes will act without regard to harassment, and/or retaliation due to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic predisposition or carrier status, national origin or ancestry, disability, veteran status or any other class or status protected by applicable federal, state, or local law in all aspects of the employment process and relationship. We will comply with the spirit and letter of all local, state, and federal laws pertaining to employment. This policy is based on the understanding that the applicant is able to handle the job requirements, with or without reasonable accommodations.

How To Apply

High Hopes has retained the Diversified Search Group to assist in this confidential search process. Inquiries, nominations, and applications (current resumes and cover letters) should be directed electronically to:

Gerard F. Cattie, Jr.
Managing Director
Fundraising & Advancement Practice Leader
Diversified Search Group
The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue, 49th Floor, New York, New York 10174
gerard.cattie@divsearch.com | 212.542.2587

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