The Organization – Willamette Falls Trust
Established in 2015, Willamette Falls Trust’s mission is to champion and sustain an exceptional Willamette Falls experience that offers year-round connection to the grandeur of the Falls, historic and cultural interpretation, healthy habitat, public open spaces, and elevates Tribal voices and interests in the Falls and its waterway. As the continent’s second-largest waterfall by volume, Willamette Falls is a place where multiple histories and cultures converge. For millennia, Native peoples have fished salmon and lamprey from the Willamette River and gathered foods and materials from its shores. Twentieth-century industrialization that vitalized the regional economy at Willamette Falls created serious ecological and cultural damage to the area, limiting the domestic resources relied on by Native peoples and early settlers.
In February 2023, Willamette Falls Trust was accepted into the High Line Network, a nationwide community of non-profit leaders redefining public spaces. Today, Willamette Falls Trust is guiding the way to create public access for everyone at the Falls. They are achieving this through inclusive, collaborative efforts with their many partners, including delegated representatives from the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. These official tribal representatives lead through the Trust’s Tribal Leadership Committee to bring healing to this place of power.
Willamette Falls Trust is proud of its focused collaborative efforts and strong commitment to public access, which includes restoration advocacy, deep community engagement, and the promise that all future generations will have a meaningful connection to Willamette Falls.
Rooted in years of culturally responsive community engagement and the perspectives and leadership of the Tribes connected to the Falls, the Trust believes the following four values are central to systemic change that can heal its land, water, and people:
- Multi-generational Impact
- National Level Leadership
- Environmental Justice and Restoration
Inter-Tribal Public Access Project
Willamette Falls Trust, governed by collaborative inter-Tribal leadership, has signed an agreement with Portland General Electric (“PGE”) as a first step to explore restoring public access at Willamette Falls. The vision of the Willamette Falls Inter-Tribal Public Access Project is to honor the history and practice of native peoples and create a shared public space informed by Indigenous-led design. This potential project includes cultural programming, restorative pathways, native plants, first foods and medicines, and gathering areas for many communities. Further, the Trust brings together multiple communities across different cultures and lifeways, with the expertise to ensure that this project will be culturally, environmentally, and economically sustainable for future generations.
The agreement between Willamette Falls Trust and PGE enables the trust to assess a portion of PGE property on the west side of Willamette Falls for a project intended to return public access to a place of deep spiritual, cultural, and historical connection for the region. The Trust is working with public and private partners to raise funds needed to create meaningful public access to the Falls. To date, the Trust has raised over $15 million in contributions and pledges, and $32 million in public funding has been earmarked for a public access project at the Falls.
Willamette Falls Trust is forging a path forward and creating a model for how public spaces not only acknowledge and honor Tribes as stewards of the land for millennia but are led by multiple Tribes and their profound wisdom and perspectives. Inter-Tribal collaboration is leading the way for its unprecedented public project, as many Tribal histories and lifeways come together at Willamette Falls and the region to which it is connected. The Indigenous people’s inherency to the lands they have long stewarded is protected by cultural connection, reserved Treaty rights, and sacred fishing and gathering at the Falls.
The Trust honors the Tribes’ sovereignty, acknowledges their autonomy as independent nations, and shares decision-making power for better public service and livable earth, which means including Indigenous voices. The Tribal Leadership Committee is an inclusive Inter-Tribal group for delegates from Tribal nations and Indigenous communities to come together and build a collective vision for Native leadership in shaping public projects in the greater Willamette Falls area. The Trust also has the honor of working day-to-day with Tribal Partner Technical Staff from each of their member Tribes and finds this collaboration to be instrumental in their ongoing efforts in relationship-building and Inter-Tribal collaboration.
In Fall 2019, the Trust formally requested Tribal representation to be appointed to the Willamette Falls Trust Board of Directors to guide the organization and support their philanthropic and programming visions. Its goal was to honor and elevate the Tribal nations that have stewarded the land since time immemorial. As of January 2024, the Trust has expanded its board with representatives of four Tribes. Currently, their Tribal Leadership is composed of representatives from Yakama Nation, Siletz Indians, Umatilla, and Warm Springs, with seats held for other nations with an interest at Willamette Falls, including a seat held for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Nez Perce Tribes.
Willamette Falls Trust (the “Trust”) is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a perpetual year-round experience at Willamette Falls that will ground public connection to the natural landmark, the second-largest waterfall in North America. Its mission includes providing historical and cultural interpretation, restoring and maintaining a healthy habitat, creating public open spaces, and amplifying Tribal voices and interests in the Falls and its waterway. Their project, the Willamette Falls Inter-Tribal Public Access Project, aims to create spaces for the public to gather near the Falls and to elevate Tribal voices through historic and cultural interpretation, restoring a healthy habitat, providing open public spaces, and showcasing the Falls and its waterway in their entirety.
In support of its mission, Willamette Falls Trust seeks an experienced, results-and-mission-driven, and culturally-adept President to lead the organization through its next phase of work and turning point. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the next President will oversee all activities conducted by the Trust by working and collaborating closely with Trust staff and board, Tribal partners, donors, and key constituencies. The ideal candidate has professional experience as an executive leader and/or President and will have strong experience in rapid-growth settings, with a preference for experience in non-profits that work on behalf of communities of color that rely on philanthropic support, along with strong fundraising skills and working knowledge of tribes and tribal organizations. This is an exciting opportunity for the next President to translate their experience into building a successful public-private coalition to fund and develop a large-scale public access project.
YOUR OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPACT
The President will join a talented and dedicated team of 6 – 20 FTEs. He/she/they will oversee all activities conducted by the Trust, preparing the organization for a multi-million-dollar campaign to fund a public-access large-scale development project at the Falls by collaborating closely with Tribal, public, and private partners to build a shared vision for public access with Trust staff and board, organizing partners, funders, and contract management. They will bring the cultural sensitivity and technical and managerial sophistication needed to succeed in a high-profile, high-growth, complex environment with multiple Tribal and public partners. The President will engage in the following leadership opportunities:
Leadership & Management
- Build and promote a shared vision for public access at Willamette Falls that represents a broad collation of Tribes, public entities, private businesses, and interest groups.
- Lead and orchestrate an effort that raises the Willamette Falls Trust project from regional recognition to a national prominence.
- Lead strategic planning that advances mission by coordinating culturally-responsive project execution in an adaptive, high-growth environment.
- Build a strong institutional structure to transition Willamette Falls Trust from a regional project to a Tribal-led professional and efficient public access fundraising and programming organization of national stature.
- Develop, maintain, and support a strong Board of Directors and Campaign Cabinet.
- Build, develop, and support a staff team and culture to execute the organizational mission and project vision.
- Work closely with senior staff leadership to ensure close collaboration with Tribal partners, fundraising success, and operational excellence.
- Create and implement Willamette Fall Trust policies as approved by the Board of Directors.
Fundraising & Resource Development
- Set vision and strategy for resource development that advances the mission.
- Oversee impeccable execution of fundraising practice; develop policies and procedures to assure reliability across institutional systems.
- Leverage the relationships and expertise of Board members for donor relations and fundraising endeavors.
- Secure operational resources and contracts to support staffing levels, quality facilities, and necessary supplies.
- Work closely with the Director of Development and participate in a high-level, visible, impactful fundraising strategy that will include a major capital campaign and beyond.
- Provide updates, reports, and briefings to key constituencies, including board and campaign volunteers, staff leadership, and project and campaign contractors.
- Work with contractors, partners, and leadership staff to deepen and refine all aspects of communications with the goal of creating a stronger national brand.
Operational Governance & Financial Stewardship
- Provide sound fiscal and administrative oversight of the organization’s fiduciary responsibilities and financial investments.
- Oversee the creation and administration of the annual operational budgets; oversee the creation of multi-year campaign budgets; regularly monitor expenses; oversee annual audit.
- Ensure compliance with all applicable laws and fire and life safety regulations.
- Ensure ongoing adherence to best-practice procurement, monitoring, and implementation of contracts.
- Manage investments under the direction of the board Finance Committee; manage accounts payable; review all operational invoices and ensure they are submitted for payment.
- Ensure a culturally-responsive and people-centered approach that inspires a high-functioning team.
Board Relations & Governance
- Partner with the board to build board capacity to support the Trust’s next era of work and growth, leveraging experiences, Tribal representation, and relationships to identify future board members.
- Encourage board engagement to identify key sources of partnership and funding and opportunities for continued organizational growth.
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
The President will have a strong connection and abiding commitment to working with Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities and a deep interest in environmental protection and natural resources stewardship. This role requires a strong analysis and understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion, systematic oppression, and the implementation of effective systems that counter this oppression, in addition to demonstrated success leading multi-million fundraising campaigns in excess of $10M.
While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
- Minimum of 5+ years of executive leadership experience required; 10+ years preferred.
- Lived and professional experience working with diverse populations, especially Indigenous communities, including familiarity with Tribal history and culture; knowledge of Tribes and Tribal organizations.
- Proven $10M+ campaign success along with proven work experience as Executive Director, CEO, or similar leadership role in a $3M+ organization with 10+ FTE.
- BA or equivalent experience; Degree in Business, Operations Management, or related field.
- Demonstrated track record and experience raising significant fundraising investments from public and private sources, including government agencies, community organizations, individuals, and foundations.
- Collaborative, adaptable, and innovative approach to organizational development.
- Superior written, verbal, and presentation skills to effectively communicate with all levels within the organization, external partners, funders, the public, and the media; a persuasive and passionate communicator.
- Highly relational, with the ability to work effectively in collaboration with diverse groups of people while understanding and navigating complex political dynamics/landscapes.
- Demonstrated passion for the Trust’s mission, idealism, integrity, positive attitude, mission-driven, and self-directed.
- High tolerance for ambiguity, changing work priorities and deadlines, and a willingness to take on responsibilities and prioritize work on multiple projects.
- Commitment to and understanding of culturally relevant practices.
- Highly detail-focused and results-oriented, with excellent organizational, planning, and implementation skills.
- Flexible with a high tolerance for ambiguity, possesses a team-player attitude and a strong customer-service orientation, with the capacity to maintain an optimistic outlook, bringing a sense of humor, integrity, and patience to the work.
- Highly proficient in Microsoft Office suite.
- A collaborative and self-reflective leadership style that values staff contributions and experiences, builds trust, features clear communication, and is comfortable making and being accountable for key decisions.
- Ability to pass a criminal background check.
Willamette Falls Trust particularly invites candidates with the following preferred attributes to apply:
- Significant experience with Indigenous and ethnic/culturally diverse communities.
- Experience with public-private partnerships.
- Experience in government affairs, philanthropy, and/or capital campaigns.
- Experienced and conversant in fundraising techniques and best practices, particularly involving the philanthropic sector.
- Familiarity with the Bloomerang platform.
How To Apply
More information about the Willamette Falls Trust may be found at: www.willamettefallstrust.org.
This full-time, exempt role offers a competitive salary range of $200,000 – $225,000 depending on experience and a strong benefits package, including medical, dental, 401(k) retirement plan, paid vacation, and flexible paid holidays. A balance of remote and office-based work is an option.
Working Conditions: The Trust works within a hybrid work model based out of the Portland Oregon Metro Area. Occasional evening or weekend work is required to carry out events and meetings. Occasional travel is required largely within the region (Oregon and southwest Washington) to participate in and facilitate partner meetings, donor meetings, events, and professional development training. Work can be fast-paced with multiple projects and objectives in motion and will sometimes require moderate physical activity. Some activities may require moving up to 50 lbs.
This search is being conducted by Julian Jackson and Alejandra Villa of the national search firm NPAG. Candidates may submit their cover letter outlining their interest and qualifications, along with their resume, via NPAG’s website.
Willamette Falls Trust is committed to its work in improving its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and fostering an environment where all people are welcome. We encourage applications from a diverse pool of applicants. Willamette Falls Trust provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.