Executive Director Position Profile
September 3, 2019
Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District
New Philadelphia, Ohio
The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (“MWCD”) is a political subdivision of the State of Ohio organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce the effects of flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses. The MWCD’s mission statement reads: “Responsible stewards dedicated to providing the benefits of flood reduction, conservation and recreation in the Muskingum River watershed.” The MWCD is a respected and valued leader, employer, provider and partner in flood reduction, conservation and recreation. MWCD’s recreation sites attract nearly 4 million visitors each year. The MWCD is organized pursuant to Chapter 6101 of the Ohio Revised Code.
The Muskingum Watershed covers more than 8,000 square miles and includes the area that drains into the Muskingum River and its tributaries, a system of 16 dams and 12 reservoirs provide flood reduction and water conservation benefits for the property owners and residents of the region. The MWCD owns 54,000 acres of land which includes 30,000 acres of forest which the District manages for conservation and income. The MWCD is the largest conservancy district in the State of Ohio and has been credited by the federal government with saving an estimated $10.7BB worth of potential damage from flooding since its original construction in the 1930s.
In partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers, the MWCD manages the reservoir areas behind the dams for conservation and recreation while the Corps owns and operates the dams for flood control. The MWCD also owns and operates a flood control system in its Chippewa Subdistrict in the counties of Medina and Wayne.
In 2018, MWCD had operating revenues of almost $32MM generated through recreation operations including owned marinas, royalty interests in both conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells, cottage site leases, and water sales. Non-operating revenues of $8.5MM in 2018 included intergovernmental grants, interest from investments and a maintenance assessment.
The organization is administered by a five-member board of directors. The Executive Director reports directly to the five-member board. The board of directors meets monthly. All meetings of the board of directors must be conducted in full compliance with the Ohio Sunshine Law. In addition, the organization has a three-member board of appraisers which meets as needed. The powers of the board of directors and board of appraisers are set forth in the Ohio Revised Code.
The organization’s 501(c)3 affiliate, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy Foundation, was incorporated in 2001 with the mission of providing financial resources to enhance facilities, programs and conversation efforts on or adjacent to Conservancy District lands and waters. The Foundation has an 11-member Board of Trustees, including the Executive Director.
The past several years has seen significant capital improvements of MWCD parks, campgrounds and marinas, based on reinvestment of revenue generated from the organization’s oil and gas stewardship program. Over $34MM in capital improvements were completed in 2018, representing a near completion of Phase I projects totaling $130MM. Plans for Phase II projects totaling $65MM began in 2019 and are continuing.
The MWCD political jurisdiction includes all or portions of the following 18 counties: Ashland, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Guernsey, Holmes, Harrison, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Richland, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas, Wayne and Washington.
The Ohio Revised Code provides that the Conservancy Court, comprised of one common pleas court judge from each of the 18 counties in the Conservancy District, shall exercise the jurisdiction conferred by the Conservancy Act. Members of the MWCD Board of Directors and Board of Appraisers are appointed by the judges of the Conservancy Court to oversee the operations of the District.
John Hoopingarner has served as MWCD’s Executive Director since 1989 and plans to retire in May of 2020. As a result, the Board of Directors has launched a national executive search to identify his successor.
More information: www.mwcd.org
The Executive Director’s office is based in the organization’s Administration building at 1319 Third Street NW, New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663; telephone 330.343.6647.
Reporting to the 5-member appointed MWCD Board of Directors, the Executive Director directly supervises: Chief of Conservation, Chief Engineer, Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer, Chief Legal Counsel, Chief of Recreation/Chief Ranger, Director of Human Resources, Development Coordinator and Executive Assistant. The MWCD total staff includes approximately 115 full-time employees, 40 part time/variable hour employees and 145 seasonal employees.
Other important relationships include: local, regional and state government officials including the Conservancy Court, officers and staff of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; staff of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and other state agencies; professional associations; vendors and suppliers; civic leaders; the education and business community; the public at large.
Directly responsible to the Board of Directors in accordance with MWCD bylaws, the Executive Director serves as the chief executive officer of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District and performs the responsibilities of Secretary as prescribed by law under the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6101. The Executive Director has oversight responsibility for the effective and efficient operation of the organization ensuring enhanced services and facilities are offered to the general public. The ED is responsible for providing inspirational staff leadership and professional development, and fiscal management in accordance with the organization’s mission, vision, values and goals. This Executive Director works with the Board and staff to create and implement long-range strategic planning initiatives designed to enhance the MWCD and assure operational and service continuity and safe facilities which benefit the public and are in compliance with all applicable statutes and regulations.
Major Duties and Responsibilities:
• Effectively supervise assigned employees through planning, organizing and prioritizing work assignments. Effectively communicates and instills teamwork among assigned employees through staff meetings, written communications and scheduled work review sessions. Encourages a consistent flow of communications in a manner that will assure a clear understanding of District needs and issues, promoting sound teamwork and problem resolution. Serves as the organization’s authority to hire, discipline or discharge staff. Identify and develop future leadership within the organization.
• Oversee development and revision of operational policies, personnel policies and rules and regulations for approval by the Board of Directors, as required, and oversee implementation of same.
• Maintain knowledge of all legislative matters which affect the MWCD and plan accordingly.
• Responsible for annual goal setting that supports the Board approved strategic plan and correlates planning with annual operating budgets. Develop and monitor strategies for ensuring the long-term financial viability of the organization.
• Promote a culture that reflects the MWCD's vision, mission and values and encourages excellent performance.
• In cooperation with the Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer, formulate and recommend to the Board both annual and long-range budget plans, including operational, capital (recreation improvement), and assessment budgets. Prudently manage the organization's resources within budget guidelines according to current laws and regulations. Work with the Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer to ensure that an adequate system of financial controls is in place and effectively managed.
• Oversee the MWCD marketing and public relations strategies. May serve as the spokesperson to the public, government agencies, other conservancy districts and other interested parties in order to maintain public good will through a process of open communication. Establish and develop strategic partnerships. Ensure that the organization and its vision, mission, values, programs and services are consistently presented in a strong, positive image to all stakeholders. Actively advocate for the MWCD, its core values, mission, and goals, and its programs. Act as a liaison with the community, building relationships with peer organizations when appropriate. Represent the MWCD, as appropriate, before legislative committees and among state and national peer organizations.
• Oversee design, delivery, and quality of programs, facilities and services. Stay abreast of current and future trends related to the MWCD's programs and services. Oversee measurement of the success of the MWCD’s programs and services; direct the refining or changing of programs and services in response to that information.
• Ensure that board meetings are consistently held in compliance with Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6101 and serve as the MWCD’s liaison to the Board of Directors at and outside of Board meetings. Ensure the proper and safe recording and storage of Board proceedings/records. Advise the Board of Directors on all appropriate matters, including matters of significance, emergency or concern. Work with the Board on the overall strategic direction of the organization, including regular updating of the strategic plan. Ensure that Conservancy Court is held annually and oversees the preparation and submission of the annual report of operations.
• Actively participate in public relations activities and civic affairs as a representative of the MWCD. Regularly meet with government officials, partnering agencies, community leaders and others to further the vision, mission, values and goals of the MWCD, including contact with representatives of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, law enforcement officials and legislators.
• Other duties as assigned by the Board of Directors.
This position requires regular but planned travel throughout the Conservancy District to connect with MWCD staff and other constituents. The Executive Director will also make periodic trips to Ohio’s capital city of Columbus, and Huntington, West Virginia to meet with public officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Executive Director is expected to earn an attractive compensation package; appropriate benefits and some relocation assistance will be provided.
A Bachelor’s degree is required, and an advanced degree is strongly preferred. Academic preparation in the natural sciences, environmental studies and related fields is preferred.
The ideal candidate must have a proven track record of success and will have led a complex organization through periods of positive growth and change. This individual will have at least eight years management experience likely with a large, complex park and recreation agency, conservation-focused organization and may currently be serving as the top executive of a comparably sized organization or equally complex smaller one. Alternatively, this individual may have experience as a “number 2” or other senior-level executive at a larger like enterprise as noted above. Additionally, senior level executives from complex for-profit, education, or nonprofit concerns are encouraged. The successful candidate must have the demonstrated ability to manage financial affairs of an organization; i.e., develop or enhance revenue sources; experience managing budgets of at least $10MM and controlling expenditures to preserve financial stability and growth.
Preferred Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Attributes:
• Demonstrated participative management style; visible and accessible to employees.
• Able to work with a Board dedicated to flood reduction, conservation, recreation, excellence and long-term enhancement of the Conservancy District.
• Ability to lead the District toward a more comprehensive approach to the natural environment and systems in accomplishing flood reduction, conservation and recreation.
• An able spokesperson attuned to the need for excellent community relations and business relations.
• Ability to develop and maintain effective working relationships with stakeholders, including employees, the general public, legislators and partnering agencies.
• Ability to speak and write clearly, concisely and persuasively using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation with ability to communicate one-on-one or in group settings.
• Ability to perform work with a high degree of accuracy and organization.
• Management skills and strong business acumen, including problem solving, vision, ability to manage multiple programs and meet deadlines, collaboration, leadership, decision making and ability to analyze diverse facts and develop clear and concise reports and recommendations.
• Must be prepared to work flexible schedule, including evenings, weekends, and/or holidays as required.
• Regular and predictable attendance is expected and required.
• Ability to work cooperatively with others.
• Professional attitude and considerable discretion, including ability to manage confidential information.
Desired Competencies of the Successful Candidate:
Leadership: A strong, dynamic leader who takes initiative and gets things done; a strategic thinker who is able to transform vision and ideas into concrete and high impact programs; has led an organization through a period of positive growth and change; possesses a leadership style that is direct and decisive, yet also empowers and encourages others to take initiative; recognizes staff for their accomplishments and provide feedback concerning performance; available, approachable and open to ideas from all team members.
Financial Management: A high level of financial literacy and good business judgment; experience establishing and managing to budgets, including management of capital projects.
Communication: Excellent communication skills; able to articulate the mission of the organization to diverse audiences and able to rally people around a vision; interacts effectively one-on-one and with small groups, as well as successfully delivering formal presentations to large audiences.
Visioning: A forward thinker, able to envision and articulate that vision beyond daily operations and lead an organization toward strategic goals and ideas.
Analytical: Able to evaluate issues and problems quickly, able to identify root causes, develop and implement practical solutions.
Decision Making: Demonstrates good judgment and able to defend position appropriately; carefully assesses facts of a situation and weighs alternatives before making a timely decision.
Presence: Possesses social skills required to deal with visitors, elected officials and professional colleagues.
Passion for the Mission: A passion around the environment, the balance of conservation and recreation and the practical and economic value of flood reduction.
Team Building: Ability to remain flexible and creative in a challenging work environment while maintaining a sense of humor; possesses the demonstrated ability to recruit and develop a leadership team that works in an integrated way to achieve major goals; provides earned recognition through a variety of means and encourages working together toward common goals.
Character: Demonstrates honesty and integrity beyond reproach; a problem-solver who is well-organized and remains calm under pressure; possesses a drive for excellence and innovation and will encourage entrepreneurial thinking throughout the organization; has a mature, healthy sense of self-assurance and able to listen to alternative methods for reaching goals.
Challenges and Opportunity
The projected first year accomplishments and projects for the new Executive Director of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District include:
• Establish presence as MWCD’s Executive Director and become completely familiar with all operating aspects of the organization including staff, recreation facilities, conservation areas and managed properties, flood mitigation efforts, finances, programs, Board members and committed volunteers.
• Form effective working relationships with key municipal, county, state and national government leaders, Corps of Engineers, business owners and corporate executives, economic, community and tourism partner organizations, and other entities through varied communications and in-person gatherings and meetings, thereby developing strong and trusting relationships with key constituencies.
• Evaluate all aspects of the MWCD internal operations to include finances and budgets, programs, events, written materials and publications, website and forms of communication to the community.
• Evaluate current staff relative to needs of the organization and re-align roles and/or make changes if necessary.
• Secure full confidence of staff in understanding of MWCD’s’ mission and motivation to move the organization in intended direction.
The Executive Director position of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District is an outstanding opportunity to lead a successful conservancy district in a challenging and changing regional community. While the MWCD has grown significantly since 1933 and most notably during the last decade, the future success will likely be marked by increased usage of MWCD land and facilities, an emphasis on connecting people with nature, and managing more opportunistic growth. The new Executive Director will inherit a motivated staff who bring experience and enthusiasm to their roles. The MWCD is on solid financial ground based in part on royalty interests from conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells and maintenance assessments on property owners but the identification of alternative revenue sources will continue to be important.
We fully respect the need for confidentiality of information supplied by interested parties; however, prospective candidates should be aware that any applications or resumes submitted for this opportunity are subject to the Ohio Public Records Act and may be disclosed. Reference contacts will not be made until mutual interest has been established. The client organization we represent, and WAVERLY PARTNERS firmly support the principle and philosophy of equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of race, religion, sex, age, national origin or disability.
Interested candidates should contact either consultant at WAVERLY PARTNERS, the executive search firm retained by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District on this search, or email:
Heidi G. Milosovic Eric N. Peterson
Managing Director & Principal Managing Director & Principal
WAVERLY PARTNERS WAVERLY PARTNERS
O: 440-355-6629; C: 216.387.0832 O: 440.892.5961; C: 440.463.0988
« Back to News