WSO Menu

Promoting the enjoyment, study, and conservation of Wisconsin's birds.

WSO Seeks Executive Director

The Wisconsin Society for Ornithology (WSO) is pleased to announce we have begun a search for our first ever Executive Director. 

Who we are and what we do:

The WSO is the state's leading volunteer membership organization dedicated to promoting the enjoyment, study, and conservation of Wisconsin's birds.

The WSO seeks to hire an Executive Director (ED) to assist the Board of Directors further our mission. The ED will report to the Board and have strategic and operational responsibility for executing our mission, as well as oversight of volunteers, staff, and programs.

We believe that finding an accomplished professional to assist us in transforming into a more impactful and effective advocate for bird conservation, while increasing our representation across the state and within under-represented communities, is essential to our future.

Currently, the WSO operates through the efforts of volunteers working from their homes. The ED will also work out of a home office for the time being. However, it is expected that the ED will reside in the State of Wisconsin, and be able to commute to Madison, as well as our Honey Creek Property, on a semi-regular basis.

The WSO is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). All applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, veteran status, disability, or any other protected class. We have a firm policy of nondiscrimination and inclusion and are actively seeking a diverse pool of candidates for this position.

Roles & Responsibilities:


  • Work with the Board on developing/refining a strategic plan that supports our mission and annual goals to support that plan
  • Build upon, evaluate, and extend existing outreach programs to increase their effectiveness and efficiency. Ensure proper and periodic communication of these aspects of operations to the Board.
  • Assist the Board with the transition from operations to governance of a staffed organization by taking over operational ownership of staff committees, volunteer coordination, and other aspects of daily business and the communications/processes that govern them.
  • Develop and maintain an engaged board, assist with board recruitment processes, serve on board committees and seek/build board involvement with fundraising
  • Assist with management and future planning around our 372-acre Honey Creek Preserve
  • Other duties as assigned by the Board

Fundraising & Communications

  • Build and expand a fundraising program to improve revenue and capacity, including major gifts and grants to support programs and strategic plan objectives
  • Assist with donor engagement and communication, including the development of an annual report process that assists with fundraising
  • Deepen and refine all aspects of communications – from internal updates to web presence to external branding


  • Improve numbers and diversity of membership by developing programming to engage new audiences with our mission
  • Develop a robust process for establishing and maintaining volunteer opportunities to meet operational needs
  • Engage with members to improve volunteer capacity and allow for resilience in operations
  • Maintain existing and build new partnerships with other conservation organizations for a mutually beneficial impact
  • Oversee the newly established regional coordinator program throughout the state
  • Reignite the WSO’s Research mission by coordinating with avian conservation and ornithological experts throughout the state

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated passion for and experience with environmental conservation
  • 5+ years of progressively responsible leadership experience with a successful nonprofit organization
  • Proven fundraising and grant-writing success
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Experience working with a large volunteer corps
  • Bachelor's degree in a relevant field.
  • Demonstrable knowledge of birds and experience with avian conservation issues
  • Background of involvement and experience with birding and bird conservation communities in Wisconsin
  • Experience assisting a nonprofit successfully transition from a volunteer-run organization to one with paid staff
  • Experience with land management
  • Experience building relationships with diverse communities
  • Experience in supporting a strategic planning initiative
  • History of networking and building cooperative relationships with organizations with shared missions
  • Familiarity with software applications commonly used in the nonprofit sector
  • Ability to travel statewide as required
  • Excellent organizational and collaborative skills
  • Ability to work evenings, weekends, and offsite as needed

Salary and Benefits:

Competitive total compensation and benefits package in line with industry norms and commensurate with the successful candidate's experience.

How to Apply:

Send resume and cover letter to Application review will begin on Monday, August 9th, 2021. Employment offer subject to a background check.

Click here for a PDF version of this job description.