Job Openings

Yerkes Observatory Executive Director Position Description

The Executive Director of Yerkes Observatory provides vision, leadership and management to ensure the organization fulfills its mission and achieves its goals for excellence, education and public engagement.

Key responsibilities include:

  • Leadership of organization. Provides full oversight of all aspects of the organization, including fundraising, finance, administration, marketing, community presence, operations and property management, education programs, tours, rental activities, as well as the organizational structure and personnel to maintain the facility.
  • Fundraising. In concert with the Board of Directors, the Executive Director acts as the fundraising leader including identification, cultivation, and solicitation of gifts for the annual fund, endowment, capital campaigns, special projects and events. The Executive Director gives guidance, support, and impetus to the fundraising efforts of the Board and monitors stewardship of gifts and corporate sponsorships.
  • Education. Supervises/collaborates with the primary Education/Science person to develop programming rich in content with forward thinking methodology. Education also includes programs for local, national and international purposes, seminars and speakers, encouragement of various colleges and universities to participate in collaborations and any other noteworthy ideas which will bring Yerkes Observatory back into the main of science education.
  • Financial Management. Directly responsible for the development of the annual operating budget performance to consistently meet/exceed goals for earned and contributed income.

Candidate Profile

The position requires an experienced individual with a record of leading a not-for-profit organization or for-profit business.

The candidate’s credentials:

  • A minimum of three years not-for-profit leadership or commensurate for-profit business experience.
  • A master’s degree or a combination of strong skills and a bachelor’s degree. A concentration in some area of science, including but not limited to astronomy, is not a requirement but will be beneficial. An appreciation of the sciences is expected.
  • Solid fundraiser committed to devoting significant time and energy to donor cultivation, solicitation and stewardship locally and nationally. Possesses the stature, presence and personality to build/retain relationships in all settings. Grant writing experience is a plus.
  • Strong communication skills. Confident persuasive presenter to key constituents as well as one-on-one.
  • Strong strategic/problem solving skills and expansive/entrepreneurial thinker. Ability to prioritize and adapt to growth and change.
  • Financially literate with ability to develop/balance budgets and to annually achieve goals.
  • Comfortable working cross-functionally. Able to form productive working relationships with key constituencies including donors, staff, external organizations and the media (including social media).
  • Experience in facilities management is helpful.

Additional Information about Yerkes Observatory

The Executive Director will need to form an employee team—full time, part time and volunteer—to achieve a smooth-running organization. Currently the sole employee at the Observatory is the Director of Buildings and Grounds. The transfer of ownership created a blank slate for establishing both a profile of what Yerkes Observatory can become and the type of individual who will function successfully in a “start-up” situation. The learning curve will be steep.

The Board of Directors has managed all aspects of the transfer and has developed a needs profile for work on the buildings and telescopes. The Board anticipates extensive fundraising efforts and a broad-based work plan for at least three years. The Board is committed to supporting the new Executive Director but expects a self-starter who does not require nor expect micro managing.

Submission of Information

Interested candidates may submit a cover letter, resume or curriculum vitae and contact information to:

Yerkes Future Foundation

PO Box 346

Williams Bay, WI 53191

Or through:

Attention: Dianna Colman, Chair YFF