Tree Foundation of Kern

Executive Director

To direct day-to-day operations of an urban forestry advocacy program

Strong people skills, flexibility and the ability to focus on a goal are the hallmarks of the executive director who oversees the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit organization and carries out the objectives of a board of directors while holding firmly to the organization's mission statement.

Self-starters passionately devoted to their cause, executive directors rely on a wide range of skills and experience in their work. Networking, fundraising and written and verbal communication skills are essential to success in this often demanding position.

Although working in the nonprofit segment of the community, executive directors need all the skills required of any small business owner or manager including an understanding of sales and marketing.

A knowledge of trees is helpful but not essential as many directors learn more about urban forestry as they gain experience in their careers. The ability to motivate, organize and lead both staff and volunteers is a critical responsibility of the executive director.

"The work I do requires a clarity of purpose in order to focus on essential activities," said Ray Tretheway, executive director of the Sacramento Tree Foundation in California. It also demands "the know-how to inspire people to become involved in creating healthy communities and healthy urban forests."

Melissa Iger, executive director of the Tree Foundation of Kern, in Bakersfield, California said ultimately, the job is about "helping communities beautify their neighborhoods and achieve a balance with nature in an urban setting."

"I truly love being able to make a difference in our community each and every day", Iger says.

"I try hard to maximize the number of trees we can donate to communities, schools and parks. It is such a pleasure to help restore riparian areas as well as add to our urban forest.."  Executive directors thrive on diverse work responsibilities that include meetings, grant writing, administration and educational outreach. "No two days are the same," said Iger who says the job provides constant gratification. "If you love trees and the environment, get your foot in the door, learn more and just do it."

Flexibility, creativity and a sense of humor help Martha Ozonoff in her role as executive

director of a small nonprofit urban forestry organization in Davis, California. Ozonoff said her position covers "everything from project management to answering the phone."

"Working for a nonprofit organization is very rewarding," Ozonoff said. "You won't get rich, but you'll have fun."

Requires: 4 Year college degree

Salary: Salaries range from $30,000 to start. Larger foundations can pay $60,000 or more for experience.