Executive Director

High Country News (flexible, Western U.S.)

Posted 2 years ago

About HCN

High Country News is the nation’s leading independent source of reporting on the American West. Established in 1970, High Country News publishes a twice-monthly award-winning magazine and a popular website, along with special reports, books, and occasional audio programming. A nonprofit 501(c)3 independent media organization, High Country News’ mission is to inform and inspire people to act on behalf of the West’s diverse natural and human communities.  From Alaska and the Northern Rockies to the desert Southwest, from the Great Plains to the West Coast, High Country News covers 12 Western states and is a well-established, much-loved source for regional environmental news, analysis, and commentary – an essential resource for those who care about this region. Through in-depth reporting, High Country News covers the West’s public lands, water, natural resources, grazing, wildlife, logging, politics, communities, diverse populations, growth, and other issues now changing the face of the nation’s fastest growing region.

High Country News’ commitment to environmental stewardship, diversity, and social responsibility give an added resonance to our unique Western voice, through journalism that goes well beyond what other regional media outlets do. High Country News strives to inspire and engage readers to expand their own perspectives, reach out across differences, and accept the challenge of new stories and new ideas and many viewpoints.

High Country News has received numerous national journalism awards and has been described by the Los Angeles Times as “the most influential environmental journal in the Mountain West.”

High Country News’ independent research and unique voice are supported largely by its devoted readership through subscriptions and contributions to the Research Fund, with additional grant support, advertising, and syndication sales. The print and online magazine have more than 36,000 loyal subscribers, including policymakers, educators, public land managers, environmental professionals, outdoor enthusiasts, and thousands of other people who care about the West. The website attracts nearly 400,000 sessions each month, and the online archives are unusually deep, from the first issue in 1970 to today. High Country News also works with a variety of partners, such as the Climate Desk with The Atlantic, to expand the coverage of nationally important Western issues while pooling resources and attracting larger readership, and has worked with news outlets and organizations such as the BBC, Buzzfeed, Grist, and the University of Montana School of Journalism to produce stories.

High Country News has been based in Paonia, Colorado, for the last 38 years, with a new satellite editorial office in Gunnison, Colorado. Its $3.9 million budget supports three desks – North, South, and tribal – and a broad network of approximately 40 staff and freelance journalists, including correspondents, editorial fellows and paid interns, editors, and other staff. High Country News’ journalists strive for mastery of the narrative form, with reporting that inspires its audience and connects readers to the people at the heart of every story. With the decline in local newspapers leaving news deserts across the nation, High Country News’ relevance is sharper than ever. In a time of media fragmentation and polarizing sound bites, readers come to High Country News for fact-based, independent journalism and civil conversation across diverse perspectives. High Country News’ content can be found in the bi-monthly print publication, on the internet, mobile devices, in archives of past podcasts, and other evolving platforms.

High Country News now seeks an Executive Director to advance its mission, grow its audience and influence, and strategically and sustainably guide the organization through a rapidly evolving and dynamic media landscape.

For more information on High Country News, please visit www.hcn.org.

The Executive Director Opportunity

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the next Executive Director of High Country News will lead the growth of a diverse organization’s reach, relevance, and revenue while delivering on its mission and impact. Joining High Country News as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2020, the Executive Director will oversee expanding audiences, deepening funding relationships, and strengthening organizational capacity to create and deliver high-quality journalism across a growing range of platforms, expanding into digital and new media opportunities.

As a key external representative, the Executive Director will promote High Country News as a thought leader on Western issues through speaking activities and participation in professional gatherings, especially those related to non-profit journalism and the key environmental and social issues facing the West. They will lead and develop staff to grow and enhance external relationships and promote a diverse, inclusive, creative, entrepreneurial, and results-focused organizational culture. The Executive Director will supervise the senior management team, overseeing and providing strategic direction for all activities of High Country News, including editorial, fundraising, marketing, customer relations, human resources, and finance.

As the chief steward of HCN’s mission, strategy and business, the Executive Director will engage the support, enthusiasm, and trust of existing and new supporters.

The Executive Director will partner with the senior team to establish and oversee the vision and direction for HCN’s journalism, digital innovation, multiplatform services and events. As a media leader in the American West, they will affirm and grow HCN’s place in the media landscape to keep HCN relevant, resilient, and far-reaching.

Specific responsibilities will include, but are not limited to:

  • Working strongly with the Editor-in-Chief to develop and articulate the editorial vision and voice of the magazine and to build strategic editorial partnerships with other media organizations to produce and promote High Country News’ journalism.
  • Strengthening and significantly growing the influence of High Country News in print and new media by overseeing marketing strategy and by personally representing High Country News as a thought leader to readers and the public through speaking engagements, conferences and other external outreach.
  • Engaging and retaining a high-performing staff, partnering with the Director of HR to enhance the organizational culture, building talent, resources, and capacity across departments.
  • Writing and updating the annual business plan while developing the budget and holding responsibility for setting and achieving revenue goals.
  • Building and nurturing relationships with donors and foundations, partnering with development staff and the Board of Directors to implement major funding campaigns and fulfill multi-million-dollar fundraising goals.
  • Driving the implementation of High Country News’ diversity goals, with an emphasis on increasing the ethnic, racial, political, and cultural diversity of the staff, writers, Board members, readers, and stories in order to reflect the diversity of the West.
  • Partnering with the Board of Directors to organize Board meetings and engage the Board in advancing strategic and operational goals of High Country News; serve as the primary point of contact between staff and the Board of Directors.

High Country News seeks an innovative, strategic, and experienced organizational leader with a passion for HCN’s mission and a deep understanding of new, digital, and traditional media. The successful candidate will bring a deep respect for journalism and its function in a democratic society and will bring the vision and skills needed to guide and grow High Country News in a rapidly changing media environment.

The successful candidate will have a track record of success in top or near-top leadership of an organization or business, ideally related to media, content development, or public interest. The Executive Director will be a confident, trustworthy, and energetic leader who is skilled in leading staff teams, with the ability to support the growth, engagement, and success of a geographically dispersed employee base.

They must be able to develop and implement a vision for how High Country News can continue adapt to reach more people through new and existing platforms while ensuring financial sustainability for the organization long-term. 

The Executive Director will offer an understanding of the issues facing the American West, including the region’s environmental, social, political, and economic dimensions, and this individual will demonstrate a high level of cultural competency and commitment to working across difference in order to engage readers, communities, staff, and Board members from backgrounds that are fully reflective of the diversity of the West.

A skilled communicator and relationship builder, the successful candidate will bring experience in fund development activities, with the demonstrated ability to make a compelling case for support and secure funding from individuals and foundations.

They will offer a proven ability to develop, manage, and meet an annual budget and demonstrate experience in effectively managing the internal resources of a team or organization to develop and deliver a high-quality product.

Ideally, the new Executive Director will be based in or near Paonia, CO, but given that High Country News covers the West, we are open to discussions with potential candidates based elsewhere in the Western U.S. with a willingness to travel.


Kara Teising of Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

High Country News’ equal employment opportunity (EEO) philosophy applies to all aspects of employment. High Country News hires on the basis of an individual’s qualifications, performance, and its staffing needs. Employment decisions relating to hiring, promotion, transfer, training, job assignment, compensation, benefits, working conditions, and termination are not based on race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, military service, handicap, disability, or any other status protected by state or local law.

At Koya, we don’t just accept difference – we celebrate it, support it, and thrive on it for the benefit of our team, our clients, and the communities we serve. Koya is an equal opportunity employer fully committed to creating an environment and team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, styles, and experiences.

We encourage all to apply because we believe a diversity of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.

Koya does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, military status, veteran status, genetic information, gender identity, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

Koya Leadership Partners is a retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that partners exclusively with mission-driven clients, institutions of higher education and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our clients and ensuring they have the strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.

Job Features

Job CategoryAdministrative, Print