SSAWG - Executive Director Position Description

The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (Southern SAWG) is seeking to hire an entrepreneurial, visionary leader and fundraiser to serve as Executive Director. The Executive Director will be responsible for leading the organization in its work of increasing the collective power of the sustainable agriculture movement in 13 southern states by building knowledge, awareness, and community among farmers and their key partners.

The Organization:

Southern SAWG has been a lead organization in the Southern region, working for the past 27 years to foster a more sustainable food and agriculture system throughout its member states – one that yields dignity and economic viability for farmers and farm workers, and provides safe and secure food for all, produced in harmony with nature.

Representatives of grassroots farming and environmental organizations founded Southern SAWG in 1991 to provide an umbrella structure for the sustainable agriculture movement in the South. Southern SAWG is now a mature, professional organization with an annual budget exceeding $300,000. We are engaged in extensive outreach and education over a broad and diverse region, both geographically and demographically. Southern SAWG links more than 150 organizations and many individuals throughout the 13 Southern states of AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, & VA.

Whereas the position is seen as remote, residence in one of our member states is required. Due to our large geographical coverage, the staff and contractors of Southern SAWG operate out of their home offices.

 Professional Qualifications / Requirements:

The Southern SAWG Executive Director will work with an experienced, highly skilled, and dedicated staff along with an engaged and active Board of Directors to lead Southern SAWG. We are seeking an individual with a deep passion for our mission and the energy and experience to lead this prominent and highly respected organization as it continues its work of creating sustainable farm and food systems in the South. The successful candidate will be capable of growing the capacity of Southern SAWG through fundraising and partnerships, guiding the organization to the next level of impact and organizational maturity in the sustainable agriculture movement.

Qualified candidates should understand sustainable agriculture and/or sustainable food systems, including strategies and relevant policy issues, and should possess expertise in the following areas:

•               Leading a successful complex organization or enterprise

•               Raising funds for a non-profit organization

•               Managing organizational finances and personnel


Specific Responsibilities:

I.              Mission – Exemplify and carry out the Mission of Southern SAWG:

Our mission is to increase the collective power of the sustainable agriculture movement in 13 southern states by building knowledge, awareness, and community among farmers and their key partners.

Lead Southern SAWG in its delivery, through programs and activities laid out in the Strategic Plan.

II.             Organizational Development – Working closely with the Board of Directors President, the Executive Director will facilitate proper and timely board action and fulfillment of responsibilities. Working with all of the Committees of the Board and with the Staff, the Executive Director will facilitate the strategic planning and organizational development of Southern SAWG, including capacity building and leadership development.

III.           Funding Development – The Executive Director will have the primary responsibility for delivering both short-term and long-term funding for Southern SAWG. With the assistance of the Funding Development Committee, the Southern SAWG staff and with other members of the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will be expected to lead the organization to a more financially secure position, including direct fundraising from public and private sources, and writing applications for federal, state and foundation grants. This focus will include cultivating and engaging major donors, establishing a solid "operating capital" strategy that will insure the continued health of the organization, and other successful fiscal campaigns.

IV.           Administration and Management

(A)  Coordinate the development of an annual budget. Manage organizational expenses to remain within budget. Oversee bookkeeping, filing of taxes, and annual accounting review/audit. Oversee grant and partnership financial management and reporting. Oversee and authorize deposits and payments. Work with accountant to prepare financial reports for the Board.


(B)  Manage personnel including hiring, firing, training, and setting wages.  May include working with project leaders to hire extra, part-time contractors. Create contracts and ensure they are properly executed.  Create and maintain policies and procedures for personnel and contractors. Supervise the work of all staff project managers and contract coordinators as appropriate. Conduct regular job performance reviews. Facilitate the coordination of all Southern SAWG project activities in a way that develops staff synergy. Develop and maintain communication between all staff, project coordinators, and Board. Keep Board apprised of progress and of issues needing attention.


(C)  Oversee the external communications of the organization. This includes efficient communications about Southern SAWG including our website, an electronic newsletter, social media, promotional/informational event booth, brochures, and other materials.

(D)  Coordinate annual evaluation of projects and programs to determine their effectiveness in helping Southern SAWG achieve its mission and goals.

(E)  Oversee coordination, planning, and budget of the Annual Southern SAWG Conference for around 1100 participants.


V.            Networking and Promotion – knowledge of agricultural principles and processes is required. The incumbent will serve as the primary spokesperson and contact person for Southern SAWG with financial supporters, media representatives, members of the general public, constituents and affiliated organizations. Respond to requests and opportunities as appropriate. Promote Southern SAWG to constituents, affiliated organizations and the general public to build effective partnerships. Orchestrate the overall presence and position of the organization with respect to other groups and institutions on major issues of importance to Southern SAWG. Build networking and collaboration among constituents on sustainable agriculture and community food security/systems efforts.



The Southern SAWG Executive Director is a full-time position. Compensation will consist of a base salary, and a generous bonus incentive plan based on fundraising goals. Benefits include paid vacation, sick leave, holidays.

To Apply:

Send a resume, a substantive cover letter highlighting why you would be good for this position and this position would be good for you, three writing samples that demonstrate the ability to write for differing audiences and handle the content with differing levels of technical detail, and contact information for three professional references to Southern SAWG Board President Joss Mohr at Contact Joss at (207) 650-9380 for questions.

Southern SAWG is committed to the principle of equal opportunity and equal treatment for every current and prospective employee. Substantial efforts are made to seek out potential candidates among women, minority groups, and individuals with disabilities.

Application deadline is December 31st, 2018.

Position start date could be as early as January, and no later than March 1st, 2019

Amanda Hodges