NFFC Launches Search for New Executive Director

Location: Washington, D.C. (preferred, but not required)

The National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) seeks a dynamic leader to engage its diverse and dedicated membership to influence national farm and fisheries policy, magnify its fundraising capacity, and expand relationships with allies, potential allies and legislators while serving as a public face of the coalition.

About the National Family Coalition

NFFC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit coalition of 25 organizations working to ensure fair prices for family farmers, local jobs for resilient communities, and fresh food for everyone. NFFC believes that corporate America’s influence on governmental policies has led to the loss of family-owned farms and fisheries and the demise of thriving rural communities.

NFFC is currently composed of 2 full-time and 1 part-time staff supported by an active member-based executive board. Staff and members are based around the US, with headquarters in Washington, DC.

Programs and Focus Areas

NFFC was formed in 1986 to represent family farmers seeking a voice in Washington, DC, during the 1980s farm credit crisis. NFFC was instrumental in writing and passing the 1987 Agricultural Credit Act, which enabled thousands of farmers to restructure bank loans, avoid foreclosure and retain their farms.

NFFC has fought unjust so-called free trade agreements as well as the proliferation and token regulation of genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant seeds. No less important, NFFC has campaigned against corporate grabs of US farmland for speculation, the extraction industry,  and the oppression of minority farmers. In 2008, NFFC’s membership expanded to include family fishermen who face the same threats and opportunities as family farmers. With 25 member organizations across the US, NFFC addresses federal policy to end the corporate control over resources, inputs and markets within our food system so that family farmers and fishermen receive fair prices based on their costs of production, enabling them to support their families, labor, local businesses and communities while protecting the environment around them.

Context, Opportunities and Challenges

Following the unexpected passing in January 2017 of the Coalition’s longtime executive director, Katherine Ozer, the executive committee of the board has been highly engaged to sustain the organization during the leadership transition. The committee appointed membership and communications coordinator Lisa Griffith as interim executive director, and numerous funders and other allies have stepped up, recognizing that NFFC’s work is needed now more than ever. Ms. Griffith intends to return to her previous position when a new executive director is on board.

NFFC’s executive board and transition committee (comprised of members and the interim executive director) have affirmed the overall mission and direction of the organization, developed an aspirational structure to guide NFCC’s internal growth, articulated short-term priorities and staffing needs for the transition, and identified key strengths and priorities through an inclusive organizational assessment.

NFFC has unique strengths that position it for successful advancement of its mission and real, transformative system change during this critical moment for family farmers and fishermen, including:

  1. Relevance and shared passion among members, staff and funders for NFFC’s mission;
  2. Diverse, cross-sectoral membership that stands in partnership with a small, dedicated staff;
  3. The bridge that NFFC’s policy leadership role provides between local, national and occasionally international efforts;
  4. NFFC’s commitment to building movements and its willingness to take risks, calling out truth to power in service to the movements it represents;
  5. Strong membership and partnerships with welcoming, inclusive culture focused on  equity and justice for all in the food system;
  6. NFFC’s reputation as a trusted player, not seeking the spotlight but holding its members’ interests in the forefront.

The organizational assessment process has also raised a number of key priorities for NFFC and its new leadership to address in the near term:

  • Developing a strategic plan:  While the organization should remain responsive and adaptable, a clear strategic plan for the next 3-5 years to guide the organization, staff commitments and priorities will be critical to its success;
  • Restructuring organizational systems:  During the transition, NFFC has focused on strengthening systems for its administrative functions and internal infrastructure;
  • Diversifying and strengthening its funding:  While long-time supporters have stepped up to see NFFC through this unexpected transition, its overall funding base must continue to diversify to further stabilize the organization;
  • Building new leadership:  Several NFFC board representatives are cycling off the executive committee, and those who took on additional responsibilities during this time of transition are ready to return to their normal board duties.
  • Ongoing presence as a collective effort:  No one person is or carries the Coalition, and the Coalition’s success depends on effectual collaboration between its staff and membership.

The Ideal Candidate

The new executive director of the Coalition must be a courageous risk-taker grounded in deep integrity and social justice values, and passionately committed to NFFC’s mission as informed by its members.

Specifically, the ideal candidate will have skills and experience in the following areas:

  • Facilitative leadership and management that is inclusive, consensus-building, empowering and supportive of staff and other stakeholders’ growth, efficacy and ownership of the work;
  • Cultivating, engaging and maintaining healthy relationships with a diverse (largely rural) membership and executive committee, allies and potential allies;
  • Being an ally or member of the movements engaged in family farmer or fisherman, food, economic, and/or environmental justice work with an understanding of racial, gender and economic justice issues;
  • Managing or supporting a member-driven organization;
  • Poised and confident enough to tell a compelling story yet comfortable learning from and lifting up traditionally marginalized voices;
  • Creative problem-solving with sometimes limited resources;
  • Balancing “roll-up-the-sleeves,” on-the-ground organizational management, leadership and program work with big-picture thinking and strategy;
  • Familiarity with efforts to effect change in policy and legislation, preferably in a leadership role with farmers and/or fishermen, coalitions, or movements;
  • Developing and managing a multi-faceted, innovative fundraising plan, including experience cultivating donors, soliciting major gifts and writing grants.

Candidate Guidelines

This search is being led by transition consultant Jeremy Phillips. Interested candidates should submit a resume and brief cover letter describing how their qualifications and experiences match the needs of the National Family Farm Coalition, their salary requirements, the source from which they learned of the position, and any informational questions to jeremy.kp@jeremyphillipsconsulting.org.

NFFC has a generous benefits package, including savings plan, health and life insurance, and unemployment contributions.

Candidates are encouraged to apply promptly, but the search will remain open until the position is filled.

National Family Farm Coalition is an Equal Opportunity Employer and actively seeks a diverse pool of candidates.