President & CEO

Location : Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Department : Executive
Supervisor : Board of Directors
Type : Full-time

Our Mission

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.

Position Summary

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is the only organization dedicated solely to protecting and promoting the world’s most famous long-distance hiking trail, providing outdoor recreation and educational opportunities for Trail visitors.

Founded in 1925, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a $9.6 million, 501c(3) organization, headquartered in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, with regional offices in Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.  ATC is both a confederation of 31 local Trail-maintaining clubs, with each having the responsibility to maintain a specific section of the Trail, and a membership organization with about 45,000 members.  Under agreements that date back to the 1930’s, buttressed by federal legislation, ATC leads a cooperative management system for the Trail in close collaboration with more than 70 federal, state and local agencies and Trail maintaining clubs.

Volunteers participate in and support ATC outreach and education programs; in turn, ATC assists the Trail-maintaining clubs by providing trail crew support, training, leadership development, and funding.  ATC’s volunteers, staff and activities are all dedicated to the preservation and management of the natural, scenic, historic and cultural resources associated with the 2190-mile Appalachian Trail.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is committed to nurture and protect this sacred space through education and inspiration. We strive to create an
ever-expanding community of doers and dreamers and work to ensure that tomorrow’s generations will experience the same mesmerizing beauty we behold today.

The Trail is the longest continuously marked footpath in the world, measuring roughly 2190 miles in length.  An estimated three million people visit the Trail every year, and about 4,000 people attempt to “thru-hike” the Trail annually. The Trail was completed in 1937 and is a unit of the National Park System.  It is managed under a unique partnership between public and private sectors that include, among others, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, an array of state agencies, and the 31 local Trail-maintaining clubs. Volunteers from these clubs are responsible for most of the day-to-day work of keeping the Trail open—building and repairing shelters and other structures; monitoring and protecting the corridor; monitoring rare plants and invasive species; and developing management plans for their respective Trail sections. 

Located 60 miles outside of Washington, DC, 70 miles outside of Baltimore, and easily accessible from beautiful, rural Loudoun County, Virginia, Harpers Ferry is a historic town found at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.  As the easternmost town in West Virginia, Harpers Ferry is situated where MarylandVirginia and West Virginia meet. Notable attractions include Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the Harpers Ferry Historic District. It is one of only a few towns through which the Appalachian Trail passes directly. Predominant outdoor activities include white water rafting, fishing, mountain biking, tubing, canoeing, hiking, zip lining, and rock climbing. 

Reporting to a 15-member Board of Directors, the President of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy will provide strategic leadership and vision to 60 vibrant and committed professional staff, ensuring that ATC’s fiscal, operations, fundraising, marketing, human resource, technology, and programmatic strategies are effectively implemented across all segments of the organization. The incumbent will provide visionary leadership and foresight, in order to broaden the influence of the ATC, capitalize on opportunities, and identify challenges and the resources necessary to meet those challenges.  Collaborating with Board, staff, and volunteers, the President represents ATC through interaction with a wide range of entities. These include but are not limited to:

  • Current and prospective donors, including individuals, corporations and foundations
  • National Park Service (The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is an official unit of the National Park System.)
  • U.S. Forest Service (The Forest Service manages more than 800 miles of the Trail.)
  • Leadership of Trail-maintaining clubs
  • Federal and Congressional officials based in Washington, D.C.
  • State conservation, recreation and land management agencies
​The President provides leadership in the development and execution of organizational strategy consistent with the ATC’s five-year Strategic Plan, which was adopted by the Board in 2014, and is updated each year for revenue and expense projections and annual Action plans developed by staff. The Strategic Plan encompasses five Plan goals, including: Effective Stewardship, Proactive Protection, Broader Relevancy, Engaged Partners, and Strengthened Capacity and Operational Excellence (

Essential Duties and Responsibilities
  • Working in a cooperative partnership with the National Park Service, the 31 Trail-maintaining clubs, and other key town, state and conservation stakeholders to manage and protect the Appalachian Trail;
  • Fundraising through the identification and solicitation of support from individual donors, the public, foundations and corporations;
  • Engaging and working with the Board of Directors on matters of governance, mission, vision and strategy;
  • Promoting and enhancing ATC’s public profile and visibility with a view toward increasing public support;
  • Recruiting, mentoring and motivating a professional staff and providing overall management of the organization through the Senior Leadership Team;
  • Ensuring the continued protection of the financial integrity of the organization and its funds and assets to the highest level of fiscal and legal responsibility.

This is a remarkable and rare opportunity for a dynamic, entrepreneurial leader to work in collaboration with Appalachian Trail stakeholders, Conservancy Board members and staff, volunteers, partner organizations and agencies, to preserve a nationally and internationally renowned American jewel. The Trail is an integral part of the fabric of our country and is poised to take the lead on so many of the challenges that the future will bring for our National Parks and National Trail Systems. Through leadership, forethought and commitment to the work of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the incoming President will carry on the organization’s enduring vision to connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Appalachian Trail as a haven for all to enjoy.


The successful candidate will have a minimum of 10 years of executive- or senior-level experience in nonprofit organizational management (preferably in the field of nature preservation, conservation, environmental or related organizations). Previous experience as an ED or CEO is preferred but not required. 

Essential qualifications and attributes include:

  • Demonstrated leadership skills and ability to inspire and motivate others toward stated goals;
  • Development and implementation of strategic plans and initiatives, and identifying and prioritizing short- and long-term organizational goals, needs and resources;
  • Fundraising and expansion/diversification of revenue sources to support programs and initiatives; prior capital campaign experience a plus.
  • Employment of effective public relations to raise the profile and reputation of the organization among external and internal audiences
  • Advancement of advocacy, legislative and public policy interests at the federal, state and local levels;
  • Success developing a strong and effective relationship with and supporting the Board of Directors and committee structure, and managing organizational governance issues and structures;
  • Demonstrated success developing, managing and motivating a high-functioning professional staff;
  • Financial and business acumen to ensure short- and long-term stability of the organization’s assets;
  • Track record of establishing and maintaining effective partnerships and relationships with governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, community interests, business and corporate partners and other entities;
  • Master’s degree preferred; Bachelor’s degree required.

Personal Characteristics and Behaviors: 

  • A strong collaborator and listener who invites input from a variety of areas, is able to astutely evaluate information and then make decisions quickly and efficiently; 
  • Effective in public speaking and serving as an organizational spokesperson to diverse audiences; strong written and oral communication skills with the ability to deliver clear and effective messages to all stakeholders;
  • An articulate communicator who is respectful of opposing points of view and differences of opinion and adept at tactfully and diplomatically conveying decisions and messages to stakeholders with diverse and sometimes conflicting opinions.
  • Ability to foster a healthy organizational culture, to encourage teamwork and collaboration;
  • Confident, poised and decisive without being authoritarian; a professional with a sense of humility;
  • Optimistic, motivational and inspirational; able to motivate and engage others in effectively articulating the organization’s vision;
  • An affinity for working with a diverse community of volunteers and other stakeholders;
  • Politically astute and adept;
  • Effective and results-oriented in overseeing daily operations and implementing Board decisions; able to manage multiple priorities effectively;
  • Strong connection with and passion for the Appalachian Trail experience.

Compensation for the President includes a competitive base salary commensurate with experience and an excellent package of employee benefits.

Physical Demands

Work Environment

To Apply

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has retained the services of ThinkingAhead Executive Search. Please submit your resume, expression of interest and salary history and requirements to Chris Spagnola, Recruiter at [email protected], and Jessica Martinez, Recruiter at [email protected].