Fenner Conservancy, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and managing body for Fenner Nature Center and Fenner Preschool, connects people to nature in the heart of Lansing through conservation, education, and stewardship. It is located in Lansing, Michigan, near the state capitol, Michigan State University, and a new Medical Center. Fenner is on approximately 134 acres of rolling hills, an esker, upland, lowland forests, several ponds, vernal pools, and a prairie. The property is just down the road from several nature-based amenities, including the Red Cedar River and Potter Park Zoo. It will soon be connected to the popular 13-mile-long Lansing River Trail. The Conservancy serves the public through nature-based preschool, summer camps, school tours, and educational programs for all ages. Fenner also provides numerous volunteer opportunities to help manage, restore, and monitor the unique natural assets found here, such as our Earth Day Extravaganza, and hosts two popular festivals yearly: the Apple Butter Festival and the Maple Syrup Festival.

Salary: $60,000-$75,000 depending on experience

Benefits Included: This is an exempt, full-time position. Employee benefits include a retirement account with employer matching, paid vacation and holidays, and health benefit options. This role requires work on occasional evenings and weekends.

The Executive Director is responsible for oversight, management, and administration of daily activity and operations, which include educational and public programming for youth, adults, and families; operation of the Fenner Nature Center, Fenner Nature Preschool, and the Pavillion; stewarding Fenner’s community of donors, members, and volunteers; and, management of the 134-acre property for the benefit of the visiting public and the health of local ecosystems. Responsibilities include conducting fundraising, community outreach, Board development and training, developing community partnerships, managing the property and staff, maintaining a strong and healthy partnership with the Lansing Department of Parks and Recreation, and serving as the public face of Fenner Nature Center. The Executive Director will also oversee and support staff with program development, marketing, and public relations activities and maintain an effective volunteer network.

Management and Administration (40%):
Provide leadership toward long-term strategic plans and implementation of short-term goals.

Fiscal Management

  • Ensure that Fenner Conservancy operates as a not-for-profit business under IRS 501(c)3 regulations and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
  • Develop, implement, run reports, and monitor the annual budget.
  • Administer and complete reporting requirements for funding sources, including grants and the City of Lansing/Fenner Conservancy agreement.
  • Cultivate new sources of revenue by creatively and strategically expanding and deepening the donor base.

Personnel Management

  • Lead and retain staff in a manner that fosters their commitment to achieving organizational goals.
  • Establish and maintain clear lines of communication and responsibility through supervision.
  • Maintain effective personnel policies, including recruitment, selection, training, appraisals, incentives, compensation, discipline, and termination, to retain highly qualified and motivated staff.
  • Create an environment that recognizes and supports the value of diversity and models appropriate cultural competence.

Facility Management

  • Ensure that Fenner Nature Center and Fenner Preschool comply with applicable local, state, and federal laws, regulations, and ordinances.
  • Ensure staff, visitors, preschool students, and live animals are safe.
  • Oversee building operations, building and grounds safety, and the integrity of live animals and various collections.


  • Develop and implement a five-year strategic plan in collaboration with Fenner staff, Board, and membership.
  • Maintain and evaluate all organization policies and procedures.
  • Serve as the primary contact for key organizational partners, such as the City of Lansing, and provide written reports as required.
  • Assess and professionalize the organization through the implementation and optimization of structures, systems, and processes.
  • Serve on important community and organizational committees.

Fundraising and Community Engagement (40%):

  • Serve as Fenner’s key fundraiser, plan, and conduct a comprehensive fundraising strategy that meets and grows Fenner’s annual financial goals and includes, but is not limited to, individual donors, charitable foundations, and corporate donors.
  • Grant writing, administration, and management.
  • Support planning and successfully implementing the annual Apple Butter Festival, Maple Syrup Festival, and Earth Day Extravaganza.
  • Write a letter/update from the Executive Director for Fenner’s newsletter.
  • Develop mutually beneficial relationships with community stakeholders, including.
    o Fenner Conservancy members and volunteers
    o The City of Lansing and other governmental entities
    o Teachers, schools, school districts, home school networks, daycare centers/providers, and students
    o Agencies serving youth
    o Area colleges and universities, student groups, faculty, undergraduate and graduate students
    o Area neighborhood organizations, faith-based and non-governmental organizations
    o Foundations and other mutually supportive entities
    o General public/visitors

Board Relations (15%):

  • In partnership with the Board President, promote an active and committed Board of Directors.
  • Provide comprehensive monthly reports to the Board of Directors that include operations activities, financial performance, progress on annual goals/strategic goals, and requests for board support.
  • Develop and maintain positive relationships with the Board of Directors.
  • Collaboratively create succinct board and board committee meeting agendas with the Board President and Board committee chairs.
  • In partnership with the Board President and committee chairs, promote active and engaged committee work with the Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers.


  • Other duties as necessary.

Required skills and qualifications:

  • Candidate must live in the greater Lansing area or be willing to relocate within three months of hire date.
  • Three to five years of progressive staff and team leadership experience.
  • Demonstrated fundraising experience, including individual giving, corporate and foundation giving, and grant writing and administration.
  • A bachelor’s degree is required. A bachelor’s degree in Non-profit Management, environmental science, business, human resources, finance, or a related field is preferred. (Master’s degree a plus).
  • Proven ability to build, mentor, and effectively manage a committed and highly competent senior team.

Preferred skills and qualifications:

  • Prior experience working at a nature center, environmental learning center, parks or conservation department/organization, or other nonprofit organization.
  • Prior experience as an executive director or development director.
  • Have a commitment to and experience with promoting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, & Access.
  • Demonstrated success in board recruitment, development, and general knowledge of board expectations.
  • Entrepreneurial mindset with an innovative approach to business planning.
  • Experience in developing and managing budgets.
  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills.
  • Passion for connecting people with nature.

To apply email your resume and cover letter to board@mynaturecenter.org

Apply for this position

Allowed Type(s): .pdf, .doc, .docx