Executive Director

Our Purpose and Mission:

Founded in 1976 as Westcave Preserve, the mission of Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is to inspire people to develop a lifelong practice of enjoying and protecting nature. We accomplish this through educational programs, collaborative alliances, and conservation of our beautiful 76- acre preserve.

Westcave works to foster the connection between people and nature that leads to healthier, happier, and smarter kids while ensuring that our future leaders are committed to conserving the natural world. Westcave shall connect people to nature by providing experiences and programs that encourage discovery, exploration and conservation of nature.

What We Do:


While many places offer opportunities for self-led nature activities, Westcave has dedicated staff who partner with schools to teach 6,000 students annually. Students learn key scientific concepts in the best classroom of all: our 76-acre preserve in Southwest Travis County and our nationally renowned Warren Skaaren Environmental Learning Center.

What makes the experience so special? At our preserve, you not only witness a place of extraordinary beauty, you observe a living laboratory. You walk through hundreds of thousands of years of geologic formations as you hike to the bottom of the canyon. And at the head of our canyon is a lush, wet grotto where you can see with your own eyes how the water cycle works.


Our roots in collaboration began with our creation and leadership of the 60+ member

Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin (CiNCA). As part of this effort, we also work closely with the City of Austin through a Cities Connecting Children to Nature grant to identify and target neighborhoods with a low "nature equity score.” We have ongoing or recent work on a number of highly collaborative programs including Girls Outside, Parent Champions, a Place-Based Education Initiative, and Pillow Park. We have built bridges to research groups at University of Texas and worked with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Hill Country Alliance, the City of Austin, and a multitude of other regional partners. Westcave understands that working with a wide array of collaborators will get us much farther in our mission.


Our preserve is located in Southwest Travis County, one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. Protecting this beautiful land, which is home to the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler and attracts birders from all over the world, has become more important than ever. It began in 1974 with the purchase of 25 acres that had been trespassed and badly abused. The last four decades have seen that land renew and flourish under Westcave' s visionary care, and today our original preserve is celebrated as a natural treasure. Recently, Westcave purchased an additional 45 acres of adjacent property, which we call the Uplands. Once again, Westcave is restoring the land so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come.

About the Opportunity

Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is seeking its next Executive Director to lead a passionate team working to bring people together to develop a lifelong practice of enjoying and protecting our natural world through education, programs, collaborative alliances, and the act of conservation. The Executive Director has overall strategic, financial, and operational responsibility for Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center’s staff, programs, and honoring the mission of the organization. The Executive Director is responsible for continuing the vision and leadership of an organization with approximately 5 full time staff members and up to 10 part time, along with a combined budget of $800,000 in grants and private donations.

The ideal candidate will have a background in nonprofit leadership, experience leading and developing partnerships, a strong and diverse background in fundraising and development, excellent oral and written communication skills, and a background in conservation and/or natural sciences. The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors.

Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center invited feedback from staff, board, and community members to identify the top Competencies and Attributes of an ideal Executive Director. Here’s what they would like to see from the next ED:

  • A candidate with high integrity
  • Background and experience working with and cultivating individual sponsors and donors
  • A successful track record with grants and grant writing
  • Previous experience as an organizational leader – CEO, Executive Director, or a for-profit equivalent
  • Management experience that focuses on the personal and professional development of the staff
  • Experience in partnership management and development

Key Priorities & Responsibilities

The Executive Director (ED) reports to the Board of Directors, providing executive leadership to the organization and overseeing day-to-day operations.

Staff and Board Leadership

  • Lead the staff and board with integrity, share a vision for the organization and community, have strong managerial skills, with consideration on team culture, and transparency.
  • Support each program area and facilitate opportunities for staff professional development and growth.
  • Build strong relationships with board members, actively engaging them in governance and strategically deploying their strengths and interests in support of the organization.

Operations and Financial Oversight

  • Develop, train, and support an effective team, building strong morale and collaboration between staff members through managerial courage and integrity.
  • Foster a climate which attracts, retains, and motivates a diverse staff of capable professionals.
  • Develop and implement annual organizational goals.
  • Ensure effective systems to track progress and measure the success of organizational goals so they can be effectively communicated to the Board, funders, as well as other constituents and stakeholders.

Community Engagement and Education

  • Maintain and expand the impact of our programming and services by strengthening our relationship with the community and community partners.
  • Lead within, and external to, the organization with a passionate and collaborative mindset to foster a long-term commitment of conservation with each person who touches our preserve.
  • Honor the preserve's history while planning for the future for this unique Central Texas asset.
  • Experience with, and history of, strategic planning, inclusive program design, and/or any related practice to affirm or redesign programs, outcomes, partnerships, etc.


Candidates should have significant senior leadership experience in the conservation, civic, and/or natural science sectors, preferably as a CEO, Executive Director, or

Vice/Director/Deputy/Chief position in either a nonprofit or for-profit organization. Those who have significant experience building relationships with community stakeholders, diverse funders, and major donors will be strongly considered.

Must Haves:

All candidates meeting basic qualifications must have:

✓ Transparent and high integrity leadership skills.

✓ Experience and skill in working with a non-profit Board of Directors.

✓ Accomplished in managing business operations and financials within a budget.

✓ Active fundraising experience. Excellent donor relations skills and understanding of the funding community.

✓ Proven success guiding staff and board through transitions and growth.

✓ Participation in fostering and maintaining a positive workforce culture.

✓ Participation in addressing and prioritizing equity and social justice within organizational culture.

✓ Experience managing diversely qualified and experienced, high-performing teams.

✓ Experience directly building and managing relationships with community stakeholders, funders, and/or elected officials.

Highly Desired:

In addition, Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center would also prefer:

✓ Experience with staff training for personal and professional development.

✓ Strong connection to the nonprofit and social sector of Central Texas.

✓ Spanish speaker.


Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center honors transparency and will provide employment benefit information to candidates who are invited to the second interview stage of the hiring process so that all candidates can make an informed decision. Benefits include employer covered health care, a matching 401k retirement savings plan, paid time off, plus additional benefits.

Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center offers a salary that is competitive with industry standards. The base salary for the Executive Director role is between $90k-105K based on experience and qualifications and may be negotiated.

Equal Employment Statement

Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center 501(c)3 is an equal opportunity employer. It is Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center policy to comply with all federal, state, and local equal employment opportunity laws and regulations relating to employees or applicants relating to advertising, recruitment, employment, compensation, promotion, transfer, termination of employment, training and conditions of employment regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, citizenship, age, marital status, sexual orientation/expression/identity, genetic information or disability. It is Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center’s policy to also comply with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment.


Please submit a letter of interest, resume, and five references, of which three must be considered professional to the email below (westcave @ missioncapital.org.) In the subject line, please include “Westcave ED Search.”

Job Type: Full-time

Pay: $90,000.00 - $105,000.00 per year


  • 401(k) matching
  • Health insurance
  • Paid time off


  • Monday to Friday

Work Location: One location