Discovery Trail Executive Director

Starting Date: May 15 (tentative)

The Discovery Trail is located in Ithaca, NY, home of Cornell University. We are a dynamic collaboration of seven museums and a public library that is unique worldwide. Our goal is for every resident of Tompkins County to become an engaged world citizen and ambassador for learning at any age. From the earliest years, we encourage every person to nurture their curiosity, learn to approach issues from different angles, and expand their world view.

Our flagship program, Kids Discover the Trail!, provides field experiences for most of Tompkins County’s 5,600 elementary students at all eight sites of the Discovery Trail.

The Discovery Trail is seeking an energetic individual to serve as Executive Director (ED) who will provide vision, leadership, and administration for the two primary activities of the Discovery Trail: 1) educational outreach with local schools, mainly through the Kids Discover the Trail! program, and 2) developing new countywide educational programming to expand our reach and impact. The ED will be the primary relationship builder who leverages the capacity of member organizations to accomplish the mission of the Discovery Trail.

MANAGER: Chair of the Discovery Trail Board of Directors


  • Annual budget: $ 350,000
  • No. of member organizations: 8
  • No. of direct reports: 1 part-time program assistant
  • Contracted partners: Bookkeeper, Website designer, Grant writer, Evaluator, Designer


Education (60%)

Provides vision, leadership, and management for Kids Discover the Trail! (KDT!), the Discovery Trail (DT) flagship collaborative program with school districts in Tompkins County.

  • Drives the delivery and expansion of educational programs to all 6 districts in Tompkins County by making the necessary connections among DT sites, school districts, and funders.
  • Ensures adequate funding by foundations, corporations, individuals, and school districts. Writes grant proposals and prepares reports for funders.
  • Provides support for an endowment campaign, including processing of gifts and acknowledgements and establishing an endowment management committee.
  • Provides administration for educational programs:
    • Represents the DT on advisory committees, schedules meetings, prepares agendas, takes & distributes minutes.
    • Oversees liaisons in six school districts.
    • Oversees public relations efforts.
    • Oversees annual program evaluation.
    • Develops budgets and ensures proper accounting of funds.
    • Provides other administrative services as needed to ensure smooth functioning of educational programs, such as annual Memoranda of Understanding among all partners and distribution of books for students.
    • Oversees the development of new educational materials for parents and children.

PR and Communications (20%)

Provides vision and leadership for increased local awareness and broader regional promotion of DT programs:

  • Provides vision for public relations and communications plans, updates annually, and implements throughout year, including social media accounts.
  • Works with web designer to improve effectiveness of the website, using feedback from usability studies, members, and other sources. In 2019-20 select and collaborate with design firm to overhaul website.
  • Attends meetings for the Tompkins Center for History and Culture and collaborates to develop the Discovery Trail’s presence in this new cultural hub.
  • Works with local Convention & Visitors Bureau, media and outside professionals to promote the Discovery Trail.
  • Places stories about the DT in news outlets.

General administration (20%)

Ensures sound management of DT through administrative support:

  • Works with DT board chair to organize board meetings, prepares agenda and reports
  • (ED, finance, attendance, marketing), works with secretary to ensure minutes are taken and distributed.
  • Prepares and monitors budget, ensures completion of annual outside financial review.
  • Ensures that invoices are paid, including annual member dues, and that receipts are recorded and deposited in a timely manner.
  • Compiles attendance data from DT sites.


  • Manages a part-time program assistant.
  • Leverages the time and talent of board members, staff members of DT member organizations, volunteers, interns, donors, and representatives of other organizations.


  • Bachelor’s degree required, higher degree preferred, plus 3-5 years of experience with non-profit management and education
  • Fundraising and grant writing experience
  • Budgeting and budget management
  • Enthusiasm and vision in advancing the mission of the Discovery Trail
  • Excellent judgment, interpersonal skills, and emotional intelligence
  • Ability to work independently, while also operating as part of a team; ability to lead and facilitate groups, with tactful persistence in achieving goals
  • Excellent written and verbal skills, including ability to work with a wide variety of people
  • Excellent initiative and organizational skills
  • Demonstrated ability to use basic office tools such as Google Drive, Excel, Email, and Microsoft Office, plus ability to learn other software as needed


  • Congenial but fast-paced, multi-tasking environment
  • Office located in downtown Ithaca at the Tompkins Center for History and Culture
  • Must have car and valid license


  • Full time, exempt position
  • Salary $50-55K, commensurate with experience.
  • Excellent benefits (health insurance, retirement and paid time off).


Applications accepted until March 21 or until position is filled. Please submit your application to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Include “Executive Director Application” followed by your name in the subject line, and submit cover letter, resume, and references in one pdf. We look forward to receiving your application!

The Discovery Trail is an Equal Opportunity Employer