California Institute for Rural Studies


CIRS is looking for a new Executive Director!

About CIRS

The California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) creates research-based tools for action in
partnership with Black, Queer, Trans, Indigenous and People of Color in rural communities who are working to eradicate white supremacy, take down colonial power structures, and replace dysfunctional institutions. We understand the history of systemic violence towards Black, Indigenous and farmworker communities in rural California who have often been made invisible, or who have been the subjects of research, while being denied control over research agendas and platforms to tell their own stories. Our staff, board and closest partners come from rural places that have been sites of extraction throughout the history of California. For forty-five years, our work has informed public policy and inspired action for social change while providing a fact-based foundation for organizations and individuals working to ameliorate rural injustices. We have a vision for rural life in California that is radically transformed as systems of oppression and extraction give way to systems which are life-affirming, sensitive to many types of knowledge, equitable and reflective of the rich cultural landscapes of rural California.

CIRS is now searching for a new Executive Director to lead the organization in the years ahead. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director holds overall responsibility for ensuring that the institute consistently achieves its mission and financial goals.

Program Development and Administration

  • Provide leadership in developing programs, organizational, and financial plans in conjunction with the board and staff, and execute plans and policies authorized by the board.
  • Maintain official records and documents while ensuring compliance with relevant federal, state, and local regulations.
  • Collaborate with the board to establish a long-term strategy that aligns with the organization’s mission and ensures steady progress.
  • Builds capacity of self, team, and Board to engage deeply and productively with the communities we serve
  • Work with board and staff to ensure that the mission is fulfilled through programs, strategic planning, and community engagement

Board Development and Engagement

  • Lead the organization in the articulation of its mission, vision and values.
  • Prioritize board recruitment, development, and engagement using their role as spokesperson.
  • Attend monthly board meetings and keep the board fully informed about the organization’s condition and significant factors affecting it


  • Foster productive relationships and cooperative arrangements with allied groups and organizations.
  • Act as a representative of the organization, conveying its programs and perspectives to agencies, organizations, and the general public.
  • Issues press releases for major events and leverages important programs and grant awards to highlight the organization’s work
  • Oversees monthly newsletters, social media postings, and website for outreach and promotions
  • Develop a strategic communication strategy to support programs and fundraising

Manage Staff and Consultants

  • Oversee the recruitment, employment, and management of all personnel, including paid staff, consultants, and volunteers.
  • Develop job descriptions and establish sound human resource practices.
  • Ensure the presence of an effective management team, with appropriate succession planning.
  • Support program staff in connecting their specialized work with the organization’s overall program.
  • Foster a welcoming environment that attracts, retains, and motivates a diverse staff of high-caliber individuals.
  • Lead 360° annual performance reviews for permanent staff, building a supportive culture of feedback and teamwork

Budget and Finance

  • Develop and maintain sound financial practices.
  • Collaborate with staff, the Finance Committee, and the board to create a budget and ensure adherence to budget guidelines.
  • Secure adequate funds to enable the organization to carry out its work effectively.


  • Ensures that sufficient funds are raised to meet annual budget and cash flow needs
  • Regularly engages with donors and prospective donors to build a major gift pipeline
  • Oversees grant writing, tracking and reporting
  • Develop an annual fundraising plan including multiple income streams such as grants, sponsorships, and individual donors

Basic Qualifications

  • At least 5 years of experience in a leadership role within a nonprofit or research-based organization, demonstrating progressive responsibility and successful management.
  • Experience in research and program development, administration, fundraising, and financial management.
  • Demonstrated commitment and passion for rural justice.
  • Must live in California, preferably in a rural area.

Preferred skills

  • Strong strategic thinking abilities to develop long-term plans aligned with the organization’s mission and vision.
  • Exceptional leadership skills to inspire and guide staff, volunteers and stakeholders towards shared goals.
  • Experience in grant writing, fundraising and resource development.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills to effectively represent the organization and its mission to various stakeholders.
  • Strong problem-solving and decision-making skills to address challenges and seize opportunities.
  • Proficiency in organizational management, including maintaining official records, compliance with regulations and detail-oriented approach to ensure accuracy and efficiency in administrative tasks.
  • Bi-lingual – Spanish and English.

Salary Range
$90k – $110k annually, DOE

100% remote work
Retirement plan
Monthly home office stipend
Health care reimbursement
Generous paid time off including a 2 week paid winter break

Applications Due: September 29th

Applications will be reviewed in the first week of October. We will be in touch with you.