Job Openings ARIZONA-SONORA DESERT MUSEUM -Executive Director

About the job ARIZONA-SONORA DESERT MUSEUM -Executive Director

Executive Director at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Leading with Vision and Purpose


Founded in 1952, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum stands out globally for its innovative blend of zoological park, botanical garden, art institute, and the museum, dedicated to the diverse life of the Sonoran Desert and adjacent ecosystems.

Despite its modest size, it is celebrated as one of the world's top zoological parks, showcasing more than 4,892 animals of 242 species, 56,000 plants of 1,200 taxa, and extensive mineral and fossil collections. The museum, the vision of William H. Carr and Arthur Pack, the initial benefactor, aimed at educating the public about the desert's natural history through integrated, interactive exhibits.

Located 12 miles west of Tucson, the museum occupies a 98-acre site, offering a unique educational experience with its living collections, conservation efforts, and engagement in scientific research. Over the years, it has evolved into a pivotal conservation and education center, highlighting the interconnectedness of regional flora, fauna, geology, and human habitation, while fostering a deeper appreciation for the natural world.


Lead with legacy and embrace the challenge as the Executive Director at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Embrace this unparalleled opportunity to lead at the nexus of nature, culture, and innovation as the Executive Director of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This role offers a distinctive blend of leadership, legacy, and strategic vision, inviting you to shape the future of a 98-acre living museum celebrated for its commitment to desert flora and fauna, education, and conservation. Guided by our comprehensive Vision and Strategic Plan, alongside an ambitious Master Plan, you'll spearhead transformative initiatives that fuse environmental stewardship with community engagement, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment. With a focus on sustainability, inclusivity, and empowerment, this position calls for a visionary leader adept at navigating the challenges of personnel and budget management while championing the museum's mission. Ideal for a candidate driven by a passion for conservation and a dedication to creating a lasting impact, this role is more than a jobit's a legacy in action, shaping an organization that will inspire generations to come. Learn about the Desert Museum here!


  • Strategic Leadership and Vision (20%): Propel the Museum's strategic direction, interweaving the established vision and plan with our core values. Drive initiatives with a deep focus on empowerment, community engagement, animal wellbeing, and conservation, setting a course for growth and impact.
  • Operational Excellence (20%): Oversee all Museum operations with a strategic approach to deliver on our mission, presenting outstanding exhibits, and optimizing visitor experiences. Ensure all operational facets are efficient, effective, and in harmony with our strategic vision, driving excellence across every aspect of the Museum's activities.
  • Community Engagement and Partnerships (15%): Act as the Museum's ambassador, forging and deepening alliances with community members and organizations. Drive collaborative initiatives that resonate with our strategic vision and amplify our conservation mission.
  • Financial Oversight and Sustainability (15%): Safeguard the Museum's financial wellbeing with prudent budgeting, resource management, and fiscal oversight. Champion sustainability to ensure our financial foundation supports the museum's ambitions now and in the future.
  • Conservation Advocacy and Education (10%): Lead and inspire advocacy and educational endeavors that embody the Museum's dedication to conservation. Engage audiences in meaningful ways to foster a culture of stewardship for our desert environment.
  • Team Leadership and Organizational Culture (10%): Structure and nurture our team, promoting an environment of professional growth, efficiency, and engagement. Champion an organizational culture that values every team member, from staff to volunteers.
  • Fundraising and Resource Development (10%): Elevate our fundraising strategies and donor relations to fuel the Museum's strategic objectives. Cultivate generosity and support through authentic and enduring connections with donors and stakeholders.


The salary for this position ranges from $180,000 to $200,000. Enjoy a highly competitive salary complemented by a robust benefits package.

LOCATION: Tucson, Arizona, USA. The role requires an on-site presence to lead the team and engage with the community, with some travel.


  • Educational Background: Bachelors degree in Natural Sciences; Masters degree preferred.
  • Leadership Experience: Minimum of 10 years of leadership experience in non-profit organizations, with at least 5 years in a management role, demonstrating a strong track record in staff development and establishing partnerships.( Staff: 190 Volunteers: 385)
  • Strategic Planning and Execution: Demonstrated ability in developing and implementing strategic and operational plans. Experience managing accreditation processes and overseeing significant projects or funding initiatives.
  • Communication Skills: Exceptional public speaking and writing skills, with the ability to articulate the Museums mission and vision compellingly.
  • Financial Acumen: Experience in financial management, ensuring the financial sustainability of an organization, with a budget of at least $7-10 million.
  • DEAI Commitment: Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion, with experience in leading institutional DEAI initiatives.
  • Fundraising Expertise: Proven success in fundraising, grant writing, and cultivating lasting relationships with donors and partners.


  • Language Skills: Fluency in Spanish, given the Museum's geographical context and community demographics.
  • Regional Knowledge: Familiarity with the southwestern United States, northern México, and Indigenous nations, particularly in relation to conservation, US/Mexico border habitats, and cross-border issues.
  • Environmental Expertise: Knowledge of climate, water and nonnative species and other environmental challenges relevant to the region.
  • Negotiation Skills: Experience with union negotiations and labor relations
  • Scientific Background: A professional or academic background in science, enhancing credibility and understanding of the Museum's conservation efforts.
  • Operational Experience: Experience with the development and construction of new living collection exhibits, enhancing the Museum's offerings.


To apply for the Executive Director position at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, interested candidates are requested to submit their curriculum vitae in Word format, highlighting relevant experiences and qualifications. Additionally, applicants should include a cover letter detailing their passion for conservation and their specific interest in this role. The deadline for application submissions is April 12, 2024.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    APPLY HERE!

We are an equal opportunity employer with a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. For this position, we are seeking candidates who are U.S. citizens or permanent green card holders. We believe that inclusive teams with diverse perspectives are essential to our success and encourage applicants from all backgrounds to apply, within the remit of the eligibility criteria.