Job ID: 2019-1476
New Haven Land Trust-New Haven Farms partners with people to care for our urban landscape so all people discover, access, and enjoy the lands and waters that provide food, health, and life.
This newly merged organization unites two nonprofits that have been leaders and innovators of New Haven’s urban environmental movement. The New Haven Land Trust (NHLT), Connecticut’s first urban land trust, has served the community for nearly 40 years by acquiring and stewarding over 80 acres of nature preserves city-wide and by supporting 55 community gardens throughout New Haven’s diverse neighborhoods. NHLT has grown significantly over the last five years to include programs for young environmental entrepreneurs and a marine and coastal exploration summer camp on Long Island Sound. New Haven Farms (NHF) burst onto the scene seven years ago with its innovative Farm-Based Wellness Program that partners with medical centers to engage people with diet-related chronic disease risk factors in planting, growing, and harvesting at their seven farms across New Haven.
Both organizations have a growing commitment to racial equity and community leadership and have taken strides in cultivating community ownership among its stakeholders. A large part of both organizations’ work, especially New Haven Farms, takes place in bi-lingual settings, with Spanish as the predominant language. The merged organization synergizes closely aligned missions, values, programming, and diverse support networks into a powerhouse leader for advancing engagement and stewardship of urban nature as a resource for healthy people and communities.
The board of this newly formed organization now seeks a courageous leader and enthusiastic fundraiser who can assemble the many combined strengths of NHLT-NHF to launch a new phase of development and growth. This is a tremendous opportunity for an innovative nonprofit leader to grow an organization that is working at the intersection of urban agriculture, public health, food access, participatory community development, environmental education and stewardship, and youth development. The successful candidate will be passionate about these expressions of the mission, will be able to guide the organization in implementing practices that ensure racial and economic equity, and will help transition it into an organization that is primarily led by the communities it serves. She/he/they will also have significant experience and success in raising funds from diverse sources and advancing the strategic direction and operations of a not-for-profit organization with multiple, interlocking program areas.
About New Haven Land Trust-New Haven Farms
These two organizations have been working closely together over a number of years and co-located their offices in 2018. A merger was discussed for the last several years and the two organizations decided to formally initiate the process with the legal combination scheduled for January 1, 2020. In the midst of this, New Haven Land Trust’s executive director, who had significantly grown the organization over the last six years, announced that he would step down from his post to pursue other interests. The Land Trust’s board engaged an interim executive director to lead the organization until the merger was completed and a new executive hired. The merger process has been smooth and supported by all, including staff and board members, program participants, and community stakeholders.
The new organization offers a platform of innovative programs that coactively impact the interrelated spheres of urban agriculture, public health, participatory community development, youth entrepreneurship, and environmental education and stewardship.
The seven farms and more than fifty community gardens managed by NHLT-NHF have a significant urban agricultural footprint in New Haven. The farms and gardens promote community development and public health, most notably through the innovative Farm-Based Wellness Program, which engages people with diet-related chronic disease risk factors in gardening and learning about nutrition and cooking healthy meals at one of the seven farms. All graduates of this program are invited to grow food in their own garden plots at one of the community gardens as part of the Incubator Garden Program, and exemplary graduates of the program become Community Health Ambassadors in their own communities through training in leadership and behavior change methodologies. Community Garden members are encouraged to serve on the Community Garden Committee, which supports the Garden Manager in stewarding the health of both the gardens and the community of growers.
Equally important is the organization’s focus on accessing the natural environment through education, land conservation and stewardship, recreation, and youth development and entrepreneurship. Its innovative Growing Entrepreneurs Program works with New Haven high school students to develop small-business ventures with a positive impact on the environment and the New Haven community. The organization manages six nature preserves, featuring important natural resources and habitats located throughout New Haven. It holds field trips and guided nature walks in the preserves to connect people to the abundance of nature in the city and reinforce the importance of conservation in urban areas. Schooner is a highly successful summer camp program that brings kids ages six to fourteen to the Connecticut shoreline to learn about the rich coastal habitat of the Long Island Sound through shore exploration and sailing. Fifty percent of all campers utilize a scholarship to attend the camp, and over the past two summers, more than half of the sailing program campers were experiencing sailing for the first time.
The organization is supported by a staff of nine full-time and three part-time members. It is governed by a 19-member board of directors comprised of community leaders from the fields of health, law, finance, public policy, non-profit management, and business. While the board is diverse along the dimension of gender and includes a member from their programs, it is committed to expanding racial, ethnic, and other dimensions of diversity to more fully reflect the community that it serves. The organization has a budget of just under $1M, with nearly $350,000 in reserves. Its revenue is generated from a mix of individual, corporate and family foundation, and corporate support, as well as earned revenue through Schooner and the sale of food through a farm stand and restaurant contracts.
Strategic Opportunities and Challenges
New Haven Land Trust-New Haven Farms faces an exciting challenge as it establishes itself as a new, integrated organization. The executive director will have a unique opportunity to leverage the combined strengths of two organizations: a dedicated and competent staff team that has already begun to collaborate; innovative programs that, with further integration, promise to increase impact and reach; and a positive reputation and standing in the community. This positions the organization to cultivate a distinctive array of urban nature programming that integrates related components of health, food access, and environmental sustainability while building a culture and operation that embodies its commitment to racial equity and community ownership. The community connections that each organization brings to the table will increase its reach and enhance fundraising efforts, and the broader, integrated mission is likely to attract larger grants as well as a diverse range of individual donors. Together these strengths create opportunities for growth, expansion, and new innovative directions.
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