How The Trustees recruited a multi-faceted leader with a unique background to grow philanthropic and community support

The Trustees is one of Massachusetts’ largest nonprofits and the nation’s first conservation and preservation organization. The Trustees’ passion is to protect and share with everyone the irreplaceable natural and cultural treasures under its care, which includes more than 100 special spaces totaling nearly 27,000 acres. Each year, more than 2 million people visit The Trustees’ reservations, 250,000 people participate in its more than 5,000 programs and events, and volunteers contribute over 50,000 hours of assistance in all aspects of its work. The organization is funded and supported by visitors, supporters, volunteers, and more than 60,000 member households. 

The Opportunity

The Trustees engaged us in 2021 in their search for a Portfolio Director, the Islands. Based in Martha’s Vineyard and reporting to the headquarters in Boston, this unique position would play a vital role in advancing The Trustees’ commitment to public access and community engagement, coastal resiliency, and farm-based learning. The organization was seeking a multi-faceted leader who could draw on diverse experiences and expertise to oversee four significant areas:

  • As the face of the organization on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, the Director would partner with local communities to foster relationships and deepen engagement to deliver key performance indicators and business goals. This includes an ability to balance the needs of diverse groups, including conservationists dedicated to preserving public, open spaces, native populations who have a long history on the island, private landowners, and fishing communities.
  • As a leader of staff and volunteers, the Director would inspire creativity, innovation and growth in public programs and engagement.
  • As hospitality leader, the Director would be responsible for ensuring all staff and volunteers consistently deliver an excellent visitor experience.
  • As a business leader, the Director would be part of a broader regional and statewide team focused on business planning, financial performance, membership, and enterprise revenue growth plans and achievement.

The Results of Our Partnership

Key to the successful completion of the search was…

  • Our ability to discover candidates outside of our existing network who matched the unique profile The Trustees was seeking.
    Not only was this search a first of its kind for us, it was also a highly unique position sector-wide. By employing innovative research methods and through extensive outreach and sourcing, we were able to identify a strong pool of candidates who understood the culture of and were open to living on Martha’s Vineyard, had knowledge of land conservation practices and climate change issues, had a history of partnering with diverse constituencies in an external-facing role, and possessed a hospitality/customer service background.
  • A strong, collaborative partnership with The Trustees.
    Our client was committed to the continued progress and success of the search. Together, we developed a clear set of qualifications and ensured all candidates had a deep understanding of expectations, as well as the organization’s opportunities and challenges. This was especially key as the organization was simultaneously navigating a CEO transition and seeking to solidify its leadership at all levels.

The search concluded with the successful hiring of Darci Schofield. Darci joined The Trustees from the National Recreation and Parks Association, where she served as Senior Program Manager. In that role, Darci designed and implemented technical assistance across the U.S. on park access for equity, health, and resilience and designed and developed new business models. Previously she was a Senior Environmental Planner at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, where she produced 15 environmental plans on climate vulnerability, natural hazard mitigation, climate-smart parks, and nature-based solutions for climate.

Looking Forward

The Trustees remains focused on growing the support they need to preserve and share globally that rare habitats that are so critical to the Islands’ communities and its visitors.  

I am so grateful that Development Guild reached out to me about this role, especially since I wasn’t actively in the job market. Even though The Trustees was Development Guild’s client, I always felt valued. Their consultants were transparent, supportive, and communicative throughout the entire process. It was an excellent experience.

- Darci Schofield, placed as Portfolio Director, The Islands at The Trustees

Contact us to learn more about our executive search services.