Executive Director

Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative   Durango, CO   Full-time     Management
Posted on March 15, 2024
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Location: Southwest Colorado

Preferred Application Deadline: April 8, 2024

Position Overview:

Are you a dynamic and collaborative leader interested in reinventing the rural education experience so that all young people are prepared for college and careers? Can you build relationships and teams across communities and organizations, bringing together champions from across sectors to achieve a common goal? Can you balance being organized and detail-oriented while also adapting flexibly as the context and organizational needs shift?

The Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative seeks a new executive director to lead and implement our bold vision.

The Collaborative seeks to level the playing field for students in our rural districts, so that they have access to the same high-quality college and career opportunities available in urban areas. Our goal is to creatively eliminate the barriers imposed by time, location, and logistics to ensure that every student in the region is able to identify and pursue the career that most closely matches their skills, interests, and talent.

Working closely with participating districts and communities, the Executive Director will lead the execution of the overall vision and strategy for the Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative. The Executive Director will work with school leaders, districts, higher education partners, industry leaders, and the broader community to build understanding, sharpen strategic plans, support the execution of the goals of the Collaborative, and monitor progress along the way. As a key leader for a unique partnership of districts, higher education, and industry partners, the Executive Director will support stakeholders collectively and individually, ensuring that partners within the Collaborative have the necessary operational and financial support to develop and continuously improve innovative program offerings and exemplify excellence in student achievement. As a nonprofit leader, the Executive Director will serve as a local, regional, and national spokesperson, with responsibility for external relations, fundraising, and coordination of a strong Board of Directors.

The Executive Director reports directly to the Board of Directors, which is made up of representatives from participating districts, higher education, industry partners, tribe and community members. The role is based in Southwest Colorado, and the Collaborative aims for the Executive Director to start in the role June 2024.

Who We Are

In 2019, five school districts in southwest Colorado (Archuleta, Bayfield, Durango, Ignacio, and Silverton), Pueblo Community College, and Fort Lewis College formed the Southwest Colorado

Education Collaborative to expand opportunities for all students in the region. The Collaborative strengthens existing college and career pathway components, and develops new ones that are available to any student, in any district. This initiative supports school districts in developing deeper partnerships to address common challenges while allowing each district and community to retain its unique identity. The Collaborative has been awarded a $3.7 Million RISE grant through Governor Polis’ office to advance the work as well as two follow up grants - the Rural CoAction and Opportunity Now (in addition to other funding sources). For more information about the Collaborative, please visit the website at https://www.swcoedcollaborative.org/.


The core responsibilities of the Executive Director include, but are not limited to:

Leadership, Partnership, and Strategy

  • In collaboration with the Board of Directors, lead the development of the Collaborative's strategy, ensuring the work meets the organization's bold vision
  • Cultivate and strengthen the Collaborative’s relationships with participating district and school leaders, other school stakeholders, institutions of higher education, employers, current and potential future partners, and state and federal agencies
  • Serve as liaison between participating districts, schools, higher education and industry partners, and the nonprofit board, building relationships within and across the participating communities
  • Manage meetings of the Board of Directors

Collaborative Planning, Talent, and Continuous Improvement

  • Design and implement systems across the Collaborative for development and approval of annual plans consistent with the Collaborative’s efforts
  • Build strong relationships with school leaders and Concurrent Enrollment and CTE coordinators, understand their needs, and help them access resources and supports aligned to those needs
  • Identify and coordinate access to high caliber partner organizations
  • Facilitate collaboration and shared professional development across districts, higher education and industry partners, and identify opportunities for the sharing of resources and expertise
  • Develop and implement systems for sharing best practices and lessons learned across districts, higher education and industry partners in the Collaborative and beyond
  • Partner with participating districts and schools, higher education and industry partners, and where applicable, expert support organizations, to support strategies for teachers, leaders, and other school staff

Accountability and Monitoring

  • Build nonprofit and school-level capacity to collect, analyze, and respond to data to inform continuous improvement efforts
  • Regularly evaluate program effectiveness and monitor results, tracking and communicating progress toward strategic plan and grant goals
  • Build strong value propositions and communicate results effectively to broad stakeholder groups


  • Collaborate with participating stakeholders to develop and maintain operational guidelines, particularly relating to staffing, budgeting, student recruitment and enrollment, technology/IT, facilities, equity, transportation, purchasing, and other policies
  • Coordinate and resolve issues between partners


  • Oversee the budgeting process for the nonprofit and maximize budget efficiencies for the Collaborative
  • Serve as the Collaborative’s point person on all financial aspects of the nonprofit, including budgeting, shared service contracts, and procurement
  • Work closely with participating stakeholders and their finance teams to ensure smooth functioning of key financial systems

External Relations

  • Serve as a spokesperson for the Collaborative, articulating a clear vision of the partnership’s strategic goals and objectives and engaging all stakeholders
  • Communicate with and make regular presentations to the Collaborative Board of Directors and participating School Boards
  • Develop and share communications materials about the Collaborative’s strategy and progress, including an annual report highlighting the performance of the Collaborative
  • Develop and execute a plan to secure additional funding for the nonprofit from philanthropic partners, state grants, or other sources
  • Create strong brand recognition and positive publicity for the Collaborative in local, state, and national settings

Skills, Knowledge, Qualifications and Experience

  • A demonstrated commitment to improving student outcomes, especially in rural schools
  • A demonstrated commitment to equity and to closing opportunity and achievement gaps
  • Familiarity with school operations, including finance, operations, human capital, and accountability systems (prior school leadership experience preferred)
  • Demonstrated knowledge of and interest in concurrent enrollment and CTE programs
  • Ability to organize effectively, prioritize and oversee implementation of multiple initiatives
  • Ability to develop strong relationships and buy-in from key stakeholders across different communities, including the Collaborative board, district, higher education and industry leaders, state and federal agencies, local school boards, support organizations, school and community stakeholders, and potential donors
  • Flexibility to adapt quickly in the face of change
  • Excellent communicator comfortable with public speaking and development of communications messages and materials
  • Outstanding problem solver, strategic thinker, and decision maker, balancing data, wisdom, experience, and judgment to make sound decisions
  • Incredible work ethic and ability to do whatever it takes to get the job done
  • High standards of excellence for self and for others
  • Bachelor’s degree required (advanced degree preferred)
  • At least 7 – 10 years of education-related work experience

Salary and Benefits:

Starting salary for this role is $90,000 - $110,000 and is commensurate with experience. The Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative will offer a comprehensive benefits package to include health and dental insurance, retirement benefits, life and disability insurance.


Interested and qualified applicants should send a resume and statement of interest to Sara Butler at sbutler@empowerschools.org. Please save your documents using the convention Last Name_First Name_Resume and Cover Letter Last Name_First Name_Cover Letter in pdf or docx format. Please note “SWCEC Executive Director” in the subject line of your email.

Our preferred application deadline is April 8, 2024. We do not guarantee review of applications received after this date.

The Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other status protected by law or regulation. We encourage individuals from historically underrepresented backgrounds to apply.