Wave Aquatics Executive Director

Kirkland, Washington, United States Full-time

Wave Aquatics

Executive Director Opportunity

Posting Date: September 7, 2018
Full consideration will be given to applications received by October 5, 2018


Wave Aquatics is a proven leader in aquatics programming.  For over thirty years, Wave has been serving Seattle’s Eastside neighborhoods, experiencing steady growth over the years and today managing three aquatic centers and offering programs including swim lessons, competitive swim team, water polo and competitive masters.

Wave is entering a new chapter as it takes on the task of working with Eastside municipalities to upgrade and expand facilities and programming to meet a rapidly growing population and increased demand for quality aquatics programs.

Wave seeks an energetic, strategic leader with the vision, innovation and experience to lead the organization and manage the opportunities and challenges that accompany rapid, large-scale growth. The new Executive Director will inspire, motivate and support the professional development of a young, passionate staff team, and have the experience to mobilize funds and advance government partnerships to improve and develop aquatics facilities.

About Wave Aquatics

Wave Aquatics is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides a range of public aquatics programs and facilities management services in order to enhance the health, fitness, safety, recreation, and quality of life of Seattle’s Eastside residents. Programs instill confidence, resilience, team work, health, and a strong work ethic.

Founded in 1987, the organization began when Northshore, Redmond, and Totem Lake swim teams merged in order to provide more opportunity and a stronger foundation for swimmers in the Lake Washington and Northshore school district areas. Since then, Wave has expanded its reach to include services at the Juanita Aquatics Center, Redmond’s Hartman Pool and the Willows Preparatory School Pool. Their programs serve nearly 2,000 Eastside residents monthly through its competitive swim team, swim lessons, Lake Washington Masters swim program, water polo team, recreational swimming and pool rentals. With Eastside pool capacity rapidly falling behind population growth, Wave Aquatics is the proven leader in aquatics management poised to partner with local governments to solve this problem by refurbishing and expanding facilities. 

Wave Aquatics operates as an independent nonprofit with a staff team of 85.  The organization is in strong financial standing, with an annual budget of approximately $2.2 million and a healthy financial reserve. Wave has a dynamic and growing team led by Interim Executive Director, Matt Eldridge, and a dedicated Board of Directors.

For more information, visit www.waveaquatics.org

About the Position

The Executive Director provides strategic leadership and direction to ensure Wave Aquatics achieves its mission through providing high-quality aquatics programming to Puget Sound’s Eastside community. In collaboration with the Board of Directors and the staff leadership team, the Executive Director is the key thought leader of the organization and responsible for developing and ensuring implementation of all strategic plans and initiatives.  The Executive Director directly supervises the staff leadership team, which is comprised of: Aquatics Director, Swim Team Head Coach, Masters Head Coach, Water Polo Head Coach, and the Business Manager/Controller.

Key Responsibilities

Board Development and Management

The Executive Director supports the Board of Directors to execute the organization’s strategic plan and recruit, orient, and train new Board members. In collaboration with Board leadership, the Executive Director ensures Wave Aquatics operates as a financially sound business with strong administration and operations practices, and brings vision and passion to Wave Aquatics’ strategic growth.

Fundraising, Community Relations, and Marketing

The Executive Director is responsible for leading the organization’s community relations, marketing, and fundraising efforts. This includes garnering support for Wave Aquatics’ continued growth and impact by developing a comprehensive fundraising plan and engaging in major donor cultivation, overseeing grant writing, supporting board members in fundraising efforts, and building philanthropic and corporate partnerships. 

Financial Management and Oversight

The Executive Director provides overall financial oversight for the organization and works with the Board Finance Committee to prepare the annual budget and financial reports. Ensures adherence to finance policies and accounting procedures are in place and followed.

Staff Team Management

The Executive Director is directly responsible for hiring, supervising and prioritizing professional development of the staff leadership team while providing leadership and motivation for all staff members. The Executive Director communicates vision and goals clearly to staff, solicits staff input, and models and encourages effective teamwork and collaboration.   

Strategic Partnerships and Facility Expansion

The Executive Director is responsible for fostering and strengthening relationships with strategic partners, including, but not limited to, the Cities of Redmond, Kirkland and Bellevue, King County, and the Lake Washington School District. This includes advocating for aquatics programs and working collaboratively with public sector partners to improve and expand aquatics facilities in the area.

Program Leadership

The Executive Director, in collaboration with the Director of Operations, ensures program goals are aligned with the strategic plan, fosters program partnerships, and ensures facility operations and management are effective and efficient and evaluation practices are followed to ensure quality program services.

The Ideal Candidate

Wave Aquatics is looking for a unique leader who demonstrates a genuine understanding of and commitment to aquatics programs and shares our values and enthusiasm for enhancing the health, fitness, safety, recreation, and quality of life for Eastside residents.

Specifically, we are seeking an individual with 5 or more years of relevant leadership experience, with a focus on managing a complex organizational structure and budgets of $2-5 million, and supporting a large, young staff team. Ideally s/he will have prior experience with recreational programming, as well as experience with facilities management. Experience should include a proven track record of effectively working with city and county governments to develop and expand successful public-private partnerships.

A successful candidate will be an excellent communicator with the ability to facilitate crucial conversations and make tough decisions. An important talent is to listen and communicate effectively with a variety of audiences: parents, staff, Board and community partners. The ability to develop strong and trusted relationships with each of these audiences to build long term partnerships for Wave Aquatics is key. 

S/he will have experience effectively hiring, supporting, and managing staff and providing opportunities to foster professional development and growth. Demonstrated success at working in partnership with an independent board of directors to achieve goals is another important criterion.

As the leader of an 80+ staff member organization, it is key the Executive Director have an aptitude for delegation and prioritization of duties to appropriate administrative/management staff, with a clear understanding of risk and impact. 

Strong candidates will have good computer skills and the ability to effectively review, analyze, and present business and financial information to help the organization make the best decisions. Successful fundraising experience, including grants and cultivating major donors, is a priority.

Key Attributes

  • Significant past leadership experience overseeing an organization, program, or team, ideally as an Executive Director. Experience with facility management and leading large staff teams is particularly desired
  • A strategic thinker who is able to think conceptually, imaginatively, systematically, and opportunistically to achieve organizational success
  • Long-term relationship builder and proven networker who can catalyze participation and investment from a wide array of partners
  • Proven track record of success with fundraising, especially cultivating and asking for gifts from individuals, foundations, and corporations, as well as experience managing a CRM such as Salesforce
  • Excitement about program and facilities expansion, and willingness to take on the challenges that naturally occur with organizational growth
  • Experience recruiting, developing, and working with a board of directors
  • Prior experience building capacity and growing an organization or program of significant scope
  • Strong speaking, listening, and written communication skills, including public speaking
  • Comfort working independently, as well as collaboratively in a larger system
  • A Bachelor’s degree; Associates degree and progressively-responsible experience may substitute for Bachelor’s degree.

Compensation and Benefits

This is a full-time exempt position that reports to the Board of Directors and requires a willingness to work some evenings and weekends and travel to the aquatics facilities in Kirkland and Redmond. The expected salary range is between $90,000-$110,000, depending on experience and skills. 

Wave Aquatics offers a benefits package including medical and dental insurance.  Wave Aquatics provides 10 days of vacation as well as 8 days of paid holidays. The work schedule is very flexible and employees receive a 15% discount on Wave program fees. Wave Aquatics’ administrative offices are located in Kirkland, Washington on Seattle’s Eastside in the beautiful and scenic Pacific Northwest.


The search for this position is being facilitated by Clover Search Works, a search firm that provides a full range of search services to nonprofit organizations in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Clover Search Works is honored to partner with Wave Aquatics to recruit an Executive Director who will provide leadership to realize its important mission.

Questions regarding this opportunity are welcomed and can be directed to Julie Edsforth of Clover Search Works.  Email: julie@cloversearchworks.com ⏐Phone: 206-979-0514