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Guide Dogs of the Desert, Executive Director


Since 1972, Guide Dogs of the Desert (GDD) has made a difference in the lives of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Over the past 45 years, more than 1400 client/dog teams from around the country have graduated from Guide Dogs of the Desert, enjoying richer, fuller and more productive lives.  Attending a 28-day in-residence training program on campus, the blind individual is matched with the highest quality dog that is custom-trained to the individual’s personal needs and home environment – at no cost to the client.

Guide Dogs of the Desert is a $2.24 million, 28-employee service provider to the visually impaired supported by over 200 volunteers who raise puppies for training to be service animals for those in need. All dogs are AKC-registered pedigreed animals who are taught obedience and socialization before their intense specialty training as service animals begins.

Guide Dogs is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, totally reliant upon private sector funding.


Reporting to an 11-person Board of Directors, the Executive Director will supervise a 28-person staff of certified service dog trainers, program managers kennel staff and administrative support personnel with the following direct reports:

Operations & Finance Officer

Director, Client Programs

Director, Canine Development

Director, Breeding Program

Director, Development

Contractors as needed

Key responsibilities include the following:

Act as an ambassador for Guide Dogs of the Desert, representing the organization in a positive and professional manner at all times.

Develop and implement the strategic plan, the long-range plan and the operational objectives of the organization in accordance with the values both inherent and expressed in the mission statement.

Create and maintain an accurate and effective information flow between senior management, the organizational staff and the board of directors, as appropriate.

Provide consistent leadership assuring the sustainability of the organization’s mission, strategy, and annual fiscal objectives.

Assess, develop, encourage and utilize the strengths and unique talents of each staff member and to nurture a professional team morale and positive workplace culture.

Develop and implement fundraising strategies and personally participate in the solicitation of such

Community and Public Relations

The Executive Director ensures that the organization and its mission, programs and activities are consistently and accurately executed to create and sustain a quality brand and presence in the communities it serves — including, but not limited to the Coachella Valley, the blind community, the western states and all other areas where GDD support is prevalent. Its reliable reputation is essential to maintaining positive public regard.

The ED will represent GDD leadership at the national and state level by attending meetings in person and on conference calls involving the blind community.

Development and Fundraising

The ED participates in fundraising planning and implementation and personally handles the major donor fundraising outreach efforts (Individual donors over $10k and bequests to the organization).

The ED assists in identifying resource requirements, researching funding sources, establishing strategies to approach sponsors, and maintaining feedback flows to sponsors. The Executive Director and Development Director will serve as the identifiable figureheads and the “face and voice” of GDD to the community and constituents.

The ED will work with the Development Director and the Board to develop new sources of revenue and expand the scope of fundraising throughout Southern California and other western states.

Administration and Support

The ED directs the overall administration of the organization, advising and informing Board members, staff and external public. S/he ensures all components of the program interface successfully.

In conjunction with the Board and with input from the Department Directors, the ED develops a yearly budget. The budget proposal is submitted to the Board for approval. Once approved, s/he prudently manages organizational resources to deliver the budget successfully. The ED is responsible for on time and accurate tax reporting and filing and financial updates to the Board.


The successful candidate will have at least 10 years of nonprofit management experience that includes five years of management and leadership experience at the executive level. The candidate must be a successful fundraiser, having experience with multiple methods, including major donor solicitation and cultivation, grant writing and reporting, the solicitation of corporate sponsors and management of special events. The candidate must have experience working with a Board of Directors, either as a CEO or as a C-suite executive.

Excellent verbal and written communications skills are required, and the ability to motivate and inspire a team is essential.  The ideal candidate will be familiar with the Coachella Valley philanthropic community and will have a broad-based network of local and regional contacts.

This position requires a bachelor’s degree, preferably in business administration, public administration or a related field. A CFRE credential would be a major plus.


The ideal candidate must be dedicated to the highest standard of human services and a commitment to the important mission of Guide Dogs of the Desert.

The candidate will demonstrate effective problem-solving and decision-making skills. The ability to handle confidential information, including personal data, legal documents, medical records, donor giving history, etc. is essential.

The candidate will have access to organization funds and a credit card and must be a prudent guardian of resources and a person of unquestioned honesty and integrity. The ability to interact with a broad spectrum of people is important and a sense of humor would be a plus.



CA Driver’s license; First Aid Certification

Physical Demands

Ability to lift up to 25 pounds; sit, stand, walk for 30 or more minutes at a time. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.


Our client is offering a highly competitive salary plus a comprehensive benefits package.


If you are interested in being considered for this important leadership opportunity, please submit a brief cover letter and résumé as attachments via e-mail to:

Joseph McCormack, Partner

Michelle Kristel, Managing Partner

McCormack+Kristel, LLC

1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive 110-202

Palm Springs, Ca 92264

T:  323.549.9200 | F: 760-464-0330 | 

All inquiries or referrals will be held in strict confidence.

Please note that your education, dates of employment, compensation and other information provided will be verified prior to employment.

McCormack + Kristel works only with equal opportunity employers.  People of color, people with disabilities and people of diverse sexual orientations, gender expressions and identities are encouraged to apply.