National Program Director

About Big City Mountaineers 

At Big City Mountaineers, we work alongside the transformative powers of nature to foster a lasting impact in the lives of youth from disinvested communities. BCM creates opportunities for 12 to 18 year-olds to connect with nature and realize their own sources of strength, resilience, confidence, serenity and joy by providing free, fully outfitted, and professionally led outdoor experiences. BCM’s programming culminates in a weeklong backcountry trip, which is often the first time the youth we serve experience the outdoors in such a way. The BCM experience enables youth to take on healthy and relevant challenges and cultivate a connection to themselves, their community, to nature, and to joy. 

For over thirty years, BCM’s programming has shown staying power beyond the norm, and has come to be a recognized and highly regarded national nonprofit that is supported by a stable operating budget.  BCM is at an exciting point in its history, one that holds great potential and opportunity to reimagine how the organization can best deliver on its mission. Our team includes a dedicated staff, seasonal trip instructors, and volunteers. 

Though we are headquartered in Colorado, Big City Mountaineers’ regional hubs touch both coasts, and several locations in between. We are located on the ancestral territories the Ute, (Denver, CO), the Sioux and Anishinibawaki (Minneapolis, MN), the Ohlone, Ramaytush, Chochenyo, and Muwekma (San Francisco Bay Area), the Duwamish (Seattle, WA), the Massachusett and Pawtucket (Boston, MA), and the Muscogee Creek and Shawnee (Birmingham, AL).

Position Overview

The National Program Director (NPD) holds primary responsibility for BCM’s programming and mission-directed work nationwide.  This includes leading and supporting a team of six Regional Program Managers, providing strategic vision and direction for BCM’s programming, project managing the organization’s continuous program improvement processes, and holding responsibility for the organization’s field risk and safety practices and procedures.  The NPD will take lead in troubleshooting program challenges that arise leading up to and during the program season, and will create and implement plans to improve program quality, staff capacity, impact evaluation, and future program development.

As part of the organization’s leadership team, the National Program Director will collaborate closely with the Executive Director and the Director of Development to steward the organization’s direction and culture. The NPD can also expect to collaborate with all staff, and the Board Risk and Safety committee to best understand and support BCM’s programming and each region’s work. As the Regional Program Manager team operates remotely, exemplary people management skills and experience with remote teams is required.

This role reports to and is supported by the Executive Director, with whom the incumbent will work closely. The NPD will have ample opportunity to think creatively and expansively about their work and hold decision making responsibilities relative to the creation of the organization’s program structures and systems.  The NPD will regularly communicate work progress and goals to the Executive Director and Board of Directors.  The NPD will also represent BCM to the external community and hold many outward-facing relationships.

The National Program Director will work out of BCM’s headquarters in Arvada, CO (preferred), or one of BCM’s other program regions: Seattle WA, SF Bay Area, Minneapolis MN, Boston MA, Birmingham, AL.  No candidates will be considered who live outside of these regions.  Some travel is expected; the National Program Director can expect to make 3-6 trips to BCM’s various regions per calendar year.

Essential Duties

Organizational and Program Team Leadership

  • Manage, support, and hold accountable a team of remote Regional Program Managers, ensuring each has what they need to be successful, coaching each to realize their full professional potential, and holding each to their own – and the organization’s – expectations
  • Communicate closely with the leadership team (Executive Director, Director of Development) to ensure programming drives and effectively aligns with organizational strategy and fundraising and communication efforts
  • Lead weekly program team meetings, hold weekly 1:1 meetings with direct reports
  • Provide training and professional development to program staff
  • Participate in Board of Directors Risk and Safety Committee meetings, represent programming to the Board of Directors during annual and quarterly Board meetings
  • With the Executive Director, create and monitor BCM’s annual program budget, ensuring that program expenses stay within budget annually
  • Represent BCM publicly at events and meetings as needed and appropriate

Program Strategy, Execution, and Logistics

With support from the Executive Director and input from the program staff,

  • Set the vision for BCM’s program and youth impact model
  • Maintain BCM’s seasonal program calendar and national program schedule, set annual deadlines for program activities
  • Create, modify, and maintain systems and structures that ensure program staff collaboration and alignment across regions
  • Establish BCM’s program quantity and quality goals and impact metrics, track progress towards goals annually, revise goals quarterly
  • Oversee and manage BCM’s youth registration and youth agency agreement processes
  • Lead BCM’s seasonal instructor recruitment and hiring practices annually, delegating as appropriate to Regional Manager
  • Update BCM’s volunteer and instructor training resources annually, including BCM’s program manual
  • Maintain all necessary permits for operation, including annual land agency permits
  • Conduct program and impact evaluation at the end of every season
  • Manage relationships necessary to maintain BCM’s Canoe Camp facility in Tower, MN
  • Manage relationships with BCM’s transportation provider
  • Support BCM’s Volunteer and Operations Coordinator to effectively address program needs, including volunteer screening, gear shipping, satellite phone and PLB subscriptions, and resource procurement

Risk Management

  • Maintain an organizational culture of safety by communicating and upholding BCM’s policies and guidelines and keeping current with industry standards and trends
  • Manage BCM’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and emergency response, on-call scheduling, and incident response procedures
  • Serve in an on-call capacity for Regional Managers while trips are in the field
  • Establish a culture of reporting for incidents and near misses, regularly review all field-based incidents with staff, compile safety and incident report at the end of every season  
  • Manage program risks by updating and evaluating activity waivers, background checks, authorized drivers, emergency documentation, equipment inspections, insurance documentation, and other relevant items 
  • Serve as primary point of contact with BCM’s Medical and Mental Health Advisors and risk and safety consultant


Required Experience & Skills: 

  • Personal passion for and unwavering commitment to BCM’s mission, values, and principles, including principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Deep motivation to increase access to the outdoors for youth from disinvested communities and belief in the power of nature-based experiences
  • Exceptional people manager with proven track record of effectively supporting remote teams
  • Experienced and accomplished field practitioner: 5+ years leading field experiences for youth similar to BCM’s programming, 3+ years supervising others to do the same
  • Demonstrated ability to create and improve program strategy and vision in similar environments and to engage others to buy into such vision
  • Love for data, experience effectively collecting and analyzing data sets (both qualitative and quantitative) and making data-informed decisions 
  • Collaborative spirit, eager to work within and across a small organizational hierarchy 
  • Ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders, both in person and electronically
  • Ability to cultivate trusting interpersonal relationships and connect with people across lines of difference
  • Resident of Denver, CO Metropolitan Area or one of BCM’s program regions (Boston MA, Minneapolis MN, Seattle WA, Birmingham AL, SF Bay Area, CA)

Additional Skills & Qualifications

  • Familiarity with the local communities BCM works in, and the natural areas BCM utilizes during its courses
  • Personal passion for outdoor recreation and experiences in nature
  • Experience working and collaborating with a remote team
  • Familiarity with Salesforce or similar CRM 
  • Experience working in nonprofit organizations the size of Big City Mountaineers
  • Knowledge of and connections to the land management agencies BCM’s work that operate in our current service regions and nationally.
  • Experience working directly with youth who hold traditionally marginalized identities or who come from disinvested communities, and/or the organizations that serve them.
  • Undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in relevant or related field

Employment & Compensation

This is a full-time, exempt position, with a starting annual salary range of $70,000 – $85,000 per year. The National Program Director will be eligible to receive medical, dental, and vision insurance within one month of hire.  Big City Mountaineers employees enjoy a generous paid time off policy and flexibility in terms of work schedule. Employees have access to additional benefits after an initial period of employment. 

Benefits include: 

  • Health, Dental, and Vision insurance (with options for coverage to be 100% employer paid)
  • 34 paid days off per calendar year
  • $250 annual anniversary bonus
  • $100 discretionary professional development stipend
  • Autonomy and flexibility over work schedule 
  • 401k program (BCM does not currently provide a match)
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Optional long and short term disability insurance
  • Optional life insurance, hospital insurance, accident insurance, critical illness insurance
  • Optional Flexible Spending Accounts (medical, parking, transit, dependent care)
  • Optional Legal/ID shield 
  • Mileage reimbursement (federal rate) for use of personal vehicle
  • All expenses paid annual staff camping trip
  • Pro discounts (usually 40%) on outdoor gear and other member rewards

The anticipated start date for this position is September 23, 2024. Onboarding will coincide with our annual all staff camping trip that week.

Application Process

Please submit a resume and cover letter detailing why you believe your experience, capacity, and passions align with BCM’s needs to In your cover letter, be sure to address the following: 

  • Your professional experience and track record of success working in nonprofit outdoor youth development programs 
  • Your personal “Why”, both in terms of our mission and why this is the right moment and role for you in your professional path
  • How your personal identity and/or lived experiences plays a role in your motivation and ability to do this work

Please combine both documents into a single PDF file, and use the subject heading format [Your Full Name] – National Program Director Application(there are several free PDF creator tools online to help you with this)

All applications must be received no later than July 19 @ 5:00 pm MT. If we feel you are a potential fit, we will be in touch to schedule an interview; first-round interviews will begin in July 22.  Candidates who move on to later stages of our interview process can expect to submit a work sample that showcases their skills applicable to this role.  

Big City Mountaineers is invested in cultivating a diverse candidate pool and is interested in connecting with candidates whose identities and/or lived experiences are similar to the youth we serve. We understand that our next National Program Director may not have taken a traditional professional path, and we encourage interested individuals to apply even if they don’t meet every one of our additional qualifications listed.

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