The opportunity

Mountain State Spotlight, a nonprofit news organization, seeks a forward-thinking Executive Director to guide a groundbreaking effort to build the kind of journalism organization that West Virginians need.

Our mission is to help West Virginians make our state a better place by producing watchdog journalism that exposes abuses of power by government, business and other institutions. We are partnered with significant national funders, including the American Journalism Project, ProPublica and Report for America, and are creating a network of readers and supporters across our Mountain State.

The successful candidate will have a passion for local journalism, executive leadership experience, a track record of fundraising for mission-driven organizations, and a strong perspective on equitable organization design.

Directing Mountain State Spotlight’s business operations would put you on the forefront of a movement to make local journalism a foundational part of civic life in West Virginia, by enabling the kind of journalism that holds power to account and truly addressing the information needs of the communities we serve.

The organization

Founded in March 2020 by award-winning, veteran West Virginia journalists, Mountain State Spotlight went from pitch to publish in less than six months — in the midst of a raging global pandemic, and unable to have our whole team working in an office together for our entire first year of existence. It has nine employees, with a plan to continue expanding coverage across the state. 

The role 

The Executive Director will help build and quickly grow the organization, which anticipates an $800,000 to $1 million budget this year. You will coordinate Mountain State Spotlight’s fundraising efforts, expand our business model to new revenue streams, and build the financial, human resources, and administrative infrastructure to support our fast-paced growth while cultivating a just and equitable organizational culture. As a partner for our editorial team, you will be a champion for the newsroom, maintaining relationships with funders and sponsors while protecting the independence and autonomy of Mountain State Spotlight’s editorial leaders.

Strategic Vision

  • Work with the organization’s editorial leaders to develop a strategic plan for the next five years. This includes building a fundraising strategy, and defining strategic and hiring priorities in line with Mountain State Spotlight’s editorial mission.
  • Ensure that diversity is a key part of the organization’s framework and that equity and inclusion are ingrained in the organization’s strategic vision when it comes to hiring, compensation and coverage. 
  • Ensure a culture of innovation and collaboration between internal and external stakeholders. 
  • Lead and inspire staff to meet the goals of the organization’s strategic vision while also supporting the needs of the community they serve. 
  • Work with editorial leaders to build new products that will enhance Mountain State Spotlight’s presence as West Virginia’s anchor newsroom. 
  • Develop a brand strategy to bring more awareness to Mountain State Spotlight’s vision and increase its readership.

General Management

  • Ensure the organization’s day-to-day operations and programs are professionally and efficiently administered, holding the organization to the highest levels of transparency, accountability and consistency; set benchmarks for program spending and delivery without losing commitment to the communities being served.
  • Develop, manage and provide oversight of Mountain State Spotlight’s operating budget; ensure that financial systems, budgets, and planning strategies accurately reflect the financial realities of the organization; achieve realistic and attainable financial projections and ensure fiscal stability.
  • Quickly understand and and build systems for measuring the organization’s progress and success; track and disseminate information about Mountain State Spotlight’s impact internally and to its funders and partners.
  • Build and maintain Mountain State Spotlight’s core administrative functions including HR, Finance, Development and Marketing.
  • Manage compliance for all grants and contracts including public and private funders and regulatory bodies.
  • Ensure the organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion commitment and programming spans across all levels of program, staff development and operations.

Fundraising and Revenue

  • Develop and implement a long-term funding and sustainability plan for Mountain State Spotlight.
  • Manage the organization’s fundraising pipeline, including funding from foundations, major donors, and corporate sponsors.
  • Oversee development staff, and coordinate with the editorial team as necessary to galvanize funding support for Mountain State Spotlight.
  • Personally identify, cultivate, and solicit new donors, and maintain active partnerships with all of the organization’s funders.
  • Explore and strategically deploy opportunities for new revenue streams, including sponsorships, events, and tiered membership, to diversify Mountain State Spotlight’s revenue and protect the independence of the newsroom.

Board Relations and Development

  • Serve as a contact for Mountain State Spotlight with its Board of Directors, and be evaluated by benchmarks created by the board.
  • Engage and update the Board of Directors on matters related to Mountain State Spotlight’s revenue and operations; in partnership with the editorial leadership, consistently update the Board on relevant progress and impact.
  • Partner with the Board to recruit new members including members that reflect the diversity of the staff and populations served.
  • Partner with the editorial leadership and Board of Directors on issues related to strategic planning.

You’re a good fit if …

  • You’re passionate about media, local news, and serving the information needs of West Virginia residents.
  • You have at least five years of executive management experience in nonprofits and/or media.
  • You have a proven track record of fundraising for fast-growing organizations or programs.
  • You have experience in P&L management and setting and delivering budgets.
  • You prioritize building an equitable and inclusive organizational culture.
  • You are the kind of leader who brings teams together, fosters a healthy work environment, and motivates people to work toward a common goal.
  • You believe that an independent free press is crucial to a community’s civic engagement. 
  • You’re passionate about building an organization from the ground up and influencing its vision for years to come. 
  • You’re committed to learning and inspiring others around you to do the same. 

Compensation and benefits

Compensation commensurate with experience. 

We’re committed to building an inclusive organization that represents the people and communities we serve. We encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, veterans, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities.

To apply or to ask questions, email Please send us a resume and a cover letter that tells us why you are right for Mountain State Spotlight’s team.