The opportunity

Mountain State Spotlight, a nonprofit news organization based in Charleston, WV, seeks an Executive Director to build local support for independent journalism in West Virginia.

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, The Ford Foundation, Report for America, and others, and are building a network of readers and supporters across the Mountain State.

The successful candidate will have a passion for local journalism, nonprofit leadership experience, a track record of building fundraising systems to multiply revenue for mission-driven organizations, and a strong perspective on equitable organization design and people management.

This position is an opportunity to take a promising new organization in a beautiful, complex state, and grow it into a vital sustainable West Virginia institution for decades to come. It would put you on the forefront of a national 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 is producing impactful stories, including investigations that have changed state laws that kept information about jail deaths secret; forced a judge with a conflict of interest to recuse himself from a major case over the treatment of kids in foster care; and brought new attention to environmental justice concerns in a Black community that’s home to a major polluter of the local air. Our coverage is built on reporters’ enterprise and draws on tips from readers around the state, taking West Virginians deep into how policy decisions affect them and their communities. We’ve grown quickly to an organization with 12 positions and an annual budget of $1.2 million.

The role 

The Executive Director will partner with the founding editor and the board of directors to lead the organization’s continued growth. They will lead and carry out Mountain State Spotlight’s fundraising effort, including the development and growth of major donors; expand our business model to include new revenue streams such as corporate underwriting; partner with newsroom leadership to set and meet targets for audience and membership growth, greatly expanding awareness and support of Mountain State Spotlight across the state; and develop our financial, human resources, and administrative infrastructure to support our fast-paced growth, while cultivating a just and equitable organizational culture. This role sits on the business side, but the Executive Director will be a champion for the newsroom as well, maintaining relationships with funders and sponsors while protecting the independence and autonomy of Mountain State Spotlight’s editorial leaders.

Fundraising and Revenue

  • Develop and implement a long-term funding and sustainability plan for Mountain State Spotlight, that includes the generation of enough revenue from diverse sources to not only sustain the organization at its current size, but grow to expand coverage across the state.
  • Build a strong coalition of local supporters for local news across West Virginia, including (local institutional funders, major donors, corporate partners, and members. 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.
  • Be Mountain State Spotlight’s top evangelist by ensuring potential supporters are aware of the organization’s journalism and its impact on West Virginia communities and policies. Work with editorial leaders to develop a strategic case for support that demonstrates the need for local journalism.
  • Grow Mountain State Spotlight’s fundraising pipeline; personally identify, cultivate, and solicit new donors, and maintain active partnerships with all of the organization’s funders. Seek these strong prospects for support among those across the state who are interested in democracy, public service, civic engagement, and improving the future of West Virginia through journalism.
  • Hire a development manager and oversee coordination between the business and editorial teams to tell the story of Mountain State Spotlight’s impact in the state.

Strategic Vision

  • Work with the organization’s editorial leadership to develop a strategic plan for the next five years. This includes building a fundraising strategy, defining strategic priorities, creating a staffing plan, and developing a brand strategy in line with Mountain State Spotlight’s 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 and are realized when it comes to hiring, compensation, and growth opportunities. 
  • Ensure a culture of innovation and collaboration between internal and external stakeholders. 
  • Work with editorial leaders to build new products that will enhance Mountain State Spotlight’s presence as West Virginia’s anchor newsroom and meet the information needs of all West Virginians. 

Finance & Operations

  • Ensure the organization’s day-to-day operations and programs are professionally and efficiently administered, holding Mountain State Spotlight to the highest levels of transparency, accountability and consistency; set benchmarks for program spending and delivery while fulfilling our commitment to the communities being served.
  • Develop, manage and oversee Mountain State Spotlight’s operating budget; ensure that financial systems, budgets, and planning strategies accurately reflect the financial realities of the organization; achieve realistic financial projections and ensure fiscal stability.
  • Quickly understand 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.
  • Manage cash flow and develop strategies for cash management and investment of assets.
  • 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.

Board Relations and Development

  • Serve as a primary contact for Mountain State Spotlight with its Board of Directors, and be evaluated against benchmarks created by the Board.
  • Engage and update the Board of Directors  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 Board on fundraising efforts.
  • 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, and you believe that an independent free press is crucial to a community’s civic engagement. 
  • 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, including building new donor pipelines.
  • 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’re passionate and entrepreneurial about working in a startup environment and influencing its vision for years to come. 
  • You have outstanding written and verbal communication skills to be able to persuade internal and external audiences.
  • You’re committed to learning and inspiring others around you to do the same. 

Compensation and benefits

Compensation will be commensurate with experience, and is expected to be in the range of $90,000 – $110,000, along with a full benefits package.

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 include a resume and a cover letter that tells us why you are right for Mountain State Spotlight’s team.