Executive Director

Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services



Website FairShakeELS Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services

The Organization

Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services (Fair Shake) was established in 2013 as the nation’s first nonprofit environmental law firm with the mission of providing access and opening the doors of environmental justice. With a focus on the Appalachian Basin region, Fair Shake provides client-centered legal representation regardless of income to level the playing field for lower income and underserved populations. Fair Shake provides access to the tools needed by individuals and communities to defend their environmental needs.

  • Mission: To foster equal access to environmental justice, provide education in legal service entrepreneurship, and support community empowerment.
  • Guiding Philosophy: Communities with the most environmental burden should have the option to say “no” to further negative impact and have access to the tools of justice and democracy to find healthier environmental outcomes.

Fair Shake serves clients, communities, and attorneys through the following core programs:

  • Client-Centered Legal Counsel: A thriving law firm with increasing demand, Fair Shake’s staff attorneys serve individuals, organizations, and communities through a combination of pro bono, sliding scale, and public interest litigation legal services.
  • Community Democracy Program: Complementary to its legal counsel services, Fair Shake builds capacity and resilience among client communities through organizational consulting, facilitation of local and regional resource planning, and providing templates for legal and educational work so communities can serve as their own advocates in advance of damaging industry development.
  • Incubator: Through its Attorney in Residence program, Fair Shake educates young attorneys in legal services entrepreneurship and incubates start-up legal services organizations to serve the environmental legal needs of underserved low- and middle-income clients.

Position Overview

The new Executive Director of Fair Shake will manage an exciting transition, succeeding the organization’s founding Executive Director. They will lead a young but mighty organization that has successfully exited the start-up phase and now has solid funding, a thriving litigation practice, and a strong reputation. In partnership with the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will guide the organization through its next chapter of strategic visioning while providing staff with people-centered leadership and increasing revenues for all program areas. Additionally, the Executive Director will be responsible for administration, financial management, and overseeing daily operations.

The ideal candidate will possess a thorough understanding of nonprofit leadership with a deep passion for and understanding of environmental justice issues. A creative thinker who is energized by Fair Shake’s unique approach to legal services, the Executive Director will be eager to explore multiple avenues for bolstering capacity to provide access to justice for individuals and communities. They will be highly collaborative in their approach to both staff and client engagement, and nimble in their ability to manage people and foster relationships in a virtual climate. They will strengthen partnerships with current funders and be laser-focused on pursuing new ones, actively working to broaden Fair Shake’s reach and impact.

The Executive Director will oversee a staff of six attorneys and one program manager, make recommendations for additional staffing resources, and manage an annual budget of approximately $800,000. They will report to a six-person Board of Directors and work to grow the board and its committees.

The Executive Director will perform the following duties and will work in accordance with the policies and goals established by Fair Shake and its Board of Directors:

People Management and Administration

  • Collaborate with the Board of Directors to recruit new members and increase board capacity and engagement.
  • Set clear team direction rooted in organizational mission and vision, applying strategic thinking, success celebration, change management, and transparent communication.
  • Create a culture of support, collaboration, engagement, and growth, including creating opportunities for team building, individual professional growth, and organizational development.
  • Institute a strong, collaborative work culture and climate that attracts and retains staff and drives the organization’s mission to develop young attorneys.
  • Direct human resources, including hiring, training, payroll, employee benefits, and recordkeeping.
  • Assess the effectiveness of organizational programs through measurable, objective, and quantitative evidence, and create consistent reporting mechanisms for sharing data with the Board of Directors.
  • Develop organizational policies and hone operational efficiency, including internal technical infrastructure that supports success in a virtual environment.

Revenue Generation and Financial Management

  • Oversee the organization’s finances and develop short- and long-term plans to ensure its financial sustainability.
  • Steward relationships with existing funders and donors, while identifying and pursuing new opportunities to diversify revenue sources.
  • Lead business development efforts with client relationship building and new business acquisition. Build and maintain effective working relationships with clients and partner organizations.
  • Prepare clear and compelling letters of inquiry, grant proposals, and reports about Fair Shake’s programs, effectiveness, and outcomes.
  • Manage budgeting processes, including creation of the annual budget and the consistent delivery of financial information to the Board through accurate reporting.

Litigation Leadership and Strategy

  • Develop and guide implementation of strategies aligned with the organization’s mission, strategic plan, priorities, program areas, and policies.
  • Represent the organization as chief spokesperson, acting as a thought leader and influencer in the regional environmental justice space.
  • Provide leadership to staff by participating in intake discussions, assisting with offers of representation, and working collaboratively to ensure client autonomy and community-centered outcomes.
  • Manage and guide staff development to ensure legal and litigation training, resources, feedback, and support.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

The Executive Director will be a strong collaborator, visionary thinker, and trusted leader who deeply appreciates Fair Shake’s distinctive approach to legal services and community empowerment. All candidates should have senior leadership experience, a proven ability to effectively increase revenues, and experience working with attorneys.

Demonstrable experience, competencies, and qualifications include:

  • Passion for and commitment to the Fair Shake mission and guiding principles.
  • Deep commitment to serving low-income communities.
  • Previous experience with the governance model, philanthropic revenue, and operational aspects of a nonprofit organization.
  • Previous experience in legal services or law practice management.
  • Successful record of revenue generation through business development, grant writing, and/or nonprofit fundraising.
  • An active listener with a mentorship approach to management. A working style that is transparent, encouraging, and collaborative.
  • Demonstrated experience with high-level strategic thinking and planning.
  • Previous financial management responsibility of an organization (i.e. developing budgets, creating financial reports, reporting financial health to the board).
  • Previous administration and operations management responsibilities.
  • Public speaking and excellent communication skills, both written and verbal, with the ability to serve as a strong external spokesperson for an organization.
  • Educational background aligned with the requirements of the position, particularly in the fields of law, environmental advocacy, community and economic development, or nonprofit management.

Performance Objectives

In the first six months, the new Executive Director is expected to continue to deliver outstanding outcomes while successfully completing the following objectives:

  • Meet individually with the Board and Staff to understand the governance and operations of the organization.
  • Review all funding sources, timelines, and deliverables.
  • Research and pursue 3-5 new funding opportunities.
  • Develop a working knowledge of the firm’s caseload and establish systems to ensure continued learning and excellence in representation for the organization’s clients.
  • With the Board, establish a guiding strategy for the organization to achieve organizational goals.


This position offers a competitive salary in the $90,000 – $105,000 range and a traditional benefits package found with other nonprofit organizations of similar size, scope, and scale, including healthcare and retirement.

Work Environment

This position and all staff of Fair Shake work remotely.

How to Apply

Fair Shake has retained Nonprofit Talent to assist with this important organizational change process. Specific questions related to the position may be emailed to Michelle Pagano Heck, President, at Michelle@NonprofitTalent.com. Please direct all inquiries related to this position to Nonprofit Talent, and do not contact Fair Shake.

Resume, position specific cover letter, and salary expectations uploaded here:




Fair Shake is an Equal Opportunity Employer

To apply for this job please visit nonprofittalent.applytojob.com.