Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition: Executive Director Opportunity

The Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition, the supporting nonprofit partner of the Foothills National Recreation Trail, seeks an experienced leader to serve as its next Executive Director.

The Executive Director will lead the Foothills Coalition in an exciting phase of growth and key initiative implementation, and strengthen the organization’s fundraising, partnerships, and programs. They will serve as the primary fundraiser, chief spokesperson, and relationship-builder for the Coalition, working closely and in collaboration with Pierce County Parks, the Board of Directors, government jurisdictions along the Foothills Trail, community groups and other supporters.

This is an opportunity for a mission-driven leader to play a pivotal role in enhancing our county’s regional trail system, and ensuring the Foothills Trail and the Coalition are welcoming and accessible to all.

Who We Are

Spending much of our history as an all-volunteer-led organization, the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition formed to be the citizen advocate for the construction of a Pierce County trail along the abandoned railroad. 40 years later, we have helped to see nearly 22 miles of completed paved trail sections from the Meeker (East Puyallup) Trailhead to the north edge of Buckley, and leveraged millions of dollars for trail projects in the Puget Sound region. We are a dedicated group of volunteers and consultants, led by an Executive Director since 2022, that are engaged not only in adding miles to and supporting the Foothills National Recreation Trail, but also supporting the build out of the county’s regional trail and active transportation network. We also put on several annual events that help bring thousands of people together on the trail.


Our mission is to work to expand, fund, maintain, promote and advocate for an accessible and inclusive trail system from Mt. Rainier National Park to Puget Sound, fostering recreation, health, active transportation, economic growth, and environmental and historic preservation.


Our vision is an accessible network of world-class trails improving peoples’ lives by connecting communities and destinations throughout Pierce County and beyond.

Our Next Executive Director

The ideal candidate will bring a passion for trails and/or outdoor recreation, a track record of nonprofit leadership and fundraising success, and the ability to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion. They will love getting outside in the communities along the trail, and be comfortable with being the driver of their work and schedule. They will be a skilled communicator and a collaborative leader with the ability to execute the current five year strategic plan and keep the work on course to adding trail miles and creating a sustainable organization.

We expect the new Executive Director will focus on the following key areas:
Strategic Leadership

Oversee the five year strategic plan (2023-2028) and annual work plans to chart the Coalition’s trajectory and priorities, ensuring continued organizational growth and financial sustainability. With consultant support, lead the organization’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access & Belonging Initiative, including operationalizing DEIAB principles and work into the 2025 work plan.

Organizational Partnerships

Collaborate closely with the leadership of Pierce County Parks and other trail jurisdictions on trail development opportunities, maintenance, etc. Work with other trails-related community organizations to help secure funding, matching funds and other support for the build out of the Pierce County Regional Trail Network. Oversee and plan trail maintenance work parties. With consultant support and strong partnerships, lead a community outreach effort to develop a key section of the Foothills Trail; and, with consultant and Board support, work closely with the City of Buckley to oversee the completion of the organization’s first ever capital campaign: a new trailhead and pavilion.

Business Administration

With consultant support, manage the business side of the organization, including budgeting, data entry, contract administration, property & asset management, record keeping, etc. Lead the monthly Board meeting.

Board Leadership

Work closely with the Board of Directors to execute the vision for the five-year strategic plan. Recruit and steward an engaged, diverse Board of Directors, including supporting a newly formed Governance Committee to create and/or update organizational policies and practices.

Fundraising & Event Management

Lead fundraising efforts, including writing and tracking foundation and government grants, major and planned giving programs, membership and appeals; Oversee several events with consultant support, including the annual Rainier to Ruston Relay race; personally cultivate major donors and continue to grow the organization’s funding support.

Communication & Relationships

Serve as the chief spokesperson, relationship builder and representative for the Foothills Coalition with key stakeholders, elected officials, etc., representing the Coalition at groundbreakings and/or trail openings, council meetings, conferences, events, and in communities. With consultant support, manage the organization’s suite of marketing and communications, including the website, social media, e- and printed newsletters, and additional materials as needed.

Ideal Candidate Experience and Skills

The Executive Board of the Foothills Coalition supervises the Executive Director and provides workload expectations and priorities. The Executive Director position receives little direct supervision and has flexibility to establish their work schedule.

Our next Executive Director will have proven leadership, fundraising, relationship, and organizational management experience. The ideal candidate will bring:

  • Five plus years in nonprofit fundraising, especially with appeals, grant writing and major gifts; preference for a candidate familiar with capital campaigns.
  • Demonstrated success in developing strategic partnerships and building community relationships.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication and interpersonal skills; and the ability to engage with diverse stakeholders and community partners.
  • Experience and comfort with working with a Board of Directors and leading public meetings.
  • Strong leadership and management skills, with the ability to lead, inspire and influence a team of contractors, consultants, and volunteers.
  • Integrity, sound judgment, and grace under pressure.
  • Commitment to operationalizing diversity, equity and inclusion into the organizational culture and practices; a passion for building relationships with and trail access for traditionally underrepresented groups.
  • Previous experience in, and knowledge of nonprofit administration. Preferred minimum of five years experience in a nonprofit leadership role.
  • The ideal candidate will have a passion for trails for hiking, biking, walking, and/or running. It is preferred that the selected candidate reside in Pierce County, Washington.

Posting Date: July 18, 2024

Work Schedule & Location: Full-time (40+ hours per week) with flexibility to set your own work schedule. This is a fully remote position. The Executive Director works from home with an expectation of taking in-person meetings along the current and future trail corridor when needed. Preference for the Executive Director to reside in Pierce County, Washington.

Salary & Benefits: $70,000 – $80,000 DOE. Includes employer matched IRA contribution. Paid vacation and sick leave. Monthly reimbursement to help offset the cost of private enrollment in a health plan.

Next steps: Applications submitted by Wednesday, August 7 will be given full consideration. Applications will be reviewed as soon as they are received; initial screening calls will be scheduled on a rolling basis. Early applications are strongly encouraged.

How to Apply

To apply, email your application package to:

Complete application packages include:

  • Resume
  • A cover letter that answers the following:
    • Why do you want to be the Executive Director of the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition? What about our mission and vision resonates with you?
    • What have you learned in your work or volunteer service with nonprofits that would help you be a successful Executive Director?
  • Example of a writing product you created from a current or previous job or volunteer role; i.e., grant application, newsletter or website article, donor letter, etc.

Applications received by August 7th will be given full consideration; early applications are strongly encouraged! All applications will be acknowledged via an email receipt.

Questions regarding this opportunity are welcome and can be directed to:

The All Along the Riverwalk Festival Arts, Education, and Entertainment Festival will be returning to the Puyallup Riverwalk Trail on Pierce County Trails Day – July 27! Born from the inspiration of Art Along the Riverbank on the Isle of Wight, All Along the Riverwalk had its inaugural event in 2020.

“I visited a friend on the Isle of Wight in 2018 and saw people really enjoying art along the river and thought it was something that would really help the Friends of the Puyallup Riverwalk raise awareness about the trail and increase its use,” said John Hopkins, founder of the event.

The Friends had made attempts at event organizing in the past to draw people both near and far to the trail – most notably Families in Motion – which didn’t achieve the goal of getting people to experience the trail.

“There were probably around a dozen vendors, mostly near the entrance of the Trail, so people came to explore the vendors, but didn’t really venture onto the trail itself, so we realized we needed something along the trail to interest people, and art was a great way to do that,” Mr. Hopkins said.

The planning for a wonderful, busy, community gathering began in 2019 to take place in the spring, but unfortunately 2020 had different plans. Like many events (and much of the world) things turned virtual, so the event was scaled back to feature things that “attendees” could participate in online.

“Now we look back on that event as a ‘soft launch,’” Mr. Hopkins said. “We thought it would give us plenty of time to regroup and plan a great in-person event for 2021, but unfortunately we weren’t able to bring it to life in 2021 either, again due to the pandemic.”

But finally, in 2022, the All Along the Riverwalk Festival made its first in-person debut. The event was modest but featured live entertainment, vendors, and most importantly art spanning the trail from the Puyallup Goodwill to Veterans Park.

“It was small, but we were proud,” Mr. Hopkins said. “Thanks to the participation of many local artists, we were able to achieve our goal of drawing people out on the Trail, and it stirred up a lot of ideas of what we could do to build and improve the event.”

One of the first big changes was shifting the date to Pierce County Trails Day – an day with goals in full alignment with those of the All Along the Riverwalk Festival. Others included getting partners to sponsor the event, and creating incentives for artists to enter their work. The changes worked and in 2023, there were more than 40 artists and 1,000 attendees. 

The event organizers expect this year’s event to be bigger and better, and the list of artists entering is very promising. Thanks to a grant through ArtsWA, the Festival is able to offer artists free booths and a handful will even be eligible for a stipend for participating.

“When you reduce the barrier to entry, it really opens up the people who are willing to participate,” Mr. Hopkins said. “For some, this may be the first time their art has been publicly displayed and that’s a valuable opportunity for so many who may not have the chance to show their work at a gallery or pay to show at an event.”

While the event is a great opportunity for artists and an attraction for those from out of town to see what Puyallup has to offer, it’s also the perfect chance for locals to discover what great resources are available right in their backyard. While the Riverwalk Trail is used by many for leisure, it’s also a practical option for car-free transportation!

This year’s All Along the Riverwalk Festival Arts, Education, and Entertainment Festival will offer art installations along the whole trail, with live music and a central hub located at Veterans Park. The event will be on July 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. More information is available at

Partners for this year’s event include the Foothills Coalition, ArtsWA, Arts Downtown, Pierce Conservation District, City of Puyallup, Puyallup Parks & Recreation, Daffodil Valley Volkssport Association, 1st Security Bank, and Puyallup Towing.