Executive Director 

Reports To: Board of Directors 

Status: Full-Time 

Exempt Salary: $90,000 + Benefits 

Location: Portland, Oregon 

A Place of Inspiration and Community 

Founded in 2000, Lan Su Chinese Garden is an oasis of beauty and harmony created to inspire and engage the community in appreciation of Chinese culture. Lan Su Chinese Garden, located in the heart of dynamic and diverse Old Town/China Town is one of Portland’s greatest cultural and horticultural treasures. With a budget of $1.75 million, the Garden annually serves over 135,000 visitors and engages 4,000 members in activities and experiences associated with Chinese gardens, history, and all aspects of Chinese culture. The result of a collaboration between Portland and its sister city Suzhou, located in China’s Jiangsu province and famous for its beautiful Ming Dynasty gardens, Lan Su was built by Chinese artisans from Suzhou and is the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China. Much more than just a beautiful botanical garden, Lan Su is a creative wonder — a powerfully inspiring experience based on a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition that melds art, architecture, design and nature. 

An Opportunity of a Lifetime 

Lan Su Chinese Garden seeks an experienced, energetic, and visionary Executive Director to lead this highly regarded and fiscally-sound organization. The ideal leader will be self-assured and relationship-oriented, with a strong background in business management. The Garden’s next Executive Director will easily navigate across all sectors, building alliances, developing opportunities, motivating staff, and earning the trust of members, friends, investors, and the Chinese community, as well as local decision-makers and civic leaders. This is an exceptional opportunity for a seasoned executive who is ready to step up to the challenge of managing a thriving nonprofit cultural institution and further establishing its foothold as one of Oregon’s premier cultural destinations. 

Let Your Unique Talents Shine 

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for executing Lan Su Chinese Garden’s mission. S/he will develop deep knowledge of core programs, operations and business plans, and will work with the Board of Directors to create solid long-term strategies for sustainable growth. The position requires someone willing to actively engage with the public and represent the Garden with the highest degree of integrity, transparency, and enthusiasm. The Executive Director will empower a highly capable staff to excel in their various roles, support their professional growth and be comfortable working with teams comprised of Board Members and staff. The Executive Director is the organization’s most prominent fundraiser and will approach donor cultivation and stewardship with authenticity, always with an eye toward developing new and creative funding partnerships. This position requires an individual possessing natural curiosity, a deep desire to embrace and extol Chinese culture, a love of natural beauty, and the vision to further integrate and elevate Lan Su Chinese Garden within the unique urban landscape where it resides. 

Primary Responsibilities 

Leadership & Management

  • Oversee finance and administration, fundraising, communications, and all operations and systems 
  • Ensure ongoing operational and programmatic excellence and establish protocols for rigorous evaluation and analysis 
  • Define a future vision for the Garden and lead strategic planning efforts 
  • Establish annual work plans and clearly outline goals, expectations, and timelines 
  • Establish responsible yet ambitious annual budgets and chart financial potential for subsequent years 
  • Evaluate program components to measure successes that can be effectively communicated to the Board, funders and other constituents 
  • Develop, maintain, and support a strong and diverse Board of Directors 
  • Actively engage and energize Lan Su’s Board, committees, staff, volunteers, partnering organizations, and funders 
  • Nurture a culture of Board and staff alignment, supporting an integrative approach to planning and committee activity 
  • Serve as ex-officio of each team/committee, and seek Board involvement with strategic and operational initiatives 
  • Lead, coach, develop and retain Lan Su’s high-performance senior management team, and ensure effective systems to track progress toward clearly defined goals 
  • Build bridges with the Garden’s dedicated contingent of volunteers and advocates 
  • Ensure that Lan Su is connected to the Chinese community and actively engaged in civic dialogue related to the Garden’s place as an urban destination 

Revenue, Fundraising & Community Relations 

  • Develop a long-term plan for consistent contributed and earned revenue growth, as well as beneficial business and community-based partnerships 
  • Engage in revenue generating and fundraising activities to support existing programs, operations and facility management 
  • Nurture relationships and leverage connections to expand the Garden’s circle of influence and support 
  • Guide the Board of Directors in engaging with the community and identifying revenue and partnership opportunities 
  • Actively solicit support from individuals, businesses, foundations, partnering organizations, and government sources 
  • Serve as Lan Su’s primary public ambassador and effectively interface across all sectors at community events, meetings and gatherings 
  • Maintain an active dialogue with local and state governments, businesses, civic and neighborhood leaders, as well as tourism and travel organizations 
  • Strengthen ties to the local Chinese community, as well as Lan Su’s sister city 
  • Ensure a prominent presence for the Garden and regularly represent the organization at various public activities 
  • Refine all aspects of communications, with the goal of increasing admissions, membership, and donor support 
  • Regularly share Lan Su’s successes with current constituents, as well as prospective supporters   

Professional Qualifications

  • Passion for Lan Su’s mission 
  • At least 10 years of nonprofit or business management experience; five years at the senior management level 
  • Prior experience as an Executive Director highly beneficial 
  • Enthusiasm for public interaction and community engagement a must 
  • Connection to Chinese culture and/or the Chinese community desired but not required 
  • Knowledge of garden operations or experience with other cultural tourism destinations a plus 
  • Highly effective in defining organizational vision and creating strategic plans 
  • Excellence in organizational management with the ability to coach staff, manage and develop high-performance teams, set and achieve strategic objectives, and manage a budget 
  • Success in managing and building diverse Boards of Directors 
  • High standards of transparency and open communication 
  • Unwavering commitment to quality programs and data-driven program evaluation 
  • Proven success in fundraising and revenue generation 
  • Strong marketing and public relations experience with the ability to engage a wide range of stakeholders and cultures 
  • Ability to creatively grow memberships and increase garden admissions 
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills; a persuasive and passionate communicator with excellent interpersonal skills 
  • Highly collaborative and capable of positively building consensus with diverse groups of people 
  • Naturally inquisitive with the ability to gain trust and build confidence with a variety of constituents 
  • Capacity to manage multidisciplinary projects and effectively interface with stakeholders 
  • Commitment to a positive, empowering, and respectful work environment 
  • Action-oriented, entrepreneurial, adaptable, open-minded, and innovative approach to business planning 
  • Passion, idealism, integrity, versatility, positive attitude, mission-driven, and self-directed 


Through an online application process overseen by WVDO, submit a cover letter expressing your unique qualifications for the position, a current resume and complete the screening questions. The completion of posted screening question is required for consideration. 

Deadline for application is October 2, 2015. 

Lan Su Chinese Garden strives to attract, hire, train and promote quality individuals who have a proven ability to perform in a professional organization. Lan Su is proud to be an equal opportunity employer and makes employment decisions on the basis of merit. We want to have the best available person in every job. Lan Su Chinese Garden is committed to maintain an environment where employees contribute to the organization’s achievement, take pride in the results of their work, are appreciated as individuals and are encouraged to develop to the fullest extent. 

Lan Su is an Equal Opportunity Employer. It is our policy that employees will not be discriminated against in the terms and conditions of employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability or any other classification protected by law.