Vice President of Expeditions


Employment Type Full time
Location Hybrid · USA Lander, Wyoming for the first year and the Mountain West there after with semi-frequent travel
Salary $120,000 - $180,000 (USD)
Team Expeditions
Seniority Senior
  • Closing: 11:59pm, 18th Feb 2024 MST

Job Description

Position Summary

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) seeks an experienced and visionary leader who is energized by the opportunity to direct a complex, diverse, and global business unit directly involved in leading and advancing the NOLS student experience. As a key executive team member and reporting directly to the NOLS President, the Vice President of Expeditions will act decisively to chart a fiscally sustainable and innovative path for the Expeditions team. 

The Vice President of Expeditions will have the vision and determination to set the Expedition team’s trajectory, the humility to listen carefully and seek input from key stakeholders, and the judgment and experience to introduce the program and operational change to enable the future evolution of the school. The Vice President of Expeditions will be responsible for the budget and growth targets for the NOLS Expedition portfolio of programs, their mission alignment, and future success.

Key Responsibilities

  • Guide a global team who provides exceptional leadership education

  • Head development and implementation of all expeditionary programs to include: all wilderness courses, alumni courses, custom education, and youth programs.

  • Oversee 13 campus locations worldwide, and multiple support departments.

  • Plan annual financial budget, projection, and reporting cycles for a division that includes 30M+ in revenue.

  • Orchestrate collaborative, data-informed processes to design annual course mix; and evaluate and adjust the course mix on as necessary to respond to enrollment, staffing, and other shifting factors.

  • Lead oversight of curriculum, pedagogy, program quality, faculty assessment and supervision. Establish systems to monitor and strategically improve program effectiveness.

  • Engage with the Board of Trustees, serve on other leadership committees and steering committees as requested.

Your Skills

The ideal candidate will excel at building a financially sustainable, robust program. You will have an ambitious vision, a clear strategic plan, and effective execution, all in service to NOLS students and alumni today and tomorrow. The Vice President of Expeditions will be a collaborative, results-driven leader who is ready to engage, listen, model respectful discussion/ debate, set clear priorities and expectations, and be prepared to manage change effectively.

Critical Leadership Capabilities

  • Proven track record of successfully leading complex dispersed teams and senior organizational leaders at a large mission-focused organization, educational institution, or social enterprise. 

  • Ability to bring strategic, financial, and operational acumen to the role; stewarding the Expedition division’s resources, and balancing short-term needs with long-term responsibilities.

  • An entrepreneurial thinker with proven experience identifying new market trends and implementing them successfully. Previous accomplishments improving efficiency, inspiring transformation, and making reforming decisions with financial strength in mind. 

  • Experience creating a sense of community and meaningful relationships in a global organization, building a healthy and inclusive culture. Leading with transparency to instill trust among diverse stakeholders and lead towards a common mission and goals.

  • Effective communication skills with past behavior that demonstrates decisiveness, collaboration, transparency, effective risk mitigation, and a solutions-oriented mindset. Ability to build the bridge between disparate groups and guide individuals across it.

  • Expertise to foster a culture of risk mitigation and management at all levels of NOLS. Including centering risk management through organizational learning, program design, compliance, incident and crisis management protocols, and decision-making. 

  • Have the judgment necessary to understand and evaluate current programs and new initiatives and the credibility, courage, and skills to gain support and make decisions. 

  • Ensure that data underpins all decisions. Apply data analytics and marketing best practices to identify key markets and opportunities to expand participation. Consider the best way to deploy people, time, and resources to achieve the mission of the school.

  • Embrace the opportunity to collaborate across the organization, inviting discussion and  debate, leveraging the expertise of experienced colleagues and staff, and create an environment where a diversity of voices is invited.

Ideal Experience

  • Extensive experience leading a large business unit within a complex non-profit or similar institution; a history of building strong teams of highly functioning and collaborative individuals, as well as an exemplary background in recruitment and retention of talented staff.

  • Considerable breadth of knowledge; strong intellectual curiosity, interest in, and capacity for, learning across a wide range of fields; and a sincere excitement about and commitment to the  mission of NOLS.

  • Demonstrated ability that will translate to prevention of and response to fatalities, medical and behavioral incidents, and other emergencies for programs, students, clients and staff. Anticipation and management of legal and non-legal complaints. Organizational leadership experience in crisis response.

  • Genuine appreciation and passion for the outdoors, wilderness expeditions, the sanctity of wild places, and the NOLS mission. An advocate for the important skills learned and leadership developed in the backcountry and classroom.

  • Excellent interpersonal skills, with experience acting as a key collaborator and team player, creating productive and respectful relationships across diverse and disparate stakeholders on behalf of an organization.

  • Outstanding communication skills, including public speaking and experience serving as the face of, and advocate for, an organization, with evidenced ability to handle difficult situations with diplomacy and judgment.

  • Experience at a senior leadership level in one or more of the following areas: higher education leadership, adventure travel management, outdoor retail management, or leadership of a significant non-profit and/ or outdoor education enterprise.

  • Demonstrated experience in leading equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives in a multicultural, global environment and a track record of impact on organizational culture, systems, practices, and strategies that drive measurable progress on the dimensions of access, equity, belonging, and outcomes.

Other Personal Characteristics

Be an empathetic and community centric leader, with a focus on fostering relationships at all levels and operate within a transparent and collaborative team culture.

You thrive in dynamic settings with demanding and shifting priorities, adeptly managing ambiguity, diverse stakeholder relationships, and intricate competing demands.

Champion of daring ideas and embracer of calculated risks. Be confident to invite dialogue, listen carefully, make decisions, and share credit. 

Creative thinker able to respect, honor, and balance the long-standing strengths of an organization while envisioning and implementing innovative approaches.

Important Information:


The Vice President of Expeditions will be based in Lander, Wyoming for the first year and in the Mountain West after that for easy access to the world headquarters and many of our campuses.


NOLS follows a market-based compensation philosophy, which means we benchmark our compensation for roles relative to other educational non-profits of a similar size. Our salary ranges consist of a minimum, a midpoint, and a maximum, where the mid-point closely aligns with the market median for the role.

This position is eligible for Health Insurance, Dental Insurance, Vision Insurance, Flexible Spending account, Life Insurance, Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance, Long Term Disability, Employee Assistance Program, Paid Time off, 403(b), 403(b) contribution, and more.


Questions about the job? Contact the NOLS People Team at

NOLS participates in E-verify. We are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, genetics information, disability unrelated to job or admission requirements, or status as a protected veteran. The school’s nondiscrimination policy applies to all phases of its employment process. Should you need a reasonable accommodation at any point during the process please contact

About NOLS

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) is a nonprofit global wilderness school that seeks to help individuals step forward boldly as leaders. We believe that anyone can be a leader; it’s our role to provide the environment and training to help them discover their full potential. We do that in classrooms close to home and in remote wilderness areas around the world. The scope of NOLS’ mission and impact is far and wide with 14 campuses across six countries and educational opportunities around the world. The school enrolls more than 28,000 students and employs over 1,000 full-time and part time staff and instructors with an annual budget of approximately $40 million in a typical year. NOLS currently has more than 360,000 active alumni. 

Founded in 1965 in a small cabin in Sinks Canyon, Wyoming, NOLS was a school primarily focused on teaching outdoor skills and exploring what leadership lessons could be learned in the backcountry. Today, NOLS is a multifaceted wilderness school supporting thousands of students in their leadership and technical skill development. NOLS offers a range of programming and training across five major areas: Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Expeditions, Custom Education, Alumni Expeditions, and Risk Management. The programmatic offerings range from courses that last a few hours in the classroom to several months in a wilderness setting. NOLS continues to focus on nurturing individuals who want to live and lead responsibly in our global community.

Removing bias from the hiring process

Applications closed Mon 19th Feb 2024


Removing bias from the hiring process

  • Your application will be anonymously reviewed by our hiring team to ensure fairness
  • You’ll need a CV/résumé, but it’ll only be considered if you score well on the anonymous review

Applications closed Mon 19th Feb 2024