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Architects Without Borders Seattle - Executive Director Job Description


About Architects Without Borders Seattle (AWBS)


AWBS’ mission is to collaborate with underserved communities to deliver ecologically sensitive, culturally appropriate, life-changing design. AWBS activates a network of volunteer designers from many fields; architects, landscape architects, structural engineers, civil engineers, planners, and more.


AWBS Values

  • Appropriate design solutions are vital to communities and the environment

  • Collaborative long-term relationships with communities are essential to providing effective design assistance

  • Exchange of knowledge and skills can empower both communities and designers

  • Interdisciplinary teams create innovative and insightful projects

  • Volunteer passion, energy and efforts make our work possible

Founding of AWBS

Architects Without Borders Seattle was founded in 2005 by a group of Seattle architects and designers, in response to the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami which occurred on December 26, 2004.The horrific disaster took nearly 250,000 lives, displaced families, and devastated the infrastructure of 14 countries, causing $10 billion in material damages.

Realizing their time and talent could have a positive impact for disaster relief, a group  of Seattle- based architects and engineers traveled overseas to use their skills to support design, planning, and construction in the disaster zone. In 2006, inspired by their impact overseas, Architects Without Borders Seattle’s original group of volunteers founded AWBS as a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit to provide pro bono design services to communities in need.

Architects Without Borders Seattle Today

AWBS is a standalone nonprofit organization, and has continued to expand to serve communities who would otherwise lack access to design services internationally as well in the Puget Sound area. AWBS is now an extended family of several dozen active volunteers.

AWBS is nearly 100% volunteer operated, and delivers several hundred hours of volunteer service for each project. Currently AWBS volunteer teams are working on projects with underserved communities in Nepal, Liberia, and Seattle.

How We Work

AWBS receives project requests from communities in need all over the world. Project requests are reviewed and vetted to learn more about the need of the community, scope of work, funding capacity of the organization requesting design, and fit with AWBS’s Values and Mission. Projects which clear the AWBS vetting process are accepted, and AWBS recruits a volunteer Project Lead and team with specific skills to meet each project's unique needs. AWBS pro bono services include conceptual and schematic drawings, and master planning for buildings and green spaces. AWBS works with partners to steward projects forward with additional services depending on the project.


Current Projects include:

  • A community health clinic in Sierra Leone, which will provide urgently needed services for the rural Wai community

  • A solution for human waste in the Khumbu Valley, composting toilets on the trek to Everest basecamp

  • A collaborative design and implementation project to provide safe and dignified housing to people experiencing homelessness in Seattle


AWBS Structure and Leadership

Beyond the several dozen active volunteers engaged in project work, the leadership of AWBS includes two Project Committee Co-Chairs who coordinate the design services AWBS provides, as well as a volunteer Board of Directors. With one part time paid staff member, AWBS’ Executive Director, the organization maintains the volunteer ‘can do’ spirit which was the foundation of all work from the very beginning. 

With a small but mighty budget of less than $60,000 per year, the role of the Executive Director is essential to sustain our mission. AWBS has spent the past couple of years focusing on how to better serve our clients and volunteers. Through this process, the AWBS Board of Directors and volunteers worked together to create an improved model of service, and AWBS is searching for a dedicated and dynamic individual to lead the organization. The major work on the horizon for AWBS includes:

  • Project support for communities locally and around the world, while actively seeking new local opportunities for engagement

  • Strengthening recruitment and support of AWB volunteers

  • Strengthening fund development and transitioning from events based fundraising to diverse funding sources


Position Summary

The Executive Director works in partnership with the Board of Directors to lead AWBS’s mission with volunteers, donors, and the broader community. The Executive Director is responsible for supporting strategic planning and implementation, leading fundraising and communications efforts, engaging volunteer leadership, and day-to-day administrative operations. The successful candidate will be intellectually engaged in the most strategic aspects of our work, while at the same time managing the small details to ensure smooth operations.


Position Type
Part-time (20 hours/week) with a flexible schedule and increased hours around major organizational events, with the option to pull back on hours when less is required. Most meetings and events are in the evenings to accommodate volunteers.


Reports to

AWBS Board of Directors



AWBS office space is generously donated by Coffman Engineers. Our first-rate office is located at 2nd and Spring in downtown Seattle. Our meetings have been 100% virtual for the past 15 months, and we anticipate in the near future a hybrid approach to our work, depending on COVID considerations. The Executive Director has over the past few years worked mostly from home with occasional time in our office, even before COVID.


Job Responsibilities


Strategic and Operational Leadership

  • Support Board of Directors in strategic and annual planning, including annual budget, fund development, and operational plans

  • Lead agenda planning for monthly board meetings as well as monthly board committee meetings

  • Support Board of Directors to implement annual plans and achieve committee goals

  • Drive collaboration across the organization


Fund Development and Communications

  • Create and implement an annual fundraising plan with the Board of Directors

  • Support board members to engage in fundraising and identify, solicit, and steward AWBS donors

  • Provide leadership of annual fundraising event

  • Manage donor database and reporting for gifts

  • Ensure proper acknowledgement to donors for gifts

  • Manage website and emails/e-newsletters

  • Support activities and events


  • Annual Budget development and ongoing fiscal management

  • Monthly financial reporting and reconciliation

  • Manage payments and reimbursements


Governance and Compliance

  • Maintain legal and nonprofit status filings, including Secretary of State filing, IRS filings, etc

  • Work closely with the Executive Committee to ensure healthy governance and compliance


  • Maintain basic office administration, mail, supplies

  • Manage email inquiries

  • Coordinate meetings, maintain organizational calendar and all other administrative aspects of the organization

Volunteer Engagement

  • Lead volunteer recruitment, training, onboarding, and stewardship

  • Support annual board member recruitment process

  • Support volunteer appreciation activities

Project Engagement 

  • Guidance and leadership of monthly projects committee meetings

  • Support connection between projects and the other work of the organization

  • Champion projects and project teams

Diversity Equity and Inclusion

  • Create safe spaces for underrepresented individuals and ensure voices are heard and valued

  • Participate in efforts to assess and track DEI initiatives and goals

  • Support AWBS’s participation in the NOMA NW Call to Action, a pledge to commitments for a truly unified and anti-racist architectural, engineering, construction, and design community

Skills and Experience

  • Minimum 3 years of experience in nonprofit or community based leadership, or nonprofit fund development

  • Strategic planning and implementation

  • Experience working with volunteers

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills

  • Community engagement experience

  • Event planning and management

  • Ability to work independently and manage deadlines and competing priorities

  • Adept at solving problems and strong analytical skills

  • ‘Can do’ approach to work

  • Passion and interest in the AWBS mission

  • Experience with project management, architecture, or design a plus, but not required


This is an hourly position at a starting rate of $27/hour, DOE

To Apply

Please send a cover letter and resume to in an email with the subject line “Executive Director Application” by October 20, 2021

Architects Without Borders Seattle values our diverse organization and strongly encourages women, people of color, LGBT individuals, people with disabilities, members of ethnic minorities, foreign-born residents, and veterans to apply. Applicants will not be discriminated against because of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, religion, national origin, citizenship status, disability, ancestry, marital status, veteran status, medical condition or any protected category prohibited by local, state or federal laws.