EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Recruitment Announcement

PNWA Executive Director Recruiting Announcement

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About the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA)

Pacific Northwest Waterways Association (PNWA) is a non-profit, non-partisan trade association that advocates for federal policies and funding supporting regional economic development. PNWA is a collaboration of ports, businesses, public agencies, and individuals who combine their economic and political strengths to support navigation, energy, trade, tourism, and economic development throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Established as the Inland Empire Waterways Association in 1934, PNWA led the way for infrastructure development for navigation, electric power, and irrigated agriculture on the Columbia and Snake River System. PNWA’s first act was petitioning President Roosevelt and Congress for funds to secure a navigation lock at Bonneville Dam. PNWA then led the way for Congressional authorization and funding to build the remaining seven locks and dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. In 1971 we expanded, adding Puget Sound and coastal members to provide a comprehensive regional perspective. Our membership has grown to include nearly 150 entities, including public ports, barge companies, steamship operators, grain elevator operators, agricultural producers, forest products manufacturers, union labor, electric utilities, irrigation districts, and public agencies throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. For 89 years, PNWA members have advocated for efficient, reliable, and environmentally sustainable waterways.

PNWA Mission:Collaborative advocacy to support ports, waterways, and related industries in the Pacific Northwest.

The association strengthens the regional economy by increasing economic and environmental sustainability while providing a cooperative, regional approach to addressing public policy. PNWA fosters broad participation and values and respects the differing opinions this creates. We are committed to delivering high-quality programs, products, and services to all members; and appreciating and recognizing the diversity of our membership. PNWA focuses on the following priorities along the Oregon and Washington coasts, Puget Sound, and Columbia Snake River System.

Energy & Water Appropriations.

PNWA supports an increase in the overall Corps of Engineers Civil Works budget and works with our members, the Corps, and Congress to ensure the needs of regionally supported projects are met each year.

Water Resources Policy.

PNWA works on a wide range of policies and legislation to support the needs of our members. The Water Resources Development Act, in particular, is the primary legislative vehicle we tackle as it relates to authorizing federal navigation projects and implementing policy changes for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Regulatory Efforts.

PNWA has been working with Congress and federal agencies since 2000 to identify and overcome obstacles to processing permits fairly and timely. We are considered a national leader in addressing permitting and regulatory challenges for our membership and the broader water resources community.

Columbia River Treaty.

PNWA ensures that the needs of navigation are considered when assessing the future of the Columbia River Treaty.

Snake River Dams.

PNWA is the lead advocate for the navigation, agriculture, trade, and transportation communities as they relate to protecting navigation along the Snake and Columbia Rivers.

Regional Salmon Recovery.

PNWA is lending its voice to broader salmon recovery efforts throughout the Columbia River Basin. We are working for increased funding for the Columbia River Basin Restoration Act, predator abatement programs, ecosystem restoration, increased regional fish passage, and more.


More information can be found here on our website! 

About the Position

Under the Executive Committee and Board of Directors, the Executive Director has two important roles. The first is the responsibility for carrying out the strategic mission of PNWA. The second is the responsibility for managing operations and ensuring PNWA is a leader in providing its members valued services to strengthen the regional economy by increasing economic and environmental sustainability.

Essential functions include:

Administrative Management:

  • Manage all administrative actions related to PNWA, including but not limited to state filings, taxes, payroll, and employee benefits;
  • Implement and advance PNWA Strategic Plan and Action Plan to support association objectives;
  • Provide leadership and support to the PNWA Board of Directors and Committees involved in moving the PNWA mission forward;
  • Recruit, manage, and retain qualified staff to meet PNWA goals;
  • Maintain a workplace culture that values integrity and discretion in business practices, quality service delivery for members, staff collaboration, and enterprise.

Financial Management:

  • Oversee annual budget development, provide financial performance updates to the PNWA Treasurer and Board of Directors, and attain year-end results reflective of the Board-adopted budget;
  • Control expenditures in compliance with the Board’s approved budget;
  • Manage and oversee investments and insurance coverage.


Government & Industry Relations:

  • Maintain a thorough understanding of the federal legislative process and the national and regional politics influencing the priorities of PNWA members;
  • Maintain strong partnerships with federal agencies, Congress, and relevant associations to maximize the association’s positioning;
  • Work closely with PNWA members, federal and regional officials, and Congress to identify, define, analyze, and resolve federal and regional public policy issues;
  • Represent PNWA in the region and before federal and regional agencies, Congress, the media, and the public in ways that strengthen the association’s profile;
  • Prepare materials for Congress, federal agencies, regional policymakers, or others; for communication with members, membership prospects, and others; for presentations by PNWA staff or PNWA members; for the press; for events, the Nor’wester newsletter, white papers, promotional materials, and website.

Membership services:

  • Maintain regular communication with PNWA members to ensure a high level of satisfaction;
  • Prioritize retention of current members and actively identify and recruit new members. Meeting and event planning:
  • Supervise planning and execution of meetings and events.

The Ideal Candidate

For this important role, PNWA seeks a seasoned leader who is deeply committed to the success of the membership and is a strategic big-picture thinker who will be able to deliver the level of services that members value. The ideal candidate will be an accomplished professional who exhibits a high level of transparency, diplomacy, and professionalism.

  • The Executive Director must be a creative, innovative team player who can work effectively with the association members and Congress. The Executive Director should bring an entrepreneurial spirit and be committed to supporting the best interests of PNWA. This is a visible public position with significant responsibility. Honesty and integrity are critical.
  • The Executive Director must be politically savvy, comfortable seeking and receiving input from the Executive Committee, Board of Directors, and members, and adept at public speaking and working with the media.
  • The Executive Director must have demonstrated leadership skills and set a standard by engaging people at all levels – from staff and Board Members to partners and members.
  • The Executive Director must be eager to make a personal investment in the long-term success of PNWA. Proven leadership experience and political acumen are essential. Candidates should bring strengths in both external relations and internal management with an ability to balance the two.



The Executive Director’s starting salary depends on experience and qualifications. The starting salary range is $160,000-$200,000. Total compensation is competitive and will be dependent on experience and abilities. PNWA offers an excellent package of benefits.

Desirable Qualifications

A bachelor’s degree and seven years or more of progressively responsible leadership and management experience within a not-for-profit, government, or professional association. The preferred candidate will have substantial experience working with elected officials and in dealing with marine-related issues in the Pacific Northwest. Experience working with a board, council, or commission and an advanced degree is preferred.


Persons interested in this position must submit a cover letter and a current resume.

If you have questions regarding this announcement, please call Marissa Karras at 360-956-1336. The position will remain open until filled; however, the screening process will move quickly. Please submit your application materials at www.karrasconsulting.net as soon as possible but no later than June 16, 2023.

PNWA is an equal-opportunity employer.


We believe every employee has the right to work in an environment free from all forms of unlawful discrimination. It is the policy of the organization that employment decisions for all applicants and employees will be made without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, genetic information, marital status, veteran status, disability or other characteristics protected under local, state or federal law. We will provide assistance in the recruitment, application, and selection process to applicants with disabilities who request such assistance.