California Water Environment Association

CWEA logo

Chief Operating Officer

The Opportunity

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) serves as the California Water Environment Association’s (CWEA) second-in-command staff executive who assists the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer (ED/CEO) in leading all operational and administrative functions for the organization. The COO provides an operational lens to strategic leadership while continually identifying opportunities for improving the organizational efficacy in fulfilling CWEA’s mission.

The COO supports the ED/CEO with overall management of staff and new initiatives as well as providing support to the Board of Directors. This person serves as the primary point of contact for the organization when the ED/CEO is unavailable; however, the ED/CEO is the final authority on all decisions and actions within the organization.

About California Water Environment Association

 CWEA empowers wastewater professionals as they protect California’s most critical resource: water. The association’s community of over 10,000 professionals represents all facets of wastewater management and resource recovery, from operators to lab techs to engineers.

Founded in 1928, CWEA proudly unites professionals from throughout the state, to address real-time issues, develop and deliver cutting-edge training, raise awareness of the profession, and shape the future of wastewater. In support of CWEA’s vision of a sustainable California water environment, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit pursues its mission of empowering, educating, and connecting water professionals to protect public health and the environment. With annual revenues of between $4M and $5M and a staff of approximately 18, CWEA serves wastewater professionals throughout their careers with benefits to support their professional growth, build professional networks, earn technical certifications, and build their leadership skills.

The Chief Operating Officer Role

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

(Other duties may be assigned by the ED/CEO)


  • Manages financial operations, records, budget process, controls, and investments. Signs off on the accuracy and veracity of financial statements, records, and reports.
  • Ensures effectiveness of organization systems and procedures. Analyzes financial systems and procedures for maximum effectiveness. Responsible for the operations and upgrades of financial systems/software.
  • Manages internal procedures and controls, including Local Section and Committee financial policies and procedures.
  • Manages annual audit, including the organization’s response to any management letter issues, and oversees tax preparation and filings. Supports Audit Committee.
  • Oversees insurance and benefits functions.
  • Directs finance staff.
  • Collaborates with volunteer leaders (including the Operations Committee and the Board), staff, auditor, and other outside contractors to produce results.
  • Maintains confidentiality of sensitive information at all times, including physical security of confidential documents.


Develops, directs, and manages goals, policies, and practices relating to all aspects of office operations including:

  • Ensures internal infrastructures and resources are sufficient to support the organization’s programs and strategies through adequate staffing, equipment, space, and supplies.
  • Executes sound business practices to gain economies and ensure efficiency.
  • Manages and fosters productive relationships and outcomes among CWEA’s staff, members, sponsors, contractors, and suppliers.
  • Participates in defining contract terms, conditions, performance expectations, and ensures compliance of contracts.
  • Responds courteously and efficiently to questions and comments from members by telephone, electronic media, and mail.

Human Resources Management

Develops, directs, and manages goals, policies, and practices relating to all aspects of human resource management including:

  • Recruits, screens, and onboards new employees.
  • Develops and enforces personnel and organizational policies and educates staff about policies.
  • Ensures accurate payroll processing.
  • Maintains employment records.
  • Administers employee benefits, including medical plans and pension plans.
  • Develops and manages the goal and performance evaluation processes.
  • Addresses personnel issues.
  • Ensures compliance with federal, state, and local policies and laws.

Qualifications, Education, Experience, and Skills Required

The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skills, and/or abilities required as well as typical ways to obtain the knowledge, skills, and abilities.


  • Demonstrates solid knowledge and understanding of generally accepted accounting practices and procedures and related regulations.
  • Manages and leads staff team and is an effective, contributing team member.
  • Manages multiple projects and timelines; meets schedules and deadlines.
  • Communicates clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing.
  • Deals effectively with members and volunteer leaders on the telephone and in person.
  • Collaborates effectively with a workforce composed of volunteers at distant locations.
  • Works professionally and effectively with contractors.
  • Defines problems, collects data, establishes facts, draws valid conclusions, and develops processes and project plans, including improvements to status quo.
  • Performs work with minimal supervision.
  • Understands and works effectively in an electronic data processing and web environment.
  • Travels to Board meetings throughout California approximately 4 times per year (1 to 4 days duration).

Any combination of experience and education that would likely provide the required knowledge and abilities would be qualifying. A typical way to obtain the knowledge and abilities would be:


  • Ten or more years of experience in financial management.
  • Five or more years of experience with a volunteer-based association or organization.
  • Hands-on experience in using personal computers for various work-related applications, including finance and accounting, along with organizational databases is essential.
  • Five or more years of experience managing personnel in complex activities.
  • Familiarity with 501(c)(3) regulations a plus.
  • Familiarity with both cash and accrual accounting.


  • Equivalent to a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with major study in finance, accounting, and/or business.
  • Master’s degree in business or nonprofit operations is a plus.

Licenses and Certificates

  • Possession of a valid California Driver’s License and evidence of insurance.
  • Certifications in accounting and/or association management are a plus.

Physical Demands and Work Environment

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to stand; walk; sit; use hands and fingers to handle or feel objects, tools, or controls; reach with hands and arms; talk and hear.
  • During conferences, employee may be required to work up to about 18 hours in a day.
  • Employee regularly uses calculator and personal computer with VDT screen for extended periods of time.
  • The employee must regularly lift and or move up to 25 pounds.
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception, and the ability to adjust focus.
  • The noise level is usually quiet.
  • Employee is required to travel by airplane and car several times per year. Travel to Board and other meetings throughout California, approximately 4 times per year (1 to 4 days duration).


A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract an outstanding candidate. Compensation range for base salary: $170,000 to $190,000.

To Apply

To apply, please send a cover letter and current resume (Microsoft Word® format preferred) here. The cover letter should outline how your experience fits the requirements of the position as this will be an important factor in considering your candidacy.

Sterling Martin Associates is committed to providing equal opportunity for employees and applicants in all aspects of the employment relationship, without regard to race, religion, color, age, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, ancestry, national origin, citizenship, political affiliation, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or other applicable legally protected characteristics. All employment is decided on the basis of qualifications, merit, and business need.