TESOL International Association Executive Director

Executive Director

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The Opportunity

TESOL International Association, Inc. (TESOL) is seeking an experienced, innovative, and dynamic Executive Director to lead TESOL’s strategic and operational efforts to deliver value to its diverse global membership. The ideal applicant is an experienced executive, with a proven track record of successfully setting, implementing, monitoring, and adjusting the strategic and innovative direction of a membership-driven, nonprofit association with a diverse global membership.


TESOL is the world’s largest community dedicated to English language teaching — with 9,000 members around the globe. TESOL members include English language educators, trainers, program administrators, researchers, students, and others who are passionate about teaching the English language to speakers of other languages. TESOL’s staff partners with member volunteers from around the world to advance the knowledge and expertise of English language teaching professionals through professional development, research, standards, and advocacy. TESOL has a budget of approximately $5M and a full-time staff of 17.

The Executive Director Role

The Executive Director (ED) of TESOL is responsible for growing and sustaining the reputation, influence, membership, member value, and financial soundness of the organization, and overseeing the implementation of all policies and actions approved by the Board of Directors. Serving as TESOL’s chief staff leader, the ED is also responsible for the execution and administration of services, programs, products, events, and operations of the Association. The ED reports to the Board of Directors, attends all meetings of the Board of Directors as an ex officio Board member, and prepares reports of those meetings.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities


  • Responsible for maintaining and growing TESOL as a dynamic association that both leads global trends and responds to global trends, including a membership engagement model that is inclusive, welcoming, and meaningful to its global members.
  • Responsible for partnering with leaders and volunteers and developing a diverse and inclusive leadership pipeline.
  • Responsible for the continued and successful implementation of a robust Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) initiative across all levels of the organization, including the CEO Action Pledge. 

Strategy and Planning

  • In collaboration with the Board of Directors, the ED develops, plans, implements, and monitors strategies, objectives, programs, products, and initiatives that deliver on TESOL’s mission, goals, needs, and priorities.
  • Regularly reviews the Strategic Plan, measuring and reporting progress in order to ensure priorities and resources align.
  • Continually seeks to identify data-driven challenges and opportunities in TESOL’s priority areas and proposes strategic initiatives and strategic planning in response to those challenges and opportunities.

Finance and Operations

  • Is accountable for financial management and ensuring financial stability of the Association.
  • Works with Finance Committee, financial management consultant firm, and TESOL staff to develop and propose an annual operating budget for Board of Directors’ approval.
  • Works with Finance Committee, financial management consultant firm, and TESOL staff to monitor the revenue and expenses associated with the annual operating budget.
  • Works with the Finance Committee and investment advisor to monitor short- and long-term investment funds and adjust to market trends, if needed.
  • Develops, implements, and monitors appropriate internal controls consistent with best practices for nonprofit accounting, including annual audits.
  • Identifies and recommends innovative and strategic revenue generation opportunities, including non-dues revenue opportunities to the Board for approval and ED implementation.
  • Identifies potential challenges and opportunities to the Association’s financial position, clearly communicates this to the Board with data-driven statements and proposes responsive strategic initiatives for Board approval.

Staff Management and Engagement

  • Responsible for the hiring, management, mentoring, development, evaluation, and termination of TESOL staff members.
  • Develops and administers staff policies, compensation, and benefits, and assigns responsibilities.
  • Develops, implements, and monitors employee engagement and collaborative practices that grow and sustain positive employee experiences, increase productivity, improve work quality, and retain top talent.
  • Identifies potential challenges and opportunities to staff management and engagement.
  • Proposes strategic staff management practices that are consistent with best practices in workplace diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and belonging and TESOL’s DEIA initiatives.

Communications, Public Relations & Strategic Partnerships

  • Serves as a key internal and external spokesperson for TESOL, disseminating verbal and written messages on behalf of the Association to the media and the public.
  • Responsible for managing regular and ongoing communications with the membership, collectively and individually.
  • Internally, is responsible for regular and ongoing communications with the TESOL Board of Directors.
  • Externally, leads efforts to enhance organizational visibility and awareness, including further developing relationships with relevant partners.
  • Identifies potential challenges and opportunities to TESOL’s brand and proposes, develops, implements, and monitors strategic initiatives.
  • Identifies, develops, and maintains strategic partnerships (e.g. with educational and governmental partners) to support TESOL’s health, growth, mission, and outreach.
  • Uses excellent communication skills to communicate on sensitive issues with multilingual and multicultural stakeholders in writing, small groups, and in public forums.


  • Develops and oversees membership and engagement models that are consistent with TESOL’s mission and strategy, and which respond to the needs of a diverse and multi-generational profession that works in varied educational contexts around the world.
  • Identifies potential challenges and opportunities to new member recruitment and current member retention, and proposes, develops, implements, and monitors strategic recruitment and retention initiatives that are responsive to those challenges and opportunities.
  • Oversees the implementation of events and practices to address the professional learning and development of members at all professional levels (i.e., pre-service teachers, novice/beginners, mid-career, career switchers, veteran teachers, semi-retired teachers.)

Advocacy and Policy

  • Collaborates with staff, Board, and member volunteers, overseeing and managing the development and execution of policy goals and priorities aligned with the strategic plan that promote quality language education and advance the professional needs of educators working with multilingual learners.
  • Encourages and leverages, with appropriate resources, member engagement in advocacy efforts aligned with TESOL’s goals.
  • Builds on and expands TESOL’s global advocacy efforts to serve regional groups’ professional development goals on advocacy initiatives ranging from those that are oriented to learners/learning, community, materials, social issues, English language professionals, professional development, and/or policy.

Education and Events

  • Engages volunteers and staff members to oversee the development of learning resources, tools, and activities for English language teaching professionals to enhance the membership’s expertise and practice.
  • Oversees professional development programs and activities in light of current and future trends and financial resources.
  • Oversees development and dissemination of TESOL publications and products.
  • Oversees the expansion of grants and contracts with a growing number of partners.
  • Further develops and manages TESOL’s signature programs and strategic events, aligning resources and staff responsibilities to ensure strategies and objectives are achieved.

Required Qualifications

  • Proven leader with 10+ years of experience in a senior-level position within an organization of comparable size including at least 3 years of successful executive-level leadership and management experience within a professional membership association or other relevant organization with demonstrated increasing levels of responsibility and impact.
  • Advanced degree (or equivalent) within relevant field required.
  • Experience working with a nonprofit board of directors and governance structures.
  • Demonstrated experience in organization-wide, multi-year strategic planning, development, measurement, and
  • Demonstrated financial experience and business acumen, managing financial resources, budget, and expenditures of an independent organization of the size and scope of TESOL. Should have some familiarity with U.S. tax code compliance, as related to nonprofit associations.
  • Experience cultivating non-dues revenue and new revenue sources.
  • Experience and demonstrated ability in engaging new and current members.
  • Experience and demonstrated ability in external outreach, including growing and sustaining strategic partnerships, and attracting sponsors.
  • Demonstrated commitment to multiculturalism, multilingualism, diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and belonging, and experience in successfully growing and responding to the needs of a diverse membership base.
  • Experience and demonstrated ability to create and develop diverse and inclusive environments for staff, association members, and other stakeholders.
  • A proven record of leading and managing staff, including development and oversight of policies, procedures, and processes for operational effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Proven effective communication skills, both verbal and written.
  • Competence with information technology tools and capabilities, including workplace collaborative meeting technologies.
  • Proven ability and impact as a change agent who demonstrates respect for legacy and ability to build on recent successes, while being responsive to new opportunities.
  • Be open to domestic and international travel, as well as evening and weekend work, on occasion.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation preferred.
  • Ability to speak more than one language is preferred.
  • Teaching experience is a plus.
  • A respect for TESOL’s mission and the English Language Teaching profession.
  • Demonstrated impact as a responsive global leader in international environments is a plus.
  • Intercultural experience and/or experience living and working internationally is preferred.
  • A demonstrated understanding of the breadth, depth, and impact of the English language teaching profession, or similar profession.

Personal Qualities and Competencies

  • Qualified candidates from historically underrepresented and marginalized communities are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Respected, ethical, and trusted leader.
  • Lifelong learner.
  • Strategic thinker.
  • Approachability, including effective and collegial interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to have fair and impartial interactions with Board, members, and staff.
  • Diplomatic, yet decisive manager, with an ability to execute strategic decisions.
  • Active listener with strong emotional intelligence and compassion.
  • Honest, transparent, intercultural, and intergenerational communicator with integrity and relationship-building abilities.
  • Team player and collaborative problem-solver.


A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract an outstanding candidate.

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.