NEON Inc. CEO Search



Boulder, Colorado


NEON, Inc. is an independent 501(c)(3) corporation created to manage large-scale ecological observing systems and experiments on behalf of the scientific community. NEON, Inc.’s goal is to provide information that will contribute to a better global understanding and decision-making capability in a changing environment, using scientific information about continental-scale ecology obtained through integrated observations and experiments.

The Corporation’s primary focus has been on the design and planning for the National Ecological Observatory Network (the NEON Project), a new, federally-funded network to collect ecological and environmental observations across the continental United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The Observatory Network will be the first of its kind designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at continental scales over multiple decades.

NEON, Inc’s primary revenue source has been the NEON Project. It is supported, through a recently-approved, 5-year, National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of approximately $433M. The expectation is that NEON, Inc. will continue to receive funding from NSF for 30 years of operations, at a level of approximately $80M per year after the 5-year construction period is complete and the Observatory is commissioned.

The NEON, Inc. Project is the first Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) Project that supports ecological science, with the objective of transforming ecological science at the continental scale. It does so by providing physical and information infrastructure to capture data. The data the NEON, Inc. Project collects and provides will focus on how land use, climate change and invasive species affect biodiversity and ecosystem services. Obtaining integrated data on these relationships over a long-term period is crucial to improving forecast models and resource management for environmental change. These data and information products will be readily available to scientists, educators, students, decision makers, and the public. This will allow a wide audience to use NEON, Inc. tools to understand and address ecological questions and issues. The NEON, Inc. infrastructure is a means of enabling transformational science and promoting broad ecological literacy.

For additional information about the Project and NEON, Inc., please view their website:


NEON, Inc. was officially incorporated in 2006 to carry out the formal planning, design, construction and operation of the NEON, Inc. Project, which had been conceived more than 5 years earlier. Since 2006, the planning and design of the NEON Project has been the sole focus of the Corporation, with the exception of a few small, but related projects. With the design and plan approved and NSF funding now in place, the focus is now on construction and operation of the Observatory. It is anticipated that the 20 core and 40 relocatable sites, the mobile lab, and the three airborne observation platforms, will be completed in 2016.


Reporting to the sixteen-member Board of Directors, the CEO will be held accountable for achieving all of the Corporation’s goals and objectives as determined by the Board and the cooperative agreements with NSF. The CEO will be responsible for planning, organizing, and providing leadership and scientific direction to the current staff of 125 professionals and will manage the growth of the Corporation to the size required to construct and operate the Observatory, as well as pursue other business interests that the Corporation might have. He/She will also be responsible for overseeing the Corporation’s programs and activities, within the bylaws and policies of the Board, and to achieve the mission, goals, and objectives of the Corporation in the most effective manner possible.

The CEO is supported by two outside committees that are staffed by NEON Member Organizations: the Program Advisory Committee and the Science, Technology, and Education Advisory Committee. The CEO currently has 8 direct reports, including the Chief Financial Officer, Chief of External Affairs, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Scientific Officer, Chief of Human Resources, Chief of Education and Public Engagement, the NEON Observatory Director, and the NEON Project Manager.

The key responsibilities for the CEO will include:

  • Strategic planning, advocacy, intellectual leadership, and the effective operation of the Corporation.
  • Maintaining the scientific credibility of NEON, Inc. and the Project.
  • Fostering cohesive and coordinated leadership for NEON, Inc. to assure that NEON as a Corporation achieves its goals.
  • Determining how NEON, Inc. should be organized and promoted to assure it has a broad impact, nationally and internationally.
  • Acting as the primary corporate and institutional liaison with Congress and senior-level government (federal, state, and local) officials to educate them regarding NEON, Inc.’s current and future projects.
  • Establishing and maintaining an effective system of communication, consultation, and coordination with NSF.


  • M.S. or MBA required; Ph.D. preferred.
  • Minimum ten years senior management experience; experience managing a minimum of 50 people and a $20M budget.
  • Leadership skills with the ability to maintain NEON, Inc’s climate of excellence.
  • Strategic visioning and organizational skills.
  • Experience in the management of staff, long-range planning and budgeting, and oversight of technical services and business functions in an organization of comparable size and complexity, with a preference for experience building and operating a scientific facility.
  • Experience successfully growing an organization (e.g., department within a larger corporation or start-up).
  • Experience advocating to stakeholders.
  • Experience successfully working with government funding organizations.
  • Experience developing synergistic partnerships to encourage new modes of collaboration.
  • High level of initiative and creativity. An innovative leader who can create a culture in which members of the community are encouraged to bring their ideas for additional projects to NEON’s attention.

Location: Boulder, Colorado

Compensation: A base salary in the $260,000 – $300,000 range plus a generous benefits package to include a 6% contribution to a 401K which is immediately vested. Relocation and interview expenses will be paid.

EEO: JDG Associates recognizes that NEON, Inc., is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All candidates will be considered without regard to race, color, age, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation, or disability.

Deadline: Applications must be received by September 16, 2011.


Jennifer Moss
JDG Associates, Ltd.
1700 Research Blvd.
Rockville, MD 20850

JDG Associates, established in 1973, is a leading provider of executive recruiting services to non-profit organizations, trade associations, federal/state/local government agencies, Fortune 1000 corporations, and a broad array of government contractors.

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