A Letter from the Board of Directors
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am writing today with some important news. After nine years with the organization and five years at the helm, our Executive Director Stephen Fotopulos will step down from his position at the end of October.
Since joining the organization in 2004, Stephen has become the architect of advocacy strategies that have earned us a place of distinction as one of the most effective immigrant-led coalitions in the country. As Policy Director, he used his political acumen to sharpen our analysis, broaden our coalition, and advance our agenda in difficult terrain, beating back countless attempts to make life harder for immigrants in Tennessee. Our pioneering legislative work and award-winning programs at the state level, as well as Stephen’s personal tenacity, have positioned us to play a key role at the regional and national level, establishing a place at the table for the voices of those directly affected by our broken immigration system. Since taking over as Executive Director in 2008, Stephen has fostered a culture of boldness that has led to stronger alliances, greater capacity in the base, and ultimately, the transformation of a promising start-up organization into a sophisticated and powerful coalition.
It is a credit to Stephen’s leadership that we are beginning this process from a place of strength. Although he has overseen a period of rapid growth, a near doubling of the budget and staff, and a significant expansion of statewide presence, he has also managed with an eye toward sustainability, developing institutional knowledge, nurturing respectful partnerships, and investing in the leadership of others along the way so that we are prepared for major transitions like this one. His successor will step up to an organization with a reputation as a leader and innovator in the field, a solid infrastructure, an exceptionally talented and committed staff, and the goodwill of the community.
Although we are sad to say goodbye to Stephen, we are also deeply grateful for his service, and equally hopeful about the future.
Mohammad A. Syed
President, Board of Directors
A Letter from the Executive Director
Being a part of this organization has been the most rewarding experience of my professional life, and I’m honored to have been entrusted with the responsibility of leading it. I’ll be stepping down from my position with tremendous pride in what we’ve accomplished together, and with profound gratitude for the guidance and support I’ve received over the last nine years. When you leave a job you clearly love, it’s natural for people to wonder why and why now. The time is right because we are in a place of great strength, with impactful programs and a reputation for excellence, courageous grassroots leaders driving the agenda, passionate staff recognized as experts in the field, and a capable board of directors focused on smart, strategic growth. My decision to move on is an acknowledgment that our coalition is ready to embrace healthy change and all the creative energy it brings, and to more fully realize our founding principle of being immigrant and refugee-led.
In the South, where demographics are rapidly changing, politics are increasingly polarized, and prejudices are deeply entrenched, many find themselves drowning in a wave of intolerance. Inhumane and ineffective policies persist that target vulnerable populations and separate hardworking families. We respond, we organize, we mobilize, and sometimes it feels like we’re only treading water. Then come moments like this one, a deep breath of possibility, a shift in the tide of public discourse that reveals new understanding, new willingness to rethink unjust systems, and that we know is the result of our steadfast efforts over the last ten years. Our work is anchored in the long view, in a vision of inclusion that calls on our better instincts, lifts up our common values of community and hospitality, and expands our collective sense of identity to make room for our newest neighbors.
We can feel this momentum, at last, on the side of just and humane immigration reform. We can say, for the first time in years, that not a single anti-immigrant bill passed the state legislature. We can look forward together, with real optimism, to a time when families are not forced to live in fear of separation, and newcomers are welcomed and encouraged to contribute to a brighter future for all of us. As we reflect on our successes and consider the important work ahead, we know that choice of leadership is a top priority. I want to assure you that I am fully engaged in the search process, and committed to a smooth transition for the individual selected to take my place. I also want to invite you to join us for our tenth anniversary celebration on October 26th, where we hope to introduce our new executive director and imagine together the ten years to come.
All the best,
Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition
We are a coalition of immigrants, refugees, and allies working to lift up fundamental American freedoms and human rights and build a strong, welcoming, and inclusive Tennessee. We envision a society in which immigrants are powerfully engaged as leaders in the civic, political, and cultural life of the community; the human rights and dignity of all people are respected, and diversity is welcomed and valued; all people are free from discrimination and oppression; and immigrants are joined with others in a broader movement for religious freedom and social, racial, and economic justice.
Now in our tenth year, we are nationally recognized for our multiethnic, multigenerational coalition building, hard-edged legislative advocacy, and award-winning communications initiatives. Our network includes immigrant and refugee groups representing diverse communities and working on multiple issues, as well as over a dozen local organizing committees and a growing base of individual members. We have three offices, an annual operating budget of $1 million, a staff of 16 with wide-ranging expertise, and a 19-member community-led board of directors.
We are seeking an Executive Director with the energy and skills to advance our mission and grow our reputation as a leader and innovator in the field. This position is a rare opportunity to lead a rising star organization doing groundbreaking work at a pivotal time. The Executive Director will be based in Nashville, a vibrant, up-and-coming city consistently ranked among the best places in the country to live and raise a family.
• Work in consultation with the board, staff, and membership to set overall direction and define specific goals and strategies
• Oversee all programs and initiatives, and develop a policy agenda and advocacy strategies on the local, state, and national levels
• Oversee all aspects of financial management, human resources, and general operations
• Lead efforts to raise the annual budget and diversify the resource base to ensure long-term sustainability
• Serve as lead spokesperson and engage in public speaking to highlight key issues and promote organizational interests
• Cultivate and maintain relationships with diverse immigrant constituencies, allies, donors, decisionmakers, and the media
• Direct and coordinate the work of a professional staff, and foster a culture of personal and professional growth
• Invest in the leadership of the board, and facilitate a high degree of board member engagement in organizational activities
Ideal Qualifications and Personal Characteristics
• A personal commitment to the organizational vision
• At least five years of successful senior-level management in a mission-driven context, with some background in fundraising, financial oversight, and organizational development; experience in coalition building is highly desired
• An ability to inspire others, create momentum around shared goals, and manage toward alignment between individual, team, and organizational priorities
• An understanding of the political climate and the dynamics of local, regional, and national immigration policy environments
• An ability to communicate effectively with diverse audiences and build authentic relationships across lines of significant difference
• A capacity to supervise a high volume of work while maintaining a nurturing workplace and balance for oneself and staff
• A bachelor’s degree or equivalent; a graduate degree in a relevant discipline is preferred
Send substantive cover letter and résumé to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled. We are an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourage immigrants, people of color, women, and LGBTQ individuals to apply.