Established over 40 years ago, the Court of Master Sommeliers is the premier institution for improving the standards of beverage knowledge and service excellence in hotels, restaurants, and the beverage industry. Through its mentorship, rigorous preparation and examination processes, and peerless credentials, the Court of Master Sommeliers elevates the quality of beverage service throughout the hospitality and beverage industries.
The organization delivers an intensive educational program to aspiring Master Sommeliers through four increasingly rigorous levels of coursework and examination, culminating in the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination. The coursework includes an Introductory Sommelier Course and Examination, Deductive Tasting Method workshop, Certified Sommelier Examination, Advanced Sommelier Course and Examination. Students learn online or in-person. More than 170 professionals have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization's inception. Only 270 professionals worldwide have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.
The Court of Master Sommeliers, America (CMS-A) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization with an operating budget of $4-5M. It is guided by an 11-member Board of Directors and a full-time, year-round staff of four, including a Director of Operations, Education Director, Examination Director, and an Associate Director of Operations and Finance. In addition, the organization has external relationships with legal, accounting, and public relations counsel.
CMS-A is a leader in the wine and hospitality industries. Its members include a dynamic, approachable, and generous group of people committed to unsurpassed service, hospitality, and the enjoyment of wine and beverage.
The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas seeks a seasoned, highly skilled, confident person to serve as its Executive Director. This position has been reimagined to provide transformative leadership and operational oversight of all aspects of the nonprofit organization. The successful candidate will work with a newly installed Board of Directors, members, and staff to set strategic direction and restructure operations for future sustainability and growth. This person will provide leadership for strategy and implementation, personnel, member relations, marketing, organizational development, and finances while also managing through the organization's past issues. The individual must be an outstanding communicator able to parse, synthesize, and refine multiple perspectives to achieve the organization's mission. The Executive Director should also have extensive knowledge and leadership experience working within a 501(c)(6) organization.
In addition to the leadership responsibilities that accompany this role, the Executive Director of the CMS-A will also be a part of one of the most vibrant and diverse industries on the planet, the hospitality and beverage industries. The person will work alongside some of the world's most passionate beverage and hospitality professionals as well as enhance their understanding of wine and hospitality while playing a key role in shaping the industry (and yes, you will get to drink some really, really great wine.)
Leadership and Vision
With the Board of Directors, develop, refine, and implement a clear vision and strategic pathway to stabilize and grow the Court of Master Sommeliers, America.
Play a key role in crisis management, including setting the tone, being externally focused, communicating with stakeholders proactively, and mobilizing talent to propel the organization towards a healthy recovery.
Demonstrate decisive and robust management skills and the ability to lead through crisis, conflict, and adversity successfully.
Serve as a change agent with the ability to motivate and influence individuals and groups and "bring others along."
Leverage the enthusiasm and passion for the organization's mission and advance its core values of hospitality, integrity, humility, self-care, and embracing a vibrant and diverse community.
Serve as an effective and visible spokesperson for CMS-A, articulating its history, updated mission and direction, and programs.
Demonstrate maturity, empathy, and understanding to cultivate effective and genuine collaboration with a range of staff, board, members, and students who come from diverse backgrounds and geographies.
Service Delivery, Membership, and Operations
Lead the rapid development and implementation of appropriate system and process improvements in CMS-A's education, examination, mentoring, communications, and human resource functions.
Modernize methods of service delivery and marketing using nimble and well-integrated technology and communication platforms.
Oversee implementation and delivery of overhauled educational testing and certification procedures that ensure integrity in processes, participant experiences, and outcomes.
Set annual and longer-term strategic goals, the blueprint of activities to achieve these goals, and objectives by which progress toward the goals will be measured.
Establish and employ metrics to describe program utilization and financial performance.
Implement marketing and other customer and partner acquisition strategies to increase enrollment at the CMS-A's educational and examination offerings, and build partnership support for these events.
Retain and expand membership engagement through innovative outreach initiatives.
Spearhead review and overhaul of bylaws, organizational structure, and relationship with the CMS-EU, where needed.
Lead expansion into new international markets as applicable to the overall strategy.
Cultivate a positive and transparent working relationship with the Board of Directors.
Keep the board fully informed on all matters that may influence the operation of the CMS-A.
Work with the board to identify and help recruit new external board members (not Master Sommeliers) who will add diversity and whose talents, interests, and commitment will further the CMS-A's mission.
Provide leadership and direction to remote, cross-functional staff team and outside resources, ensuring strong internal communication and coordination.
Direct the recruiting, professional development, performance management, motivation, and retention of staff.
Oversee coordination of work with the board's committees, members, and partner organizations.
Oversee significant vendor and partner relationships and help drive the creation of a partner community in support of the overall objectives.
Develop and report upon HR performance metrics and analytics (including inclusion and diversity).
Finance and General Operations
Oversee the organization's fiscal health and integrity by developing long- and short-range financial plans and annual budgets, disseminating regular financial statements that informatively describe the financial condition of the organization, and ensuring sound financial controls.
Help oversee and strengthen the professionally managed investments over time to better position the organization to weather future unexpected storms.
Design appropriate systems and controls to identify and mitigate business, financial, reputational, and other significant risks facing the organization.
Professional Qualifications and Experience
The Executive Director should have the following experience and qualifications:
Proven successful leadership, managerial, team building, and financial management experience at an executive level within 501(c)(6) membership organization.
Experience influencing and leading a change management effort in an organization.
Ability to envision and convey the organization's strategic future and growth to staff, board, members, industry partners, and the public.
Experience listening to and communicating with diverse groups and demonstrated success in communicating effectively in writing and verbally.
Experience with crisis management.
Fifteen (15) years of senior leadership experience demonstrating increasing responsibilities and a Bachelor's degree in business administration or a related field are minimum requirements.
Demonstrated commitment to valuing diversity and contributing to an inclusive working and learning environment.
Bi-lingual capabilities are welcomed.
Ability to engage in a demanding travel schedule with regular trips to members and educational and training sites. Travel expected up to 30%, higher in the first year.
Personal Characteristics or Attributes
Ideally, the Executive Director will be the following:
An available and accessible leader who upholds integrity, instills a culture of transparency and crisis resilience throughout the organization, and is strategic, diplomatic, resourceful, assertive, open-minded, and politically astute.
A hands-on team player who inspires collaboration, shares information readily, listens intently, and respects the perspectives and abilities of others.
An energetic person who can handle and prioritize multiple activities and responsibilities; a self-starter who is eager to explore opportunities.
An individual who appreciates and holds some knowledge about wine, food, hospitality, and service.
The CMS-A Board of Directors is currently engaged in an extensive effort to change the organization's culture and programming to ensure a safe, diverse, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all participants, and to implement responsive solutions that demonstrate its unwavering commitment to operational excellence, transparency, non-discrimination, non-harassment, and anti-racism. The successful candidate will need to be a change agent deeply committed to the aforementioned principles and demonstrating the highest level of integrity. This person will be expected to play a highly visible and central role in implementing and supporting CMS-A's structural and cultural transformation and working with the board to ensure a comprehensive, exemplary, hospitality-driven experience for all involved with CMS-A.
The Executive Director will receive a competitive salary and a benefits package, including a health reimbursement arrangement, 401k, paid time off, and travel/entertainment spending budget. Also, the selected candidate will be afforded an unmatched opportunity to enjoy some of the best wine, food, and service in the world!
Statement of Non-Discrimination
The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas does not discriminate based on race, gender, religion, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, national origin, citizenship, veteran's status, sexual orientation, gender perception, or in any other way prohibited by applicable federal, state or local law. CMS-A actively seeks a diverse pool of candidates and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates.
To apply for this position, please submit your cover letter and resume electronically to Gretchen H. Kunkel at The Moran Company. The cover letter should highlight your qualifications and experiences and how they align with CMS-A's requirements. Special attention should be given to sharing your past experiences and achievements in leading an organization through crises and resultant organizational transformation. APPLY NOW
Telecommuting is allowed.
About Court of Master Sommeliers-Americas
The Moran Company, LLC, specializes in nationwide searches for fundraising directors of development, executive directors, presidents/CEO’s, hospital foundation directors, and other nonprofit professionals.