Chief Operating Officer


Swim Drink Fish is seeking a strategically oriented and people focused Chief Operating Officer to lead internal business operations that support the mission, vision, and effectiveness of the organization including human resources and talent management, administration, finance, as well as supporting strategic and operational planning. This is a new role and an exciting opportunity to be part of a dynamic and growing team dedicated to ensuring access to swimmable, drinkable, fishable water for all.

Reporting to the President and Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Operating Officer will have the ability to operationalize vision, goals, and concepts, and will transform discussion, brainstorming, and ideation into impactful plans, reports, and frameworks to advance organizational goals.

As a leader who gets the best out of people, the Chief Operating Officer will provide guidance and mentorship to the talented, passionate, and committed staff team. As the organization continues to grow, the new incumbent will develop systems, tools, and processes to support a culture of excellence including consistent program and staff performance plans ensuring teams are appropriately resourced and have clearly articulated roles, responsibilities, deliverables, and measures.

The ideal candidate will work alongside the President and Chief Executive Officer to unite the staff with the organization’s vision, so they understand, embrace, and are inspired to achieve. A relationship manager with strong interpersonal skills, the ideal candidate will connect easily with a wide variety of stakeholders including government and other funders, donors, media, volunteers, and the public.

With strong financial acumen, Chief Operating Officer will direct all financial administration and budgeting, providing oversight for the financial health and management of the organization, with external support. The new incumbent will oversee the development of Board reports, reports to partners and funders, and will sit on the Board’s Finance and Audit and Governance committees.

Swim Drink Fish has one office location in Toronto with employees currently working virtually from Vancouver, Toronto and surrounding area, Saint John, Halifax, and Montreal. The preferred location for the Chief Operating Officer is Toronto. Post pandemic, we anticipate a flexible work environment. Occasional travel in Canada will be required in this role.



Swim Drink Fish (SDF) was founded in 2001 in Kingston, Ontario as a volunteer-led group known as Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. We incorporated as a federal charity in 2002 and changed our name to Swim Drink Fish Canada in 2016 to reflect our national mandate. Lake Ontario Waterkeeper remains an operational arm of SDF.

Our mission is to build a movement of people working for swimmable, drinkable, fishable water for everyone. Today, Swim Drink Fish is an internationally recognized charity that has connected 7 million people to their local waters and has activated about $2 billion in restoration work since its inception. By using citizen science and communications technology, we inspire millions of people to know and safeguard their waters.

We focus on water because all communities need swimmable, drinkable, fishable water to thrive. Our programs connect people to the water’s edge, then train them to collect and share water quality and health data. We leverage that network and data to restore natural waters. Together, we inspire people to know and safeguard their local waters by giving them platforms that unite science, education, policy, social networks, and storytelling. Through blending communications technology, citizen science, and advocacy, we inform and engage people who spend time on the water.

Fraser Riverkeeper incorporated in British Columbia is a separate charity and is a subsidiary of Swim Drink Fish.


Swim Guide is one of the world’s most comprehensive beach information service, having helped over 7-million people find beaches, check water quality reports, and report pollution for over 8,000 beaches in 11 countries. Nearly 100 Swim Guide Affiliates around the world collect and share vital water quality data on the free website and app.

Water Monitoring Hubs engage and train volunteers to document water quality and develop water literacy within specific geographic regions.  SDF currently supports water monitoring hubs in Vancouver (through our subsidiary, Fraser Riverkeeper), Niagara – Lake Erie, Zhiibaahaasing First Nation community, Toronto and Kingston (through Lake Ontario Waterkeeper).

Great Lakes Guide is a web-based community that connects people with outdoor destinations and activities across the Great Lakes, helping them find new places to unleash their inner explorer.

Great Lakes Challenge, made possible by the generosity of the Weston Family Foundation, collaborates with Great Lakes communities to develop, and implement iconic restoration projects. The Gord Edgar Downie Pier in Kingston demonstrates how collaboration can restore a community’s connection to the water

Watermark Project is a community-created archive with true stories about impacts waterbodies have left on those that love them.

Advocacy: Under our Waterkeeper banner we participate in legal based advocacy including hearings and commissions.

Seabins are revolutionary trash skimmers that filter water to collect floating debris. Swim Drink Fish is currently leading, through Fraser Riverkeeper out of Vancouver, Seabin based plastic cleanup initiatives, collecting, characterizing, and monitoring captured debris to raise awareness and to use the information gathered in education and advocacy initiatives of SDF. The installation of up to 12 seabin locations are planned over the next three years.

Blue Flag is an international certification program for beaches and marinas. Flags are awarded annually to beaches and marinas that meet a strict set of environmental, accessibility, and visitor experience criteria. Swim Drink Fish oversees the certification program in Canada.

Our Impact

Since launching in 2001, more than $1.7 billion has been spent restoring and protecting water in the wake of our work. Over seven million people have used our programs and apps.

Our Values

Swim Drink Fish values community, leadership, credibility, fairness, and optimism. These are the forces behind our work for swimmable, drinkable, fishable water.

All members of the Swim Drink Fish team strive to act according to these values:

  • as part of a community, connecting people and judging our success by our ability to empower others.
  • as trailblazers, being adventurous and courageous leaders, helping others to succeed.
  • with credibility, being truthful, transparent, forthright, and trustworthy.
  • fairly, respectful of fairness for all and with openness, transparency, and accountability at all times.
  • optimistically, believing that it is possible to restore swimmable, drinkable, fishable water for all and working hard to make it happen.




Executive Leadership – 20%

  • As a key member of the organization’s leadership, develop SDF’s operational plans in the context of the mission, strategic plans, and current priorities.
  • Provide strategic support and advice to the President on organizational development, resource allocation, and risk assessment and management.
  • Provide governance and subject area support to the Board of Directors, including human resource, financial, and risk management policy development and plans. 
  • Monitor and report on achievement of an annual plan and budget, including Board of Director reports.
  • Monitor risk management policies and procedures to ensure that program and organizational risks are minimized.
  • Represent Swim Drink Fish at external meetings, events, committees, etc.

Human Resources, Talent, and Team Management – 35%

  • Develop, enhance, and implement robust human resources systems, including recruiting, hiring, onboarding, retention, professional development, performance management, compensation, and benefits.
  • Work with President and Managers to ensure program areas are effectively staffed to achieve objectives, including succession planning.
  • Promote a culture of high performance and continuous improvement that values learning and a commitment to quality. 
  • Develop and implement a transparent and consistent performance management plan that encompasses performance measurement indicators of every staff member, aligned with organizational goals.
  • Model good management practices with all staff in management positions.
  • Promote proactive strategies to ensure equity, diversity, and inclusion in programs and staffing.
  • Implement effective health and safety procedures, monitoring, and reporting mechanisms in order to promote and ensure the safety and well-being of staff and volunteers.

Financial Oversight – 20%

  • Oversee the financial affairs of Swim Drink Fish, including budgeting, financial forecasting, and reporting – supported by an external consultant, the Board Finance and Audit Committee, and internal Operations Lead.
  • As part of the annual planning cycle, work with the President, Program Managers, and internal Operations Lead on program and budget recommendations with supporting funding plans.
  • Monitor and report on the organization’s current and long-term financial position to ensure its financial viability and sustainability.
  • Conduct financial analysis and provide efficient, accurate, and timely financial reporting to the organization, the President, and the Board.
  • In collaboration with external expertise and the Board Finance and Audit Committee, establish and implement policies to ensure that complete, accurate, and efficient accounting processes, practices, and records are administered and maintained.
  • Assist the President and Program Managers in the preparation of funding submissions.

Administration – 15%

  • Oversee the administrative function of the organization including real estate, information technology, insurance, and equipment for effective operations, supported by the Operations Lead.
  • Oversee the management of all leases, contracts, banking, and other financial commitments, supported by the Operations Lead.
  • Work closely and transparently with all external partners including third-party vendors and consultants.
  • Lead Information Technology strategic and operational planning by fostering innovation and evaluation; coordinating the implementation and management of current and future IT systems across the organization; working with consultants and subject experts as necessary.
  • In collaboration with the Board Governance Committee, monitor all legislation relevant to the organization (employment standards, occupation health and safety, privacy, human rights, etc.) to ensure that the organization is compliant.

Program Management & Evaluation – 10%

  • Monitor and analyze program performance against approved budgets and milestones and provide regular reports to the President, Program Managers, and funders as required.
  • Work with the President, Program Managers, community partners, and funders where applicable, to evaluate program effectiveness and identify changing and emerging needs.



  • A passion for and commitment to making a positive, meaningful impact on the environment.
  • A positive track record at senior management or leadership level in administration, human resources, and financial management. Experience in a non-profit, charitable environment is considered an asset.
  • Proven human resource management leadership experience ideally coupled with administrative and operations accountabilities, financial management and oversight for information technology.
  • Demonstrated experience at the executive level participating in developing an organization’s strategic plan.
  • Knowledge of Board governance, and experience presenting and reporting to a Board of Directors on both financial matters and risk management issues.
  • Experience in proposal development and financial reporting for and in cooperation with Government and other complex funders.
  • An inclusive leader who models high standards of professionalism, with a track record of leading by example, mentoring, and building the skills and competencies of others.
  • An exceptional team player with the ability to lead a diverse team toward shared objectives.
  • Commitment to fostering a work and service delivery environment that is inclusive and reflective of the diversity in the community.
  • Proven change-management ability especially related to developing and refining business operations with rigor and discipline.
  • Management of technology team and external vendors.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience in preparing funding proposals and ongoing management of reporting, adhering to funding arrangements. 
  • Solid analytical and problem-solving skills with the ability to prioritize and make decisions.
  • Knowledge of the relevant legislative, accounting, human resources, and specific Canada Revenue Agency requirements for not-for-profit organizations is preferred.
  • Post-secondary education in a related field or a combination of skills and experience. Professional training in human resources management, organizational development or related would be considered an asset.



KCI Search + Talent has been retained to conduct this search on behalf Swim Drink Fish. For more information about this opportunity, please contact Ellie Rusonik, Associate Vice President, KCI Search + Talent by email at  

All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence. Interested candidates should send resume and letter of interest to the email address listed above by October 12, 2021.

To view the full Executive Brief, please visit:

All inquiries and applications will be held in strict confidence.

Swim Drink Fish is an equal opportunity employer; we are committed to having a skilled and diversified workforce reflective of our community. Indigenous Peoples, members of a visible minority group, 2SLGBTQ+ persons, and people from other historically marginalized backgrounds are encouraged to apply.