Director, Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center
Tuesday, August 23, 2022 07:47 AM

The Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center (SDCC) is a not-for-profit lodging and event venue
in Ajo, Arizona, located on the historic Curley School campus. Housed in the former elementary
school, the SDCC welcomes groups for conferences, workshops, retreats, reunions, and
weddings, as well as individual travelers. In addition, we host community events and the Sonoran
Arts Residency, which draws visual and performing artists from across the country and around
the globe. The SDCC is a supporting not-for-profit of the International Sonoran Desert Alliance
(ISDA), a 29-year-old organization devoted to preserving and enriching the environment, culture,
and economy of the Sonoran Desert.


Since opening in 2015 we have hosted thousands of individuals and dozens of groups, earned a
5-star rating and an annual Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor, and played a vital role in the
ongoing revitalization of this former copper mining town. Our staff has grown from two people
to a team of 15. We aren’t simply an inn; we are a destination, a gathering place, and a
centerpiece of Ajo’s growing creative economy. We’ve been covered in newspapers, radio and
TV in Arizona, as well as in national and international publications, including The Atlantic and
National Geographic Traveler.


The Director oversees all aspects of operation for the SDCC, guides the evolution of the property
and the business, and plays a key role in the development of the culture and economy of Ajo. We
are seeking someone professional, energetic, entrepreneurial, articulate, proactive, and
organized, with management, customer service and/or hospitality experience, a knack for team
building, and a passion for the Sonoran Desert region.


Responsibilities
The SDCC Director has a broad and diverse set of responsibilities – all aspects of running the
business are in their hands, and they are the public face of the operation. It is a hands-on
leadership position that requires an experienced professional who is comfortable managing a
budget, creating unforgettable experiences for guests, representing Ajo at national conferences...
and rolling up their sleeves to unclog a toilet when needed. We’ve divided the key responsibilities
into five categories:

1. Operations
● Oversee the daily functioning of the Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center
facilities, including guest rooms, meeting rooms, commercial kitchen, artisan’s
shop, and courtyard spaces;
● Implement and update systems and policies to ensure efficient, effective, and safe
use of all SDCC spaces;
● Hire and oversee/manage office, housekeeping, and overnight staff (team is
currently around 15 people). This is a structure that can evolve;
● Collaborate with ISDA on the care of the historic buildings and grounds;
● Collaborate with ISDA on the ongoing development of/improvements to SDCC
facilities, including additional guest rooms and outdoor areas.
● Oversee purchasing of all needed supplies for the operation of the business;

2. Marketing and Outreach
● Lead marketing and outreach efforts to ensure consistent bookings and
profitability of the SDCC;
● Target groups for retreats, conferences, workshops, etc., with a goal of developing
lasting partnerships and recurring events;
● Tap into existing and new networks to increase visibility of the SDCC;
● Partner with local organizations and leaders to create, promote and manage
events;
● Manage website, print, and social media marketing efforts.

3. Special Programs
● Serve as the host and ambassador for group events, including speaking before
groups, welcoming guests to meals, and giving tours of Ajo to guests;
● Develop and implement mission-driven events and residencies (arts, desert
scholarship, international border, local foods, etc.);
● Design and implement a menu of educational and cultural offerings for SDCC
guests that draws on local entrepreneurs and resources;
● Promote the commercial kitchen for a variety of uses including catering, cooking
classes/demonstrations, micro entrepreneurs, and special events.

4. Budget and Financial Management
● In collaboration with ISDA leadership and the SDCC board, develop and manage
the annual budget, ensuring that the operation remains sustainable;
● Review financial reports and present them to the SDCC board quarterly;
● Review and approve all payables and receivables for the ISDA bookkeeper;
● Oversee payroll, including bonuses, pay increases and paid time off;
● Make decisions on large expenses based on cash flow and occupancy rates.

5. Collaborate with ISDA on advancing the broader organizational mission and vision
● Support fundraising and development efforts;
● Provide physical space and logistical support for large ISDA events, including the
biennial Tri-National Sonoran Desert Symposium;
● Work with other local organizations and individuals to provide programming and
needed resources to the Ajo community (in the past this has included providing
free meeting space, serving free or reduced-cost meals, hosting guests of the
community);
● Represent ISDA and SDCC at local, regional, and national conferences and events;
● Promote local entrepreneurs, job training, and micro enterprise.

Qualifications
● Excellent customer service skills - warm, welcoming, and professional;
● Experience in hospitality, community development, creative placemaking, marketing,
and/or related fields;
● Expertise managing a diverse staff team and fostering a healthy, positive, safe work
environment;
● Strong administrative skills;
● Knowledge of Ajo (businesses, tourist attractions, resources, history) or willingness to
learn;
● A passion for being a part of the development and growth of Ajo as a destination for
tourism, culture, and educational events;
● Excellent on-the-spot problem-solving skills;
● Strong computer skills - proficient in basic platforms like Microsoft Office, Google Suite,
and various social media platforms, and able to quickly learn (and teach) new platforms
such as QuickBooks, online property management software and various financial systems;
● Strong systems thinker;
● Flexible hours. Must be able to work evenings and weekends as needed, during peak
season;

● Ability to multitask;

● Experience as a small business owner preferred;
● Spanish language skills are not required, but a big plus.


Terms
● Full-time position, starting training (some may be remote) as soon as possible;
● Employee status Exempt;
● Strong preference for an in-person start date no later than November 1, 2022;
● Salary range is $55,000-65,000/year, with opportunity for performance-based incentives;
● Benefits package includes health insurance with vision and dental options, 4 weeks paid
vacation, and opportunity for extended leave during the hot summer months;
● Unique perks including 10 free nights at the SDCC annually for friends and family; the use
of an SDCC golf cart; and delicious free meals at SDCC events;
● Reports to the Executive Director of ISDA and the SDCC Board.
● We plan to have the successful candidate in place by November first. Interviews will begin
September first. This position will remain open until filled.
Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to [email protected] For
candidates who are re-locating to Ajo for this position, temporary housing may be available on
the SDCC property.


The Sonoran Desert Inn and Conference Center is a supporting not-for-profit of the International
Sonoran Desert Alliance (ISDA). The Equal Employment Opportunity Policy of ISDA is to provide
a fair and equal employment opportunity for all job applicants regardless of race, color, religion,
national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability, or any other protected
characteristic as established by law. ISDA hires and promotes individuals solely on the basis of
their qualifications for the job to be filled.