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Director: Center for Conservation and Innovation

Job Location

Washington, DC, United States


Type of Job




Published By

Publisher Name

Published Date

Dec 15, 2021

About the job

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The Director of the Center for Conservation Innovation leads and manages a multidisciplinary team working at the intersection of science, technology, and policy to find creative, practical solutions for better conservation.  The Center focuses on three related but distinct program areas, for which the Director provides leadership, cross-disciplinary guidance, and priority-setting:

  • Science.  The science program area focuses on ensuring that Defenders continues to put science at the fore of conservation decision-making and advocacy through organization-wide support and research in the Center.  This includes supporting the spatial (GIS) and non-spatial science needs of Defenders, synthesizing existing research to inform advocacy, carrying out novel research, and leading or participating in collaborative science.  This may include carrying out new research, synthesizing science to support our advocacy, facilitating relationships with scientists in and out of the organization, and advocating for science in wildlife conservation governance.
  • Technology.  The technology program area enhances Defenders’ effectiveness by taking advantage of data and technologies that advance conservation, from creating web-based products to data analytics and visualization.  The program spans the gamut of topical areas, from species conservation to conservation governance processes, depending on organizational resources and broad needs.  The program is highly collaborative and integrated with the science and policy teams of CCI and across Defenders.
  • Policy.  The policy program area focuses on research and development on the current and next generation of laws, policies, and practices for species conservation, in ways that are innovative and pragmatic.  The program pursues and supports policy collaborations in and out of Defenders, and coordinates or participates in traditional forms of advocacy, including on rulemakings and legislative and executive branch lobbying.  This program is tightly integrated with the science and technology programs

The Director is responsible for the Center’s overall work and its effectiveness.  For internal operations, this may include developing and carrying out strategic and annual work plans, delegating tasks among team members, and managing personnel issues, among others.  For external operations, this may include proactively establishing new relationships, maintaining or improving existing relationships, and helping to uphold Defenders’ reputation as a pragmatic, innovative thought leader on conservation, among others.  The Director oversees all staff in the Center and coordinates with staff in other departments that engage with the Center.  This responsibility includes identifying, coordinating, and encouraging the activities of Center staff, team development, and career coaching and development.  The Director is also responsible for promoting the Center’s work, developing and finalizing the budget, fundraising, and other operational duties for the Center.

As a member of the Leadership team of Defenders, the Director is responsible for contributing to organizational processes and topics including:

  • Helping to shape the mission, strategy, tactics, and culture of Defenders;
  • Advising on endangered species issues, including significant ESA listing and recovery decisions, ESA rulemakings, and strategic planning;
  • Advising on key science and science policy issues to Defenders;
  • Cultivating relationships with key stakeholders in federal and state agencies, other environmental organizations, academia, and regulated entities to grow Defenders’ influence; and
  • Extensive interfacing with other departments, especially within Defenders’ Conservation Program and particularly Field Conservation, Landscape Conservation, and Conservation Law.


  • Oversee the Center for Conservation Innovation, including its policy, science, data and technology, and GIS programs, as well as cross-team integration. Forecast, set objectives, secure resources, and establish priorities for the Center.
  • Oversee all Center staff, including by identifying, coordinating, and encouraging their work activities. Identify Center staffing and budgeting needs, work to fill any gaps, and communicate the results to the Senior V.P. of Conservation Programs.
  • Work with Center staff to generate new advocacy and science products, including Defenders white papers and analysis, peer-reviewed publications, online applications (“apps”), GIS analysis and maps, and external presentations.
  • Raise funding for the Center, with a focus on collaborating with the Development Department to engage foundations and high-dollar private donors.
  • Actively seek and incorporate innovations to improve endangered species conservation and Defenders’ imperiled species work.
  • Coordinate the Center’s work with other departments, including Field Conservation, Landscape Conservation, Government Relations, Conservation Law, and Communications.
  • Cultivate relationships with key stakeholders in federal and state agencies, other environmental organizations, academia, and regulated entities on ESA matters. Proactively establish new relationships, maintain or improve existing relationships, and help uphold Defenders’ reputation as a pragmatic, innovative thought-leader on the ESA.
  • Facilitate and promote the integration of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice strategies into the Center’s work.
  • Finalize the budget and other key operational documents and decisions for the Center. Represent the Center on the Leadership team and on interdepartmental issues involving the organizational strategic plan.
  • Perform all other related duties as assigned.


Education: Terminal degree in related field

Experience: 15 years; 7 years supervisory; 5 years managing 2+ layers

An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted as a satisfactory substitute for the specific education and experience listed above.

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All employees are required to satisfactorily perform the essential duties and responsibilities of their positions. The essential duties and responsibilities listed above are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.

Defenders requires employees who engage in in-person work activities, including business travel or onsite work, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. An applicant (i) who is disabled or pregnant or who has a qualifying medical condition that contraindicates a COVID-19 vaccination or (ii) who objects to being vaccinated on the basis of a sincerely held religious belief, observance or practice may request an exemption from this vaccination policy. This determination will be made on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with applicable law. Any medical information concerning an applicant's disability will be treated as a confidential medical record in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws.

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