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Director. Federal Lands Program

Job Location

Washington, DC, United States


Type of Job




Published By

Publisher Name

Published Date

Jan 20, 2022

About the job

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Director, Federal Lands Program leads Defenders of Wildlife’s work to increase wildlife habitat protections and advance imperiled species recovery on federal lands, including the National Wildlife Refuge System, the National Forest System, and the National System of Public Lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  The Director is responsible for effectuating Defenders’ conservation mission on federal public lands in accordance with our strategic plan. The position directs the program’s multi-faceted strategies to defend and secure new conservation protections, initiatives, policies and laws for at-risk species on federal lands.

Responsibilities include supervising Federal Lands Program staff members; working closely with federal land management agencies to improve wildlife and habitat management; coordinating relevant environmental community advocacy efforts; directing, coordinating, and/or assisting Defenders’ advocacy efforts to influence legislation, regulations, agency policies, and land management plans; providing support to Defenders’ staff on federal lands policy and relevant issues, including strategic litigation, when necessary; and serving as Defenders’ representative for federal lands with external interests.


  • Develop Defenders’ positions on legislative and administrative proposals affecting federal lands. Facilitate coordination with Government Relations on developing new and responding to proposed legislation.
  • Direct Defenders’ advocacy efforts and major campaigns to protect and restore habitat on federal lands and waters, to thwart and oppose policies and actions that threaten at-risk species on federal lands, and to hold the federal land management agencies accountable to their legal obligations, including under the Endangered Species Act and other laws.
  • Supervise the Federal Lands Program staff by developing workplans, setting priorities, supervising work, and evaluating performance.
  • Facilitate collaboration with other parts of Defenders including Government Relations, Communications, Conservation Law, Field Conservation and the Center for Conservation Innovation to accomplish goals and objectives.
  • Serve as Defenders’ representative on federal lands to department and agency officials and represent Defenders in public meetings, hearings, press events, conferences, coalitions, and in general communications with public officials, legislators, the media, Defenders’ membership, the donor community, and the general public.
  • Research, write, and/or supervise the development of white papers, memos, blogs, reports, Websites, publications and other products for advocacy purposes. Facilitate coordination with the Communications Department to develop and distribute outward facing products and with the Center for Conservation Innovation to use technology to develop digital communication products.
  • Direct program efforts to draft comments, appeals, and objections in response to proposed regulatory actions, plans and proposals on priority issues and in priority places; and when necessary direct program efforts to prepare to support litigation efforts.
  • Direct program efforts to inform and mobilize citizen activists, including Defenders’ members and supporters.
  • Work with Development staff to raise operating funds for the Federal Lands Program.
  • Develop short- and long-range operating objectives, organizational structure, and staffing requirements.
  • Develop and recommend the Federal Lands Budget.
  • Ensure optimum performance of group function. Recommend and implement techniques to improve productivity, increase efficiencies, cut costs and maintain state-of-the-art practices.
  • Recommend, review and approve employment actions, including interviewing, hiring, promotions and raises, in conjunction with Human Resources. Partner with Human Resources in the handling of disciplinary issues.
  • Ensure communication of duties and responsibilities to direct reports and monitor performance. Provide regular coaching and counseling. Identify training needs. Prepare and deliver salary and performance reviews; review and approve performance and salary appraisals as necessary.
  • Perform all other related duties as assigned.


Education: Bachelor’s (B.A./B.S.) degree or equivalent

Experience: 10 years of relevant experience; 5 years supervisory experience

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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