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RAY Conservation Diversity Fellow: Philanthropy

Job Location

Washington, D.C.


Type of Job




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Published Date

Feb 9, 2022

About the job

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Inspired by efforts to increase racial diversity in conservation, the Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Conservation Diversity Fellowship Program aims to increase and facilitate conservation-related career pathways for emerging leaders of color. The RAY Fellowship Program is a paid fellowship designed to equip recent college graduates with the tools, experiences, support, and community they need to become leaders in the conservation sector—one that, in our visions of the future, fully represents, includes, and is led by the diverse communities, perspectives, and experiences of the United States.


Our mission is uniting people to protect America’s wild places. We aim to leverage the potential of America’s public lands to help solve the climate, extinction and racial inequity crises. Federal public lands include national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, monuments, conservation areas, wilderness areas, etc., which, at 640 million acres, comprise nearly 30% of the surface area of our country.

We are focused on two key priorities:

  1. Transforming conservation policy and practice so all people benefit equitably from public lands, and
  2. Making public lands part of the solution to the climate and extinction crises by securing a network of resilient, connected landscapes and by eliminating climate changing emissions from fossil fuel development on public lands.

We aspire to be inclusive in the work that we do and in the kind of organization we are. Internally, this means working as a team that listens to different points of view, recognizes the contributions of every employee and empowers each employee to bring their whole selves to work every day. Externally this means centering equity in all of our work. To learn more about our commitment, please see Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

The Philanthropy and Membership teams at The Wilderness Society are responsible for raising the funds to propel the organization’s fight to support community led conservation solutions and leverage national policy change. The teams are comprised of experts and skilled practitioners in all the major disciplines in philanthropy and membership.


The Fellow will be an active member of the teams that share responsibility for securing the funds that allow The Wilderness Society to leverage the potential of our nation’s public lands to help solve the climate, extinction and racial inequity crises.  In Year One, the Fellow will be on assignment with each team for six to eight weeks to gain exposure to and experience with the full range of fundraising disciplines. During this time, the Fellow will learn and apply important strategy, planning, relationship-building, communication and analytical skills used to inspire both individuals and institutions to contribute more than $40 million annually to advance our work. In Year Two, the Fellow will pursue one or two keystone projects, determined in consultation with senior Philanthropy and Membership staff, to hone their skills as they look ahead to future employment in fundraising for nonprofit organizations. The Fellow will also have the opportunity to work with members of the President‘s Office, Conservation, External Affairs and Finance & Administration teams to develop an understanding of the interconnectedness and mutual dependence of all aspects of the organization.

This is an opportunity to begin a career that offers a great variety of employment opportunities throughout the nation, advancing a wide array of missions and causes and which, for many, provides the deep satisfaction of knowing their work makes a difference. Some examples of roles the Fellow could enter after completing the fellowship are associate or coordinator-level roles in foundation or corporate relations; major gifts; development operations; donor relations; membership; and event coordination.


The Fellow’s primary responsibilities with the teams will be:

Membership and Strategic Operations: Support Direct Response Marketing managers in producing innovative campaigns to engage people through multiple communications vehicles, including direct mail, social media and email; and help analyze data used to inform decision-making to improve results.

Donor Relations: Work with the team to create materials that will highlight the important work of The Wilderness Society and be used to engage existing major gift donors to ensure their continued support; and help build relationships with our high-level members and major donor prospects.

Major Gifts: Help plan and manage events for current and prospective major donors to elevate our work among their priorities for charitable giving; participate in strategy discussions aimed at securing major gifts; help identify effective models for engaging diverse communities in major gifts philanthropy.

Planned Giving: Help craft a marketing strategy and materials to make selected donors aware of the opportunity they have to make the largest charitable gifts of their lives possible through careful financial, legal and tax-savvy planning.

Foundations and Corporations: Learn how to prepare for a relationship-building meeting with a foundation donor; help prepare proposals, reports and other documents for funders; help with research and strategy development to find new funders.


In addition to the responsibilities at the host institution outlined above, RAY Fellows will spend, on average, 2-4 hours per week (5-10% of work time) on the following:

  • Actively communicating and building community with their RAY Fellow cohort and previous RAY Fellows.
  • Attending monthly check-ins calls (including 1-on-1 check-ins with RAY program staff and group calls with their RAY Fellow cohort).
  • Meeting regularly with mentors both inside and outside the host institution.
  • Attending monthly professional development webinars, trainings, and other opportunities to build knowledge and skills.
  • Developing a Personal Leadership Plan (PLP) with the support of supervisor(s), mentors, RAY program staff, and their RAY Fellow cohort. The PLP will serve as a tool for self-reflection, planning, and assessing progress towards professional, personal, and leadership goals.
  • Preparing and leading an hour-long end-of-fellowship webinar highlighting their Fellowship experience.

RAY Fellows will also attend:

  • A 3-day Orientation Retreat in August 2022.
  • A 3-day Leadership Retreat in February 2023.


Eligible RAY Fellow applicants will:

  • Come from a racial / ethnic background underrepresented in conservation and demonstrate a commitment to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Be less than 1 year out of college and have a Bachelor’s degree by July 2022 (we are not considering individuals with graduate degrees at this time).
  • Have not had a full-time job in conservation.
  • Have the ability to work in the United States and commit to the entire fellowship.


  • A college degree by the time of employment.
  • Demonstrated intellect and leadership.
  • A track record of working collaboratively across race, ethnicity, gender and age with people who offer a diverse range of talents, perspectives and experiences.
  • Strong analytical, organizational and communication skills.
  • An eagerness to learn about fundraising for nonprofit organizations.


This is a two-year, full-time fellowship (one year with a one-year renewal) starting on or after July 15, 2022.


The Fellowship is compensated and sponsored by The Wilderness Society, which offers a competitive benefits package as well as training and professional development opportunities. The salary for this position is $59,000 annually.  We also offer a benefit plan which includes:

  • Emphasis on a work/life balance and some telework may be available
  • Strong organization commitment to diversity, equity & inclusion. Find more information here
  • Competitive Salary, Comprehensive Medical, Dental & Vision plans
  • Medical insurance available for as little as $6.00/month for employee only coverage.  Dependent coverage available at an additional cost
  • Generous Paid Time Off plan (20 accrued vacation days, 2 personal days, 12 accrued sick days and 12 recognized holidays per year)
  • Expansive network of outdoor retailer discounts


To apply for the RAY Fellowship Program, applicants must:

  1. Complete the online application survey on the RAY Fellowship Program website:
  2. Follow the instructions on the linked application webpage to submit a curriculum vitae or a resume, one essay, one visioning response, and one short answer response, and a letter of support.

Applications must be submitted to the RAY Fellowship Program no later than March 27, 2022. Transcripts and additional writing samples are not required. Questions about the application process can be submitted to Maria Johnson (

The Wilderness Society is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, sex, handicap, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status. The Wilderness Society is continually seeking to diversify its staff, particularly to broaden opportunities for individuals from demographic groups that are historically underrepresented in the sciences and in environmental advocacy.

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