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Senior Director of Design and Engagement

Job Location

Remote (See job description for details)


Type of Job




Published By

Publisher Name

Published Date

May 5, 2022

About the job

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Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF or Federation) is America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 52 state/territorial affiliates and more than six million members and supporters, including hunters, anglers, gardeners, birders, hikers, campers, paddlers, and outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes. The Federation's mission is to unite all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in our rapidly changing world through programming focused on conserving wildlife, restoring habitats and waterways, expanding outdoor opportunities, connecting children with nature, and addressing the causes and consequences of climate change.


The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has a longstanding commitment to helping children, families, and communities to spend time in, receive the benefits of, and develop a lasting connection with nature. The vast majority of children in America spend most of their daily time in the built environment, including child care centers, schools, parks, libraries, or at home. Time in nature-based environments from birth through adolescence offers lifelong benefits to rapidly developing bodies and brains, along with a greater inclination to become nature lovers and supporters as adults. Therefore, it is critical to create, activate, and steward high-quality outdoor spaces that become places where children, their educators, caretakers, and families can engage with nature and the outdoors on a daily basis.


As the leader of NWF’s flagship Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) program, this position will lead an effort to bring the benefits of nature into the daily lives of young children and families across America, while also serving as a thought leader for NWF’s goal of improving built environments for children and communities who have historically faced institutional barriers to quality outdoor spaces.


This job is for you if you are: a Licensed Landscape Architect with successful organizational leadership experience; expertise in landscape design, community engagement, and/or urban planning, preferably with built environments used by children and families; and you are ready to be a national leader in the movement to connect children and families to nature.


The primary roles of NWF’s Senior Director of Design and Engagement are: (1) to provide leadership and oversight of NWF’s flagship Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) program that facilitates the creation and activation of nature-based outdoor play and learning settings for young children, and (2) to provide vision and leadership to enhance NWF’s landscape design and engagement activities to elevate NWF’s ability to equitably improve the built environment and create and activate places that reinforce children’s connection to nature. The Senior Director collaborates internally with NWF’s Education & Engagement Department, Regional Education staff, the Innovation Department, Garden for Wildlife, Environmental Justice team, Affiliate organizations, and others to identify and advance opportunities to support community engagement and apply evidence-based design solutions aimed at improving the health of people and the environment. With a commitment to utilizing best design and community engagement practices and centering equity and justice, the Senior Director guides the organization in developing innovative solutions and community partnerships to bring the benefits of nature into the daily lives of children and families across America.


The Senior Director of Design and Engagement reports to the Rocky Mountain Regional Executive Director while serving on the leadership teams of the Education & Engagement and Innovation Departments.


Principal Duties (major areas of responsibility):


The Senior Director develops and implements the structures, processes, and strategies needed to bring equitable and community-driven landscape design and engagement practices to NWF’s work to advance NWF’s mission and Strategic and Equity and Justice Plans. Specifically, the Senior Director of Design and Engagement is responsible for:


  • Overseeing the ongoing development and implementation of ECHO as a flagship design and engagement program that facilitates the creation of nature-based outdoor play and learning settings; provides training and resources for parents, caregivers, and educators to activate these settings; and advocates for state and federal policies, rules, and regulations to make high-quality outdoor play and learning more accessible to more young children;
  • Serving as a principal landscape architect that provides NWF with expertise in landscape design and community engagement with a focus on improving built environments for children and communities who have historically faced institutional barriers to quality outdoor spaces (the Senior Director’s work portfolio will involve ~35% direct oversight of landscape design projects);
  • Supporting NWF’s effort to incorporate nature play spaces and wildlife habitat components into residential parks working with developers, municipalities, contractors, and parks departments;
  • Cultivating and maintaining authentic partnerships (with affiliates, community leaders, corporate partners, and other potential partners) and serving as an ambassador for NWF’s design and engagement work;
  • Advancing equity and justice within the organization and in external program delivery, partnerships, and communications;
  • Achieving financial goals needed to advance NWF’s Design and Engagement efforts, including fundraising, government contracts, developing and implementing revenue-generating projects, and collaborating with the Philanthropy and Innovation teams;
  • Leading and managing a team of landscape designers, early childhood and engagement specialists, and other staff to support NWF’s design and engagement work across the country;
  • Fostering an inclusive and collaborative workplace culture that supports staff in functioning as an integrated and effective team across a geographically-diverse, highly-matrixed organization;
  • Working across Regions and Departments (especially Education & Engagement and Innovation) to seek opportunities for multi-disciplinary thought partnerships in developing and applying design and engagement best practices into NWF’s work;
  • Managing the Design and Engagement team’s budget and stewarding the organization’s financial resources;
  • Fostering the creation and dissemination of communications and marketing strategies and materials to build a national movement for equitable access to healthy, nature-based spaces;
  • Supporting policy advocacy efforts to create systems change at local, state, and federal levels;
  • Advancing NWF’s values of collaboration, empowerment, inclusivity, mindfulness, and mission-focused work as defined through the Strategic Plan.


Qualifications and Experience:


  • Landscape architecture licensure required.
  • AICP certification or experience in urban planning/community engagement preferred.
  • Professional expertise in landscape design, community engagement, and/or urban planning, preferably with built environments used by children and families, with some familiarity with nature play areas and early childhood.
  • Organizational leadership, including demonstrated proficiency in personnel management, teambuilding, and delegation.
  • Demonstrating a personal and professional commitment to and experience in advancing equity and justice;
  • Experience serving as a champion and ambassador, demonstrating the ability to communicate about, sell, or market a concept in a manner that leads to growth.
  • Experience in planning, designing, and/or activating places that are enhanced through community-led initiatives and engagement with youth, families, and other key stakeholders.
  • Proven collaboration and relationship-building skills and ability to work effectively with diverse stakeholders, funders, and partners.
  • Highly-developed oral and written communication skills, including public speaking experience, and the ability to effectively communicate ideas across disciplines verbally, written, and graphically.
  • Demonstrated competencies that support fundraising capabilities, including relationship-building, highly-developed communication skills, and network-building.
  • Strategic thinking with demonstrated passion for developing and implementing system-change strategies.
  • These proficiencies are typically consistent with approximately ten to fifteen years of professional experience.




Self-Awareness & Learning


  • Exhibits a commitment to continuous learning and growth and models this approach with others
  • Dedicated to deepening understanding of cultural and systemic racism and the intersectionality of multiple forms of social inequality
  • Demonstrates awareness of positional power and privilege (both personally and professionally) and its attendant impacts
  • Consistently brings a high level of empathy and social skills to work and interpersonal interactions


Authentic Relationships & Community Partnerships


  • Maintains a sophisticated understanding of how group dynamics impact supervisory relationships, organizational culture, partnerships, campaigns and coalition work
  • Demonstrates capacity to maintain relationships across difference and create greater psychological safety in the workplace
  • Acknowledges when mistakes are made and harm is done; works to repair breaches in relationships
  • Openly holds space, and invites others into conversations during sensitive engagements, exhibiting a responsible and respectful demeanor with colleagues and partners


Direct Communication


  • Exhibits strong interpersonal skills rooted in teamwork, diplomacy, and respect
  • Provides clear and direct communication with colleagues
  • Strives to match intent and impact in all interactions
  • Works proactively to resolve conflicts and misunderstandings toward restorative solutions; attends to conflicts as opportunities for learning and growth


Supervision & Power Sharing


  • Supports the leadership, success, and professional development of staff members, with a commitment to utilizing power to ensure equitable access and opportunities for staff of color and with other marginalized identities
  • Consistently provides positive and developmental feedback to support growth of team members
  • Actively seeks feedback, direction, and guidance from all team members and keeps staff informed of decisions that impact them
  • Intentionally shares power through decision-making, clear definition of roles and responsibilities, effective delegation, and equitable access to resources




  • Actively seeks new solutions to persistent problems by engaging a diversity of perspectives and experiences
  • Practices both/and thinking and the ability to accept ambiguity
  • Demonstrates willingness to take risks, pilot new approaches, learn from failure, and continually improve efforts


Equity Analysis & Action


  • Motivated by values of equity and responsibility to those most marginalized
  • Committed to deepening an environmental justice approach in policy priorities, program development and partner engagement
  • Demonstrates awareness of the attributes associated with a white dominant culture and takes actions to dismantle hierarchies of oppression within that culture
  • Dedicated to advancing NWF’s internal equity transformation and compelling partners and allies to incorporate equity into their work


Location and Travel Requirements:


This position may be based anywhere in the continental U.S., with an expectation to have regular in-person interaction with the Design & Engagement team based in Denver, CO and other NWF teams across the country (due to COVID-19 all NWF employees are working remotely until further notice). Regular travel will be required, anticipating 10-15 trips per year, 20-30 nights per year in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.


Compensation and Benefits:


The starting salary for this position is $110,000-$125,000, commensurate with experience.


We are proud of our designation by Mogul as a Top 100 Workplace with the Best Benefits in 2021! We value work-life balance and a family-friendly atmosphere with flexible scheduling. We want you to be able to integrate work and personal life with attention to your self-care, so that your work schedule is not depleting. We offer benefits so you feel restored and fueled through the day and week.


We offer these supports to help manage your mental, emotional, and physical health:


  • Paid time off: Vacation that starts off at three weeks accrual, unlimited wellbeing (this time can be used for physical, spiritual, emotional, cultural, religious or financial wellbeing for yourself, a partner, or family member – including pets), 10 holidays, and 3 floating holidays
  • We close down for a paid winter break between December 25 to January 1 to recognize end of-year stress, and time for reflection, rejuvenation, and spending time with family.
  • Up to 16 weeks of fully paid Family and Medical Leave
  • Low cost health, dental, and vision insurance options – all outpatient mental health is covered at in-network rates
  • Therapist available at no cost
  • Pet insurance and discount perk program
  • Annual wellbeing allowance


In addition to your salary, we offer the following supports to your personal finances:


  • Retirement plan with immediate match and vesting
  • Annual year end retirement contribution
  • Tuition Reimbursement
  • Adoption and Surrogacy assistance
  • Pet adoption stipend
  • Student Loan management


Applicants are invited to learn more about National Wildlife Federation’s benefits package at


COVID Consideration:


The National Wildlife Federation closely follows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease and has implemented processes that promote the safety of our employees, candidates, and communities. Because the health of our employees and candidates is a top priority, we conduct our hiring process virtually via phone or video until further notice. We are currently starting our positions as remote, but will transition to onsite work when our offices re-open, expected to be in early 2022. Proof of vaccination will be required as a condition to join the National Wildlife Federation.




Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Candidates must submit a cover letter, resume, and pdf or link to portfolio that represents most applicable work.


We strive to increase diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) in all elements of our work and with our partners to support the interdependent needs of wildlife and people in a rapidly changing world. We recruit, employ, train compensate, and promote regardless of race, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity (including gender nonconformity and status as a transgender individual), age, physical or mental disability, citizenship, genetic information, past, current, or prospective service in the uniformed services, or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal, state, or local law. We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer. Applicants are invited to learn more about National Wildlife Federation’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at


We recognize that people come with a wealth of experience and talent beyond just the technical requirements of a job, therefore our job descriptions are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Your experience, which may include paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work, helps build the competencies and knowledge that translates to our openings. Diversity of experience and skills combined with passion is a key to innovation and a culture of excellence. Therefore, we encourage people from all backgrounds to apply to our positions.


Please let us know if you require accommodations during the application or interview process by reaching us at or 703-438-6244.


If selected for this position, a background check will be conducted.

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