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Vice President, Conservation, Plastics (Trash Free Seas)

Job Location

Washington, DC, United States


Type of Job



Commensurate with Experience

Published By

Publisher Name

Published Date

Mar 30, 2021

About the job

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Ocean Conservancy works to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges.  Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it.

Ocean PLASTICS Portfolio
Trash in the ocean compromises the health of humans and wildlife and threatens those whose livelihoods depend on a healthy ocean.  Ocean Conservancy, a long-time leader in this field, has a growing portfolio of initiatives to stabilize ocean heath against the threat of plastic pollution while benefiting marginalized communities and not increasing GHG emissions.
Ocean Conservancy works to leverage new and existing resources and partnerships to bring the public, scientists, industry, government, and civil society partners together to analyze, develop, and implement solutions. The Ocean Plastics portfolio includes Ocean Conservancy’s work to advance science and policy solutions as well as engaging networks of advocates and partners through the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, International Coastal Cleanup – the single largest single day volunteer effort to clean up trash from beaches –  and the Trash Free Seas Alliance® – a forum of industry, science, and conservation leaders to advance solutions to the ocean plastic crisis.

Ocean Conservancy is a leading voice in advancing policy solutions at the state, federal, and international levels. As public pressure builds to address plastic waste there is significant momentum to enact new policy at all levels. Ocean Conservancy is uniquely suited to lead these efforts. Our past work has supported passage of bi partisan federal legislation, influenced executive branch action on plastics, informed state-led initiatives, and we are a critical voice in international policy discussions on the issue of plastic pollution. In addition to our policy expertise, we bring decades of leadership on data collection and science to understand the magnitude, sources, and impacts of ocean plastic. For over 30 years Ocean Conservancy has collected and analyzed data on plastic pollution through the International Coastal Cleanup.  In recent years our work has expanded to support scientific and economic analyses of the major ways plastic waste reaches the ocean. In addition, through the International Coastal Cleanup, Global Ghost Gear Initiative, and the Trash Free Seas Alliance ® we have developed expansive networks of local advocates, private sector entities, and scientists that can be marshaled to advance both science and policy needed to stop plastic pollution. Finally the programs within this portfolio are some of Ocean Conservancy’s most public facing efforts and often serve as a gateway for new and existing audiences. As such they serve an important role for Ocean Conservancy as an institution and are a critical component of our communications and resource development strategies.

The Vice President, Conservation Plastics (Trash Free Seas) is responsible for setting and executing on the short- and long-term strategic direction for Ocean Conservancy’s ocean plastics portfolio.  The Vice President will oversee a $5-7 million budget, three senior direct reports, and approximately 12 indirect reports.  Leveraging the organization’s talent and resources, the Vice President will develop, expand, and drive the strategic growth and execution of impactful solutions both in the U.S. and globally.   A leader in this field, the Vice President is accountable for delivering concrete outcomes and building strategic relationships as they relate to our domestic and international policy campaigns, science agenda, international coastal cleanup program, global ghost gear initiative, science agenda, and private sector engagement.  A strong decision-maker and innovative thinker, the Vice President is responsible for ensuring that teams within the portfolio have the direction, resources, and guidance needed to achieve program goals and objectives.  This includes ensuring program effectiveness, fiduciary oversight of multi-million dollar grants, integration within the portfolio and across other Ocean Conservancy programs and functions, and promoting Ocean Conservancy as a global leader on ocean plastics.  Given the public facing nature of the plastics issues, the Vice President with work closely with our Communications and Resource Development teams to ensure alignment and balance across programmatic and other institutional goals. The Vice President will also represent Ocean Conservancy and our work on this issue with the public, the media, and policy makers. 

The Vice President is an integral member of the conservation leadership team driving strategy to improve organizational influence, impact, and effectiveness.  The Vice President will work closely with other members of the conservation leadership team to support organizational leadership and set strategic direction to expand the scope and impact of the Conservancy’s initiatives.  As a member of organization’s senior leadership, the Vice President is responsible for modeling and supporting Ocean Conservancy’s organizational values and social norms.   Along with other members of the senior leadership, the Vice President ensures alignment and integration of Ocean Conservancy's programs and cross-cutting and supporting services, and acts as a program resource for other VPs and departments.  

Leadership & Strategic Direction

  • Lead development and execution of US and global strategies and initiatives that result in the organization’s increased capacity stabilize ocean health against the threat of plastics pollution while benefitting marginalized communities and not increasing GHG emissions.
  • Ensure an integrated and cohesive approach to Ocean Conservancy’s plastics strategy and work with other departments to drive alignment across the programmatic and institutional goals related to the issue of plastic pollution.
  • Serve as a key leader and visible influencer in the ocean plastics field; develop a strong global network of durable relationships with scientists, industry, government, and NGO partners to tackle ocean pollution.
  • Identify new opportunities for enhanced, public-facing leadership on ocean plastics and for expansion of impact of initiatives.

Management & Organizational Effectiveness

  • Manage and oversee program teams, including providing regular direction and advice, mentoring, and support that leads to excellence and accountability.
  • Oversee the development of effective policies and strategies as well as the development and execution of effective work plans, program budgets, and funding proposals to ensure success.
  • Continually help team members  develop toward their professional goals and aspirations.

Fundraising and External Relations

  • Represent Ocean Conservancy throughout key international and domestic fora and raise its profile and visibility to funders, partners, policymakers, and the public.
  • Serve as Ocean Conservancy’s spokesperson and thought leader on ocean plastics in the media and at major conferences and speaking events.
  • Build and maintain strong working relationships with national and international opinion leaders to advance plastics strategies and effectiveness in key geographies.
  • Working closely with Ocean Conservancy program and development staff, lead fundraising efforts and engage key partners and influencers through strategic communications to deliver resources and impactful solutions.


  • 10-12 years of professional conservation, business, public policy, international development, program management, or other relevant field experience; at least 3 years demonstrated management experience.
  • Strategic thinker and leader that will drive sustainable, outcome focused initiatives to support Ocean Conservancy’s continued growth and impact; forward-thinking, with the intellectual and analytical skills to help drive strategic planning along with the senior leadership team.
  • Proven experience developing and leading strategies to advance US and international policy, including identifying new opportunities and creating new strategies; ability to effectively anticipate roadblocks and evolve advocacy strategies in response to new information.
  • A track record of delivering results across complex settings; experience turning ideas into practical on-the-ground action and solutions.
  • Proven management and fiduciary experience in leveraging available resources effectively to meet program objectives.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead, manage, supervise and motivate a multi-disciplinary team in achieving concrete and meaningful outcomes.  Experience managing a geographically distributed team is a plus.
  • Knowledge of one or more of the following is essential: circular economy policy; waste reduction strategies; waste management; ocean conservation; private sector environmental, social, governance (ESG); marine/coastal resource management; natural resource/environmental policy.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills with past success in deepening and empowering partnerships to affect change and build political will; ability to mobilize and facilitate a diverse partner network; and ability to communicate complex scientific or technical concepts to policy and lay audiences.
  • Experience working with media and serving as spokesperson on a range of issues and tailoring messaging and framing for a variety of different audiences.
  • Willingness to travel up to 30-40%, including significant international travel.


  • Bachelor’s degree required. Advanced degree preferred in law, public policy, business, management, a relevant science or interdisciplinary specialty, or another field closely related to coastal/marine affairs or environmental policy.


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