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  • Chief Scientist

    The National Audubon Society
    • Employer: National Audubon Society
      Location: New York, NY or Washington D.C.
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 05/21/2020
      Open Until Filled: Yes


    Now in its second century, Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Audubon’s mission is engaging people in bird conservation on a hemispheric scale through science, policy, education and on-the-ground conservation action.  By mobilizing and aligning its network of Chapters, Centers, State and Important Bird Area programs in the four major migratory flyways in the Americas, the organization will bring the full power of Audubon to bear on protecting common and threatened bird species and the critical habitat they need to survive.  And as part of the BirdLife International, Audubon will join people in over 100 in-country organizations all working to protect a network of Important Bird Areas around the world, leveraging the impact of actions they take at a local level.  What defines Audubon’s unique value is a powerful grassroots network of nearly 500 local chapters, 23 state offices, 43 Audubon Centers, Important Bird Area Programs in 46 states, and 700 staff across the country.  Audubon is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).

    Position Summary:

    The Chief Scientist is a senior leader who serves a crucial role in shaping Audubon’s science agenda to inform and drive the organization’s conservation priorities across the hemisphere. In this role, the Chief Scientist will need to be a person of deep experience and stature in the science field, and also be a person eager to work in an innovative and collaborative workplace.

    The Chief Scientist is the strategic leader and provides day-to-day direction to the Science Division staff. There are currently three teams with approximately 30 staff with a $6M annual budget. Teams range from (1) Community Science, which manages the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and similar programs, (2) Conservation Science which provides spatial and quantitative support for Audubon’s five Conservation Strategies and track progress against our conservation goals, and (3) Migratory Bird Initiative.

    Generating and interpreting science in support of actionable conservation and policy is at the heart of the position. Recruiting and managing staff with skills ranging from spatial and quantitative ecology to GIS and coastal biology is essential. Because of the breadth of disciplines involved in the overall program, the Chief Scientist must possess both vision and an ability to analyze and synthesize complex information that supports the organization’s conservation goals. He/she must cultivate strong and cooperative working partnerships with government agencies, corporations, foundations, and other conservation partners, and have the presence and stature to engage the highest levels of leadership in these organizations. He/she must have the ability to translate basic emerging science into Audubon’s practical and applied field approaches.

    The Chief Scientist also advances the organization by directly supporting Audubon’s strategic conservation goals and objectives. This position reports to the Chief Conservation Officer (CCO) and works closely with the CCO and other senior leadership team members, and must be comfortable presenting to and working with a diverse variety of audiences , from NGOs, to government agencies to business leaders. In addition, the Chief Scientist works closely with the network of bird conservation staff and scientists in Audubon’s field offices to align and support our priorities on the ground. The Chief Scientist, in collaboration with Audubon’s development staff, will be responsible for raising and managing adequate annual financial support for current and expanding programs.

    Audubon’s science program is also an essential resource and partner to our Conservation Strategies, International programs, state field offices and other ornithological institutions.  Since Audubon is the BirdLife International partner in the US, the Chief Scientist will collaborate closely with the science staff of the BirdLife Secretariat and other BirdLife partners.

    Essential Functions:

    • Guide the organization in identifying bird conservation issues and the species, habitat, and landscape targets upon which Audubon will focus its efforts and resources.
    • Building programs and staffing that advance the bird science as it related to climate change, bird migrations and other issues influencing the protection of migratory birds across the Americas. 
    • Further develop and leverage the concept and scientific validity of birds as indicators of overall environmental health for people and biodiversity.
    • Ensure adequate annual and ongoing financial support to fund Audubon Science activities and programs, and to build a secure financial future for Science across all parts of Audubon. Significantly increase contributions from major donors, foundations, corporations and government agencies.
    • Promote the expansion of community science and stewardship initiatives to engage local stakeholders in conservation activities necessary to achieve Audubon’s bird and habitat goals and outcomes. This includes contributing to the vision and leadership in the continuing development of Audubon’s Important Bird Area (IBA) program as the premier site-based, community-driven habitat conservation initiative in the United States and expanding and leveraging Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count.
    • Working with Audubon’s staff leaders in states and conservation strategies to develop metrics that measure the impact of Audubon’s work. Provide services needed to support state field offices and conservation strategy leads in advancing their priorities, and further integrate Audubon’s activities with those of the broader conservation community.
    • Integrate and align Science goals, priorities, and activities with those of Audubon’s Conservation efforts. Including the continuing identification, development, and implementation of tools, services, and other resources that support our policy, on-the-ground restoration and engagement objectives. Science is a key foundation for all of Audubon’s work.

    Qualifications and Experience:

    Professional Qualifications:

    • Recognition as a science leader who possesses a proven track record of success and accomplishment.
    • Demonstrated track record of partnering and developing consensus within an organizational climate of diverse operational activities.
    • Demonstrated experience and understanding in the role science plays in policy development and conservation of natural resources, demonstrated ability to create and implement metrics and evaluation programs.
    • Demonstrated success in raising funds from public and private sources.
    • Proven managerial talent in budgeting, staffing, and performance management.
    • Demonstrated ability to identify, analyze and evaluate a large volume of information and to communicate accurate and timely recommendations to the Chief Conservation Officer and President, as required.
    • Comfort in working with NGOs, corporations, federal and state agencies, and senior leaders in business and philanthropy.
    • Demonstrated ability to communicate complex science-related issues to non-scientists and an ability to translate scientific and evaluative metrics to internal and external audiences, board members and others.
    • Possesses a practical understanding of the key issues in the environmental field, a sophisticated knowledge of the political implications, and a demonstrated ability to navigate these issues diplomatically.
    • The ability and flexibility to travel extensively.
    • Doctorate degree in Ornithology, Conservation Biology, or related environmental fields.

    Preferred Experience:

    • Designing, managing and deploying GIS systems and services across a distributed network
    • Applying spatial and quantitative methods across a range of conservation approaches
    • Conducting original climate change analyses and experience presenting to the media and public
    • Familiarity with coastal, grasslands, and seabird restoration
    • Working with international partners and hemispheric conservation issues
    • Familiarity with full lifecycle conservation, migratory bird techniques and analyses
    • Personal Attributes:
    • A deep commitment to science-based conservation and the mission of the Audubon Society.
    • Excellent conceptual and critical thinking skills and sound judgment, with strategic orientation and ability to perform tactically, as required.
    • Ability and comfort in working in a highly distributed organization.
    • Articulate, with proven ability to write effectively and speak persuasively.
    • Excellent interpersonal skills, including an ability to listen to others and learn from the best ideas, intellectual curiosity, approachability, and openness to input from all levels of staff.
    • High energy level, personable, trustworthy, diplomatic, and in possession of impeccable integrity.
    • Exceptional managerial, analytical, strategic, and tactical ability.
    • Proven team player and leader able to motivate and inspire staff as well as colleagues to work well as a team.

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